GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called President Obama the "most anti-Christian" president ever for his guest list for Pope Francis's upcoming state visit.
Invitations reportedly went out to some individuals the Vatican disapproves of, including the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, an activist nun, a transgender activist, and pro-abortion activists, reports the Hill.
“President Obama’s classless decision to transform Pope Francis’ visit to the White House into a politicized cattle call for gay and pro-abortion activists is an insult to millions of Catholics,” he said.
“Why is it that Obama goes to extremes to accommodate Muslim terrorists but shows nothing but disdain for Christians?” the former Arkansas governor added. “This is a new low for an administration that will go down as the most anti-Christian in American history."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded to Huckabee's criticism, saying "there is no theological test that was administered prior to giving out tickets to stand on the South Lawn Wednesday morning," according to NPR.
He explained that the diversity of the approximately 15,000-people crowd "reflects the diversity of people in this country that are moved by the teachings and actions of this pope."
Pope Francis's visit to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 22 is his first ever visit to the U.S. and is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors to the capital. He will speak before Congress on Sept. 24.
However, Huckabee is not the only one to criticize Obama's guest list. A senior Vatican official has said that the Vatican is concerned that photos of the pope with gay and abortion activists could look like he is endorsing their causes.
Earnest said that the White House did not consider this to be a political move.
"The president's approach is to welcome the pope warmly to the United States and to eagerly anticipate and participate in a discussion about their shared values," he explained.
"There is so much about what Pope Francis has to say that is inclusive and that reflects the kind of personal commitment that Pope Francis has to a wide range of issues, particularly when it comes to social justice," he added.
Earnest explained that President Obama and Pope Francis look forward to discussing many of their shared values.