More than 6,000 packed the church sanctuary to hear from a half-dozen Republican presidential hopefuls, who accepted the invitation for the exclusive 20 minute speaking opportunity. (Nearly 10,200 online viewers live streamed the Forum from the church website.)
From Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church:
Evangelicals are interested in all issues that affect our way of life as Americans.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina joined Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Senator Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on stage to pitch evangelical voters and to discuss the importance of faith in public life.
Carly Fiorina gave a speech with the theme of hope for the country to redeem its character through the election. “Each of us is gifted by God… and our [Republican] policies work better to lift others regardless of circumstances”, said Fiorina. “This election is about the character of our nation. We need a leader who can unlock and lead the great resurgence of this nation.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz received an overwhelming standing ovation when he took to the stage and spoke of ordinary people who held to their faith when challenged. “Constitution rights are under assault everyday”, said Cruz. “This election will be a religious liberty election.”
Former Senator Rick Santorum spoke of how his faith has motivated him to fight for issues he cares about most – Health Savings Accounts, Welfare Reform and many other items he worked with Democrats to pass. “What’s missing in Washington today is someone who knows how to lead, said Santorum. “We need someone with experience who can lead his country.”
Former Governor Mike Huckabee discussed having to fight the Clinton machine in Arkansas and effective governing with principle. “That’s when I learned what a fight was”, said Huckabee about the Clinton’s coming back to Arkansas to campaign for Democratic challengers. “You need someone to fight in Washington for you.” Huckabee wrapped his time on stage stating that “Knowledge can be Googled; wisdom comes from above. Wisdom comes from God.”
Dr. Ben Carson spoke of his mothers third grade education and how her faith gave her the wisdom to motivate her sons to develop their minds and that it’s time to bring God back to this country. “The President says we are not a Judeo-Christian country”, said Carson. “He does not get to decide. We get to decide.” Carson goes further saying “we are a Judeo-Christian country” and “the leader of the country can make it clear that it’s ok to live by godly principles.”
Rounding out the slate of speakers, Former Governor Jeb Bush give a personal account of how reading the bible from cover to cover as an adult, changed his life. “I realized that Jesus Christ is my savior,” said Bush. “I can’t wait to get home for Sunday Funday and to pray with my wife.” Bush wrapped up his time arguing that [instead of the federal government addressing] he would empower the states to address and make decisions on healthcare, gay marriage, education and a list of other issues. “I trust the Governors of Texas and Florida to make those decisions”, said Bush.
Portions of this piece also appear in my story on HuffPost.