By Alicia M. Cohn - 09/17/12 07:07 PM EDT
President Obama on Monday made a campaign pitch to “people of faith” in which he reaffirmed what he called his “unwavering” commitment to “protecting religious liberty.”
“I know faith is often used as a wedge in our politics, and with a new election year comes new attacks,” Obama said in the video. “The American people should know this: In a changing world, my commitment to protecting religious liberty is and always will be unwavering. As America's religious diversity grows, we have the chance to reaffirm the pluralism that has defined us as a nation. A pluralism that is expansive enough to protect the rights of all to speak their minds and to follow their conscience.”
Obama has faced numerous charges of conducting a “war on religion” from Republicans. Earlier this year, the White House faced a national backlash from GOP and Christian groups after it issued a mandate requiring most employers to provide birth control for women in their healthcare plans without charging a copay. The requirement triggered several unresolved lawsuits by religious-affiliated employers that object to certain methods of birth control.
“President Obama used his healthcare plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith," the ad charged. “Mitt Romney believes that’s wrong.”
Obama confronted the charges in the video without using his GOP challenger’s name. He took three minutes to speak directly about his own “Christian faith, which has guided me through my presidency and in my life.” He also connected his policies, including the auto bailout and healthcare reform, to his religious beliefs in a way he typically reserves for events such as the National Prayer Breakfast.
“This job is full of tough decisions, and at the end of every day, each president needs to act based on what their values are and what they believe,” Obama said in the video. “On issues like education, poverty and immigration, I’m standing on the side of human dignity and a belief in the inherent work of all human beings.”
The video points supporters to a page on the campaign website set up specifically for “people of faith” to sign up to support the president’s reelection.