Fact Check

National Prayer Breakfast Remarks: President Trump vs. President Obama

An image comparing remarks made by President Trump and former President Obama at National Prayer Breakfasts used genuine quotes, but the implied claim was misleading.

Published Feb 6, 2017

An image macro accurately compares the remarks of President Trump and former President Obama at National Prayer Breakfasts.
What's True

The image used real quotes (slightly edited) from President Trump's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2017 and former President Obama's speech at the same event a year earlier.

What's False

The quotes aren't comparable and give the false impression that Trump's speech focused solely on television ratings and that he failed to mention God, religion, or scripture during his speech.

An image macro purportedly showing two statements, one from former President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2016 and the other from President Trump at the same event the following year, was circulated on social media in February 2017:

national prayer breakfast

The quotes depicted in the image margo are largely accurate, although President Trump's remarks were edited together from a few different portions of his speech.

President Obama's speech at the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast is archived at ObamaWhiteHouse.Archive.Gov. The relevant portion of his speech can be seen at around the 1:50 mark of the following video, and we've reproduced the relevant text portion below (the bolded text was omitted from above-displayed graphic):

And on this occasion, I always enjoy reflecting on a piece of scripture that’s been meaningful to me or otherwise sustained me throughout the year.  And lately, I’ve been thinking and praying on a verse from Second Timothy:  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

President Trump's 2017 National Prayer Breakfast speech was also archived by the White House. The above-displayed image macro condensed a larger portion of President Trump's speech into a brief paragraph. The entire speech can be seen in the following video, and we've reproduced the relevant text portion below (bolded text was omitted from above-displayed graphic):

Thank you as well to Senate Chaplain Barry Black for his moving words.  And I don't know, Chaplain, whether or not that’s an appointed position.  Is that an appointed position?  I don’t even know if you’re a Democrat or if you’re a Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year — the hell with it.  (Laughter and applause.)  And I think it’s not even my appointment, it’s the Senate’s appointment, but we’ll talk to them.  Your son is here.  Your job is very, very secure, okay?  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Barry.  Appreciate it very much.

I also want to thank my great friends, though, Roma.  Where’s Roma?  Beautiful Roma Downey.  The voice of an angel.  She’s got the voice — every time I hear it, that voice is so beautiful.  Everything is so beautiful about Roma, including her husband because he’s a special, special friend, Mark Burnett — for the wonderful introduction.  So true.  So true.  I said to the agent, I’m sorry.  The only thing more — I actually got on the phone and fired him myself because he said, you don’t want to do it, it’ll never work, it’ll never, ever work.  You don’t want to do it.  I said, listen — but I really fired him after it became the number-one show.  It became so successful, and he wanted a commission, and he didn’t want to do it.  That’s what I really said.  (Laughter.) 

But we had tremendous success on "The Apprentice."  And when I ran for President, I had to leave the show.  That’s when I knew for sure I was doing it.  And they hired a big, big movie star — Arnold Schwarzenegger — to take my place.  And we know how that turned out.  (Laughter.)  The ratings went right down the tubes.  It’s been a total disaster.  And Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings, okay?  (Laughter.)

The gist of this image macro was that President Obama's speech focused on scripture while President Trump's speech focused on TV ratings, but President Trump did talk about other subjects — including the death of a U.S. Navy SEAL in Yemen — and quote a piece of scripture (John 15:13) during his remarks:

No one has inspired me more in my travels than the families of the United States military, men and women who have put their lives on the line every day for their country and their countrymen.  I just came back yesterday from Dover Air Force Base to join the family of Chief William “Ryan” Owens, as America’s fallen hero was returned home.  Very, very sad, but very, very beautiful.  Very, very beautiful.  His family was there.  Incredible family, loved him so much.  So devastated — he was so devastated.  But the ceremony was amazing.  He died in defense of our nation.  He gave his life in defense of our people.  Our debt to him and our debt to his family is eternal and everlasting.

“Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  We will never forget the men and women who wear the uniform, believe me.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  From generation to generation, their vigilance has kept our liberty alive.  Our freedom is won by their sacrifice, and our security has been earned with their sweat and blood and tears.  God has blessed this land to give us such incredible heroes and patriots.  They are very, very special, and we are going to take care of them.  (Applause.)

One could cherry-pick other portions of both speeches to create the impression that both Presidents Trump and Obama had focused equally on scripture during their remarks:

trump obama quotes


Trump, Donald.   "Remarks by President Trump at National Prayer Breakfast."     The White House.   2 February 2017.

Obama, Barack.   "Remarks by the President at National Prayer Breakfast."     The White House.   4 February 2016.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

Article Tags

Read More

a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.


Ad-Free Browsing on Snopes.com
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime