03 February 2006
'Thank You, Mr President...'
Bono is in Washington this week lobbying policy makers in the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. Yesterday he quoted Islamic, Jewish and Christian texts in a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast calling on the U.S. government to give an additional 1 percent of the federal budget to the world's poor.
Speaking to President Bush, members of Congress, the Cabinet and the military as well as clergy and representatives from other countries he argued that it is unjust to keep poor people from selling their goods while singing the virtues of the free market, to hold children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents and to withhold medicines that would save lives. 'God will not accept that,' he said. 'Mine won't. Will yours?'
Here's how Bono opened his lengthy talk. Click the link at the bottom of the page to read the whole talk on the DATA site - which is where you can learn more about the global campaign to end extreme poverty.
Mr. President, First Lady, King Abdullah, Other heads of State, Members of Congress, distinguished guests...
Please join me in praying that I don't say something we'll all regret.
That was for the FCC.
If you're wondering what I'm doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I'm certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. It's certainly not because I'm a rock star. Which leaves one possible explanation: I'm here because I've got a messianic complex.
Yes, it's true. And for anyone who knows me, it's hardly a revelation.
Well, I'm the first to admit that there's something unnatural... something unseemly... about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the South of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert... but this is really weird, isn't it?
You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind. .
Mr. President, are you sure about this?
It's very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned -- I'm Irish.
I'd like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I'd like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws... but of course, they don't always. And I presume that, in a sense, is why you're here.
I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here -- Muslims, Jews, Christians -- all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.
I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too.
Yes, it's odd, having a rock star here -- but maybe it's odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was... well, a little blurry, and hard to see.
I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays... and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.
For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land... and in this country, seeing God's second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cash... in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment...
I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.
Even though I was a believer.
Perhaps because I was a believer....'
Read the rest of Bono's speech here