American taxpayers are paying for a "war on Christianity" at home and abroad, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said during a speech at a conservative conference Thursday.
"There is a war on Christianity," Paul told an audience of mostly evangelical Christians and Jews during a luncheon at the annual Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington. "Not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide. And your government, or more correctly, you, the taxpayer, are funding it. You are being taxed to send money to countries that are not only intolerant of Christians, but openly hostile. Christians are imprisoned and threatened with death for their beliefs."
Paul, who has said he's considering running for president in 2016, was referring to U.S. financial aid to foreign countries where Christian persecution occurs.
Paul has long called for an end to foreign aid to particularly Muslim-majority countries Egypt, Pakistan and Libya, but he does not always frame his opposition in terms of faith. Last year, he introduced a bill to the Senate that would cut off aid to those countries.
"In Egypt, in Pakistan, they burn our flag—I say not one penny more to countries that burn the American flag," Paul said. "While they burn the American flag and the mobs chant 'Death to America,' more of your money is sent to these haters of Christianity."
He added: "It is clear that American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East, and I believe that must end."
The conference where Paul spoke Thursday is organized by former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed, and it regularly hosts Republican politicians seeking the party's nomination for the presidency. The venue provides the potential candidates an opportunity to reach the Christian conservative base of the party.