Ted Cruz, speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to the Majority” conference, made a strong statement on religious liberty, saying that he believes 2016 will be defined by the religious liberty debate. In addition to going over his background defending religious liberty as Solicitor General of Texas, Cruz also took on Democrats, Big Business and even fellow Republicans for failing to stand up for RFRA bills in Iowa and Arkansas (starts around 5:57):
The battles today have only intensified. Religious liberty—in fact just this week I think the EPA has named religious liberty an endangered species. That would be funnier if it weren’t so profoundly true.
Listen, every one of our hearts broke a month ago, in Indiana and Arkansas. Indiana and Arkansas, the battle over religious liberty there was heartbreaking. The perfect storm of the modern Democratic Party and Big Business came together. You know, there was a time when religious liberty brought us together, when it was a bipartisan priority, when we might say “you know, Democrats and Republicans, we’ll disagree on marginal tax rates, but when it comes to defending the protections of the First Amendment, protecting everyone’s ability to worship and seek out the Lord God Almighty with all our hearts, minds and souls, well that was everyone.” Sadly that’s no longer the case. The modern Democratic Party has decided that their commitment to mandatory gay marriage in all 50 states trumps any willingness to defend the First Amendment.
Two decades ago Congress passed the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It had the support of such famed right-wing nutcases as Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden. It was signed into law by a Democrat, Bill Clinton. That law was substantively identical to what both Indiana and Arkansas tried. And yet today’s Democratic Party, aided by their friends in the media, and aided even more by Big Business which decided that it was good business to throw Christians overboard and abandon religious liberty, pounded upon leaders there. And I’ll tell you what was saddest: just how many Republicans ran for the hills.
I think Indiana was, as Ronald Reagan would have put it, “a time for choosing.” As William Barrett Travis in Texas put it when he drew a line in the sand, you choose which side of the line you’re on. More than a few Republicans, sadly, even a few Republicans running for 2016, chose that moment somehow to go rearrange their sock drawer. I’ll tell you this: I will never, ever, ever, shy from my duty of defending the religious liberty of every American.
Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.