President Joe Biden speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on February 3, 2022. Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 3 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden used his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning to call for unity and for those of opposing parties to learn more about one another personally.
The annual prayer breakfast brought together lawmakers from both parties and various faiths. Biden, acknowledging a time of great division in the country, said he recalled the times where Congressional members ate lunch together and spent downtime together.
"Unity doesn't mean we have to agree on everything, but unity is where enough of us believe in a core of basic things," Biden said, according to The Hill newspaper. "The common good, the general welfare. A faith in the United States of America."
Biden said he believed that connecting on a personal basis allows politicians to see one another in a different light.
"I just think that when you learn that another man or woman, you fly on a [congressional delegation] and you learn that they have a kid with a problem with alcoholism, you learn that they have a daughter who has breast cancer. It's hard to dislike the person," Biden said.
"And so one of the things I pray for, and I mean it, is we sort of getting back to the place ... that we really know each other."
The breakfast, which has faced criticism in recent years over its growing political tone, will try to move away from such divisive rhetoric, said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., one of the organizers of this year's breakfast.
Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative who was the subject in the movie Just Mercy, will be the keynote speaker.
The National Prayer Breakfast is held every year on the first Thursday of February and has been held continuously since 1953. It is hosted by members of Congress and organized by the Fellowship Foundation.
At last year's event, which occurred just a few days after he took office, Biden denounced extremism and said that faith will help the United States heal many of its divisions.
"For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time," he said. "So where do we turn? Faith."
"In the darkest moments, faith provides hope and solace," he added. "It shows the way forward as one nation and a common purpose, to respect one another, to care for one another, to leave no one behind."
At the event in 2020, then-President Donald Trump spent much of the event praising the fact that he'd been acquitted in his first Senate impeachment trial.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks and signs an Executive Order on Project Labor Agreements, at the Ironworkers Local 5 in Upper Marlboro, Md., on Friday. The order is designed to improve timeliness, lower costs and increase quality in federal construction projects. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo