The White House is defending President Obama’s rhetoric on religious freedom after Republicans questioned the president’s record on the issue, especially the freedom of Christians in America.
“Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty … we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and free from intimidation,” Obama said during his welcoming address to Pope Francis today at the White House.
Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal was quick to criticize Obama’s remarks, pointing out the multiple incidents of Christians being persecuted by the federal government because of their views on marriage, abortion and contraception.
“President Obama lied to Pope Francis,” Jindal wrote in a statement. ”This President has not protected Christians and their constitutionally-guaranteed religious freedom, and it’s time we have a president who will.”
His fellow candidate Mike Huckabee also mocked the president over religious liberty, pointing to the Kim Davis case in Kentucky.
Sen. Orrin Hatch also criticized Obama’s remarks.
“Pope Francis is right about religious liberty in the United States,” he wrote on Twitter after his speech. “President Obama shouldn’t deflect but pledge to work to protect it.”
Pope Francis is right about religious liberty in US. Pres. Obama shouldn’t deflect but pledge to work to protect it. http://t.co/LhhUfljTE5
— Senator Hatch Office (@SenOrrinHatch) September 23, 2015
But when Breitbart News questioned White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on the issue, Earnest insisted that the president has a good record on religious liberty.
“I would encourage you to take the president at his word,” Earnest said. Obama spoke “powerfully and with conviction” about his commitment to religious liberty and “works hard every day” to uphold the values of the United States, Earnest said.
“As somebody who is a Christian, and someone who has ordered the United States military to take aggressive action to protect the safety and wellbeing of religious minorities including Christians around the globe,” Earnest said. “I think it’s pretty clear from his actions and his words that this is a value that he holds quite dear.”