Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz's New Campaign Slogan: "Jesus loves you, but I'm his favorite."

Why catering to the Born-Again GOP is a losing strategy

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President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill making "In God We Trust" the nation's official motto, but his approach to religion was not excessive in its rigor. "Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious belief," he once declared, "and I don't care what it is."

He might have been taken aback at the spectacle presented by fellow Republican Ted Cruz Monday in Lynchburg, Va. The Texas senator sounded less like he was running for president of the United States than for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Part of the message was the setting—a stage at Liberty University, founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell, which Cruz saluted as "the largest Christian university in the world."

He holds degrees from Princeton and Harvard, but he was right at home there. He noted that his wife's parents were missionaries in Africa. He said America's urgently needed reclamation would come from "people of faith."

He testified that when his father was contemplating divorce, "God transformed his heart." He informed his audience that "were it not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ," he "would have been raised by a single mom without my father in the household."

Invocations of the Almighty have long been a normal and harmless part of American political rhetoric. Even Barack Obama, whom many people continue to believe is a Muslim rather than a Christian, ends his speeches, "God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

But Cruz takes this custom to a novel extreme. He was not paying the normal tribute to general and widely held Christian beliefs. He was informing a narrow slice of Protestants, "I'm one of you." Most religious expressions by politicians are inclusionary. His was the opposite.

Politically this sounds like a losing long-term strategy, since white evangelicals (the chief target of his appeal) make up a small, shrinking group. Today, they are only 18 percent of the population—just slightly more than the percentage with no religious affiliation. Cruz's message will alienate at least as many people as it will attract.

It puts him in a geographic box as well as a sectarian one, since white evangelicals disproportionately live in the South. It hinders him with younger voters, who are the least likely to be born-again Christians.

But in the short run, or the Republican primaries, his born-again appeals may help him compete against candidates like Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, Rick Santorum, a religious culture warrior, and Scott Walker, son of a Baptist minister. One of them is bound to use this campaign slogan: "Jesus loves you, but I'm his favorite."

It's hard to believe that white Southern evangelicals once took a very different view of politics. In 1960, when Democratic candidate John Kennedy needed to address concerns about his Catholic faith—something no president had shared—he spoke to Protestant pastors in Houston.

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," he proclaimed. "I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation on him as a condition to holding that office."

When he was done, his audience applauded. If a politician were to say the same thing to modern evangelicals, they would be more likely to sit in stony silence.

Cruz is unabashed in implying that his religious views are an excellent reason to vote for him. He also thinks they are, and should be, inseparable from his views on policy. He won't get much argument in GOP debates.

But JFK was on to something that ostentatiously Christian politicians ignore. In a pluralist society that abstains from state aid to churches, candidates may be guided by their faith, but they have a duty to advocate their political views in terms that transcend religion.

"God wants it" is not a legitimate rationale for any government policy. Cruz, however, is the culmination of years of effort by Republicans to present themselves as the official sponsor of Christianity.

They have come a long way from Sen. Barry Goldwater, the famously conservative 1964 presidential nominee. When Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, an unhappy Jerry Falwell said that "every good Christian should be concerned." Goldwater had a different suggestion: "Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass."

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  1. a normal and harmless part of American political rhetoric

    Citation mf needed.

    1. Proving harm is the burden of the prosecution, one need not defend a negation (in this case, of the negation of harm).

      So you have any proof of direct harm by something as innocuous as “god bless america” other than you feeling microagressed?

      1. I don’t think she was referring to that. I think she was saying that religion has been used by politicians to justify actual violations of liberty, and not just invoked harmlessly in phrases like “God bless America”

  2. “”I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” [JFK] proclaimed. “I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation on him as a condition to holding that office.””

    And to be fair, Kennedy kept his word. He never imposed his religious views on anyone – not even himself.*

    He rejected school choice because he didn’t want to look like he was biased toward Catholic schools.

    He winked at the assassination of the Catholic premier of South Vietnam, in a courageous effort to make sure we won the war in that country. Spoiler alert – it didn’t work.

    *I forgot who first told that joke.

  3. If Cruz said something offensive in his speech, why didn’t Chapman quote it?

    Unless it’s offensive to say that faith in Christ dissuaded his father from getting a divorce. This is either true or false. If false, then Cruz should be denounced for lying. If it’s true, though, it’s an inspiring story about his family takes its family-values rhetoric seriously.

    Let’s be blunt – if Cruz Sr. had gotten a divorce, the Chapmans of the world would be throwing it in Cruz, Jr.’s face – “hypocritically, he won’t criticize his father’s choices,” etc.

    1. Cruz offended rationalists like me in that speech by telling everyone that our rights come from a mythical sky monster.

      1. BUUUUUUUUUTTPLUUUUUUUUG

      2. So the Declaration of Independence offends rationalists like you? I think I’m pretty rational, but it doesn’t offend me.

        1. Doesn’t offend me either, and I’m probably as atheistical as you’ll find around here.

      3. Cruz offended rationalists like me in that speech by telling everyone that our rights come from a mythical sky monster.

        Cruz took a rhetorical shortcut. Humans have rights because they are logically entailed by the attributes that make us human – our nature as a particular type of being. The real dispute is over what that nature is and whether it comes from God as a creator or as an “accident” of evolution. But it is rather a useless dispute, since we are here, and we are whatever we are. That which is, is what has to be dealt with.

    2. It could easily be construed as offensive to call Liberty the “largest Christian university in the world.”

      1. I guess they count online enrollment to get that figure but it seems weak.

    3. But anyway, Notorious, you’re the first one to use the term “offensive.” Chapman characterized Cruz as potentially exclusionary and alienating. Not the same thing.

      1. OK, I’ll concede that, just to avoid a multi-post debate over the meanings of words.

      2. But what exactly did he say that was “potentially exclusionary and alienating”? He may well have said something like that, but there’s not a single quote in the article to back up that assertion. I’m supposed to take Chapman’s word for it?

    4. Where’s the virtue in not getting divorced if you think you need to be divorced?

  4. “It’s hard to believe that white Southern evangelicals once took a very different view of politics. In 1960, when Democratic candidate John Kennedy needed to address concerns about his Catholic faith?something no president had shared?he spoke to Protestant pastors in Houston.”

    In 1960s the governments view of religion was a little different too. Since then there has been a systematic approach to removing religious affiliations. It is now to the point where the government is hostile to people of certain faiths.

    It is only a natural reaction now that people are interested in politicians with a real faith.

    But if you went back a little further in history, you would find this isn’t so uncommon. Especially at our countries founding.

    1. It is now to the point where the government is hostile to people of certain faiths.

      Muslims?

      1. Actually, governments, especially modern ones, are naturally hostile to religion to a certain degree. Because government is becoming the big new religion. And religions don’t like competition.

      2. pastafarians.

  5. “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,”

    Today these wingnutcases believe the Establishment Clause is a secular humanist plot keep Jesus out of public schools and courtrooms.

    1. BUUTTPLUUGG

    2. What? Fuck off, assdouche.

  6. The Stupid Party seems likes it’s running headlong into snatching defeat from the jaws of victory again. All my progderp friends are in stitches over Ted Cruz, as if he’s the frontrunner for the GOP. Problem is, they’ll be in stitches over every candidate. Except maybe Rand Paul, but he seems like he’s doing his best to change that.

    1. Well, the media loves to push the latest Clown Candidate (Welch used a different term for this particular kind of GOP candidate, which is escaping me right now) into the spotlight because it, of course, distracts people from any real issues, allows TEAM BLUE to titter over how superior they are to this idiot, and usually stirs the KULTUR WAR shit soup up.

      Basically, a normal day in the media. Being a literal statist Fourth Estate by keeping the masses distracted from anything real with bullshit KULTUR WAR and TEAM games.

      1. Can you imagine if Joe Biden was on TEAM RED? Everyone in the Republican party has to be either stupid or vicious. Or both. It keeps the TEAM players on the reservation.

        1. Biden would have been hounded out of politics 20 years ago if he had been TEAM RED.

      2. To be fair, I don’t think you can blame the media for pushing Cruz into the spotlight when he’s the first major party candidate to announce their candidacy. And while I don’t think it’s likely he’ll win, it’s not like he’s a fringe guy getting 1% in the polls.

        1. He might win the GOP primary. He’s non-Anglo guy who has succeeded in getting elected to a major office and doesn’t sound completely insane.

          I mean, Romney won the primary last time simply by not imploding his candidacy like most everyone else running in that primary.

  7. Chapman has become joke. His columns look like they could have been written by the wackos at democraticunderground.

    Try this for the above article. Substitute “Barack Obama” for “Ted Cruz” and substitute “black” for “Christian”. Bigotry plain and simple. When did Chapman become a George Soros leg humper?

    Many years ago, I had a Reason magazine subscription. Now I check the website every once in a while. Boy things have changed. Seems like there are four main themes: promotion of gay sex, support of pot legalization, support for amnesty, and hatred of Republicans.

    1. You forgot explaining what Millenials think.

      1. Have you met many? I’m pretty sure they don’t think beyond whether their coffee is FreeTrade shadegrown…

    2. “Substitute “Barack Obama” for “Ted Cruz” and substitute “black” for “Christian”. Bigotry plain and simple.”

      Nice victim complex. That comparison doesn’t even make sense – one’s a race and the other is a religion.

      “Seems like there are four main themes: promotion of gay sex, support of pot legalization, support for amnesty, and hatred of Republicans.”

      You mean libertarian views are advocated on a libertarian website? And an anti-libertarian party isn’t viewed favorably? And of course you managed to skip over all the other articles and all the criticism of Democrats. I feel like this has gotten to be a troll given how close it gets to “Mexicans, pot, and ass sex” in the last line.

    3. Advocating the freedom to marry whomever you want and to keep the government out of your bedroom = promotion of gay sex.

      Advocating that there should be no such thing as a victimless “crime” = support for pot legalization.

      Advocating that there should be a free flow of capital and that criminalizing certain types of immigration may do more harm than good = support for amnesty.

      Pointing out that some/many Republicans don’t actually support small government and free markets, despite their rhetoric = hatred of Republicans.

      That’s what you’re saying, right?

      1. Free flow of labor, not capital, that should say. (Though free flows of capital are also important.)

  8. Can anybody explain why Cruz’s remarks are more offensive than Eisenhower’s, as Chapman claims?

    Eisenhower said, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious belief, and I don’t care what it is.”

    Shorter Eisenhower, everyone *except atheists* is part of the great American mosaic!

    So to Eisenhower, a guy who handles poisonous snakes or treats his kids’ illnesses with Christian Science prayer is more a part of America than Clarence Darrow.

    Because God forbid we distinguish among religions!

  9. Perhaps I just don’t understand this whole “alienation” thing. If a black libertarian candidate gave a speech in Philadelphia and says “I’m one of you. I’ve been where you are. I know how tough it can be to deal with the cops, the drug war, the shitty government schools, the lack of opportunity due to petty fees and licensing.” Am I supposed to be offended because I’m a white guy who lives in the sticks? Seriously, when did everyone become such pussies that everything that doesn’t apply to them offends them?

    1. I don’t have a problem with Cruz reaching out to evangelicals and letting them know he’s one of them. I have a problem with the fact that he doesn’t exactly strike me as the “live and let live” kind of guy who is going to refrain from legislating his views onto others. Also, his belief that “only people of faith” are capable of the “reclamation of America” is a bit different from what the hypothetical black candidate in your example is saying. If that candidate said that the reclamation of America was going to come from black people, I think a lot of people would take issue with that.

      1. But in all the movies, it’s the numinous black guy who rescues the white characters from whatever crisis they’re enmeshed in!

  10. Even Barack Obama, whom many people continue to believe is a Muslim rather than a Christian

    One of the biggest problems with being a Christian is that it’s all self-reporting, and yes, that applies to most other religions too.

    The term “Christian” comes from ancient Antioch; it means “little Christ”.

    Is Obama a Christian? I don’t know the state of his soul, but let’s look at how Christ talked about his followers:

    “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21a)
    “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” (John 14:23a)
    “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)
    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:22)

    Not looking so good.

    1. Oh, I forgot one.

      No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

      Matthew 6:24

      Fill in “money” with whichever word you like…

      1. No one can serve two masters? Didn’t this same Jesus also say to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s?

  11. “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” he [JFK] proclaimed.

    The more accurate quote, if he wanted to be honest, is “I believe in an America where the State as Church is absolute.”

    “We Know Better Than You” is the doctrine of this new, secular Church.

    1. It was always the doctrine of the old one as well.

  12. Cruz is unabashed in implying that his religious views are an excellent reason to vote for him.

    And maybe that is a good reason, considering that Obama’s religious views (Statism) have not meant better news for anybody. Maybe someone who thinks there IS a hell might be less inclined on making everybody’s life a little less attractive to live.

  13. “God wants it” is not a legitimate rationale for any government policy.

    Because “The People Want It” is less absurd or more believable? I don’t understand the difference.

    1. Simple: you can always take a poll to see “what the people want” – or what you claim they want. But anyone can claim to know the mind of God, and how would one dispute him when one man’s revelation is as good as another’s? The first has at least the appearance of objectivity, but the second not so much.

      Although, I must agree with you that” what the people want” is not any better a justification for government policy than what God wants. And don’t the people want what God wants? They usually claim they do.

  14. @$#%@$!^@ SQUIRRELS!

  15. It’s all rather moot anyway; the Republican Establishment – particularly here in Texas – hates Ted Cruz probably as much as they do some libertarian type like Rand Paul. No way will he get the nomination.

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