WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama says religious faith can help people overcome their fears and embrace their "common humanity."
"Faith is the great cure for fear," Obama told the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, a day after he visited an American mosque for the first time in his presidency.
Obama said his own Christian faith has given him strength to overcome common everyday fears, such as for the safety of his daughter Malia as she leaves the White House later this year and heads to college, but also for the fears he has faced as president in sending the country's troops into overseas military operations.
He said fear can lead people to "lash out at those who are different" and lead to desperation and cynicism.
But Obama said he has drawn strength from "good people of all faiths who do the Lord's work every day. I pray that our differences are ultimately bridged, that the God in all of us brings us together."
Obama was appearing at the prayer breakfast for the eighth and final time, with his presidency ending next January.
WATCH: Obama speaks at National Prayer Breakfast
Support for US Muslims
In Baltimore a day earlier, Obama told Muslims at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, "We are one American family."
The president thanked Muslim Americans for helping make the country strong, but acknowledged what he said is a "hugely distorted" negative view they have had to endure with the rise of terrorism-related violence by Islamist extremists.
Obama said that after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California late last year, some people have conflated "terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith.” The American leader attacked anti-Muslim rhetoric by some U.S. political figures.
“Of course recently, we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans. It has no place in our country,” Obama said.
The president has criticized remarks by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others in recent months.
Trump called for all Muslims to be barred from entering the country for a period of time, and Cruz suggested that the United States resettle only Christian Syrian refugees.
More than two dozen U.S. governors also have signaled they will try to block Syrian refugees from settling in their states. Critics of the Obama administration’s plan to resettle immigrants from Syria and Iraq argue that they pose a greater security threat.