Texas Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Thursday lashed out at opponents of so-called religious freedom bills critics say target the LGBT community.

Supporters of the bills say they protect religious freedom, but opponents argue that without LGBT protections they would allow businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.

Backlash from passage of such a bill in Indiana led Republican Govern Mike Pence to ask lawmakers for a “fix.” Within days, he was doing what he had previously vowed not to: signing a bill that added LGBT protections to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The political skirmish also forced Arkansas to reconsider its own proposal, though the fix there was to limit the scope of the bill, addressing only actions by the government, not by businesses or individuals.

Conservatives who looked to the measures as a response to court rulings striking down state gay marriage bans were infuriated by the alterations to the bills.

Appearing at a presidential candidates forum in Iowa, Cruz warned a crowd of homeschooling activists against the “jihad that is being waged right now in Indiana and Arkansas, going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

Cruz added that he could “bring people together” to defend religious freedom.