- (Photo: WFAA 8 ABC video screenshot)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke at Pastor Robert Jeffress' First Baptist Church in Dallas on Sunday, encouraging the congregation to stand up for their Christian principles, and calling for the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service.
Addressing the recent scandal where IRS agents were found to have targeted conservative groups for further review, Cruz, a Southern Baptist, said, "The IRS likewise asked another group – 'tell us the content of your prayers.' I really wish the response had been 'Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.'"
WFAA reported that the GOP senator was a guest at First Baptist Dallas during its "Faith in America Today" series. When he suggested that it was time to abolish the IRS, he apparently received a standing ovation from the congregation.
IRS official Lois Lerner admitted in May that groups with "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their names had been selected for additional reviews. Pro-life and Christian groups such as Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association were among those targeted.
In June, the IRS was blasted at a hearing for spending nearly $50 million in taxpayer money between 2010 and 2012 on conferences, lavish hotel rooms, spoof videos and various gifts, something which angered both Republicans and Democrats alike.
"Not only does the IRS take your money, not give you proper answers, but then when it comes to tens of millions of dollars, use it in a way that is, at best, maliciously self-indulgent," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Other groups have also called for the government agency to be shut down. A petition by the American Center for Law and Justice has been signed by over 70,000 people.
"The Internal Revenue Service cannot be used as a weapon against political enemies," the law group said. "There must be a thorough investigation of IRS abuse, and those responsible must be punished. There is no excuse for turning the full power of the IRS on American citizens."
Cruz told Christians at First Baptist that they need to be willing to stand up and fight for their beliefs.
"Believing is not simply sitting aside and doing a polite little golf clap," the Republican said, according to Dallas News. "Believing is putting everything you have, your heart, soul, life, putting everything [into] standing for what's right."
Last week, following the Supreme Court's decision to strike down key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and its refusal to uphold Proposition 8, the California law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, First Baptist pastor Jeffress criticized the court for basing its decisions "on the shifting sands of public opinion rather than enduring legal and moral principles."
"If you start expanding the definition of marriage between one man and one woman, where do you stop?" the pastor asked.