On the trail with Rafael Cruz—dad, preacher, and Ted’s ambassador to the true believers of the Right…
“You really have to hand it to these progressives,” the speaker is saying. He’s stalking the front of the chapel, pacing left to right, hands lifting and slicing and jabbing at the air. “They come up with the greatest terms.” He tosses out an example: “social justice.” “It sounds so good. Who would want social injustice?” But what does this term, social justice, mean? he asks. Where does it come from? “I’ll tell you where it comes from,” he says. “It comes directly out of Karl Marx.”
“That’s right,” comes the reply from the pews as the speaker’s voice gains new urgency. Social justice, he explains, is a scheme to divide society into tiny factions and turn them into victims. It makes those factions dependent on government handouts. It removes God from everyday life.“Now, let’s try to understand this a little bit,” he continues. “If you don’t believe in God, you can’t rely upon God.”
“If social justice destroys individual responsibility, there is no self-reliance.”
“So if these people can’t rely upon God, and there is no self-reliance, the only thing left”—he waits a beat—”is to rely upon almighty government.”
It’s a warm evening on the first Tuesday of June, and the pews at the Grace Baptist Church in Marion, Iowa, are nearly filled with well over 100 people. They wear red “TED CRUZ” stickers, and they’ve jotted their names and emails on the “Cruz for President” sign-up sheet in the lobby. But it’s not the Texas-senator-turned-presidential-candidate who is in town tonight. It’s his father.
Rafael Cruz—76 years old, ruddy faced, putty nosed, mostly bald—wears a blue pinstripe suit, starched white shirt, yellow-and-blue patterned tie, and black wing tips. He speaks with a heavy Cuban accent—his Js curling into Ys, theseshortened into dees, religious stretched into ree-lih-joos. He has no notes, no teleprompter. He grips a small clicker in his left hand that controls a PowerPoint presentation projected on the wall behind him. The title is “Reclaiming America: Why Pastors (and Christians in general) need to be involved in the political arena.”
America was founded on a set of Judeo-Christian values, Rafael tells his audience, and today those values are under siege. For this, he lays the blame at the feet of the very people in this room. Pastors and people of faith have been silent for far too long, he says. They stood idly by when the Supreme Court in the 1960s banned school-sanctioned prayer and required Bible readings from public schools, and “as a result,” rates of teenage pregnancy and violent crime “skyrocketed.” The church did nothing after the high Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. And Christians sat on their hands as the Court paved the way to national gay marriage. “Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany said, ‘Silence in the face of evil is evil itself,’ ” Cruz says. “The question is: How long are we going to remain silent?”…..