Cruz: "Religious Liberty Unifies Us"

May 28, 2015

These are the remarks, as delivered, by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Summit April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa.

God bless the great state of Iowa. So now, is, is this, the "Ready for Hillary" gathering? Well, you know, we did have good news, which is “Ready for Hillary” made their very first hire… the director of email security. So, it’s good to know that Lois Lerner has a job. It is great to be back with so many friends here in Iowa. Thank you for coming out. You know, I understand that the air conditioning went out. I guess it’s because you’ve had so many politicians here with so much hot air. It was too much for the facility, so, so, I apologize for contributing to that, that ailment. What a tremendous array of candidates we have on the Republican side. I don’t know about you but I’m inspired. We have governors, we have senators, we have leaders who are standing and ready to fight. On the other side they have Hillary Clinton and the clerk at Chipotle. And, it’s been a long evening. It’s been wonderful.

I want to come to you with a word of hope and encouragement. Every one of us understands this is a time of great challenge. We look at our country, people are hurting. Millions are hurting. Our constitutional rights are under assault from Washington. We look abroad, the Hillary Clinton Barack Obama foreign policy of leading from behind is a manifest disaster. And yet, the encouragement I want to give you is people are waking up. We are seeing an awakening across the state of Iowa and across this great nation. We are seeing something very similar to what happened in 1979 and 1980, the Reagan revolution. We are seeing that again as millions of men and women are rising up.

How extreme. How sad. How radicalized has the modern Democratic party got?

 I want to talk tonight about an issue that is near and dear to all of us. And that is religious liberty. You  know in the past month we have seen religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level. Now, I’ll tell you, I’ve been blessed to have spent the past couple of decades fighting to defend religious liberty. Before I was in the Senate I was the Solicitor General of Texas, the chief lawyer for the state in front of the United States Supreme Court. When I was there I was proud to defend the Texas Ten Commandments Monument  that was erected in 1961. And then an atheist, a homeless man, came and filed litigation seeking to tear down that monument from the state capitol. We took that case to the United States Supreme Court  defending the Ten Commandments, and we won five-four. We all remember when a federal court of appeals in California likewise struck down the Pledge of Allegiance because it includes the words, “one nation under God.” Texas took the lead bringing together all fifty states. We went to the U.S. Supreme Court and we won unanimously. And then when I was in private practice I was honored to represent pro bono, free of charge, over three million veterans, defending the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial - a lone white Latin cross that was erected over seventy years ago to honor the men and women who gave their lives in World War I. The ACLU sued seeking to tear down that monument. They argued that you could not gaze on the image of a cross on federal land. And, the Federal District Court agreed with them. The Federal Court of Appeals agreed with them and ordered that that Veterans memorial be torn down. During the litigation, on court order, they built a plywood box to cover up the monument. Because, you know, they were right about something. The image of a cross has power. Well, I was proud to represent over three million veterans. We went to the United States Supreme Court defending that monument and we won, five-four, upholding that monument.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen religious liberty come under assault in Indiana and Arkansas as those states acted to protect religious liberty. And the response from the modern Democratic Party, the response from the main-stream media, although I repeat myself, was hysteria. You know, it wasn’t too long ago when religious liberty was an area of bipartisan agreement. It wasn’t too long ago. Two decades ago Congress passed the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed the United States Senate 97 to 3. It enjoyed the support of such famed right-wingers as Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer. It was signed into law by Bill Clinton, a Democrat. The laws that Indiana and Arkansas passed were substantively identical to the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And yet, what a sad statement that today’s modern Democratic Party has become so radicalized in their devotion to mandatory gay marriage in all fifty states that there is no longer any room for religious liberty. There is no longer any room for defending what is the very first liberty protected in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. We need to remember who we are. America as a nation, we were founded by men and women fleeing religious persecution. And we came to seek out a new land where every man and woman could seek out and worship the Lord God Almighty with all of our hearts, minds, and souls, free of government getting in the way.

You know, last year following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, a tremendous victory for religious liberty, where the Court ruled five-four, that the federal government could not force a Christian company to violate the religious beliefs of its owners and force them to pay for abortion inducing drugs under Obamacare. That decision was five-four. One justice away from the Supreme Court saying, yes, the Supreme Court can come and order a Christian company or the Little Sisters of the Poor or you and me to violate our religious beliefs.

Every one of us is called to lift this nation up in prayer. But we're also called to stand up and fight.

 How far have we come?  And, yet, in the aftermath of that, Senate Democrats introduced federal legislation to gut the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor where I asked, ‘When did the Democratic Party abandon religious liberty?’ I was next to a gigantic picture of John F. Kennedy who said “I will not stand with a man who will not stand for religious liberty.” My father, Raphael Cruz, a pastor who many of you have gotten to know, my dad turned on C-Span, saw me next to JFK, scared the living daylights out of him.  He said, goodness gracious, my son has gone native. And, I asked on the Senate floor, where are the JFKs? Is there no one in the Democratic Party who will stand for religious liberty? There were fifty-five Democrats in the Senate. Do you know how many voted to stand for religious liberty? Zero. How extreme. How sad. How radicalized has the modern Democratic Party got? And, we see this especially in the marriage debate. On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that threatens, the Court may well attempt to strike down marriage laws in all fifty states. I have to tell you one thing that all of us are called to do between now and then, and especially on Tuesday, is fall to our knees in prayer.

Couple of years ago, Heidi and I were at our home church - we’re members of First Baptist in Houston. We went in on Mother’s Day, and our pastor stood up, and he had, curious enough he had a kiddie pool and a fishing rod. He normally doesn’t have props or anything, and he stood up and said, “I was all prepared to give a sermon on Mother’s Day.”  He said, “It was a humdinger, I brought in props.” And he said, “God won’t let me give that sermon,’ cause the preceding week, in history, the President of the United States had come out against marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And, over two centuries of our nation’s history that had never happened. And, it happened that week. And, our pastor stood in the congregation and said, “Listen, God won’t let me give this sermon. I’m going to ask the entire congregation, we’re going to spend Sunday morning on our knees in prayer for our nation.” Every one of us is called to lift this nation up in prayer. But we’re also called to stand up and fight.

This week, I introduced in the United States Senate a constitutional amendment to preserve the authority of the states to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. I also introduced legislation in the United States Senate to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over any litigation seeking to tear down traditional marriage laws of the states. Iowa’s own Steve King introduced very similar legislation in the House of Representatives.  We need leaders who will stand unapologetically in defense of the Judeo-Christian values America was built on. We need leaders who will stand unapologetically in defense of marriage and life. We need leaders who will stand unapologetically in defense of the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and the religious liberty of every American.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz participates in a panel discussion hosted by the Network of Iowa Home Christian Educators
Credit John Pemble / IPR


You know, when Indiana and Arkansas were playing out, the Democratic Party as a whole was unified in attacking religious liberty. Today’s Democratic Party, it seems, has decided there is no room for Christians in the Democratic Party. We saw in Indiana, a Christian owner of a pizza parlor who was driven out of business because of her religious faith. Here in Iowa, y’all have seen the very same thing with the Gortz Haus.

I had the great privilege of visiting with Dick and Betty who own the Gortz Haus, a facility that was used for weddings for years until they explained to a gay couple they could not in good conscience allow the church facility on their property to be used for a homosexual wedding. They were sued in an effort to force them to violate their religious faith. And, this wonderful couple here in Iowa was forced through litigation to stop doing weddings. Today, you cannot get a wedding at the Gortz Haus anymore because the modern Democratic Party has gotten so extreme, so intolerant there is a liberal fascism that is dedicated to going after and targeting believing Christians who follow the biblical teachings on marriage. This is heartbreaking, but let me give you a word of encouragement. It is so extreme that it is waking people up.

Religious liberty is an issue that unifies us. It unifies across racial lines, and ethnic lines, and socio-economic lines, and political lines. It brings us together. And, let me make a special message to the pastors and faith leaders here tonight. There is a particular calling on us to reach out, to reach out to others in our community, others who don’t share our views on marriage and to minister to them, to minister in love, to minister in love to move their hearts and minds, to engage in civil discourse. The left practices vilifications and insults, and spews hatred to people of faith. Our friends in the media facilitate it, playing gotcha questions all the time. And yet, curiously, they never ask those in the Democratic Party how they would react if their children became evangelical Christians. They never ask those in the Democratic Party how they would react if their children were faithful Catholics who believed the biblical teaching that those Democratic politicians are persecuting actively. You know, I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie, “The Usual Suspects.” There’s a line in it, “the greatest trick the devil ever played was to convince the world he didn’t exist.” There’s a corollary to that. The greatest trick the left has ever played is to convince conservatives that America doesn’t share our values. We are a center-right country. We embrace diversity, but we embrace the liberty of the Bill of Rights of each and every American to worship God and live according to the faith and dictates of our conscience. Change is coming. On January 20th, 2017, there will be a new president in Washington. And, change will come from the American people. I am going to close with a simple story.

January 20, 2017, an older man walks up to the front gate of the White House to the marine standing guard. He says, “excuse me sir, is Barak Obama here?” The marine says, “I’m sorry Barak Obama is no longer President of the United States.” The next day, January 21st, same older man walks up to the front door. Same marine is there. He says, “excuse me sir is Barak Obama here?” The marine, visibly annoyed says, “I’m sorry sir, Barak Obama is no longer President of the United States.” January 22nd, the third day, same older gentleman walks up, asks the marine the same question. The marine says, “Sir I’ve told you this three days in a row. Barak Obama is no longer President of the United States.” The old man, with a twinkle in his eye said, “I know that. I just love hearing you say it.” And the marine salutes and says, “See you tomorrow, sir.” Thank you and God bless you.