One day after visiting a mosque to extend an olive branch to the Muslim community, President Obama urged Americans to practice religious tolerance as a matter of faith.


“Just yesterday, some of you may be aware I visited a mosque in Baltimore to let our Muslim-American brothers and sisters know that they too are Americans and are welcome here,” he said at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning.

“I pray ... that our differences ultimately are bridged. That the God that is in each of us comes together and we don’t divide,” he added. 

Obama’s comments come amid a tumultuous Republican primary race in which the question of how to preempt radical Islamic terrorism has been a prominent topic.

Front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE has suggested a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S. in the wake of several terrorist attacks.

Obama, however, said Americans must reject a “spirit of fear” that ostracizes other cultures and threatens to undermine the tradition of rights upon which the nation was founded.

“It is a primal emotion, fear, one that we all experience,” he said. “And it can be contagious, spreading through societies and through nations. And if we let it consume us, the consequences of that fear can be worse than any outward threat. 

“For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is the great cure of fear,” he continued. “Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear.”

“Just as we call on other countries to respect the rights of religious minorities, we, too, respect the right of every American to practice their faith freely,” he said. “This is what each of us is called on to do, to seek our common humanity of each other.”

Republican presidential candidate Ben CarsonBen CarsonNoem takes pledge to restore 'patriotic education' in schools Watchdog blames Puerto Rico hurricane relief delays on Trump-era bureaucracy Ben Carson defends op-ed arguing racial equity is 'another kind of racism' MORE, who has questioned whether Islam is compatible with American values, was also expected at the breakfast.

Carson vaulted into the national political scene at the Prayer Breakfast in 2013, when he gave a keynote speech drawing attention to the national debt and the failures of ObamaCare.