September 3, 2015

Big crowd turns out for Ted Cruz’s Rally for Religious Liberty


Ted Cruz stage at his rally.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz hosted a “Rally for Religious Liberty” in Des Moines tonight that drew nearly 3000 people.

“You want to know what this election is about?” Cruz asked the crowd. “We are one justice away from the Supreme Court saying, ‘Every image of God shall be torn down.'”

At one point in the evening, Cruz sat on stage and interviewed a Grimes couple who were sued after they refused to allow the wedding chapel they own be used for a same-sex wedding.

“Let me ask you what a cynic, what a skeptical person, what a cynical person might say, which is: Why didn’t you just give in? What didn’t you just agree to allow the same-sex wedding?” Cruz asked.

Betty Odegaard responded: “We could not celebrate a sin. We could not take part in what we believe is a sin.”

The crowd gave Odegaard a lengthy standing ovation for that. Congressman Steve King also addressed the crowd. While King didn’t endorse Cruz, King made it clear he’s been following Cruz’s career for a decade, since Cruz argued a religious liberty case before the U.S. Supreme Court about the display of The 10 Commandments.

“I’m glad we have a leader who has stepped up for our religious freedom, defended the words ‘under God’, Hobby Lobby, The Ten Commandments — over and over again — the Boy Scouts — that all came from Ted Cruz,” King said. “He’s brought us here together here tonight to pray and to learn and to go out of here energized.”

Pastor Michael Demastus of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ delivered the opening prayer.

“Forgive us, God. We repent, but there are people here, thousands across our land who say: ‘We want our country back!'” Demastus prayed.

The Bontrager Family Singers of Kalona, a popular Christian group featuring 10 siblings and their parents, have endorsed Cruz and gave a half hour concert before the rally started. Cruz was the evening’s closer and a murmur went through the crowd when he said 54 Evangelical Christians “did not vote in the last election.”

“You wonder why we have a federal government that comes after our free speech rights, that comes after our religious liberty, that comes after life, that comes after marriage, that comes after our values. It is because 54 million Evangelical Christians stayed home. Well, I’m here to tell you: ‘We will stay home no longer!'” Cruz said and the crowd stood to applaud and cheer.

Cruz closed the rally with a prayer, then the Newsboys, a popular Christian group, performed a concert. A small group of protesters shouting, “Citizenship Now,” were escorted out of the hall during Cruz’s speech. Earlier in the day, during Cruz’s visit to the Iowa State Fair, Cruz was confronted by an actress who is gay. Ellen Page and Cruz had a six-minute back-and-forth. with Page arguing a religious liberty defense had been used in the past to excuse discrimination based on race and gender.

(Photo courtesy of Ted Cruz’s Twitter)

Poll: 55 percent of Iowa voters oppose same-sex marriage ban

QuinnipiacA new poll tests the views of registered Iowa voters on two controversial issues: climate change and same-sex marriage.

The data comes from a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted over a 12-day period in July. The poll finds 55 percent of registered Republican, Democrat and independent voters oppose an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

Fifty-eight percent of Iowa voters oppose letting businesses refuse, in general, to serve gays and lesbians, but they were “conflicted” about whether a person who opposes same-sex marriage because of their religious views should be forced to do business with same-sex couples. Forty-six percent said yes, they should and 46 percent said no, they shouldn’t.

On the issue of climate change, the poll found 65 percent of voters agree with the pope’s call for action on the issue, although there is a difference among the parties. Democrats almost universally agree with Pope Francis and 60 percent of independents do as well, but Republicans are almost evenly divided, with 44 percent of the Iowa GOP voters surveyed said they disagree with the pope.

The Quinnipiac Poll also tested voters views on some of the issues being discussed by presidential candidates. The survey found 53 percent of Iowa voters oppose the Affordable Care Act. The poll found 55 percent of Iowa voters say it’s time for action to address income inequality and 60 percent support raising taxes on the wealthy to reduce taxes on middle income Americans.

The Iowans polled gave President Obama a 56 percent disapproval rating.

King seeks House vote on same-sex marriage ruling

Steve King (file photo)

Steve King (file photo)

Republican Congressman Steve King is trying to get the U.S. House to pass a resolution that says States “may refuse” to recognize or license same-sex marriages, although such non-binding resolutions do not have the force of law. King’s resolution is his latest response to last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

“We’re in a place where the Supreme Court has put themselves above the law, above the Constitution and above the will of the people,” King said Thursday evening during a speech on the House floor.

Most Republicans in congress have publicly expressed opposition to the court’s ruling, so the resolution would likely pass, although House leaders have not indicated it’s a priority for debate. King’s House Resolution embraces what he calls the “traditional definition of marriage” as a “union between one man and one woman.”

“The domestic life of America has been dramatically transformed by the order of the Supreme Court,” King said.

King calls the court’s same-sex marriage opinion a “blatant act of judicial activism” that has “perverted” the word marriage.

“And they will impose it on the rest of the country because they’re the ‘enlightened five’ of nine in black robes,” King said. “Well, the Supreme Court has had a terrible record on dealing with large domestic issues.”

King cites the court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision which ruled African Americans weren’t citizens and the federal government had no authority to restrict or regulate slavery and the 1962 decision that ruled mandatory prayer in public schools is unconstitutional.

Earlier this year, before the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage last month, King tried to get congress to pass legislation that would forbid the federal courts from deciding such cases, but that legislation stalled.

Vander Plaats invited to Vatican for November conference

Darla & Bob Vander Plaats. (file photo)

Darla & Bob Vander Plaats. (file photo)

Bob Vander Plaats, a Christian conservative activist in Iowa, has been invited to a conference at the Vatican in November.

“Received the invitation probably about a month ago now,” Vander Plaats said today during a Radio Iowa interview. “They’re looking for 30 leaders from, I believe, around the world and the whole focus is on spiritual revival.”

Vander Plaats has run unsuccessfully for governor three times and he’s the author of two books. The most recent is based on a Bible passage and is titled “If 7:14″ and it calls upon Christians to pray twice daily, at 7:14 a.m. and 7:14 p.m. Vander Plaats, who attends the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, said Pope Francis — the leader of the world’s Catholics — has “a lot of good things to say.”

“Just showing he’s comfortable in his own skin and he’s willing to communicate the truth, but to do it, I think, in a very loving and graceful way,” Vander Plaats said. “And I think that’s what it’s going to take to eventually have revival in this country and across the globe as well.”

Nearly five years ago Vander Plaats became president and CEO of The Family Leader, a Christian conservative group that has been active in the state’s political scene. Vander Plaats himself endorsed presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012 and he led campaigns to unseat Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined the court’s 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. But Vander Plaats said his book — and The Family Leader organization — are also focused on the bigger picture.

“We believe campaigns are a moment in time. It’s like the Dutch boy putting a finger in the dike, but the dike needs to be rebuilt,” Vander Plaats said. “We cannot continue to sprint away from the heart of God and call it a good thing.”

According to Vander Plaats, the purpose of the event at the Vatican will be to “wake up the culture” and he’s ready to be changed himself by participating.

“When you’re going to spent time in prayer in thought and with other religious leaders…I think you always have to open that this will change you,” Vander Plaats said.

In November of last year the Vatican hosted a conference on marriage at the Vatican with noted Evangelical Christian leaders from American, like Rick Warren, author of the bestseller: “Purpose Driven Life”. Vander Plaats said he and his wife, Darla, are excited about their trip to Vatican City this November, but there’s no guarantee the pope will attend this year’s event.

Next weekend, Vander Plaats will be leading a big political event when The Family Leader hosts ten Republican presidential candidates at a forum in Ames.

Huckabee: shield same-sex marriage opponents from ‘persecution or prosecution’

Mike Huckabee.

Mike Huckabee.

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee promises that on his first day as president he’d issue an executive order to provide new legal protections to businesses, schools and religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage.

“There will be no persecution or prosecution of those who wish to exercise the restraints and the deep felt convictions of their conscience and that this will be protected,” Huckabee said early this evening.

Huckabee has been a vocal critic of last Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Huckabee said, as president, he’d ask his attorney general to “vigorously protect the religious liberty” of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage.

“And not allow discrimination and bigotry to be applied toward those who have a conscience and who have convictions,” said Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who is also a former Baptist minister.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Huckabee was asked why his proposed executive orders weren’t similar to President Obama’s controversial executive orders which have tabled deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as a child.

“Creating something that isn’t in the Constitution or law is overreach,” Huckabee said. “Giving an executive order that mirrors the Constitution is the very purpose for which there is an executive order. Religious liberty is at the heart and soul of the Constitution and the First Amendment. Amnesty is not.”

Huckabee said the courts “simply don’t have the authority” to redefine marriage and he has suggested the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice “needs medication for schizophrenia” — a remark that drew criticism from the National Alliance on Mentally Illness. Huckabee briefly joked about the controversy tonight during remarks to a group of supporters gathered for the opening of his Iowa campaign headquarters in Urbandale.

“Sure, I’m going to be the one that will say the outrageous things that will get me in trouble and make you question your sanity for having signed up to help,” Huckabee joked.

Later, Huckabee told reporters it’s “easy to offend people” and he was simply trying to find a way to describe the divergent reasoning Justice Roberts offered in last week’s rulings on ObamaCare and same-sex marriage.

“I’ll be honest with you, if I were as bland and as colorless as some people would probably hope a candidate to be, you guys would have nothing to ever talk about,” Huckabee told the group of reporters, photographers and video camera operators surrounding him. “I mean I would give you nothing, so you’ve got to give me a little love here and realize that it is in the best interest of the public to have candidates who speak clearly and vividly and colorfully — not to offend, but to illustrate.”

Huckabee, who plans to campaign in each of Iowa’s 99 counties before the February 1st Iowa Caucuses, will hold town-hall meetings Wednesday in Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Cherokee. On Thursday he’ll hold meetings in Fort Dodge, Dubuque and Burlington.

(Photo by Asya Arca)

Branstad: up to GOP delegates to decide if same-sex marriage mentioned in GOP platform

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad says it will be up to “grassroots” Republicans attending his party’s state convention whether the Iowa GOP’s 2016 platform continues to oppose same-sex marriage.

“It’s the delegates that make that decision and the last thing the delegates want is for the governor to tell them what they should include or not include in the platform,” Branstad says. “I do respect the process and the fact that it is a grassroots document developed by the delegates, not by the elected officials.”

Some of the Republican presidential candidates have suggested passage of laws to ensure those who have religious objections aren’t compelled to be a party to a same-sex marriage ceremony. The Texas Attorney General has told county officials in Texas they do not have to issue same-sex marriage licenses if they have a religious objection. Iowa’s Republican governor says people’s religious liberties shouldn’t be “taken for granted,” but Branstad is not suggesting that county officials in Iowa quit issuing same-sex marriage licenses here.

“I respect the division that occurs in this country on this controversial decision, but feel that we have an obligation to follow the law,” Branstad says.

Branstad says same-sex marriage is “well established” in Iowa after the state supreme court ruled in 2009 that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

“Three members of the supreme court, when they were up for retention, were rejected by the voters,” Branstad says, “so it is a controversial issue and we’ve gone through it in the state of Iowa and we’ve lived with the decision and people have also lived with the consequences of it.”

Branstad made his comments during his weekly news conference, which you may hear here.

Branstad on a Friday appearance on IPTV’s “Iowa Press” program said passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage isn’t likely, since it would require approval of two-thirds of congress and then ratification by 34 states.

GOP’s Graham, Cruz, Trump campaigned in Iowa this past weekend

Ted Cruz (file photo)

Ted Cruz (file photo)

Three Republican presidential candidates campaigned in Iowa this weekend. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was returning to the campaign trail for the first time after the slayings of nine African Americans in a Charleston church.

“It’s been overwhelming. It’s the best and worst of times,” Graham said during an interview in Marshalltown Saturday. “It’s hard for me how you can go into a church, pray with people for an hour and shoot them. The level of hate is hard to understand.” But

Graham said the reaction of the victims’ families “changed everything.”

“The love and forgiveness they’ve shown was a wake-up call for the whole country. I’ve never seen my state so close together,” Graham said. “…I’ve never seen so much outpouring of just sheer love — joint services of churches I thought would never even talk to each other, much less pray together. It’s been tough. It’s been the hardest week I can ever remember, but people have been so kind all over the country.”

Graham stood with South Carolina’s governor last Monday to signal support for removing the Confederate battle flag that flies from a war memorial on the state capital grounds in South Carolina.

“After this, it’s time to take the flag down,” Graham said, “and if we don’t, we’ll never move forward as a state.”

Graham was in South Carolina Friday, attending a memorial service for one of the shooting victims, when the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Graham argues it would be a mistake for the GOP to press for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, because would be too difficult to get such a measure passed by two-thirds of the members of congress and 34 of the 50 states.

“I think the debate would divide the country. It would not achieve a higher purpose,” Graham said. “…We have to accept thec court’s decision in terms of being the law. The constitutional amendment process is not viable. Protecting religious liberties is where I can to go.”

Graham said “religious people” should not be punished for following the tenants of their faith and he “would not tolerate” having churches, synagogue or mosques punished for not performing same-sex marriages.

“Conversely, gay individuals and gay couples, if I’m president, you’ll be treated friendly,” Graham said. “You’ll have the rights of all us, consistent with religious liberties.”

Graham made his remarks after chatting with a late Saturday afternoon crowd at the Maid-Rite in Marshalltown. He also visited the Linn County Fair and stopped at the Field of Dreams.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz delivered a speech in Des Moines on Saturday, blasting the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision. Cruz said it’s wrong to force “Bible-believing Christians to violate their faith.” On Friday, Cruz called for forcing U.S. Supreme Court justices to stand for retention elections.

On Saturday, businessman Donald Trump was in Winterset, visiting the John Wayne Museum and serving as the headliner for a Madison County GOP fundraiser. Trump called the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage “a very, very sad thing.”

(Reporting by Cory Brada, KFJB, Marshalltown; additional reporting and editing by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)