Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio has left voters confused after saying citizens must obey civil authorities but that "God's rules always win," leaving some Christian conservatives unsure whether he believes laws concerning issues such as same-sex marriage should be ignored or upheld.
"We are clearly called in the Bible to adhere to our civil authorities. But that conflicts with also our requirement to adhere to God's rules," Rubio told the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody in an interview published Tuesday. "So when those two come in conflict, God's rules always win."
Rubio said during the interview that "we cannot abide by" a government that "is compelling us to sin." He specifically cited laws that would prevent preaching the Gospel or that require officials to perform same-sex marriages. While making his point, the Florida senator drew a distinction between "current law" and "settled law," saying that Christians are called to participate in legal processes to change laws that do not adhere to their religious principles.
"No law is settled -- Roe v. Wade is current law, but it doesn't mean that we don't continue to aspire to fix it because we think it's wrong," he told Brody. "[U]ntil we can get a Supreme Court to overturn Roe versus Wade, we do everything possible within the constraints that it's placed upon us to confront it and certainly limit the number of abortions and save as many lives as possible."
He added: "Not ignoring it, but trying to change the law."
But the Des Moines Register reported Wednesday that Christian conservatives in Iowa were left unsure how exactly Rubio would address the Supreme Court ruling that earlier this year codified same-sex marriage after he delivered a speech Tuesday night.
Iowa pastor Brad Sherman reported a terse exchange with the Rubio campaign's faith outreach director following the event.
"I asked if Rubio might actually be somewhat aligned with the view that the court's decision is not really 'law' but opinion, and could be ignored, much like Lincoln ignored the Dred Scott decision, a position Mike Huckabee has taken," Sherman said. "He said Huckabee would be impeached if he was president and did that, and that Huckabee was pandering, just saying that to get votes."
Rubio made similar comments in September amid the national uproar stirred by Kentucky county court clerk Kim Davis, who was arrested and held in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“We should seek a balance between government’s responsibility to abide by the laws of our republic and allowing people to stand by their religious convictions,” Rubio told the New York Times in September. “While the clerk’s office has a governmental duty to carry out the law, there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office.”