Religious-righters spend a lot of time these days screaming “persecution!” when they’re not allowed to use religion to discriminate against people they don’t like. So it’s more than just a bit hypocritical when they question the religious faith of people who don’t share their political views. That’s what Rafael Cruz, father of Ted Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas and a Republican presidential candidate, did this past weekend.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Palm Beach County Tea Party in Florida, Rafael Cruz argued that Catholic and Jewish Democrats put their political beliefs ahead of their religious beliefs.

“Unfortunately, in the northeast, the Jews are Democrats first and Jews second. This is what has happened to a great many in the Catholic church. They are Democrats first and Catholics second.

There are people voting Democrat because, ‘My grandfather or my father voted Democrat.’ Let me tell you something. The Democratic party today is not the Democratic party of John Kennedy. John Kennedy would be a Republican today.”

Cruz went on to suggest that religious leaders who don’t lead their congregations to take the right political positions are like religious leaders who failed… Read More

All but three Senate Republicans voted today to block legislation preventing employers from imposing their religious views on workers who want access to contraception.

The 56-43 vote failed to end a Republican filibuster against the “Not My Boss’s Business Act.” That bill would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling in June that allows for-profit companies to refuse, for religious reasons, to include birth control in health insurance coverage for the women who work for them.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, switched his vote to “no,” a parliamentary move that would allow him to bring the measure back for a vote later this year.

Before the vote, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sent out a press release attacking the bill. Under the inflammatory headline “Democrats Declare War on the Catholic Church,” Cruz accused the bill’s supporters of trampling on the rights of Catholics who oppose birth control:

“(I)t saddens me that there are not 100 senators here unified, regardless or our faith, standing together protecting the religious liberty rights of everyone.”

Well, it saddens us that Cruz and his supporters are turning the concept of religious freedom on its head. Allowing employers to impose their religious beliefs on the deeply personal decisions their workers make… Read More

In some ways, at least, that’s what it has sounded like since U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia on Wednesday struck down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage. If many of  the complaints we heard from politicians and activists on the right sounded familiar, they should have: they’re essentially the same ones Americans heard when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans against interracial marriage nearly five decades ago.

Gov. Rick Perry insisted on Wednesday that “the 10th Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions.” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz complained that Judge Garcia’s decision is a “troubling display of judicial activism” and that “unelected judges should not be substituting their own policy views for the reasoned judgments of the citizens of Texas.” Others joined in with similar denunciations of “judicial activism” and calls to respect state sovereignty over marriage.

Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, who is seeking the Republican nomination for state attorney general this year, portrayed the court’s decision as “disastrous” and made a religious case for upholding the ban on same-sex marriage:

“Some liberal, unelected federal judges with lifetime appointments seem to be missing the point that… Read More

How extreme are many of the folks who make up the Tea Party brigades who so joyfully helped elect Ted Cruz to the U.S. Senate? Check out Sen. Cruz’s Facebook page to see what happened when he said something respectful about Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday. South Africa’s white government imprisoned Mandela for nearly three decades because of his opposition to apartheid, first through peaceful resistance but later through sabotage. He later served as the country’s first black president, creating a Government of National Unity that included representatives of black and white political parties.

Sen. Cruz joined with other political leaders in mourning Mandela’s death, posting on his Facebook page:

“Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, ‘Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.’ Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is… Read More

It seems that the far right these days is increasingly populated by political propagandists (like David Barton) and unhinged talk show hosts (like Glenn Beck) who fancy themselves as historians and political scientists. Add to that list U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is joining with right-wing talk show host Mark Levin to teach an online course about the history of conservatism. The course is sponsored by the Leadership Institute (“Training conservative activists, students, and leaders since 1979”) and Free Think University.

Free Think University claims that it “promotes critical thinking, rather than popular ‘group think.'” Ummm, sure. Its online “courses” include titles like “Has Science Buried God?” and “Do Free Markets Promote Cooperation?” A course titled “Why Is the Constitution Important” describes the supposedly opposing sides on the issue this way:

“The Constitutionalists believe in the timelessness of the Constitution and seek to continue to uphold its original meaning and intent.  Then there are the Progressives who believe the Constitution is an antiquated document that must constantly ‘evolve’ to meet the whims of the times.”

“To meet the whims of the times”? Yeah, THAT sounds like a balanced portrayal.

“No matter a person’s political… Read More

Texas Rising

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