Watch Obama Tear Into GOP Candidates Who Only Want To Take In Christian Refugees From Syria


President Obama called out Republican presidential candidates who have said the United States should admit Christians but bar Muslim refugees from Syria from entering the country, saying that Americans “don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

“When I hear folks say that: ‘Well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims,’ when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Obama said on Monday during remarks at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

He pointed to Pope Francis’ speech to Congress when the Catholic leader “didn’t just speak about Christians who were being prosecuted” but said we need to protect all people who are vulnerable.

“It is very important for us right now, particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard, not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us,” Obama continued. “I had a lot of disagreements with George W. Bush on policy, but I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam. The notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that, that’s not who we are.”

After telling Republicans to follow Bush’s example, he continued, “Whether you are European or American, you know the values that we are defending — the values we’re fighting against ISIL for — are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them.”


Although he didn’t call them out by name, Obama was clearly responding to comments by GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, both of whom have said the United States should screen refugees by religion. Cruz said in South Carolina Sunday that “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror” and repeated his position that it is “lunacy” to allow Muslim refugees to live in the United States.

Bush similarly said Sunday that religion should be a determinant of which refugees can escape their violent, conflict-torn home country.

“We should focus our efforts as it relates to refugees on the Christians that are being slaughtered,” Bush told CNN’s State of the Union.


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress