As a Christian, Ted Cruz says he is commanded by Scripture to "love everybody," but he tells Newsmax TV
he also is compelled to fight for the religious liberty of people who don't want to be forced to act against their faith.
Cruz held an impromptu debate with
actress Ellen Page over gay rights on Friday as he flipped pork chops at the Iowa State Fair.
In an interview with "The Hard Line" host Ed Berliner taped shortly afterward, Cruz said that while the rights of the LGBT community are important, so are those of people of faith who do not want to be forced to participate in same-sex weddings just because they run a small florist, bakery or photography business.
"This is about whether the government is going to persecute people of faith for standing up to their faith," Cruz said in the first part of the interview, which aired Monday.
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Cruz doesn't expect to get the support of leftist Hollywood celebrities, but he told Berliner than some do understand he doesn't come from a position of hatred for the gay community. Others, he said, "manifest a hatred and intolerance for Christians."
"We should love everybody, but I'm a constitutionalist. And the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the very first right protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is religious liberty," Cruz said. "We're a nation that was founded by men and women fleeing religious persecution and coming to a new land so every one of us could worship God with all of our hearts, minds and souls."
Cruz attended a rally in Iowa on Saturday night that focused on people whom Cruz said have been persecuted because of their faith. One such couple, Dick and Betty Odgaard, were forced to pay $5,000 and stop hosting weddings in the historic church they own after being sued by two men who wanted to get married there.
"An awful lot of folks in the media, an awful lot of folks in Hollywood, they dismiss the assault on religious liberty," Cruz said. "They say it isn't real."
The Odgaards went out of business earlier this month and laid off all their employees, Cruz said. "They were out of business because they stood up and defended their faith."
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