Sen. Cruz is a member of First Baptist Church in Houston. He has run ads touting his success "defending the cross" and "defending the 10 Commandments." On March 11, 2020, Sen. Cruz defended Trump from criticism over his mishandling of the pandemic, saying that Trump "wasn't serving bat soup in the Wuhan province." The quip refers to the debunked myth that the virus originated in an order of bat soup at a restaurant. On May 7, 2020, Sen. Cruz criticized the San Antonio City Council's decision to classify terms like "Chinese virus" and "Kung Flu" as hate speech, arguing that the New York Times and CNN "both repeatedly (and rightly) referred to it as the 'Chinese Coronavirus.'" Cruz did not mention that both outlets ceased using the term when it became clear that the virus was spreading outside of China. (For more on the effects of terms like "Chinese virus," see Senator Marsha Blackburn.) On July 28, 2020, Sen. Cruz co-sponsored the "Protecting America from Spies Act," which would give the Department of Homeland Security broad discretion to deny visas to persons known or "reasonably" suspected of espionage or intellectual property theft. Cruz's press release singles out potential Chinese spies as targets of the bill.
First Baptist Church is a community of five campuses, headed by Pastor Gregg Matte, who has tweeted about praying for "racial unity." The church seems proud of its association with Sen. Cruz, featuring him in a video interview with Pastor Gregg this past July. On June 5, 2020, the church hosted an online "Prayer Roundtable" for racial reconciliation. The church belongs to the Southern Baptist Convention, whose stance on race is outlined in the section on Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Houston's Asian population is approximately 161,287. Texas as a whole is home to approximately 1.45 million Asians. Between March 19 and August 5, 2020, 72 hate crime incidents in Texas were reported to Stop AAPI Hate (8).
For more analysis of Sen. Cruz written subsequent to this letter's publication, see Updates.