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Marco Rubio's 'Religious Liberty Advisory Board' Includes Immigration Reform Advocate

Marco Rubio's 'Religious Liberty Advisory Board' Includes Immigration Reform Advocate

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As the presidential candidates prepare for February’s Iowa caucus, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., named his “Religious Liberty Advisory Board.”

Iowa, typically regarded as an evangelical state, will have its caucus on Feb. 1, but on Jan. 6, Rubio's presidential campaign revealed its "Religious Liberty Advisory Board." Of the listed 15 individuals, two are Latinos: Dr. Carlos Campo, who serves as president at Ashford University, and Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, who serves as the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).


Rev. Samuel Rodriguez & Immigration Reform Support

Rodriguez, a conservative, has been a strong supporter for congressional immigration reform, which Rubio previously co-sponsored in 2013 with the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" (S. 744), a bipartisan legislation that included pathway to citizenship for immigrants, reforms to the immigrant visa process, 700 miles of pedestrian fencing on the southern U.S. border and more than 38,000 trained full-time active duty Border Patrol agents on the southern border.

Rodriguez has been impressed with Rubio's leadership, however, he has been vocal about Rubio's latest immigration stance. According to the Boston Globe last June, Rodriguez said Rubio "was Joshua leading the people into the Promised Land of immigration. Then, right when we were on the Jordan River, he pivoted. He looked back to the desert. All of the sudden he pivoted; he took his foot out of the water."


He later said, "The decibel level is lower. That passion is no longer there. ... When you hear him speak now you see his eyes move down a bit, his voice fluctuates a tad. It's not the same convicted Marco Rubio that led the charge back in 2013."

Despite the immigration stance, Rodriguez still believed the Florida senator did not alter convictions, but that Rubio changed his "political calculations" to win the Republican nomination.


No Endorsement

As president of the NHCLC, Rodriguez previously hosted fellow Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush last April. He once called Bush a "blessing." Last October, Bush also announced his "Religious Liberty Advisory Committee." In an NHCLC statement on Jan. 7, Rodriguez acknowledged that some NHCLC pastors support fellow Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, but "more favor" Bush and Rubio. The same statement clarified that Rodriguez's involvement in Rubio's board is not a form of endorsement. He said he will endorse a candidate later this summer.


"Religious liberty is the cornerstone of the American experiment. From the beginning, our commitment to the principle that no one should ever be prevented from living according to their religious beliefs or coerced into doing something they don't believe in has been tested," said Marco Rubio for President's Director of Faith Outreach Eric Teetsel, in a statement announcing the advisory board.


"In the last few years we have seen a debate over the place of religion and faithful people in the public square arise yet again. The next president must stand up and defend the religious liberty of all citizens. Marco and our team are honored to have at our disposal the collective wisdom of America's foremost defenders of religious liberty. This diverse group represents men and women of many faiths and perspectives, including academics, pastors, and advocates. We intend to take full advantage of their input and wisdom as Senator Rubio fights to protect American's religious liberty in the 21st Century," Teetsel added.


Also accompanying Campo and Rodriguez in Rubio's "Religious Liberty Advisory Board" are:

  • Vincent Bacote, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology and Director of Center for Applied Christian Ethics, Wheaton College
  • Kyle Duncan, former general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Green family in the Hobby Lobby case
  • Tom Farr, Ph.D., Director, Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and World Affairs, Georgetown University
  • Kellie Fiedorek, Legal Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary
  • The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary
  • Dr. Thomas Kidd, Distinguished Professor of History and Associate Director, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University
  • Dr. Daniel Mark, Villanova University; Commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
  • Michael McConnell, Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford University Law School
  • Doug Napier, Senior Counsel and Executive Vice President, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel; Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University
  • Rick Warren, Founding Pastor of Saddleback Church
  • Thomas White, Ph.D., President and Professor of Theology, Cedarville University


Got Faith?

On Thursday, Rubio released his latest campaign ad titled "Faith." Rubio uses the 30-second spot to talk about his Christian faith and the role of Jesus Christ in his life.

"The purpose of our life is to cooperate with God's plan. To those who much have been given, much is expected. And we will be asked to account for that. Were your treasures stored up on earth or in heaven? And to me, I try to allow that to influence me in everything that I do," said Rubio.

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