Pastor Rafael Cruz, the father of U.S. Senator and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, believes the United States is on the brink of disaster, and it's up to the Church to save it.
In his new book A Time For Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America, Cruz, 76, calls upon pastors and churches to be politically active -- or risk allowing the "wicked to elect the wicked."
"Pastors have a responsibility," Cruz told The Gospel Herald during a sit-down interview in Nashville, Tennessee last week. "Pastors historically have been the moral compass of America. But because of political correctness, they are not engaged in moral and social issues because they don't want to offend anyone. If a pastor does not lead, the Bible says the sheep are scattered like sheep without a shepherd...We cannot remain silent, because our country is in decline. We need to be salt and light to this country to try and restore it to the foundations that made America the greatest country on the face of this earth."
Cruz believes that the upcoming presidential election may be the most crucial election in U.S. history, as America simply cannot risk "four more years of the lawlessness that has prevailed in America over the last eight years."
"America is at the edge of a precipice," he warned. "We have seen our rights being trampled. We have seen our Constitutional rights eroded, and we have seen backroom deals made by corrupt politicians in both parties...We need to pray that the truth will prevail, that politicians do not deceive the American people, that the American people would have the clarity to discern who is telling the truth. We have all been burned by candidates that will tell us all these wonderful promises, and then get elected and do exactly the opposite. We cannot afford to make that mistake again. The future of America is in the balance."
When asked what qualities Christians should look for when choosing which presidential candidate to vote for, Cruz didn't hesitate to point to Matthew 7:16, which states, "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?"
"One of the things that I tell many people is, 'Don't listen to the rhetoric. Look at their record. Don't listen to what candidates will tell you, because they'll tell you the things you want to hear. Look at what they do and what they have done,'" the pastor said. "It's about time we do some fruit checking. Don't get swept away by the rhetoric and theater and emotions. Emotions are fickle. We need to make sure that we're looking at honesty, integrity, someone that you can trust to do what they say they're going to do. This is imperative."
Published by WND Books and released in January, A Time for Action includes a foreword written by conservative pundit Glenn Beck and an epilogue by Senator Ted Cruz.
Below is the complete interview with Pastor Rafael Cruz.
GH: Tell us about your book. What inspired you to write A Time for Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America?
RC: About three years ago, I was at a pastor's conference in Iowa, and I heard a statistic that really troubled me. It said that in the 2012 election, about 12 million evangelical Christians were not registered to vote, and another 26 million didn't vote. That's a total of 38 million Christians that didn't vote out of an estimated total of 89 million, about 40%. Those 38 million, depending on whose statistic you read, goes all the way up to 55 million, so somewhere between 40-50% of evangelical Christians didn't vote. That really troubled me. I felt that if the people of faith and principle are not voting or running for office, then what is left? People without principle electing people without principle. The church has been greatly responsible for that, because the church has divorced itself from the political process. We have seen many pastors that have said, 'Politics is a dirty business. I don't want any part of it.' Well, if people of principle say it is a dirty business, and they don't get involved, it will continue to be a dirty business. Christians must get involved by running for office and voting for candidates that uphold those fundamental principles -- Judeo-Christian, and constitutional principles, which are one in the same. So, my book was written primarily to wake up all of those that are sitting at home not getting involved in the political arena.
GH: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
RC: It's a call to action. There is a great emphasis among Christians today on 2nd Chronicles 7:14, which says, 'If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.' We must start with prayer, but we go to God in prayer to seek communion with God, to get direction from God, to be empowered by God to do the work we're supposed to do. There is a second part to that equation, and that is 2nd Corinthians 5:20, which says that we are ambassadors for Christ. That means we're God's representatives here on earth. We're God's hands, feet, and mouthpiece. Jesus said to 'Shout it from the rooftops.' We have a responsibility to share not only the good news of the Gospel, but the fundamental principles that are the bedrock of America. Those Judeo principles and Constitutional principles of hard work, individual responsibility, honesty, integrity, the rule of law, limited government, free enterprise -- all those are the foundations that have made America the most outstanding country in the world.
GH: In the past, you've argued that America's moral fiber is being attacked and "people who have been the background of America" have been divorced from the political process. Can you explain this belief for us?
RC: Let's look first at the fact that historically, that is not so. The Great Awakening, which started in the 1730's with preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield and many others, they were the spark and inspiration for the American Revolution. You cannot divorce the first Great Awakening from the American Revolution. You look at the Declaration of Independence. Each and every one of the grievances in the Declaration of Independence was preached in the churches of America for ten years prior to being written in the Declaration of Independence. There were preachers from the pulpit calling out King George for the atrocities that were perpetrated on the colonies. The question that begs an answer is, 'Where are these preachers today?'
Unfortunately, many of them are hiding behind their pulpits, scared to death of losing their tax exemption, although no church in America has lost its tax exemption for speaking on politics. They're scared to death of not being politically correct. The consequence of that silence -- you can look at the statistics -- teen pregnancy skyrocketed after 1963, and so did violent crime. Amid the latest decisions made by the Supreme Court, the church has remained silent because of political correctness. Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Germany during the Second World War said, 'Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.' He also said 'Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.' We cannot remain silent, because our country is in decline and we need to be salt and light to this country to try and restore it to the foundations that made America the greatest country on the face of this earth.
GH: You've talked a lot about how pastors have a duty to discuss politics from the pulpit. How can pastors talk about politics from the pulpit without alienating listeners?
RC: Pastors have a responsibility. For many people that go to church, the pastor is who they most respect. Pastors historically have been the moral compass of America. But because of political correctness, they are not engaged in moral and social issues because they don't want to offend anyone. What happens is, if a pastor does not lead, the Bible says the sheep are scattered like sheep without a shepherd. We need pastors to assume their responsibility; they've been given a role of leadership. There are many pastors that are doing precisely that. But unfortunately, there are many that are not. Many churches have gotten involved in what I call the 'Social Gospel.' They're trying to look more like the world in order to attract the world, but when the world comes, they find nothing different, because they talk and act just like the world. Those churches lose their impact on society.
GH: In your opinion, what are the most important issues Christian voters should be looking at when selecting a presidential candidate?
RC: Fundamentally, I think life is at the forefront. In the Declaration of Independence, it says 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator - not by government, not by a president - but by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' Life is at the forefront. Every life is precious in the sight of God. We need to be unashamedly supporting and defending life from conception to natural death. We are seeing the protection of life under attack at both ends; not only with abortion on demand, but also with euthanasia being promoted in several states now. Our right to life is attacked at both ends, and in the middle, our quality of life is eroded by taxation, regulation, and things like Obamacare which restricts care and the quality of life. We need to stand strong for life, we need to stand strong for all of the Bill of Rights -- it's fundamental.
It's not coincidental that the First Amendment is first. It talks about the freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is under attack mercilessly...Today, one of the most critical issues that we need to be aware of is, with the passing of Antonin Scalia, the balance in our Supreme Court is so precarious. If we have one more liberal justice in the Supreme Court, our right to life is down the tubes. Abortion on demand until the day of delivery will become the law of the land, and our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms will go down the drain. If you look at history, every country that has taken guns away from the people has used them against the people. Stalin did it, Hitler did it, Mao did it. We must be certain that we elect a true Constitutional Conservative as president that will only appoint justices that are true to the Constitution, to the rule of law, to limited government. If we get this wrong, it may cost us a generation, and I don't think we have the time. America is at the point of disaster if we make the wrong decision.
GH: Say a candidate has policies we agree with, but no clear moral center. Should we still vote for that candidate? How important is personal morality when it comes to which candidate we choose?
RC: It is absolutely important because integrity is of the utmost importance. One of the things that I tell many people is, 'Don't listen to the rhetoric. Look at their record. Don't listen to what candidates will tell you, because they'll tell you the things you want to hear. Look at what they do and what they have done.' The Bible put it this way, 'Ye shall know them by their fruits.' It's about time we do some fruit checking. If a candidate tells you, 'I'm pro-life,' but they spent decades defending abortion and promoting abortion on demand, don't believe them. If a candidate tells you 'I'm against amnesty,' but they've spent years promoting amnesty, don't believe them. You shall know them by their fruit. Look at their record. Don't get swept away by the rhetoric and theater and emotions. Emotions are fickle. We need to make sure that we're looking at honesty, integrity, someone that you can trust to do what they say they're going to do. This is imperative.
GH: Franklin Graham has said that this upcoming election is the most important election in the history of our nation. Do you agree? And if so, how can we best pray for those currently running for office?
RC: I absolutely agree. America is at the edge of a precipice. I don't think we can afford four more years of the lawlessness that has prevailed in America over the last eight years. We have seen our rights being trampled, we have seen the national debt go to almost 23 trillion dollars, we have seen our Constitutional rights eroded, we have seen backroom deals made by corrupt politicians in both parties -- what my son calls the 'Washington Cartel'. We don't need a deal maker in Washington; it is because of those back room deals that we have lost our liberties. We need someone who will stand in principle, someone you can trust to do what they say they're going to do, someone who has a clear vision and a clear direction for America. Someone who doesn't think that we work for them, but understands that they work for us. Someone that has a clear concept of servant leadership. As a leader, a person should first and foremost be a servant to the people. I know that's where my son stands, my son's main concern is to be a servant to every American and to protect and defend every American. What we need to pray is that the truth will prevail, that politicians do not deceive the American people, that the American people would have the clarity to discern who is telling the truth, to discern if they can trust someone to do what they say they're going to do. We have all been burned by candidates that will tell us all these wonderful promises, and then get elected and do exactly the opposite. We cannot afford to make that mistake again. The future of America is in the balance."