Cruz at Liberty: Freedom under Attack

Senator Ted Cruz told the commencement crowd at Liberty University that they were in danger. Unless they remained willing to sacrifice for their faith, unless the Liberty community remained willing to get active in politics, the religious liberties of the United States could be crushed under the heel of a metastasizing federal government.  Unlike some typical graduation speakers, he hoped the career path of his audience would include some time in prison.

In some ways, Cruz’s commencement address sounded very similar to such addresses at colleges all across the nation and all across the political and religious spectrum. In spite of the fact that Senator Cruz has earned a reputation of one of the staunchest and most outspoken religious conservatives in national office, his speech often seemed mere boilerplate graduation fare: he told the crowd they were all inspirational; he told a few mildly humorous anecdotes; he allowed himself to notice how very famous he was; and he exhorted the crowd to get on out there and change the world.

But in the context of Liberty University, founded in 1970 by fundamentalist leader Jerry Falwell, Cruz also included more ideologically charged material. He reviewed the conservative vision of the nature of the United States. Throughout United States history, Cruz insisted, we see nothing more starkly evident than the fact that “Faith and freedom are intertwined.”

The United States had weathered storms, Cruz said, but he warned ominously, “religious liberty . . . has never been more imperiled than it is right now.”

Cases such as the Hobby Lobby suit or that of the Little Sisters of the Poor, Cruz told the Liberty audience, demonstrate the dangers to religious freedom. These cases are not about contraception, Cruz warned. If religious people can be forced to go against their beliefs to satisfy the demands of big government, Cruz warned, then the generations of sacrifice by Godly Americans will have been for naught.

The folks at Liberty had a chance to change things, Cruz concluded. If they were brave enough to remember that they were “called to action as believers,” Liberty grads could “change the world.” But they had to be willing to suffer for it, to sacrifice for it. Like The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Cruz told his Liberty audience, Christians need to be willing to go to jail to promote their beliefs.

“How many of us,” Cruz asked, “have been to prison for Christ?”


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  1. Jbars

     /  April 4, 2014

    Adam, I’ve been following your blog for about two months now, and I find your posts fascinating. I am a former (very) conservative Evangelical Christian. Being “former” now, I’m eating up the information gleaned from your blog. Thank you.

    Are you familiar with the story of Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier in Maryland? I ask because I’ve recently read a blog post from Jericho Brisance about it. The blog post can be found here:
    I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this story.

    • Thanks for the nice words and for the link. Frazier’s story raises the tough questions about the kind of “sacrifice-for-your-beliefs” theme that Senator Cruz emphasized in his address. [For those who are too busy to read the full story, Frazier indicated she would rather go to jail than to give up a traditional prayer at the start of government meetings. Her defense was built on a false understanding that the prayer came from George Washington.] It is so often difficult to know if our sacrifices are really serving the best interests of our society, or just of one faction or the other. Without personal sacrifices, some of the most heroic public acts would never have progressed, such as Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s. But activists and zealots also sacrifice in order to keep alive less savory causes. In Commissioner Frazier’s case, I admire her bravery, dedication, and selflessness. But like Jericho Brisance said, I think she was misled.

  2. Jbars

     /  April 6, 2014

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it. Food for thought for me!


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