Magazine article Church & State

Religious Right Grills GOP Presidential Candidates during Iowa Forum

Magazine article Church & State

Religious Right Grills GOP Presidential Candidates during Iowa Forum

Article excerpt

A group of Republican presidential hopefuls recently gathered in Iowa, each hoping to woo and win Religious Right activists ahead of the 2016 election.

At an event hosted by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition in April, nine potential and declared candidates, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), tried to win the support of far-right social conservatives.

The Dallas Morning News reported that more than 1,000 people attended the event, which was held in a church and lasted more than five hours. The newspaper described the candidates' speeches as "fiery testimonial," with Cruz and Huckabee drawing standing ovations before their remarks even got under way.

Huckabee claimed some in the United States wish to "criminalize Christianity," insisting that "the single greatest threat to all of our freedoms is the threat to your religious freedom."

Cruz walked a similar path when he accused liberals of demonizing Christianity, particularly in public spaces.

"The greatest trick the left has ever played is to convince conservatives that America doesn't share our values," he said.

Some evangelicals who attended the event expressed concern that there are too many options--even with the 2016 presidential election more than one year away.

"I've heard it from a lot of people in the grassroots that we don't want to split our votes and let the establishment guy take it," said Steve Deace, an Iowa radio host and conservative leader. …

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