(CNN) – Sen. Ted Cruz struck a familiar refrain in a speech Wednesday, calling on Americans to defend religious liberty against the overreach of the federal government.
The freshman Republican senator from Texas cited two cases being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court fighting requirements in President Barack Obama's health care law.
"These are troubled times and religious liberty, the very first liberty in the bill of rights, the very first protection we have, has never been more in peril than it is right now," Cruz said to an audience at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Cruz, a dominate force in the tea party-backed contingent of the Republican Party, is considering a run for president in 2016.
His speech follows a long line of White House hopefuls who have addressed the evangelical Christian university, including former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who spoke at the school six months before the 2012 elections.
In delivering the address, Cruz also joins the likes of billionaire and outspoken conservative Donald Trump, "Duck Dynasty" reality show star Willie Robertson and pop singer Justin Bieber's mom, Pattie Mallette.
Cruz pointed to the law suit brought against the federal government by the family-owned craft store Hobby Lobby over a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that certain for-profit corporations provide contraception coverage to their workers.
At issue is whether secular, private corporations can claim religious exemption from federal laws.
The senator said this case "goes to the heart of religious freedom," as does as a similar Supreme Court case involving a Catholic charity for the elderly run by nuns.
Cruz has been a prominent voice of opposition against Obamacare, holding 21-hour speech protesting any government funding for the law, leading up to October's partial government shutdown.
The conservative firebrand's ongoing crusade against the sweeping heath care law follows the close of open enrollment Tuesday, and the White House announcement that the number of Americans who signed up for insurance under the law went beyond the coveted 7 million mark.
Cruz invoked civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in calling on the audience to take a stand against infringement on religious liberty.
"We are called to action. As believers we are called to action not to sitting quietly and hiding our faith under a bushel but to stand and speak no matter what the consequence," he said.
And perhaps seeking to get some more mileage out of an April fool's joke, Cruz said those Americans standing up for religious freedom have him so inspired, "I might get an eagle tattooed on my chest."
On April 1, the senator rolled up his sleeve during a television interview to reveal a fake tattoo - a nod to some street art Cruz saw in California last month, depicting him shirtless with a large eagle inked across his chest and a cigarette hanging from his mouth.