MIAMI (Christian Examiner) – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced June 15 his run for the White House with a stark warning on the future of religion in American life should Hillary Clinton be elected to the presidency.
"These have been rough years for religious charities and their right of conscience," Bush said. "And the leading Democratic candidate recently hinted of more trouble to come. Secretary Clinton said when the progressive agenda encounters religious beliefs to the contrary, those beliefs quote, 'have to be changed.' That's what she said."
"I guess we should at least thank her for the warning," Bush said.
Bush, a Roman Catholic, was referencing Clinton's policy address on women's reproductive rights in April when the former Secretary of State and presumptive Democrat nominee said she opposed new legislation to limit abortion.
"Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don't count for much if they're not enforced," she said. "And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."
Bush's comment highlights the role religion and religious liberty will play in the upcoming election as social changes brought about by same-sex marriage and transgenderism continue to pull the culture away from religious values.
Immigration will also likely be a point of intense debate. Bush's announcement was interrupted by hecklers wearing bright yellow shirts and shouting their support for allowing illegal immigrants – "dreamers" as they have been called by the Obama administration – to remain in the U.S.
Bush said he would address the issue as president through "meaningful immigration reform so that it will be resolved, not by executive order." His comment was a swipe at President Obama, who said after the 2014 congressional elections he would use his "pen and a phone" to alter American immigration policy and other laws if Congress did not act.
Citing the "very bad course" the country is on, Bush said he wanted to "take command" of the future.
"We will lift our sights again, make opportunity common again, get events in the world moving our way again. We will take Washington, the static capital of this dynamic country, and turn it out of the business of causing problems and get it back on the right side of free enterprise and freedom for all Americans," Bush said.
He pledged to pursue an economy that would achieve an ambitious annual growth rate of 4 percent, again contrasting his vision with the failed policies of President Obama. The unemployment rate in Florida when Bush left office was only 3.4 percent and there he achieved an annual growth rate, on average, of 4.4 percent.
"So many challenges could be overcome if we get this economy growing at full strength," Bush said.
Bush also hit at the current administration's failed foreign policy and tied Clinton to it. He said President Obama and his administration "have been so eager to be history makers they've failed to be peacemakers."
"With their phone-it-in foreign policy, the Obama-Kerry-Clinton team is leaving a legacy of crises uncontained, violence unopposed, enemies unnamed, friends offended and alliances unraveling," Bush said.
"In any language my message will be an optimistic one because I am certain we can make the decades ahead the greatest time to ever be alive in this world," Bush said.