Biden speaks at black church; bishop praises president as 'the man we need'

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on July 7, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. President Biden continued to campaign amid mounting pressure for him to drop out from running for his re-election bit.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on July 7, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. President Biden continued to campaign amid mounting pressure for him to drop out from running for his re-election bit. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Joe Biden spoke at a predominantly African American church in Pennsylvania on Sunday, where the church's leader called him the "man we need" and praised the Democratic Party as the "party of law." 

During remarks at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia's Sunday worship service, Biden said he has "never been more optimistic about America's future" provided "we stick together."

"Our purpose is to serve others," Biden said. "We're all created equal in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect our entire lives. We've never fully lived up to that, but we've never fully walked away from it either."

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Biden spoke about leading the country through the COVID-19 pandemic, his efforts to eliminate student loan debt and boasted about his administration seeing the lowest unemployment rate for African Americans since the 1970s.

"We just have to work together," Biden said, receiving cheers and applause, adding that "we have to bring back dignity and hope in America" and "we must unite America again."

The church celebrated Biden's speech, explaining in a Facebook post that the congregation was "honored to welcome President Biden to our church this morning."

"His message of unity and hope resonated deeply with our congregation as we continue to pray for the healing of our nation. We are grateful for his leadership and commitment to serving all Americans," stated Mount Airy.

Biden's visit to the church comes after many within his own party and establishment news media have called on him to drop out of the presidential race due to his widely criticized performance at his first debate against Republican challenger Donald Trump and questions surrounding his health.

Bishop J. Louis Felton prayed for God to renew Biden's mind, body and spirit, saying that Biden is the "man we need during these [perilous] times."

"Father, I remember a bumper sticker on a senior citizen's car that said, 'I may be slow, but I'm in front of you,'" the bishop said. "Use our president. Use his experience. Use his handicaps and be glorified in his life."

Earlier in his remarks, Felton said he wasn't sure why people wanted to make "an issue" of Biden's "condition of stammering and not being able at certain times to bring forth words while another person lies fluently, and you never challenged his lies."

He pushed back on remarks former President Trump made during the presidential debate last month about his comments surrounding the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally and the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot. 

"You are not the party of law," Felton said in response to Trump before seemingly praising the Democratic Party. "We are right. We are the party of law. We are the party of respect. We are the party of reconciliation. We have the big tent. We have genuine love for America."

Felton also responded to secular critics who questioned why the president was giving a speech at the church "in as much as there is such thing as separation of church and state." 

"We are firm believers in separation of church and state," he said. "We are separated but we are not divorced. Since we are not divorced, we still have visitation rights. The president has a right to be here." 

During a private call among Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday, several congressmen demanded that Biden end his reelection campaign, Politico reported.

Those on the call who wanted Biden to stand down included Jerry Nadler of New York, Adam Smith of Washington state, Mark Takano of California and Joe Morelle of New York.

Biden, who already received enough votes during the Democrat Primary season to secure the party nomination, has refused to withdraw his presidential candidacy.

In a Wednesday meeting with around 20 Democratic governors, the 81-year-old Biden said that he needed more sleep and to work fewer hours. When Biden was pressed on the call about his health, three sources who spoke with The New York Times recalled Biden saying that he is in good health but suggested "It's just my brain."

Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania is among congressional Democrats who continue to support Biden, arguing that a single debate performance should not define the incumbent candidate.

"I'm unwilling to discard a great president, a decent man and a loving father after 50 years in public service, over a 90 minute debate," tweeted Fetterman. "Responding with disorder, panic and disloyalty is not meeting this moment."

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