For some reason, Hollywood actress Ellen Page decided it would be a good idea to show up at the Iowa State Fair to confront Ted Cruz. Big mistake.
Page’s platitudes about alleged Christian discrimination were shut down when Cruz asked her why she wasn’t more concerned about the fact that the Obama administration is poised to give billions of dollars to Iran, which publicly executes and murders of gays. After a five minute long discussion, Page was at a loss for words and slinked away looking embarrassed.
As expected, the media is praising Page for “grilling” Cruz, but after watching and reading the exchange, you decide who won this debate:
ELLEN PAGE: A lot of people, particularly in, like, the LGBT community are worried, just cause in the past, during segregation era, when women were trying to get the right to vote, religious liberty was often used to defend and justify that discrimination. So a lot of people in the LGBT community just have this fear due to the past examples that that’s what’s gonna happen. So I was wondering if you could speak to that.
TED CRUZ: Well, you know, it’s interesting you bring up that example. If you actually look at the history in this country of defeating slavery, you look at the history of defeating Jim Crow, it was leaders in the church that played a critical role. Reverend Martin Luther King stood up against – you know, if you read the Letter from the Birmingham Jail, where he calls upon the conscience of Christians to stand up —
PAGE: But a lot of religious people also used the Bible to defend segregation, to defend slavery, so, so I’m just saying, like, just, you know, I think religious freedom is so important and it’s so crucial to all religions. LGBT people worry that they will directly be discriminated against because of the bill, and I have a question about LGBT people being fired for just strictly being gay or trans.
CRUZ: We don’t have a right to force anybody to abandon their faith. Tonight is the rally. We’re gonna have people from all over the country who have lived according to their faith and who have been persecuted for it. And it is one of the foundational commitments of who we are as Americans to respect diversity, to respect the right of every American to live according to his or her conscience, his or her faith.
PAGE: Sure, but for example, still in a lot of states, LGBT people can be fired for just being gay or for just being trans. That’s totally legal. I mean, how do you feel about that? That just doesn’t seem very American to me.
CRUZ: Well, at the end of the day, what we should not be doing is persecuting people who follow their faith. I’ll give you an example, one of the couples that’s gonna be featured tonight —
PAGE: I know, but what about the question of LGBT people getting fired for just strictly being gay or trans?
TED CRUZ: Well, what we’re seeing right now is actually — we’re seeing Bible-believing Christians being persecuted. So, for example, one of the —
PAGE: For discriminating against LGBT people.
CRUZ: No, for living according to their faith. So, for example —
PAGE: Yeah, but then – people would use that argument in the segregation era.
CRUZ: I’m happy to answer your question, but not to have a back and forth debate. One of the couples who’s gonna be featured tonight is Dick and Betty Odgaard. They’re from Grimes, Iowa. They’re a wonderful couple. They own a historic Lutheran church. For many years they hosted weddings in their church. A couple years ago, two men came wanting their same-sex wedding ceremony in their church. Now the Odgaards are devout Mennonites. And so they respectfully explained it would be contrary to their faith for them to celebrate in their church a wedding that was contrary to their religious beliefs and teaching. The Odgaards were promptly sued; they were dragged into protracted litigation, they ended up spending $5,000 to settle the case. And they made a promise never again to host another wedding in their church. They were driven out of business. This month they laid off their employees. That is fundamentally wrong. It’s inconsistent with who we are. And let me point out on the flip side — let’s take the other side. No one has a right to force someone else to abandon their faith or their conscience. Imagine, hypothetically, you had a gay florist. And imagine that two evangelical Christians wanted to get married, and the gay florist decided, ‘You know what, I disagree with your faith, I don’t wanna provide flowers.’
PAGE: I would say they should provide the flowers. Just like gay people should be able to get married in the church that they want.
CRUZ: You know what, there are lots of other people you can buy flowers from. Just like we don’t have a right to force a Jewish rabbi to conduct a Christian wedding ceremony. We don’t have a right to force a Muslim imam to conduct a Jewish wedding ceremony. We are a country that respects pluralism and diversity. And there is this liberal intolerance that says that anyone that dares follow a biblical teaching of marriage, that is the union of one man and one woman, must be persecuted, must be fined, and must be driven out of business.
PAGE: I disagree, I think there should be more tolerance for LGBT people who have constantly been persecuted in this country. It used to be illegal, they were thrown in jail, and we’ve come a really, really long way.
CRUZ: Who’s been thrown in jail?
PAGE: Gay people used to be thrown in jail when it was illegal in this country.
CRUZ: It is interesting right now — do you know where gay people are being persecuted right now? ISIS is —
PAGE: All over the world.
CRUZ: But ISIS is executing gay people. Iran is executing homosexuals. And on the left, you hear complete silence about Iran hanging homosexuals. And yet the Obama administration is sending over a hundred billion dollars to a regime that murders homosexuals. That is fundamentally wrong.
PAGE: Christians in Russia, Christians in Uganda, Christians in Jamaica — all persecuting the gays to a really really violent extent.
CRUZ: But does that trouble you at all that you draw a moral equivalence between Christians in Jamaica and radical Islamic terrorists in ISIS that are beheading children. They’re not —
PAGE: No, I’m just giving examples from other gay persecution from around the world.
CRUZ: Ma’am, but they’re not morally equivalent. Murder is murder is murder, and it is wrong. And it’s wrong across the board. And there is a difference between a community like Jamaica that may have different standards, may not be celebrating a gay pride parade, but they’re not murdering people. And if they were murdering gay people, it would be wrong.
PAGE: A lot of gay people are getting killed.
CRUZ: But in Iran and ISIS, it is the governmental body that is executing them for being homosexual.
PAGE: That’s a horrible thing.
CRUZ: And why does the Obama administration not stand against it?
PAGE: I don’t know, I’d love to talk to Obama about it, that’d be great.
CRUZ: Well, good, then we’re agreed on that. Thank you ma’am.
PAGE: No, no, well, we’re not. Don’t do that.
CRUZ: We’re agreed on that! Ma’am, we’ve had a long discussion.
PAGE: Yeah, I appreciate it. Yeah.
Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.