Approximately 1,000 social conservatives in Iowa attended the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kickoff in Waukee, where they were able to hear from nine presidential candidates during the four-and-a-half hour event.
Overall, four candidates stood out as I was watching and live blogging the event: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Out of those four, Jindal killed it with a message that focused on religious liberty.
I want to be clear that no candidate who attended did themselves a disservice. The only “losers” from this affair were those who chose not to attend, as it was a missed opportunity to appeal to Iowa’s evangelical base.
Certainly the evangelical base’s issues of concern have broadened over the past seven years since Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa Caucus, and the electorate has changed even since former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum’s win in 2012. That said, religious liberty is an issue of great concern, and the social conservative base, which mostly consists of evangelicals and faithful Catholics, are concerned with current trends whether it is a federal birth control mandate or a state law that dictates participation in a gay wedding.
After describing his journey to faith in Christ, he boldly addressed the issue at hand, challenging Big Business who have been literal bullies in the fight over religious liberty.
Here are his remarks on religious liberty below:
We are seeing an unprecedented assault on our religious liberty rights in the United States of America. A little over a year ago in February at the Reagan library I gave a speech about the upcoming assault on religious liberty. It’s no longer upcoming folks, it is here.
And it didn’t start in Indiana and Arkansas, it didn’t start in the Hobby Lobby case where the Obama administration wanted to force the Green family to use their own money to pay for abortifacients, to pay for abortions, that violated their sincerely held religious beliefs. And it certainly didn’t start when the left got so infuriated at Phil Roberts for saying things they didn’t agree with, they tried to get Duck Dynasty cancelled on A&E. And it certainly didn’t start this week when Hillary Clinton stood up in New York and said those of us that are pro-life need to have our religious beliefs changed.
Now listen to what she said: She said we need to have our religious beliefs changed. I don’t know how she proposed to do that, she didn’t say whether we need to go to reeducation camps, or how she intends to do that. But I’ve got news for her: My religious beliefs are not between me and Hillary Clinton. My religious beliefs are between me and God, and we’re not changing our religious beliefs simply because they upset Hillary Clinton.
Now we saw something very unusual in Indiana: We saw corporate America team up with the radical left to come after our religious liberty rights. Corporate America needs to be careful, the same radical left that doesn’t want us to have religious liberty rights does not want us to have economic liberty rights. The reality is the same radical left that doesn’t want us to have religious liberty rights wants to tax and regulate these companies out of existence. They think profit is a dirty word.
Corporate America needs to be careful. I know they think they succeeded in bullying those leaders in Indiana but I’ve got news for them: We’ve got legislation in Louisiana. We’ve already got a Religious Freedom Act and we’ve got legislation this session to protect people of conscience who hold a traditional view of marriage, and they might as well save their breath because corporate America is not going to bully the governor of Louisiana when it comes to religious liberty.
And they need to understand that there is no freedom of association without religious liberty. I reject this notion that in America, we can’t have religious liberty and also get rid of discrimination. The reality is we can do both. And the reality is: The real discrimination we are facing today, are Christian individuals, families and business owners that shouldn’t have to choose between operating their businesses and following their consciences, their traditional views, (and) their religious beliefs.
When Hillary Clinton says we have the freedom of religious expression, that’s not religious liberty. All she means is for a couple of hours a week we can say what we want in church. Religious liberty means being able to live our lives, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to our faith, according to our conscience, according to our beliefs.
Now this fight is bigger than marriage, I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman and unlike President Obama and Secretary Clinton, the Governor of Louisiana’s views, my views, they’re not “evolving” for the times. They’re not based on poll numbers.
This fight is bigger than marriage though. This fight is about the definition of liberty and freedom in the United States. The left thinks we’re not smart enough to have Second Amendment rights. We’re not smart enough to have school choice, we’re not smart enough to drink a Big Gulp in New York, we’re not smart enough to buy our own health insurance. Now they think we’re not smart enough to live our own lives.
Well I’ve got a message, you know the left, the media elite, the political elite, they used to believe in tolerance. And they still do, they tolerate everybody except those who happen to disagree with them. It’s no surprise the one group they do want to discriminate against is evangelical Christians with traditional views. I’ve got a message and I’ll say it simply and slowly so they’ll understand it, it’s not real complicated…Here’s my message to Hollywood, and to the media elite: The United States of America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America and is the reason we’re here today.
To steal a phrase from Governor Scott Walker—this is what going big and going bold looks like.