WASHINGTON — Many Republican politicians are afraid to engage in the debates over religious freedom and gay marriage, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz told a gathering of pastors in Washington, D.C., adding that some of them are even running for president in 2016.
Over 600 were in attendance at the Watchmen on the Wall conference hosted by the Family Research Council.
Cruz, who represents Texas in the U.S. Senate, was discussing the recent debate over passage of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. Most Democrats opposed the bill while also, as The Christian Post reported at the time, misrepresenting it. Cruz correctly noted that the bill was "substantively identical" to the federal RFRA, which passed the Senate with 97 votes, passed the House unanimously and was signed by President Bill Clinton.
The federal RFRA "received the support of such famed right-wing nut cases as Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden," Cruz sarcastically joked.
Cruz then noted that Democrats changed their position on RFRA after it was opposed by certain gay marriage advocates.
"The modern Democratic Party, working hand-in-hand with big business, decided their allegiance to gay marriage trumps any devotion to religious liberty," he said.
Worse still, he immediately added, many Republicans were unwilling to defend religious freedom when it collided with the agenda of gay rights activists.
"I'm going to tell you something that was even sadder," he continued, "was just how many Republicans ran for the hills."
Cruz also criticized some of those he's running against for the Republican presidential nomination, though he did not mention anyone by name.
"I'll point out that some of the Republicans running in 2016 were nowhere to be found when Indiana was being fought," he said.
Cruz's voice steadily grew louder and the crowd began to cheer as he added, "And I can tell you this, I will always, always, always stand and fight for the religious liberty of every American."
Cruz also spoke about the Houston pastor's subpoena scandal. The mayor of Houston backed off from her subpoenas of certain pastors' communications regarding homosexuality because of the "pressure and heat and light" brought to the scandal by Christians.
He repeated that theme when his speech transitioned from talking about Christians in America to Christians abroad.
"What's happening here pales in comparison to what is happening across the globe," he said before noting that ISIS is crucifying Christians and beheading children.
Cruz then recalled the story of Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian mother who was imprisoned and nearly executed in Sudan for her faith.
Sudan released Ibrahim, Cruz said, due to the "pressure and heat and light on the government of Sudan."
Cruz then recalled speaking to Ibrahim at another FRC event. When he asked her how she was able to survive her ordeal without ever giving up on her faith, she answered, "Jesus was with me."
"Compared with that, problems in America don't seem all that bad," Cruz said.