COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Sunday extolled the existence of Black churches, saying the world would be a different place if they were not around to show people the “power of faith” during dark times.
The Democratic president spoke at St. John Baptist Church on the final day of a two-day visit to South Carolina designed to rally Black voters before the party’s primary on Feb. 3.
Biden visited a predominantly Black barbershop and spoke at a state Democratic Party dinner after he flew in on Saturday. He capped the visit Sunday by addressing worshippers at separate churches.
The president is trying to spread the message that he’s loyal to South Carolina, which saved his campaign in 2020, and that he’s determined to win back Black voters here and elsewhere who were central to putting him in office but are less enthused about him this time around.
A practicing Roman Catholic who attends Mass every Sunday, Biden praised Black churches in his appearance before the Baptist congregation, saying the churches teach the “power of faith.”
He asked the worshippers to imagine “what would have happened if there had been no Black church” to turn to in times of darkness.
“Well, you give us a mountaintop, you give us a promised land, you give us a dream and a faith that we shall overcome, can overcome,” he said, echoing words once spoken by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“And you push us toward a more perfect union, you really do, to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice together, and what a gift to the nation and the world you’ve been.
“Your prayers mean everything,” Biden said.
After he spoke, Biden issued a written statement on the deaths of three U.S. service members and the injuries to many others in a drone strike in northeast Jordan near the Syrian border. He attributed the attack to Iran-backed militia groups.
Later Sunday, the president briefly addressed the drone strike and asked for a moment of silence when he appeared at the banquet hall of Brookland Baptist Church. Biden has a long-standing relationship with Pastor Charles Jackson. Jackson’s wife, Robin, is first lady Jill Biden’s prayer partner.
Earlier this month, Biden delivered one of his first campaign speeches of the year at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, where in 2015 nine Black parishioners were shot to death by the white stranger they had invited to join their Bible study.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.