Cruz, Perry, other GOP hope­fuls preach to the faith­ful at Iowa event

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY CHRISTY HOPPE

Top Repub­li­can Party hope­fuls came like preach­ers at a re­vival to pitch them­selves to evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers as the best can­di­date to pro­tect the na­tion from weak­ened morals from within and wither­ing re­spect from with­out.

The nine speak­ers at the Iowa Faith and Free­dom Coali­tion event on Satur­day in­cluded top­tier can­di­dates who were united in their sup­port of re­li­gious free­doms, an anti-abor­tion agenda and the be­lief that the na­tion needs a strong, new leader.

Many cited Scrip­ture and tied their own re­li­gious be­liefs to their will­ing­ness to en­gage in a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. They tar­geted pro­tec­tion for re­li­gious rights and U.S. al­lies, es­pe­cially Is­rael.

So­cial con­ser­va­tive vot­ers are a large and pow­er­ful vot­ing bloc in Repub­li­can cau­cuses in Iowa, and the can­di­dates sought to connect with the more than 1,000 ac­tivists who turned out on a blus­tery night at Point of Grace Church.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion at the out­set and told the crowd that “in the past month we have seen re­li­gious lib­erty un­der as­sault at an un­prece­dented level.”

He said Demo­cratic Party mem- bers and the me­dia re­acted with “hys­te­ria” to the Arkansas and In­di­ana ef­forts to pass re­li­gious­free­dom laws that crit­ics said would have al­lowed busi­ness own­ers to dis­crim­i­nate against gays.

He cited how he fought as Texas solic­i­tor-gen­eral to main­tain the Ten Com­mand­ments on the state Capitol lawn and to pro­tect re­li­gious mon­u­ments. Cruz, who said mar­riage should only be be­tween one man and one woman, called on all Amer­i­cans to “fall to our knees and pray” be­fore Tues­day’s gay mar­riage ar­gu­ments be­fore the U.S. Supreme Court.

In search of re­demp­tion in Iowa from his poor 2012 show­ing, for­mer Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke of his per­sonal jour­ney and how God gave him a sec­ond chance.

Af­ter leav­ing the Air Force as a young man, he said, he felt lost un­til he turned to God.

“He wadded me up so there wasn’t much left and blew away all that chaff so there was only a lit­tle ker­nel left,” he said.

He said from there he knew he was meant for the min­istry, which he dis­cov­ered al­most 20 years later as the gover­nor of Texas.

“I just didn’t know how large a pul­pit he was go­ing to make for me,” Perry said.

He cited sweep­ing abor­tion re­stric­tions passed dur­ing his 14-year ten­ure and a re­li­gious­lib­erty law passed in 1999.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal, in one of the best-re­ceived speeches of the night, ref­er­enced how cor­po­rate boy­cotts and public pres­sure caused In­di­ana to re­write its re­li­gious-free­dom law. He said that the Louisiana Leg­is­la­ture is pre­par­ing a stronger ver­sion.

“They might as well save their breath, be­cause cor­po­rate Amer­ica is not go­ing to bully the gover­nor of Louisiana,” Jin­dal said. “The real dis­crim­i­na­tion is against Chris­tian busi­ness own­ers.”

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