Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama suggested Wednesday that Jesus Christ is not the only way to heaven during a campaign event in North Carolina.
While answering a question about his Christian faith, Obama said he believes that Jesus Christ died for his sins and through God's grace and mercy he could have "everlasting life," according to the Los Angeles Times.
But he also believes Jews and Muslims and non-believers who live moral lives are as much "children of God" as he is, according to The Associated Press.
As an example, he spoke about his late mother who was "not a believer."
"[S]he was the kindest, most decent, generous person that I have ever known," Obama said, according to the Times. "I'm sure she is in heaven, even though she may not have subscribed to everything that I subscribe to."
Obama's response came amid the recent controversy surrounding his former Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who made inflammatory remarks about race and America in sermons he delivered many years ago.
The Illinois senator, who has made religion a cornerstone of his campaign, has denounced the comments – which included "God damn America" for its racism – but refuses to distance himself from the pastor, whom he compares to an uncle.
During his response on Wednesday, Obama praised his church, Trinity United Church of Christ, especially its choir, and said it was very warm and welcoming and is like any other church in America in that it exists to praise God.
Obama also said he believes in putting the Gospel to action here on Earth and treating people with "dignity" and "respect" as children of God, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Currently, Obama is leading the Democratic race with 1,622 delegates compared to Hillary Clinton's 1,485, according to CNN.