Catholic World News

Obama calls for religious tolerance, respect for religious freedom in India

January 29, 2015

In a visit to India, now governed by a Hindu nationalist party, President Barack Obama issued a call for greater respect for religious freedom.

“We remember the wisdom of Gandhiji, who said, ‘For me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree,’” said Obama. “Branches of the same majestic tree.”

He added:

Our freedom of religion is written into our founding documents. It’s part of America’s very first amendment. Your Article 25 says that all people are “equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” In both our countries -- in all countries -- upholding this fundamental freedom is the responsibility of government, but it's also the responsibility of every person.

In our lives, Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith. But there have been times where my faith has 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. Around the world, we’ve seen intolerance and violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to be standing up for their faith, but, in fact, are betraying it. No society is immune from the darkest impulses of man. And too often religion has been used to tap into those darker impulses as opposed to the light of God. … every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination. (Applause.)

The peace we seek in the world begins in human hearts. And it finds its glorious expression when we look beyond any differences in religion or tribe, and rejoice in the beauty of every soul. And nowhere is that more important than India. Nowhere is it going to be more necessary for that foundational value to be upheld. India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith -- so long as it's not splintered along any lines -- and is unified as one nation.


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  • Posted by: claire5327 - Jan. 31, 2015 10:36 AM ET USA

    In physics Tolerance has a limit which can be broken when that limit is over extended there is to be an equal and opposite reaction. Only the thoughtless minds seek Tolerance, as though that Word is the KEY to the Kingdom! Why not try to use the word "Understanding?" we might get a better run with that without having to face the Opposite Reaction? "Seek first Understanding then you shall gain Knowledge, Wisdom....."

  • Posted by: unum - Jan. 30, 2015 11:01 AM ET USA

    Barack Obama should be issuing a call for greater respect for religious freedom in the United States! His administration has attacked the religious freedom of Americans and their churches in an attempt to implement the prerogatives of Obamacare. Further, the President keeps "evolving" in his views of morality moving away from the beliefs of a majority of Americans and their churches on sexuality and marriage. He openly promotes lifestyles contrary to the beliefs of a majority of Americans.