NEW YORK – After negative reporting of his religious views, the Christian evangelist father of Ted Cruz has returned to the campaign trail in an effort to win evangelical voters in Indiana, whose primary Tuesday is regarded by many as the Texas senator’s last hope to keep his bid for the Republican presidential nomination alive.
While the national media largely has been silent about Rafael Cruz’s re-emergence, local reporters in Indiana have covered his various appearances.
WSBT-TV in Mishawaka, Indiana, reported Rafael Cruz created “a lot of excitement” by showing up as a guest of Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence at a Wednesday night fish fry dinner of Kosciusko County Republicans.
On April 8, the Courier-Times in New Castle, Indiana, reported Rafael Cruz stopped by a local restaurant for an event that opened with a prayer from pastor Randy Gross and the singing of “God Bless America” by Christy Stutzman, the wife of Marlin Stutzman, a candidate for the Indiana state Senate.
Andrea Yaeter, reporting for the Courier-Times, noted Rafael Cruz discussed several “hot-button issues in the Republican party including education, gay marriage, abortion, states’ rights and the Supreme Court.”
Rafael Cruz said Washington didn’t need someone who was willing to buy out people to get things done, referring to his son’s Republican rival, Donald Trump.
“We do not need a deal-maker in Washington,” Rafael Cruz said.
“We need a statesman that will stand on the Constitution, on the rule of law, on limited government, on separation of powers, on making sure that justices that are nominated are faithful to the Constitution and are not going to legislate from the bench,” he continued. “Now, I’m biased; I’m convinced that man is Ted Cruz.”
At one point in his speech, Yaeter noted, Rafael Cruz discussed the four different ways for Christians to decide who to vote for in an election, stressing that to vet a candidate, the voter must look at the candidate’s record, whether he is an able man, a man of truth and if he hates covetousness.
The organizer of the event, Andrew Phipps, a national radio minister, urged the more than 10 pastors from around central Indiana in attendance to endorse Cruz for president, as Phipps suggested he had already done.
BeliefNet.com notes the importance of religion in Indiana, with 31 percent of the population reported to be white evangelicals.
On March 10, Rafael Cruz’s background in the Pentecostal movement –about one in four U.S. Christians identify as Pentecostal, according to surveys – was featured in a story in the East Orlando Post by Jacob Engels.
Titled “Ted Cruz: Closet Pentecostal,” it examined Rafael Cruz’s beliefs, reporting his apparent embrace of a theology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism, which calls for the laws of the nation to be aligned with biblical laws.
The next day, Matt Drudge linked the Engels article at the top of his Drudge Report, spotlighting a video in which well known television evangelist Kenneth Copeland states from the pulpit his belief that Ted Cruz is “anointed to be the next president of the United States.”
The video later shows Rafael Cruz surrounded by people praying for him. The Drudge headline read at one point: “‘Ted is the anointed one’/Holy Ghost video revealed/Dad speaking in tongues/Supporters ‘lay hands’ on Cruz at rally.”
The practice of speaking in tongues is familiar to the hundreds of millions worldwide who are part of Pentecostal churches and the interdenominational and independent charismatic movements.
An article by Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.com said it wasn’t clear whether or not the video showed Rafael Cruz speaking in tongues.
“While it is clear that Rafael Cruz is moving his lips and likely quietly praying during Pearson’s invocation, it is not definitively clear that he is speaking in tongues, as some have alleged,” Hallowell wrote. “It should be noted that it is common practice for evangelical Christians to pray to themselves while others pray aloud, thus such an occurrence wouldn’t be a rarity.”
‘Evangelical spirituality center stage’
The Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Indiana ran an article April 3 authored by Rev. Kyle Huckins, Ph.D., titled “Cruz putting evangelical spirituality center stage in White House race.”
“Ted Cruz’s campaign for president is spirited in more ways than one. Not only is he flinging epithets Donald Trump’s way in their war on wives, he’s able to clear any hurdle through Christian quips,” Huckins wrote.
Huckins cited Cruz quoting scripture:
“While Americans will continue to suffer under a president who has set an agenda that is causing millions to hurt across this country, I want to remind you of the promise of Scripture: ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,’” Cruz said in quoting Psalm 30:5 on caucus night in Iowa, where he became the first Hispanic in U.S. history to win a statewide presidential contest.
Huckins also cited Cruz discussing how the Bible “speaks to him” in everyday life:
“I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the Scriptures. … God speaks through the Bible,” [Ted Cruz] explains. He is a solid supporter of Israel, strongly opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and generally toes the social conservative line.
Huckins noted Cruz was the first presidential candidate in the race, choosing Liberty University, the world’s largest evangelical Christian school, as the site of his announcement.
“God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet,” Cruz said.
The Chronicle-Tribune reported April 8 that Rafael Cruz made one of the Cruz campaign’s first unofficial stops in Indiana that Wednesday evening, visiting the Victory Christian Fellowship in downtown North Manchester.
“If you vote according to the word of God, there’s only one candidate you can vote for; it’s that clear,” Rafael Cruz told the crowd of about 100.
According to the Chronicle-Tribune, Rafael Cruz often referred to the role he believes Christians could play in the 2016 election: “We need to stop playing from inside these four walls and take it out into the marketplace.”
Rafael Cruz also made repeated calls for pastors and other influential Christians not to shy away from politics and to endorse his son, urging them to “stand for righteousness” when they vote.
The newspaper reported Rafael Cruz insisting Christians have stepped back in recent years from the electoral power that they’ve held for decades.
He said the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and a host of other “ultraliberal” events have “awaking the sleeping giant” of evangelicals and other Christian conservatives.
“More and more pastors and Christians in general are saying, ‘Enough is enough’ and are beginning to become involved in the political arena,” Rafael Cruz said.
The Chronicle-Tribune reported Rafael Cruz received a standing ovation when he told the crowd to “stop electing the village idiot” and made numerous jabs against Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s statements on greed and abortion.
“Make sure that instead of voting tradition, you vote conviction,” Rafael Cruz said. “That instead of being swayed by emotionalism, or hot air, or empty words, you look at the record and you vote for the candidates that stand on the principles of the word of God, on the principles of the Constitution.”
The newspaper noted that Rafael Cruz stated multiple times he believes the Constitution is based heavily on the Bible.
On April 19, the Journal Review in Crawfordsville, Indiana, reported Rafael Cruz held a private “meet and greet” with approximately 20 local business leaders, faith leaders and students at the Joshua Tree coffee shop.
According to the newspaper report, Raphael Cruz explained why he believes his son would make the best president and outlined some of the senator’s platform, including his stances on issues of faith, life, religious libertiy and the Second Amendment.
Retired teacher Susie Locker told the Journal Review Rafael Cruz “talked about the strong Christian person that [Sen. Ted Cruz] is and how we knows so much about the Constitution.”
“And that’s what our country’s based on,” she said.