Obama Slams Ted Cruz For Suggesting ‘Religious Test’ On Syrian Refugees

Obama refugees Cruz

President Obama hit back at Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) during a news conference on Monday at the G20 summit, saying it was “shameful” to suggest a “religious test” for refugees from the Middle East.

Obama didn’t mention Cruz by name, but his remarks came after the GOPer said Muslim refugees from Syria should be barred from coming to the United States but that Christians should be admitted.

“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 a person who is 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. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are.”

In the wake of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, the Texas senator has argued that accepting Muslim refugees threatens America’s national security.

“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz said at a South Carolina campaign event on Sunday, according to the Washington Post.

Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, fled the regime of US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista for Texas in 1957.

Obama said on Monday that openness toward political refugees is essential to America’s national identity.

“The values that we are defending, the values that we’re fighting against ISIL for, are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith,” Obama told the audience at the G20 summit. “We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them. And we don’t feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war.”

The president commended his predecessor and Cruz’s fellow Texan, George W. Bush, for defending Muslims in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“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,” Obama said. “And 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.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: