Presidential wannabe Ted Cruz was asked why he is sharing a stage with a pastor who has called for gay people to be put to death – and failed to condemn the comments.
Cruz is speaking alongside fellow Republican candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal at the ‘National Religious Liberties Conference’ this weekend – organised by extremist pastor Pastor Kevin Swanson.
As well as encouraging anti-gay laws around the world, Swanson has repeatedly called for gay people to be put to death – praising “a law in the Old Testament that says that homosexuals should be put to death” – and urging people to put Bible verses calling for execution of gays on gay wedding cakes.
Cruz was challenged on his appearance alongside Swanson while speaking to CNN anchor Jake Tapper.
Tapper asked: ” You are speaking at a conference this weekend, the National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines. It’s organized by a guy named Kevin Swanson.
“You’ve been very outspoken about what you deem liberal intolerance of Christians, but Kevin Swanson has said some very inflammatory things about gays and lesbians.
“He believes Christians should hold up signs at gay weddings holding up the Leviticus verse, instructing the faithful to put gays to death because what they do is an abomination.
“I don’t hold you responsible for what other people say, but given your concern about liberal intolerance, are you not, in some ways, endorsing conservative intolerance?”
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Incredibly, Cruz entirely side-stepped the question, and did nothing to distance himself from the pastor’s views.
He hit back: “I don’t know what this gentleman has said or hasn’t said.
“I know that when it comes to religious liberty, this is a passion of mine and has been for decades and that I have been fighting for religious liberty for everyone.
“Fighting for religious liberty for Christians, for Jews, for Muslims, for every one of us to practice our faith.
“And in the last six and a half years under the Obama administration, we have seen an assault on religious liberty from the federal government.
“You know, couple months ago I hosted a rally for religious liberty in Iowa had 2,500 people come out. The single biggest political event in the state of Iowa this year and we had nine heroes, people who stood up for their faith who just told their stories and it was powerful.
“You can go and watch those stories on our website… and you know, the amazing thing is many in the media diminish threats on religious liberty say they’re not real.
“What I tried to do in that event is withdraw myself and have the focus be on them telling their stories.”
Cruz recently branded actress Ellen Page a “liberal fascist” for asking him why he opposes LGBT rights.
Watch the exchange below: