Iowa Religious Liberty Victims Endorse Cruz, While Rick Warren Denies Endorsing Rubio

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Betty and Dick Odgaard are a Mennonite Christian couple who rescued a church that was going to be torn down and turned it into an art gallery and cafe while also using the sanctuary several times a year to host weddings. It was their dream and their livelihood, but after gay marriage became legal in the state, the Iowa government told the Odgaards they must host gay wedding or face punishing fines. The Odgaards refused to submit without a fight.

And yesterday, in a letter to The Des Moines Register, they endorsed Ted Cruz for President:

“Our first meeting with Sen. Ted Cruz was in late April 2015, when he contacted us regarding the challenges we were facing regarding our religious liberties (Odgaard v. Iowa). Within eight weeks of that first meeting, both Sen. Cruz and his father, Rafael Cruz, had visited the Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes on separate occasions. Both eloquently expressed their concerns regarding the erosion of religious liberties for all people. Senator Cruz views the imposition of any government to force people (and their business) to participate in an activity that contrary to their conscience (and business principles) as unfair and unconstitutional. It became clear to us that Sen. Cruz understands the problem and knows how it can be corrected, while showing respect to all,” Mr. and Mrs. Odgaard wrote.

“Senator Cruz is well grounded and definitely has is his [sic] priorities in order. With his knowledge and wisdom, along with his demand for the truth and deep love for the Lord, he will make a fantastic world leader,” they concluded.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that three dozen Ohio pro-life and conservative activists have joined forces to endorse Cruz, not Ohio Gov. John Kasich:

Molly Smith, Cleveland Right to Life leader, and Phil Burress, who leads the Citizens for Community Values and has campaigned against same-sex marriage and other gay rights issues, were among others endorsing Cruz on Monday.

Burress said there are other GOP candidates he’s been interested in, but decided it was time to choose one and get active to try to head off current front-runner Donald Trump’s campaign. He said conservatives “don’t want politics as usual,” but he’s worried about Trump’s outspoken style.

And Rick Warren issued a statement saying he is not endorsing Marco Rubio, despite joining his religious liberty advisory board: “It is not my job as a pastor to endorse candidates,” he told the Christian Examiner, “But I do offer private counsel and perspective to any candidate who asks for it. I have done this with many candidates in the past. In this election cycle, I know most of the candidates on both sides who are running for president, and many have been friends for years, but they all know that I never endorse.”

It was naive of Rick to think publicly joining an advisory board a few weeks before the Iowa vote wouldn’t be treated by the candidate and others as a form of endorsement, even if the fine print said otherwise.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.