Speaking in India about religious tolerance, President Obama briefly addressed unfounded rumors that he is a Muslim.
Obama was speaking at the Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi on Tuesday after meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi.
“In our lives Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith,” Obama told the audience. “But there have been times where my faith’s been questioned — by people who don’t know me, or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing.”
Obama has long been the target of unsubstantiated accusations the he is actually Muslim rather than Christian. Obama’s Kenyan father was a secular Muslim, and the young Obama was raised for a time in Indonesia, a majority Muslim country. However, as an adult, Obama became involved in Christian-led organizations. He and wife Michelle eventually began attending the Trinity United Church of Christ, led by the fiery Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (RELATED: Obama: ‘My Father Was Born A Muslim’)
In his speech touting American and Indian religious and ethnic diversity, Obama referenced two of his heroes to drive home his message of religious tolerance.
“We remember the wisdom of Gandhiji who said ‘for me the different religions are beautiful flowers of the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree,'” Obama said, referring to Mahatma Gandhi using the honorific suffix -ji.
“Are we measured by our efforts, by what Dr. King called the content of our character rather than the color of our skin or the manner in which we worship our God,” Obama continued.
“In both our countries, in India and in America, our diversity is our strength. And we have to guard against any efforts to divide ourselves along sectarian lines or any other lines.”
After leaving India Tuesday, Obama travels to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he will pay respects to the late King Abdullah who died last week.
WATCH (at the 23:25 mark):