Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Republican presidential candidate, speaks on behalf of his son at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 22, 2015. Reuters/Rick Wilking

While Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz stood out during the third Republican debate Wednesday night, the Texas senator’s father also made waves Wednesday with comments at the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City. Rafael Cruz gave an impassioned sermon during which he said the Supreme Court decision earlier this year legalizing same-sex marriage “could destroy America.”

Rev. Rafael Cruz, who was born in Cuba, said in his sermon that America has been straying from its biblical roots and from “the word of God,” on which it was built, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. He detailed major milestones in the nation’s decline, including the Communist Manifesto, the Humanist Manifesto that educator John Dewey signed in 1993, the end of prayer in public schools and the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion.

“Since then, 8 million babies in America alone have been murdered through abortion,” Cruz said. “The blood of those millions cry out to God.”

The most recent event leading to America’s demise, Cruz said, was the Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage. “That decision goes to the heart of the destruction of the family,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported Cruz saying to excited applause. “Left unchecked, it could destroy America.”

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This is not the first time the pastor has drawn attention for incendiary remarks since his son has entered the 2016 race. Earlier this year, it emerged that Rafael Cruz said President Barack Obama should “go back to Kenya” at a tea party event in 2013, and he has previously said that black voters are “uninformed” and that gay marriage is a government conspiracy. This tendency to speak his mind more freely than most politicians has prompted speculation over whether the pastor will be a campaign liability to his son, who is continuing to rise in polls and attention.

The Texas senator was considered one of the big winners of Wednesday night’s debate and currently stands at 6.6 percent, right behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in the Real Clear Politics polling average. While the presidential candidate’s campaign has said his father “does not speak for the senator,” he has stood by his father after other comments drew controversy.

And although the pastor’s remarks are strident, he is not out of step with much of the Republican Party. A Pew Research Poll released in July showed that though most Americans’ attitudes toward same-sex marriage have improved over time, 68 percent of Republicans still do not favor same-sex marriage.

At Rafael Cruz’s speech in Salt Lake City, he also praised Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples after claiming it defied her religious principles. He also encouraged attendees to speak up about Christian issues and spread moral ideas.

"We are ambassadors for Christ, God's representatives on Earth,” he said. “We need to restore America in His voice."