Support for Sen Ted Cruz grows as conservative Christians look ahead to 2016 Presidential election

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Press Association ImagesSenator Ted Cruz at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday.

Junior Senator from Texas Ted Cruz won the support of those attending the Values Voter Summit this weekend, making him a favourite to represent Christian conservatives in the 2016 presidential election.

With 25 per cent of the votes in the poll at the end of the weekend, he was ahead of Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon and political novice, and Rand Paul, who is seen as a likely frontrunner among Republicans.

The event that is hosted by the Family Research Council and attended by 2,000 activists and elected officials, is seen as an indicator of conservative support for presidential candidates.

Although Cruz, 43, has not officially announced his presidential bid, it is thought he will do so before the end of the year. Last year he won 42 per cent of the votes at the same event, this year the gap between him and Carson closed, with support for a Cruz-Carson ticket.

He was playing to a home crowd in his speech on Friday that covered Obamacare, religious freedom, abortion and gun laws.

A committed Southern Baptist, Cruz began his speech by saying: "God bless the Values Voter Summit," and continued his Christian conviction throughout.

His voice rose like a preacher in the pulpit, as he praised the heroic faith of Meriam Ibrahim. He compared the experience of the Sudanese Christian woman imprisoned for her faith, with that of the apostles in the book of Acts.

"We're seeing modern day Pauls and Silases all over the world," Cruz said.

He referenced the plight of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, Kenneth Bae in Korea, and Pastor Saeed Abedini imprisoned in Iran, among others.

"O the vacuum of American leadership we see in the world," he said. "We need a President who will speak out for people of faith, prisoners of conscience."

Speaking of religious liberty in America, he said: "This country was built on a revolutionary idea that our rights don't come from government, they come from Almighty God."

He described the Holly Lobby case as a "phenomenal victory for religious liberty," adding that at five votes to four, the decision, which allows employers to opt out of contraceptive healthcare for employees, was still a close call.

Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist and a senator for Kentucky since 2011, agreed that the US is experiencing a time of "spiritual crisis", with a "wavering" moral compass.

Paul similarly tried to win the social conservatives' vote by emphasising his pro-life views, and he referenced his Christian faith throughout. But he failed to have the same rousing effect upon his audience, nor did it translate into numerical backing.

A staunch opponent of Obamacare, Cruz famously read the Dr Seuss poem Green Eggs and Ham in the Senate during a 21-hour filibuster in an Obamacare debate in September last year.

In his speech on Friday, he said that it was the first thing he had done in the Senate that had impressed his six-year-old daughter Caroline.

Cruz, an American-Cuban who was elected to the Senate in 2012, said he expects the GOP will win a majority in the Senate elections on November 4, and also anticipates a Republican President in 2016.

"These are dangerous, extreme, radical times" he said, referring to some current Democratic policies.

His hard-line approach is echoed by his father, pastor Rafael Cruz, director of Purifying Fire Ministries – the ministry of Suzanne Hinn (wife of Benny).

Cuban-born Rafael Cruz has compared Barack Obama's leadership approach to that of Fidel Castro, describing him as a Marxist who "seeks to destroy all concept of God".

Following Ted Cruz' bleak portrait of the current political climate, he ended on a high note: "I am optimistic because I am convinced that God isn't done with America yet," he said. "We stand on the promise of the word: weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."

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