Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit on April 18, 2015 in Nashua, N.H
Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty

Huckabee: Gay marriage will lead to ‘criminalization of Christianity’

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is expected to reveal whether or not he will seek the Republican presidential nomination on May 5, is arguing that marriage for same-sex couples will lead to the “criminalization of Christianity.”

The staunch social conservative and ordained Southern Baptist minister made the eyebrow-raising remarks on Thursday during a conference call organized by the conservative Family Research Council.

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“Christian convictions are under attack as never before,” said Huckabee. “Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great republic. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity.”

The audio was obtained by Right Wing Watch, and comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments for challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. Huckabee’s team did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Huckabee suggested during the call that criminal charges could be brought against those who preach against same-sex marriage or those who refuse to marry gay couples. He asked those listening to pray for “biblical marriage,” politicians and Supreme Court justices. He also said even if the nation’s highest court rules in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, the battle isn’t over.

“I’m thinking, how many people passed ninth grade civics? This is not that complicated. There are three branches of government, not one,” he said, adding later, “What you have is a court opinion and nothing else.”

Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses with the help of evangelical voters during his failed 2008 presidential bid, built up a decent following with his Fox News show “Huckabee.” (He has since left the network in order to mull a 2016 bid.)

According to the latest Real Clear Politics average of survey data surrounding the still nascent Iowa GOP presidential caucus, Huckabee is in third place with 12.3% support, behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s 17.3% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 12.8%.

When it comes to the Republican presidential nomination overall, Huckabee slips to fifth place with 7.8% support.