Inspired by the recent success of bills seeking to crack down on abortion and transgender-friendly bathrooms, conservative Christians rallied at the Capitol on Thursday to continue pressing for favored legislation.
“For too many years we have been the silent majority,” Rafael Cruz, father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said to shouts of “Amen!” on the Capitol’s south steps. “Well, we can be silent no more.”
A crowd of about 275 at the Faith and Family Day rally cheered state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, whose bill to ban second trimester “dismemberment abortions” received initial Senate approval Wednesday.
“God put us here to fight these battles,” Perry said. “When we’re on the Senate or House floor debating these tough issues, we feel your prayers. It gives us strength, it gives us courage, it gives us hope.”
Loud cheers also greeted state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who said she had “a good week, a long week” leading up to the Senate passage of Senate Bill 6, which would ban transgender people from using the bathroom conforming to their gender identity in public schools and universities and in government buildings.
“I believe in my heart that we must put safety and dignity ahead of social engineering that is disguised as civil rights,” Kolkhorst said. “Senate Bill 6 puts the safety, privacy and dignity of our children ahead of other people’s agendas, some of which we might call radical agendas.”
Kolkhorst also said she received vitriolic emails from the supposedly “tolerant left” and revealed that her office had received a death threat while the Senate was debating SB 6 on Wednesday.
After the event, Kolkhorst said the Department of Public Safety had provided a security detail during last week’s hearing on SB 6, she but declined to discuss current security arrangements, beyond saying that she wasn’t concerned by the threat. “We’re all good. It all worked out,” she said.
During the noon rally, Rafael Cruz told the crowd that “the free exercise of religion is under attack in America” by liberal progressives.
“And so I am so proud to be a Texan, to be around so many legislators that shout it from the house tops. And I tell you, we need to wear our faith on our sleeve,” he said.
Cruz also warned that the fight for SB 6 isn’t over. The bill arrived Thursday in the House, where several Republican leaders have expressed skepticism about the need to crack down on transgender bathrooms amid other priorities in a difficult budget year.
Cruz encouraged the crowd to call House members “and demand that there is a vote on the floor of the House on SB 6. We cannot allow for SB 6 to die in committee.”
“We demand that they be on record on where they stand on this bill,” he said.
Perry advised the crowd to remember that those who oppose “the issues that matter most to us today are lost people.”
“We were all once lost. And if we keep that in mind, we can always respect, fully debate and maintain an opportunity to convert them to what is truth,” Perry said.
“In the end we win, but how we win is just as important,” he said. “We will have an opportunity to draw people closer to God and the truth, or we will squander an opportunity that will push them out to an eternity in hell if we don’t do it with grace and balance and God’s ordained love.”
After the rally, participants visited lawmakers’ offices to advocate for favored legislation.
Groups sponsoring the event included Texas Right to Life, Texas Values, Concerned Women for America, Texas Eagle Forum and the Texas Home School Coalition.