Our nations are strongest when we see that we are all God’s children -- all equal in His eyes and worthy of His love. Across our two great countries we have Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, and Jews and Buddhists and Jains and so many faiths. And 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.” (Applause.) Branches of the same majestic tree.
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. Three years ago in our state of Wisconsin, back in the United States, a man went to a Sikh temple and, in a terrible act of violence, killed six innocent people -- Americans and Indians. And in that moment of shared grief, our two countries reaffirmed a basic truth, as we must again today -- that 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.
And it’s when all Indians, whatever your faith, go to the movies and applaud actors like Shah Rukh Khan. And when you celebrate athletes like Milkha Singh or Mary Kom. And every Indian can take pride in the courage of a humanitarian who liberates boys and girls from forced labor and exploitation -- who is here today -- Kailash Satyarthi. (Applause.) Our most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace. (Applause.)
So that's what unifies us: Do we act with compassion and empathy. 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. 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. And if we do that well, if America shows itself as an example of its diversity and yet the capacity to live together and work together in common effort, in common purpose; if India, as massive as it is, with so much diversity, so many differences is able to continually affirm its democracy, that is an example for every other country on Earth. That's what makes us world leaders -- not just the size of our economy or the number of weapons we have, but our ability to show the way in how we work together, and how much respect we show each other.DNA India reported on the President's address.