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Republican candidates decry "war on religion"

Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, listens to Texas Gov. Rick Perry answer a question during a Republican presidential candidate debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Taking a brief pause from attacking each other, the Republican presidential candidates took a moment in a Saturday night debate to attack the media and President Obama for what they called anti-Christian bigotry.

After a long exchange between ABC debate moderator George Stephanopoulos and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney regarding the regulation of birth control, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was prompted to chide "media bias."

Stephanopoulos asked Romney if he thinks the Constitution allows a state to ban birth control, but Gingrich said, "You don't hear the opposite question asked."

"Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done?" he said. "Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?"


Gingrich added that "there's a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side. And none of it gets covered by the news media."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry jumped in, saying that "this administration's war on religion is what bothers me greatly." As evidence of that "war," he pointed out that the Obama administration has chosen not to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 legal prohibition of federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

"When we see this administration not giving money to Catholic charities for sexually trafficked individuals because they don't agree with the Catholic church on abortion, that is a war against religion," he said. "And it's going to stop under a Perry administration."

As for whether he would oppose a state effort to ban contraception, Romney told Stephanopoulos, "I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception," adding, "there's no state that wants to do so."

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