Just days after attending an Iowa conference hosted by an evangelical media personality who called for the death penalty for gays, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz now says there’s “no meaningful risk” of Christians committing terrorist attacks.
“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz is quoted as saying in the Washington Post. “If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation.”
The U.S. senator from Texas made the remarks Sunday in the early primary state of South Carolina in the context of explaining his view that Muslim refugees from Syria should be barred from the United States, but borders should be open to displaced Christians.
“But it is precisely the Obama administration’s unwillingness to recognize that or ask those questions that makes them so unable to fight this enemy,” Cruz is quoted as saying. “Because they pretend as if there is no religious aspect to this.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also said Sunday assistance for Middle East refugees should be focused on Christians.
“We should focus our efforts as it relates to refugees on the Christians that are being slaughtered,” Bush said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
On Monday, Republican governors from Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Massachusetts pledged they would screen out Syrian refugees from their states. President Obama criticized those who would refuse access to Syrian refugees, saying, “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
Cruz’s comments ignore the call made at the recent National Religious Liberty Conference by Iowa evangelical leader Kevin Swanson, who delivered a fiery tirade in favor of the government rounding up gay people and executing them in the name of Christianity.
“It’s not a gay time,” Swanson said. “These are the people with the sores, the gaping sores, the sores that are pussy and gross. And people are coming in and carving happy faces on the sores. That’s not a nice thing to do. Don’t you dare carve happy faces on open pussy sores.”
Swanson continued that the death penalty for gay people shouldn’t be carried out immediately because “they need time to repent.”
Cruz appeared on the same stage as Swanson at the event along with fellow GOP presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal. Each of these candidates has remained silent on the views expressed by Swanson and their campaigns haven’t responded to a request for comment from the Washington Blade on whether they’d repudiate the remarks.
The Cruz campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on why the candidate thinks there’s no “meaningful risk” of Christians committing terrorism in the aftermath of Swanson’s remarks.
The Texas senator is no stranger to making anti-LGBT comments on his own. He’s contemplating restoring “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and opposes openly transgender military service.
Cruz has signed a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage to oppose same-sex nuptials and has introduced in the U.S. Senate a constitutional amendment against the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality.
On Saturday at a rally for religious freedom at Bob Jones University, Cruz said marriage equality “is not settled” and he’ll continue to fight it, according to the South Carolina-based Greenville Online.
“It’s not the law of the land,” Cruz is quoted as saying. “It’s not the Constitution. It’s not legitimate and we will stand and fight.”
The candidate took to task other candidates like Bush and John Kasich, who’ve said it’s time to move on after the marriage decision despite their opposition to it. Cruz called their positions “sad.”
Cruz has been polling in the single digits for much of the campaign, but things may change. At a news conference in Des Moines, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who’s known for his virulently anti-LGBT and anti-immigrant views, endorsed Cruz.
“He has consistently and tirelessly fought on the issues that matter most to conservatives, such as Obamacare, religious liberty, life, and stopping Obama’s lawless executive actions,” King said.
According to a report Monday in Politico, rival campaigns are beginning to fear his potential because of his successful debate performances, organization in each of the first primary states and strong fundraising.
“Now, not three months from primary season, rivals concede they have begun to fear Ted Cruz has an increasingly clear path to the Republican nomination,” the report says.