An Evening with Ted Cruz and Champions of Religious Liberty

An Evening with Ted Cruz and Champions of Religious Liberty

An Evening with Ted Cruz and Champions of Religious Liberty

It was a long day, after spending a total of 6 hours on the road, and pulling into our driveway at 1:30 in the morning, but the Friday road trip to Des Moines, Iowa, was worth it. We were able to spend an evening with friends in an event hall packed with fellow Christians to see and hear Sen. Ted Cruz, accompanied by people who have been persecuted for practicing their faith.


One of the first speakers was Iowa Congressman Steve King, who has proposed a House bill to end birthright citizenship, but who has not yet endorsed any candidate.


While I was expecting Ted Cruz to be the final speaker, I was surprised to see him emerge after King finished speaking. He spoke eloquently about religious liberty — and did so sans TelePrompTer.

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“Look Ma, no TelePromTer!”

The senator then introduced an Iowa couple, Dick and Betty Odgaard, Mennonites who in 2002 had converted an old church into an art gallery, gift and floral shop, and bistro. To help make ends meet, the couple would hold weddings in the old sanctuary.


That was until 2013, when they refused to host a same-sex wedding, and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission tried to force them into compliance. They refused to compromise their faith, and at the rally the Odgaard’s announced that their business had closed on July 31.

Iowa’s top radio talk show host Steve Deace, who has endorsed Ted Cruz, then introduced and interviewed Americans who have been targeted for their faith. Some of their stories are familiar, and some are less well-known:

Top, left to right: Blaine Adamson, Sgt. Phillip Monk, Chief Kelvin Cochran. Bottom, left to right: Melissa & Aaron Klein, Barronelle Stutzman

Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran: The former Atlanta fire chief was sacked by Atlanta, GA mayor, Kasim Reed, for writing a book focused on a Christian view of sexuality.

Sr. Master Sgt. Phillip Monk: In 2013, the 19-year Air Force veteran was relieved of duty for refusing the order of a commanding officer — whom he said was a lesbian — to say that he supported same-sex marriage. At the rally Monk said it came down to whom he would obey, “a major or my Maker.”

Blaine Adamson: Blaine Adamson is a printer from Kentucky who refused to print T-shirts promoting the Lexington Pride Festival. Fortunately, a Kentucky court upheld his religious rights, since it was proved that he had previously refused other differing printing jobs he found offended his beliefs.

Barronelle Stutzman: Her story is well-known as the florist who would not provide flowers for a same-sex wedding and was sued — even though the would-be client had done business with her for nine years. A Washington state judge ruled against her, and she stood in danger of not only losing her business, but her home and savings as well.

Melissa & Aaron Klein: Two more familiar names in the struggle for religious freedom, the Kleins own Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Oregon, and were sued by a same-sex couple for refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

Sen. Cruz again addressed the audience to speak more about religious liberty when his speech was interrupted by protestors. I was half-expecting this to happen anyway, but was surprised to see that their beef wasn’t with gay rights, but with demands for citizenship for illegal aliens. The senator reacted calmly, thanked them for participating in free speech, but reminded them that this was not a town hall meeting. They were peacefully ushered out of the hall by police.

The sign read, “Citizenship Now!”

Cruz’s speech had gone from religious persecution in the United States to persecution in Iran when he introduced the final guest, and a gasp went up from the audience when he announced the unscheduled participant: Naghmegh Abedini, the wife of Iranian-born American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been held in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith.


The evening ended with music by the Christian band The Newsboys, for which our friends urged us to stay, but since we had a long three hours of driving ahead of us, we departed for home. But, before we left Des Moines, we stopped to grab some fast food. At a Chick-fil-A, of course.


Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!


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