DES MOINES – Two up-and-rising Christian senators spoke before a private gathering of several hundred evangelical pastors last Friday in central Iowa, calling for a return to Christian freedoms and values in America.
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky each made an appearance at this year’s “Iowa Renewal Project”—a two-day convention attended by approximately 600 pastors from the surrounding region. The event’s theme this year was “Rediscovering God in America,” and—in addition to the two senators—featured historian David Barton of Wallbuilders.
For several years, David Lane—a California-based political activist—has organized similar gatherings in the state of Iowa, with the goal of politically galvanizing evangelical Christians. Though Lane often focuses on the “swing state” of Iowa, his “American Renewal Project” ministry is a nationwide organization committed to restoring America to her Judeo-Christian roots.
“If the key to maintaining sustainable freedom is righteousness—the same virtue that produced freedom—” Lane told CBN News, “what is the greatest threat to freedom? Unrighteousness. America has left God.”
Lane also shared with The Washington Post his conviction that Christians are a potentially powerful voting bloc.
“We are mobilizing this constituency,” he stated. “This is not about Republicans and Democrats. It’s about returning American to its Judeo-Christian heritage … There are 65 to 80 million evangelical Christians in America, but half of them are not registered to vote and half of those who are registered don’t go the polls.”
At last weekend’s Iowa Renewal Project, Senator Paul discussed a variety of topics, including liberty, virtue, and the importance of religious values in the government arena.
“The First Amendment is not about keeping religious people out of government,” he stated. “It’s about keeping the government out of religion. No government—no law—can force a people to be virtuous. Our churches, our schools, you, parents, all of us together have to fill that void.”
Senator Paul went on to explain some of his beliefs on foreign policy, noting a famous statement from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
“Jesus reminds us what our goal should be when he proclaims: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,’” he said, according to Newsmax. “This does not mean we never go to war. But it means we should do so reluctantly, and seek an end expeditiously.”
Though Senator Paul’s talk was well-received, The Iowa Republican reported that Senator Cruz made “an outstanding first impression” at the pastoral gathering, with The Des Moines Register describing his presentation as “a fiery, Bible-quoting first speech.” During the 30-minute address, Cruz told the audience, “We are in a battle to turn this country around,” and voiced his concern about the current “assault on marriage.”
“Isaiah tells us: ‘My people perish for lack of knowledge,’” he said. “Edmund Burke put the points a little differently when he said, ‘the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.’ And the prophet Ezekiel charged us, ‘son of man, you are a watchman for the house of Israel.’”
Senator Cruz also commended the church leaders in attendance for engaging the political field.
“It is so easy to hide from the public square,” he consented. “It is so easy to say the challenges of the country are someone else’s problem. But the pastors, and your husbands and wives who are here, y’all are not content to do that and I’m so grateful for that.”
Following each of their presentations, the senators kneeled down by the podium so several of the pastors could pray over them.
After the convention, Senator Cruz’s father—Rafael Cruz—told CBN News that faith has always been an important part of the Cruz family, even from when Ted was a young child.
“When he was four I used to read Bible stories to him all the time,” Rafael shared. “And I would declare and proclaim the word of God over him. And I would just say, ‘You know Ted, you have been gifted above any man that I know and God has destined you for greatness.’”