Ted Cruz: Same-sex marriage is the greatest threat to religious freedom in American history

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is surrounded by preachers as he addresses a crowd at a Houston church, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. Cruz spoke about a legal dispute involving several pastors fighting subpoenas from Houston city attorneys demanding they turn over copies of any sermons they delivered that relate to Houston’s equal rights ordinance championed by the city’s gay mayor, Annise Parker.

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the Republican presidential candidate who believes that the gay “jihad” may soon lead to the imprisonment of pastors and the end of free speech, told a right-wing radio host on Wednesday that the legalization of same-sex marriage represents the greatest threat to religious liberty in the history of the United States.

“We are seeing today profound threats to religious liberty in America, I think the greatest threats we’ve ever seen,” Cruz told conservative author and talk radio host Eric Metaxas.

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Cruz said that the fights over “religious freedom” laws in Indiana and Arkansas were “heartbreaking” examples of how the Democratic Party has “gotten so extreme and so radical in its devotion to mandatory gay marriage that they’ve decided there’s no room for the religious liberty protected under the First Amendment.”

He added that while “Democrats joined with big business in vilifying an effort to protect our religious liberty,” too many Republican leaders and presidential candidates “ran and hid in the hills.”

“We’re a nation that was founded by men and women who were fleeing religious oppression and coming to seek out a land where everyone of us could worship God Almighty with all of our hearts, minds and souls, and that is under profound jeopardy today,” Cruz said.

Cruz later claimed that Solicitor General Donald Verrilli had said during last month’s Supreme Court marriage equality arguments that if marriage equality is legalized nationwide, the IRS will start denying tax-exempt status to churches. (In the exchange Cruz referred to, Verrilli had said nothing of the sort.)

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“The next step on this,” he said, “is your church being told it now pays income taxes on the tithes that are given each week, that it is now singled out and discriminated against, that universities like Notre Dame or Georgetown and Brigham Young or any university that is founded as a Christian university, if it continues to follow biblical teachings on marriage, the federal government is asserting the power to discriminate and persecute them.” This led Metaxas to warn of “parallels” to what occured in Nazi Germany.

Metaxas seemed to be pleased with Cruz’s responses, especially compared to his GOP presidential rival Jeb Bush, whom Metaxas criticized for failing to forcefully denounce marriage equality and hiring “top people in his campaign who are very aggressively pro-same-sex-marriage.”

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