Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, on Wednesday described allowing gay couples to marry as the greatest threat to religious liberty in the history of America.

“We are seeing today profound threats to religious liberty in America. I think the greatest threats we've ever seen,” Cruz said during an appearance on Eric Metaxas' radio show.

Cruz said that he was “heartbroken” that so-called religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas were stripped at the last minute of provisions opponents said would allow businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.

The laws were examples of how the Democratic Party has “gotten so extreme and so radical in its devotion to mandatory gay marriage that they've decided there's no room for the religious liberty protected under the First Amendment,” Cruz told the conservative author.

He lamented that too many Republican leaders and presidential candidates “ran and hid in the hills.”

“We're a nation that was founded by men and women who were fleeing religious oppression and coming to seek out a land where every one of us could worship God Almighty with all of our hearts, minds and souls. And that is under jeopardy today,” he added.