On the heels of comments he made suggesting Christianity was used to justify Jim Crow laws, President Barack Obama is touching on religion again, this time saying the belief system is not responsible for terrorism.

The president’s recent remarks, both on Christianity and Islamic extremists, are meant to divorce Islam from the terrorism those extremists carry out across the world. In Thursday’s White House Summit to combating violent extremism, Obama continued to drive home that distinction.

“No religion is responsible for terrorism — people are responsible for violence and terrorism,” Obama told delegates.

Obama also said military force alone will not defeat terrorism, and the nation must work with local communities to reduce the influence of those who advocate violent extremism.

“They are not religious leaders,” Obama said. “They are terrorists.”

But the president’s efforts to avoid using the term “Islamic extremism” aren’t going over too well with Republicans.

In his summit remarks, Obama cited the “fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits” about the words that used should be used to “describe and frame this challenge” of violent extremism.


Groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda “try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam,” Obama said, but “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.”


Obama also said Muslim communities have responsibilities to confront the abuse of religion.


“Of course, the terrorists do not speak for a billion Muslims who reject their ideology,” Obama said. “They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God, represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism.”


In fighting extremism, Obama said the United States and allies must also address the economic and political “grievances” that often fuel violent ideology. Governments must work to help provide economic opportunity, education, democracy, and the rule of law to their citizens, he said.


The “best partners” for these efforts are local communities, Obama said. Family members, schools, churches and mosques, and law enforcement officials can help dissuade young people from falling for the “false promises of extremism.”

Obama recognized that the fight against extremism “will take time,” adding that the nation must not target specific religious groups.

“We are not at war with Islam — we are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Watch the president’s comments above.


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