Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hallelujah Trail

Ted Cruz found himself upstaged by Donald Trump on immigration, so he’s heading down another path.

Cruz, looking to gain traction in an early voting state with a heavy concentration of evangelical Christians, held a highly organized and produced “Rally for Religious Liberty” Friday night. The rally featured live music, interviews with people who said their religious liberty was violated and sermon-like speeches from Cruz, who tried to cement himself as the candidate of choice for evangelical voters in a crowded Republican primary field.

“There is a war on faith in America today,” Cruz said, later noting that 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home during the 2012 election. “I’m here to tell you, we will stay home no longer,” he said as the audience, which filled a ballroom and the campaign estimated to number 2,500 people, cheered.

As an example of the “war on Christians,” Mr. Cruz posed a hypothetical situation: what if gays discriminated against evangelicals?

Imagine if this were inverted. Imagine if there were a gay florist — now I know that’s hard to imagine, a gay florist — but just go with the hypo[thetical] for a second. Imagine if two evangelical Christians came to a gay florist and they wanted to get married, and the florist said, “You know what? I disagree with your faith. I have problems with your faith.” You have no entitlement to force that florist to provide flowers at the Christians’ wedding. We are a pluralistic nation that tolerates diversity.

Actually, there is a law that would force the florist to provide flowers to the wedding.  It’s called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it protects people from discrimination on the basis of religion in public accommodation such as renting a hotel room or selling goods.  It does not, however, protect people on the basis of sexual orientation, which seems to be fine with Mr. Cruz.

Now that Donald Trump has sucked all the oxygen out of the room in terms of nativist xenophobia, he’s got to find some place to go.  The Pat Robertson side of the street seems to be his only option.