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Sen. Ted Cruz spurs crowd to stand up for religious freedom

April 2, 2014 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at Liberty University Convocation before a crowd of over 10,000.

As he was welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd of more than 10,000 Liberty University students — and many more watching online — at Convocation on Wednesday, April 2, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas proclaimed that it was he who was inspired by them.

“I am inspired to be here with you … with believers who are standing up with courage, who are standing up for the principles you believe in,” he said. “You have the ability to change the state of Virginia. You have the ability to change the United States of America. The 10,000 people here — you have the ability to change the world.”

The senator was introduced by President Jerry Falwell as “a passionate defender of limited government, free enterprise, and the U.S. Constitution.”

Cruz is known for his grassroots campaign in his first bid for the Senate, which was recognized by the Washington Post as “the biggest upset of 2012.” He serves on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; the Committee on Armed Services; the Committee on the Judiciary; the Special Committee on Aging; and the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Prior to running for office, Cruz served as the Solicitor General of Texas, the state’s chief lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court. As the nation’s youngest Solicitor General, the longest serving Solicitor General in Texas, and the first Hispanic Solicitor General of Texas, Cruz achieved numerous victories before the nation’s highest court.

His father, Rafael Cruz, a pastor and political activist, spoke at Convocation in November. Ted Cruz said it touched his father’s heart for him to have the opportunity to speak at Liberty and to have received such a kind welcome.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell with Senator Ted Cruz.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell and Sen. Ted Cruz.

As he began his speech, Sen. Cruz explained that faith and freedom are intertwined. When the pilgrims set out to the New World in search of opportunity, Cruz said, resulting revolution was more than a battle fought with guns and bayonets; it was a revolution of ideas.

For a millennia, Cruz said, people had been told that their rights came from a monarch. Quoting from the Declaration of Independence, Cruz described the radical proposition of the framers of the United States as the idea “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The framers of this country believed our rights come from God, said Cruz, not from a ruler of this earth. The founding fathers inverted the concept of sovereignty by giving the people the power over government.

“Those were radical propositions … propositions that enabled this to be a land where each and every one of us could seek out God Almighty with all of our heart, soul, and mind, free of the government,” he said.

As a longtime defender of religious liberty, Cruz asserted that those rights have never been more in peril. He has had to defend the presence of religious monuments on government grounds and the use of “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance before the Supreme Court.

“For a nation that was founded by pilgrims fleeing religious oppression, how through the looking glass have we gone that the federal government is now litigating against our citizens trying to force us to violate our faith?” Cruz said.

In light of attacks on religious liberty, Cruz said that believers are called to action.

“We are called … not to sing quietly and hide our faith under a bushel, but to stand and speak no matter what the consequence,” he said.

As examples of this kind of bravery, Cruz referenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and pastor Saeed Abedini, who both were imprisoned for standing up for their beliefs. King was imprisoned in Birmingham, Ala., as he fought for civil rights in the 1960s. Abedini, whose wife visited Convocation during Global Focus Week last fall, is currently incarcerated in Iran for sharing his faith.

“The Word says we should be watchmen on the wall, we should be salt and light,” Cruz said. “Light cannot be seen if it is hidden … behind a pulpit … a dorm room … in your living room. Light cannot be seen unless it is in the world. If you value religious freedom, and I know every man and woman here (does), then we have a call to action.”

Cruz told the students that thanks to modern technology, they can speak out and make a difference right now. He said that he is encouraged by the movement of young people taking action that is sweeping across this nation.

Ted Cruz poses with Liberty students for photos after his Convocation speech.
After his Convocation speech Ted Cruz took time to meet with Liberty students.

In closing, Cruz shared a story of a tightrope walker who walked a line over a waterfall several times in front of an enthusiastic crowd. With each trip, he increased the difficulty and asked the crowd if they believed he could do it. Finally, after successfully making the trip with a wheelbarrow filled with two 100-pound bags of sand, he asked if the crowed thought he could do it with a person in the wheelbarrow. After a roar from the crowd the man said, “get in the wheelbarrow.”

“Believing … isn’t sitting back and doing a polite little golf clap,” Cruz said. “Believing is putting everything you have, everything you are, standing up with everything you can be, and getting in the wheelbarrow.

“Liberty University was founded and run by women and men who got in the wheelbarrow, who risked everything for their faith and freedom, and each of you are here getting in the wheelbarrow, and that is what gives me so much hope for the future of this nation.”

Cruz received a standing ovation from the audience. He then spent time interacting with students.

“I’m a big fan of Ted Cruz. … I love that he’s taking a stand for liberty, for religious liberties, for Second Amendment rights, for the Constitution, in a way that many politicians on either side are not. He’s not afraid of what people say,” said senior Becky Barker. “It’s such a privilege to be able to hear from people like him (at Liberty). It’s an opportunity you wouldn’t necessarily get anywhere else to the same extent.”