It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the string of endorsements for Ted Cruz from Religious Right political activists, including some of the most extreme activists in the movement. It started in the summer, when we asked, “Is Ted Cruz Winning the Christian-Nation Primary?” but it really got going after dozens of Religious Right leaders anointed Cruz as their candidate at a secret endorsement meeting in Texas in December.
Now that we’re just days from the Iowa caucus, the Cruz campaign is picking up the pace. Today it announced endorsements from Jason and David Benham. According to the Cruz campaign statement, the Benhams declared that “Ted Cruz is the convictional leader we desperately need in America today.”
The Benham brothers have been regular speakers on the Religious Right circuit ever since their planned real-estate reality show was cancelled amid controversy about their far-right political activism. The Benhams emceed Cruz’s religious liberty-themed event at Bob Jones University last fall.
The Cruz campaign announcement plays up the Religious Right’s narrative portraying the Benhams as religious liberty martyrs who have been persecuted for their faith. But it’s worth recalling that the Benhams, like many of their Religious Right colleagues, are quite selective in whose freedom they champion. The brothers and their Religious Right activist father, Flip, were all part of a group of people who went to a Charlotte, North Carolina, city council meeting in 2004 to complain about a gay pride event that had taken place in a city park:
“This is filth, this is vile and should not be allowed in our city,” said David. Jason urged city council members to reject future permits for Pride celebrations – and seemingly for any LGBT-themed event.
They have a right to apply for this permit, but you have a right and responsibility to deny it. I [implore] you not to be governed by the fear in which you feel. If you deny them this permit you will open a can of worms but you in your leadership position have to take that responsibility and you have to not allow the fear of making this homosexual community mad. You have to accept that responsibility and deny them every permit that they ask for.
In the words of Charlotte Pride organizers, “The Benham brothers once tried to silence us. They failed.”
Also today, former Concerned Women for America official Janice Shaw Crouse, who was the executive director of the World Congress of Families summit in Salt Lake City last fall, released a gushing endorsement of Cruz, comparing him to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and crediting him for “the shift to faith-based campaigning” in the GOP presidential campaign.