Washington (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul intertwined his message against foreign aid on Friday with a message that appeals to the GOP's social conservative base.
"There's a war on Christianity going on, and sometimes you're being asked to pay for it," the Kentucky Republican said. "I say not one penny to any country that persecutes Christians."
He gave his remarks at a conference in the nation's capital organized by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group known for promoting Christian values in public life.
The first-term senator blasted the Obama administration for arming rebels in Syria, some of whom have been reported to attack Christians.
"The vast majority of Christians in Syria, though, are on the opposite side of the war," Paul said.
"There is an irony that is impossible to escape," he continued. "Our tax dollars are funding Islamic rebels, who are killing Christians."
Paul, however, said nothing of defending Christians who are currently being threatened in Iraq by Islamic militants, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
He mentioned an instance of Christians being persecuted in Pakistan, and he reiterated his stance against sending money to the Palestinians because of their opposition to Israel.
"It's time to stop this madness," he said, referring to sending foreign aid to those countries. (Paul has also called on ending foreign aid to Israel, though at a much slower pace than cutting assistance to Israel's enemies.)
The potential presidential candidate also used his speech to bit back against the more hawkish side of the GOP, which stands in contrast to Paul's libertarian and non-interventionist leanings on foreign policy.
He invoked President Ronald Reagan's famous phrase - "peace through strength."
"I fear that some in our nation and some in our party have forgotten the first part of the sentence, that peace should be our goal even as we build our strength," he said. "Some in my party have distorted this belief in peace through strength into a misguided belief that we should project strength through war."
Paul argued the country should still defend itself, but stressed that intervention can have unintended consequences.
"During the Iraq War, think of what happened: A quarter of a million Iraqi Christians fled Iraq...Where did they go? They headed mostly for Syria," he said.