Dan Crenshaw Defends Reaction After Woman Said He Lied About Being Christian: 'Don't Question My Faith'

·4 min read
Rep. Dan Crenshaw
Rep. Dan Crenshaw

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Rep. Dan Crenshaw

A spokesman for Rep. Dan Crenshaw is defending the Texas lawmaker's remarks at a recent political event to a young woman who said he lied about "Jesus not being real" and about "being a Christian."

During a Montgomery County Tea Party event in Conroe, Texas, on Monday, Crenshaw was at the microphone when the woman brought up comments Crenshaw made during an episode of the Jocko Podcast.

"The important thing is that we have societal hero archetypes that we look up to. Jesus is a hero archetype. Superman is a hero archetype. Real characters, too. I could name a thousand. Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan — all of these people embody certain attributes that the American people think, 'This is good,'" Crenshaw, 37, said in his chat with podcast host Jocko Willink.

At Monday's event at Citizens Grill, the woman challenged Crenshaw.

"When you claim Jesus to be a hero archetype, you not only lied about Jesus not being real, but you lied about being a Christian," she said. She then paraphrased Crenshaw's podcast quote and added, "I can't wrap my head around this."

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Rep. Dan Crenshaw
Rep. Dan Crenshaw

Alex Wong/Getty

"Well, I'll help you. Put a period after the word Jesus and don't question my faith," Crenshaw said, cutting off the woman.

As the crowd booed, Crenshaw said, "You guys can ask questions about all of these things, and I will answer them. But don't question my faith."

One man in the audience shouted, "You moron."

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As the exchange circulated on social media, Crenshaw's team claimed he had been the target of an obvious ploy.

"It is sad that our opponent is so desperate for attention that he used an 18-year-old to question Dan's faith as part of a cheap political stunt," a spokesman for the Republican tells PEOPLE.

Jameson Ellis, a Republican challenging Crenshaw, posted video of the interaction on Twitter.

Ellis also denied he was behind the confrontation.

"While she is a supporter of my campaign, no one from my campaign remotely suggested she confront Crenshaw," Ellis said in a statement. "With that being said, we are VERY PROUD of her for her courage and willingness to engage in politics at such a young age and for taking a stand for her beliefs."

Ellis, who posted a photo of himself with the young woman holding one of his signs at the event, also said in his statement that she is 18 years old.

Crenshaw's spokesperson told PEOPLE why the woman's comments hit a nerve.

"His faith is very important to him because he used it to get through seriously trying circumstances," the spokesperson said. "This is a guy who lost his mom to breast cancer when he was a 10-year-old. His mom taught him about faith and passed those lessons on to Dan."

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The congressman, who was elected in 2018, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL. In 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan, Crenshaw was badly injured by an explosion that took his right eye and damaged his left eye.

"He used his faith after getting blown up in Afghanistan," the spokesperson told PEOPLE, adding that the congressman does not typically mention his beliefs in political speeches or "wear religion on his sleeve."

"He leaned on God to get him through that experience in Afghanistan," the rep also said. "It's nothing short of a miracle that he's not blind and dead. He felt the woman crossed a line and that's why he reacted the way he did."