WASHINGTON – Facing lingering tensions in his party, the chairman of the Republican National Committee urged religious conservatives Saturday to support the GOP's plans to expand.
"I would just ask you that we come together and that we pray for the future of this country," Reince Priebus said on the final day of the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference that brought several Republicans leaders together with evangelical activists.
Religious conservatives have been skeptical of establishment Republicans in Washington and the RNC's plan for growth, which calls for more tolerant attitudes on contentious social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.
"When it comes to social issues, the party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming," according to the RNC commissioned by Priebus after the 2012 election and released in March. "If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues."
Priebus did not mention those recommendations in his remarks, but he did call for activists to smile and monitor their tone during political debates.
"I'm a Christian. I'm a believer. God lives in my heart. And I'm for changing minds, not changing values," Priebus said.