Idaho Governor Backtracks On Christian Refugee Comments

Feb 7, 2017

Governor Otter at the annual Legislative Headliner Breakfast, sponsored by the Idaho Press Club.
Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says he chose the wrong word in his recent remarks acknowledging his preference that Christian refugees should be treated as a priority.

Otter, speaking at an Idaho Press Club event Tuesday, said he believes in religious preference, not religious discrimination. When pressed on the difference between the two, Otter said the United States has an obligation to protect groups being targeted for discrimination.


“I’m OK with religious preference," says Gov. Otter. "I think when you see a particular group being targeted for genocide, then you have to protect the ones you can. You have to try to help the ones you can.”


Otter has criticized the nation's refugee program. However, he took one step further last week in an interview with Idaho Public Television while discussing President Donald Trump's immigration ban that targeted seven predominantly Muslim nations. Otter said persecuted Christians should be treated as priority in the U.S. refugee program.


The executive order signed by Trump suspended immigration from the seven countries for 90 days and all refugee resettlement for 120 days. The order has since been blocked by a federal judge.