LYNCHBURG, Va. — Looking to win over skeptical evangelical voters, Jeb Bush pushed back Saturday against what he said are modern intrusions on religion as he lauded graduates and their families at Liberty University, a Christian college popular on the path to the Republican presidential nomination.

“Fashionable ideas and opinions – which these days can be a religion all by itself – have got a problem with Christians and their right of conscience,” Bush told an audience of 34,000 in the school’s football stadium.

“That makes it our problem, and the proper response is a forthright defense of the first freedom in our Constitution.”

Some evangelicals view Bush warily, questioning whether the former Florida governor and likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination would provide suitable defense against gay marriage, illegal immigration and other issues important to conservatives.

Bush did not mention gay marriage, but got some of his loudest applause when he said “wherever there is a child waiting to be born, we say choose life, and we say it with love.”

And the convert to Catholicism pledged that he would not apologize for allowing faith to influence his decision-making.

“The simple and safe reply is, ‘No. Never. Of course not,'” Bush said. “If the game is political correctness, that’s the answer that moves you to the next round.”

He defended the role of religion in contemporary life.

He cited Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s decision to subpoena pastors in connection with a lawsuit over the city’s equal rights ordinance.

And he got applause slamming the Obama administration’s health agency for “dictating” to the Catholic charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, what goes into their health plan.

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