Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced his presidential bid at Liberty University, a well-known conservative, Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell. It's a testament to his faith and Southern Baptist roots that have kept him grounded throughout his life. But here are five facts you may not know about Cruz's personal faith.
1. While Cruz says that government should protect the religious rights of people, leaders should avoid using their faith for political gain.
In a 2013 interview, he explained that faith is "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Life, liberty, and property, the fundamental natural rights of man are given to every one of us by God, and the role of government fundamentally is to protect those rights. I think anyone in politics — you've got a special obligation to avoid being a pharisee, to avoid ostentatiously wrapping yourself in your faith. Because I think in politics, it's too easy for that to become a crutch, for that to be politically useful," he said during his appearance on "The 700 Club."
2. If his father had not given his life to Christ, Cruz would have been raised by a single mom.
"You know, when I was a young child, my parents were living up in Calgary," he told a crowd of supporters. "And neither of my parents were people of faith at the time. Neither of them had a relationship with Christ. Both of my parents drank far too much. Both of them had serious problems with alcohol."
"And when I was three years old, my father decided he didn't want to be married anymore. And he didn't want a 3-year-old son. So he got on a plane and left Calgary and flew back to Texas to Houston. And he left us. Now, when he was in Houston, a colleague in the oil and gas business invited my father to come with him to Clay Road Baptist Church. And my father accepted that invitation; he went to Clay Road Baptist Church and he gave his life to Jesus, and he went and bought an airplane ticket and flew back to Calgary to rejoin my mother and to rejoin his son."
"So when anyone asks is faith real, is a relationship with Jesus real, I can tell you, if it were not for my father giving his life to Christ, I would have been raised by a single mother without having my dad in the home."
3. He fiercely supported Indiana's religious freedom law.
"We're seeing in the news right now a lot of noise because the state of Indiana bravely stood up and passed a law defending religious liberty. I'll say this: I will commend the state of Indiana for doing the right thing. Religious liberty is not some cockamamie new theory that the Indiana legislature just figured out yesterday. It was literally among the founding principles of our nation, and we have to be able to explain that cheerfully and with a smile," Cruz told a group gathered in Sioux City, Iowa, in April.
4. Cruz wants to mobilize born-again Christians and specifically addressed them in his announcement to run for president.
"Today, roughly half of born-again Christians aren't voting. They're staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values. From the dawn of this country, at every stage, America has enjoyed God's providential blessing. Over and over again, the American people rose to the challenge. The power of the American people when we rise up and stand for liberty knows no bounds. God's blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation and I believe God isn't done with America yet," he said during his campaign announcement.
5. He was heckled for defending Israel at a conference for persecuted Christians.
"Tonight, we are all united in defense of Christians. Tonight, we are all united in defense of Jews. Tonight, we are all united in defense of people of good faith, who are standing together against those who would persecute and murder those who dare disagree with their religious teachings," Cruz said at the inaugural summit dinner of the group In Defense of Christians. "Christians have no greater ally than Israel," he said before being booed and heckled by some in the crowd.