Rafael Bienvenido Cruz y Díaz (born March 22, 1939) is a Cuban-American Christian preacher, public speaker, and father of Texas Senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz. He is described by various media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, as an acting surrogate in his son's political campaigns.
Cruz left the Roman Catholic Church in 1975 and became an Evangelical Christian after attending a Bible study with a colleague and having a born again experience.
Explaining his leaving the Catholic church, Cruz stated in an interview with National Review, "The people at the Bible study had a peace that I could not understand, this peace in the midst of trouble. I knew I needed to find that peace by finding Jesus Christ."
Following his conversion, his son and wife also became born-again Christians. In the Cruz home, talk at dinner time was frequently about the Bible. He was ordained as a pastor in 2004.
Cruz works from his home in Carrollton, a suburb of Dallas, as a traveling preacher and public speaker, campaigning as a surrogate for his son during the 2016 Presidential campaign season.
In a 2014 Associated Press story, Cruz was quoted as saying, "I have a burden for this country and I feel that we cannot sit silent." He went on to say that he feels "It's time we stop being politically correct and start being biblically correct."
About his political involvements in the 1980s, Cruz reflected, "I was on the state board of the Religious Roundtable, a Christian and Jewish religious organization that worked to elect Ronald Reagan." At the time, he told his son, "God has destined you for greatness."
At the New Beginnings Church in Irving, Texas, in August 2012, Cruz delivered a sermon where he described his son's senatorial campaign as taking place within a context where Christian "kings" were anointed to preside over an "end-time transfer of wealth" from wicked people to the righteous.
Cruz urged the congregation to "tithe mightily" to achieve that result. During an interview conducted by the Christian Post in 2014, Cruz stated, "I think we cannot separate politics and religion; they are interrelated. They've always been interrelated." Salon described Cruz as a "Dominionist, devoted to a movement that finds in Genesis a mandate that 'men of faith' seize control of public institutions and govern by biblical principle."
On Labor Day 2015, Cruz was hosted at the annual "Turning Hearts" celebration in Kalona, Iowa, by the Bontrager Family Singers, a gospel and bluegrass group which became active in the ongoing Ted Cruz presidential campaign.
Cruz was involved with his son's 2016 presidential campaign, playing what the Boston Globe described as "a crucial—if sometimes divisive—element of the Texas senator’s campaign to win over conservative Christian voters."During the campaign, Cruz underwent emergency eye surgery, but returned to campaigning after several weeks' recovery. Cruz refused to say that he would endorse the Republican presidential candidate (and eventual winner) Donald Trump.
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