I’m a Christian first, American second, conservative third
and Republican fourth. ~ TED CRUZ
Father, I have a confession to make: It is not that I necessarily have sinned (okay, I did take Sarah Palin's name in vain the other day), but as savvy as I thought I was, what with so many presidential campaigns under my belt as a journalist, I obviously have not kept up with the times, let alone religious trends. This is because my brain keeps locking up when I consider that the presidential campaign of the execrable Ted Cruz is fueled by -- and his Iowa caucus victory this week can be attributed to -- the support of Evangelicals.
Ted Cruz has sinned, keeps sinning, and his sins are manifold: He is a censorious, hate mongering, hardhearted and extraordinarily mean-spirited man who invokes the Word of God in pandering to Evangelicals, whose core beliefs supposedly include forgiveness, grace and repentance, as well as the immorality of lying and deception.
Cruz's record as a Texas solicitor general, as a lawyer in private practice, as a U.S. senator and now as a presidential candidate is a mosaic of refusing to forgive, never showing grace, and lying and deceiving with clockwork regularity.
As solicitor general of Texas, Cruz refused to release a young man sentenced to 16 years in prison for time served for a theft when it was found prosecutors had incorrectly applied an habitual offender law. He took the case to the Supreme Court to keep the man in prison for the full 16 years, but lost. And earlier as a clerk to Supreme Court
As a highly-paid lawyer, Cruz represented major corporations in product liability and workplace discrimination cases, while as a senator he is loathed by his colleagues and is a practiced dissimulator and bearer of false witness.
Cruz is "the most spectacular liar to ever run for president," in the words of one pundit, and a dirty trickster extraordinaire, falsely telling Iowa supporters that one-time Evangelical heartthrob Ben Carson had dropped out of the race to suppress the good doctor's vote total and then blaming CNN when he was caught out.
In trying to make sense of this profound disconnect between the sacred and the profane, if you will, I came to understand that referring to Cruz's core supporters merely as Evangelicals is not accurate.
More accurate is to understand that they are Christianists, self-righteous churchgoers who use their faith as a cudgel for political and personal gain, and are members of the Religious Right, which as anyone who has watched their takeover of the Republican Party knows, are people who believe not in the politics of hope, let alone a vision of a common good for all people as preached by the Son of God, but a nihilistic cynicism fueled by deep resentment.
Matthew Lee Anderson, who himself is a conservative evangelical, has Cruz's number in writing at mereorthodoxy.com that he practices "Trumpism" with a veneer of respectability:
"Indeed, no religious arena has been immune to Cruz's political ambitions. He announced his campaign at Liberty University, which bills itself as the world's largest Christian university, and indelicately placed his own political hopes in the hands of the conservative evangelical community. 'Imagine,' he bluntly put it, 'millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values,' before turning his family into a political prop to demonstrate his social conservative bona fides.
"On the day of an important Iowa social conservative event, the Presidential Family Forum, Cruz not-so-subtly announced the formation of a 'Prayer Team.' Direct contact with the Almighty about all matters Cruz comes with strings, though: Team Cruz will require your name and address, please. 'The prayers of [middle-class, registered Republicans] availeth [many votes].' So the Bible says somewhere, I think. Most perniciously, Cruz managed to turn an event about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East into a news story about himself, proving in the most abhorrent of ways that absolutely nothing is sacred when everything is political."Yes, those nice fellas impeccably dressed in black suits with black briefcases and black bound Bibles in hand, who always pick the worst time to come to your front door to proselytize, surely are good souls. But as a group, Evangelicals have tarnished their halos by tying their fortunes to the success of Republican politicians, let alone those who use their God like a cudgel to bludgeon we heathens with their neanderthal social agenda like Cruz, or Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum before him.
And if evangelical leaders, who are said to seldom share their flock's passion for politics -- let alone the politics of hate and division -- are preaching a reaffirmation of the values to which Cruz merely pays lip service, then I keep missing that.
We live in a golden age of cowardice. People of all political stripes hide behind the flag in the name of an ersatz patriotism rather than defend true American values, including the separation of church and state. And then there are Democratic congressfolk who cower when they should be defending their president and his signal accomplishments. But they all pale in comparison to Evangelicals and other Republicans who worship at the feet of clay of Ted Cruz, whose intolerance is right at home with the devil incarnate itself -- radical Islam.
POLITIX UPDATE IS WRITTEN BY SHAUN MULLEN, A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER FOR WHOM THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS HIS 12th SINCE 1968. CLICK HERE FOR AN INDEX OF PREVIOUS COLUMNS.
© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN.
IMAGE FROM DONKEYHOTEY/FLICKR. USED WITH PERMISSION.