NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Speaking in New York Saturday evening, Vice President Joe Biden said protecting religious liberty is a moral imperative that defends society against violent extremists.

Biden was in town to receive the Athenagoras Human Rights Award — the highest award bestowed by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Biden said terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the ISIS pervert Islam to justify horrific acts. He says America will be strong as long as it’s a beacon for human rights.

The vice president said religious values are entirely consistent with civic values in the U.S. He credited his Catholic faith for giving him “refuge and reassurance.”

Biden didn’t make any reference to his deliberations about running for president. One of his top advisers says he will make a decision in the near future.

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