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.

"I'm a Christian. I'm a believer. God lives in my heart. And I'm for changing minds, not changing values," Priebus said.

Religious conservatives have been skeptical of establishment Republicans in Washington and the RNC's plan for growth, which calls for more tolerant attitudes on immigration and social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. The party is working to rebuild after a painful 2012 election season in which Republicans lost the presidential contest and a handful of winnable Senate contests.

"When it comes to social issues, the party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming," according to an RNC report commissioned by Priebus after that 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 repeat calls for significant changes to the Republican presidential nominating process – particularly, fewer debates and a shorter primary season.

The RNC's call for tolerance was not popular during the three-day meeting of social conservative leaders, which attracted several politicians considering 2016 presidential bids.

The conference's final speaker, former vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, rejected calls for an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

Palin, who is rejoining Fox News Channel as an analyst less than half a year after they decided to part ways, also offered a warning to "the good old boys" in the GOP leadership who are calling for conservative activists to tone down aggressive rhetoric.

"You do not marginalize, you don't discredit and dismiss, every day average hard-working Americans – those who are part of that grass-roots tea party movement," she said.

"Just let them tell us to sit down and shut up," Palin said later, "which I refuse to do."

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  • The American Conservative Union's 2012 Rankings

    On Feb. 21, 2013, <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">The American Conservative Union</a> released its 2012 conservative ratings guide. Which members of Congress had a perfect score?

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)

    (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

    Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

    (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

    (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

    (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

    (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.)

    (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.)

    (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/dan-burton-retirement-indiana-gop_n_1244141.html">Editor's note:</a> Burton retired from Congress in January 2012</em> <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/jeff-flake-election-results-2012_n_2049514.html">Editor's note:</a> Flake became a U.S. senator in Jan. 2013</em> <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. John Fleming (R-La.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.)

    (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call) <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/wally-harger-retirement-california-republican_n_1197156.html">Editor's note:</a> Herger retired from Congress in January 2012.</em> <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.)

    (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/09/charles-boustany-wins_n_2267276.html">Editor's note:</a> Landry was defeated by fellow Republican Charles Boustany in Dec. 2012's special election.</em> <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/29/david-schweikert_n_1838371.html">Editor's note:</a> Quayle was defeated by David Schweikert in the Republican primary for Arizona's 6th congressional district.</em> <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.)

    (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

    (Photo by Bill Clark/Getty Images) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/tim-scott-senate_n_2315830.html">Editor's note:</a> Scott was appointed U.S. Senator by S.C. Gov Nikki Haley in Dec. 2012, taking the seat of Jim DeMint.</em> <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/cliff-stearns-planned-parenthood-reelection_n_1777602.html">Editor's Note:</a> Stearns lost the Aug. 2012 GOP primary to retain his House seat.</em> <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)

    (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)

    (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>

  • Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.)

    (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) <a href="http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1174985/8b2d5dc5f6/ARCHIVE">Source: American Conservative Union 2012 Rankings </a>