Santorum: Government is Trying to Bully Christians Into Conformity

Religious liberty was a major theme for Rick Santorum during his speech this past weekend at the South Carolina Freedom Summit.  Santorum, who has been as outspoken as any candidate on religious liberty issues (he received an A+ on our Indiana Crisis Report Card), did not go into much policy detail on this occasion except to express concern regarding the possibility of churches losing their tax-exempt status over opposition to same-sex marriage, as suggested by comments made recently during oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s marriage case.

Nevertheless, Santorum strongly defended the importance of religious liberty in American society:

We all know that our fundamental liberties are under assault in America today. We can have a strong economy, we can feel safe, but if we aren’t free, if we don’t have liberty, what is it all worth?

In America today, for the first time in the history of our country, the most fundamental foundational freedom that we have, the freedom of belief — I see all these reporters getting all rigged up about freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and how important that is. It is important. Is it worth dying for? Yeah, I think it’s worth dying for. But what good is freedom of speech if you can’t speak what you believe?

For the first time in the history of our country, our government is trying to tell us what we can believe. Our government is trying to bully us, not to tolerance, not to going along, but to conformity.

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Fiorina Describes Herself as a “Proud, Pro-Life Conservative”

In her speech to the South Carolina Freedom Summit, Carly Fiorina bookended her remarks by distinguishing herself from Hillary Clinton and from the current Administration. She began with a strong attack on Ms. Clinton’s unwillingness to answer questions, contrasting it to her own willingness to go on the record.

The biographical section of her speech focused on her rise from secretary to company president but also included a tribute to her mother-in-law for choosing not to have an abortion. This allowed her to tout her own pro-life bona fides, nicely highlighting the extreme position of the Democratic Party on the issue:

As you know, I ran for the Senate against Barbara Boxer in California in 2010 and I ran as a proud, pro-life conservative and you don’t do that unless you really mean it. For those of us who believe in the sanctity of life, we know that science is proving us right every day. We now know that the DNA in a zygote is precisely the same as the day you die. Life is a continuum a gift from God passed through the union of a man and a woman and every life is filled with potential. I don’t know about you but I am really tired of being called extreme on this issue. The platform of the Democratic Party is that a life is not a life until it leaves the hospital. That, ladies and gentlemen is extreme.

She did not say anything about marriage, religious liberty or Common Core. Continue Reading

Perry’s Animated Speech Focuses on Homeland Security

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rick Perry’s enthusiastic and animated South Carolina Freedom Summit speech was long on Texas. Talking about his “personal favorite” among the Bill of Rights, the Tenth Amendment, he contrasted the “gross incompetence” of the current Administration with his own record in Texas. He spent a lot of time talking about defense issues, with particular emphasis on border security. He recounted telling President Obama that if the federal government wouldn’t secure the border, Texas would and described the state’s success in limiting border crossing using Texas National Guard troops.

Texas was also touted as a model of job creation, educational success and tort reform.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have anything to say about life, marriage, religious liberty or Common Core. He did briefly contrast the strength of Wall Street with less-prosperous Main Street.

William C. Duncan is executive director of the Marriage Law Foundation. Continue Reading

Cruz Makes a Strong Case for Religious Liberty and Against Common Core

Senator Ted Cruz got something of rock star treatment before and after his strong speech to the South Carolina Freedom Summit. He began with a jab at Republican leadership for wanting to be rid of him. He complained that Americans are no longer confident their children will have a better life than they did.

He outlined a three-point program. The first point focused on economic recovery and his calls for a flat tax, abolishing the IRS (and sending its agents to the southern border), and repealing Obamacare got a good response.

His second point, defending constitutional rights, was particularly strong. His First Amendment comments included a strong defense of religious liberty:

We need to defend the First Amendment, our free speech, our religious liberty. You know all of us, are hearts were breaking as we saw what unfolded in Indiana and Arkansas as those states stood up to defend religious liberty and the modern Democratic Party in a perfect storm joined with big business to say their commitment to mandatory gay marriage in all 50 states trumps any commitment to the First Amendment. It wasn’t too long ago there was bipartisan consensus on the First Amendment. We might disagree between Democrats and Republicans on marginal tax rates but when it came to religious liberty we stood as one. How far we have come. And let me say Indiana was a sorting moment as Reagan would say, a time for choosing. There are candidates running in 2016, even candidates in the Republican field who when Indiana was being battled they were nowhere to be found.

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Rubio Tries to Pull an Obama in 2008

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Marco Rubio gave a speech at the South Carolina Freedom Summit that presented himself as the representation of the American Dream and the idea of change.  His parents left Cuba to pursue the American Dream.  He and his family represent the American Dream.  More Americans should be able to aspire to the American Dream.

But why is the economy so bad?  Rubio talks of the need for higher education reform generally and for a tax code that matches other nations.  He was eloquent in describing how too many are living paycheck to paycheck, but he was remarkably vague in describing why the economy recovery stalled:

Why is this happening to the greatest nation on earth? At its core, the reason is this: Because the economy of the world all around us is undergoing historic and dramatic changes, but we are still led by too many people who are trapped in the past by ideas that no longer work.

What is his solution?

We have to wake up to the reality that yesterday is over, and to turn the page, and  to be proud of our history and to embrace the future. . . .We must decide whether we will embrace the future and confront its challenges, or whether we will be left behind by history.

The full video is here.

It sounds to me like Rubio is trying to take a page from Obama’s 2008 campaign and make his face and his story the answer to all questions. Continue Reading

Walker Continues Radio Silence on Religious Liberty Crisis

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Scott Walker was well received in South Carolina at the Freedom Summit. He gave a vigorous, extended defense of his record in Wisconsin, nicely pointing to the idea that if he can do all that in a blue state, imagine what he can do in Washington.

He organized his speech on three points. First, we need to grow (by cutting taxes, regulation, Obamacare, and regulations on American energy).  He cleverly redubbed the idea that lower rates produce more growth and higher tax revenues the Kohl’s Curve to replace the old Laffer Curve. Second, he said we need to reform government to empower people.  The American Dream, Gov. Walker said “is not out of reach because of Wall Street, but because of K Street.”

Third, Walker said he wanted to talk about safety.  Safety?  Safety is what he redubbed national security.

Walker began his speech by asking all those who were military, or military spouses, or had family members in the military, to stand up.  More than 75 percent of the audience stood.  So it is not surprising his biggest applause lines were a promise to change Obama’s national security policies, to scuttle the Iran deal, to defend Israel, and to name the fight against radical Islam.

Many will find it a very stirring speech.  But on the issues we report on there was just one mention of life, during his extended discussion of what he has achieved in Wisconsin (starting at 9:16):

Now we’ve defunded Planned Parenthood in our first budget and passed pro-life legislation.

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Jindal: “Without Religious Liberty, There Are No Other Freedoms”

Speaking at the South Carolina Freedom Summit on Saturday, Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his strong advocacy for marriage and religious liberty.  He contrasted his views with President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others on the left, whom he accused of attempting to restrict religious liberty to apply only to activities which occur inside churches:

There was a time when the left believed in the First Amendment. There was a time when the left really understood that religious liberty is the foundation of our freedom of speech, and freedom of association…without religious liberty, there are no other freedoms like freedom of speech, and freedom of association, and freedom of the press.

And make no mistake about it this isn’t just about marriage, though, unlike President Obama and Secretary Clinton, my views on marriage are not evolving with the polls. I continue to believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. This debate is much, much bigger than that. It is bigger than marriage. This is about the power of the state to to close or fine Christian business owners, this is about the left trying to silence us and telling us we don’t have a right to live our lives according to our sincerely held beliefs. When Secretary Clinton, when President Obama say, ‘you’ve got the freedom of religious expression,’ to them, that just means you get to go to church and say what you want inside church. That’s not religious liberty. Religious liberty is the ability to live our lives according to our faith 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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