Of course I have my opinions about Ted Cruz and his politics. I also have my opinions about Kim Davis and gay marriage. But this article isn’t about my opinions on these things. This article is rather about a single statement made by Ted Cruz, and the volumes it speaks against the public image he tries to portray, as an honorable, values-loving, devout follower of Christ.
If you are a Christian, and especially if you are a supporter of Cruz’s, I hope you will read to the end. Then, I hope that if you disagree with my conclusion, you will leave a comment.
First, some background: Ted Cruz, is a US Senator representing the state of Texas, and is a Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 election.
Kim Davis is a county clerk in the state of Kentucky, who was recently arrested for contempt of court when she continually refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which the US Supreme court ruled legal about a month ago.
Many Christians, including a number of the Republican presidential candidates, have come out in support of Davis, saying it is fully within her right to refuse to perform this function, which violates her conscience. In this article I will neither going to agree with or disagree with this view.
What I will take issue with today is a particular statement that Cruz made in response to this situation. I first read the statement on the web site for his presidential campaign (emphasis added):
“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny. Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.”
Now I want you to take a moment. Ten seconds, say, and think of any examples in American history of anyone having been arrested for living according to their faith. You have ten seconds. Go.
How many did you think of? It’s a tough question, I know. If you’re not a US History major, it might be difficult to think of the mere thousands that have existed. Mrs. Davis was not the first to be arrested for living according to her faith.
These are the very few examples I thought of over the last 2 days, in no special order:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. and his thousands of supporters.
- Rosa Parks, who technically fits in the above category, but I think deserves special mention.
- Christian pacifists protesting the Vietnam war.
- Christian pacifists arrested for refusing to fight in World War II.
- Christians serving in the underground railroad
- Carrie Nation the famous member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union who would violently burst into saloons in Kansas with a hatchet, and vandalize the place and its patrons. And lets not forget the countless others who fought hard against alcohol, leading up to the 18th amendment.
Okay, so maybe Cruz wasn’t even close to on-target. But that doesn’t mean Cruz is a bad guy. He probably just made a mistake. I mean, it’s probably easy to overlook the entire Civil Rights movement, when you’re making a quick statement about something you feel passionately about, right?
This is the kind view of the situation, and the one I tried to convince myself to take when I first read his statement. But I don’t think that’s an accurate picture, either. First, consider that this statement was made on Cruz’s campaign web site. This means Cruz didn’t just make this statement in passing, without thinking. It was written, edited, proof-read–probably multiple times–and then posted on the web site. A conservative minimum of two other people, and likely at least half a dozen others, saw it before it was released to the public. It was an intentional, thought-out statement.
Further, Cruz made an almost identical statement the same day on FOX News:
For the first time, we’re seeing a Christian woman thrown in jail for standing up for her faith.
So any attempt to explain Cruz’s statement as an off-the-cuff mistake simply don’t stand.
This leads us to two disturbing alternatives:
- Cruz is ignorant of American history. And so is the rest of his editorial staff.
- Cruz knowingly made false statements. He lied.
Once again, lets take the kinder stand first: Cruz is ignorant, and not willfully deceptive.
Cruz was only 5 years old when the Vietnam war ended. So we can’t expect him to have any first-hand recollection of the pacifists’ protests at the time, which resulted in countless arrests. And while we know that Christians were arrested in protest to the Vietnam war, it was widely viewed as a “hippie” movement, which many Christians may not recognize. So lets be extra generous and forgive Cruz on this blunder. Perhaps it’s easy to not associate these arrests with Christians.
Martin Luther King, Jr also died two years before Cruz was born. So Cruz could only possibly know about King, and his arrests in 1962 and 1963, the same way I do: by reading about history. But this was such a major event in American history, and practically everyone knows that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian–he’s even called “The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr” for goodness sake. Try as I might, I cannot concoct an explanation for why Cruz would not know about Martin Luther King, Jr’s protests, and the thousands of arrests that resulted–all in the name of Christian faith. Maybe Martin Luther King, Jr. doesn’t count because he’s not a woman? Cruz’s statement did, technically, single out Davis as the first “Christian woman” arrested for her faith.
But Rosa Parks was a Christian. And a woman. And arrested for her faith. Hmmm…
I’ll move on, because the only other explanation I can think of involves serious accusations of racism, and I have no reason to believe Cruz is a racist.
The underground railroad is by now ancient history. So I’ll forgive Cruz for not thinking of that. He should really do his homework, though. “The first time ever” are really strong words–someone ought to do their due diligence before making such a statement.
And I’ll forgive him for the WWII conscience objectors, as well. Unlike the Vietnam protests, and the civil rights movements, which made headlines daily, conscience were a small minority during an extremely popular war. Someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in American Christian history likely wouldn’t know about this. Then again, Cruz ought to have a vested interest in American Christian history, the way you hear him talk…
The best I figure, these thousands of Christians who were arrested for standing up for their faith simply don’t exist to Cruz. Perhaps they’re all “too liberal” (except for the “obscure” Carrie Nation) for him to take notice?
So shall we admit that he just made a stupid mistake, because he’s not socially aware? That seems like the kindest explanation to me. It doesn’t bode well for someone who wants to be the president of our nation, but at least on a personal level it seems like the kindest explanation.
If it weren’t for one other group of Christians who have been, quite recently, and repeatedly, arrested for standing up for their faith:
- Countless abortion protestors
Cruz himself is very anti-abortion. He has made numerous statements about various pro-life and pro-choice protests. There’s no way a Republican in Texas, especially one who so loudly supports the pro-life agenda, and as recently as 2 weeks ago issued a statement condemning abortion, can be unaware of the arrests that have taken place.
And for many Republicans, especially those on the far right, like Cruz, Abortion and Gay Marriage are the two big issues. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that Cruz would not immediately think of abortion protest arrests if asked “Have American Christians ever been arrested for living out their faith?”
All said, if we want to grant Cruz a pass as ignorant, we must also admit that he’s incredibly stupid. He can’t even remember his own campaign against abortion. Perhaps dismissing Cruz as ignorant is the kinder view, in that it saves him from having engaged in a blatant lie. But this view shouldn’t win him any votes. Hopefully we want a president with a memory span of more than two weeks.
So this leads to the final possibility: Cruz was dishonest.
When you consider the facts, this seems to be the only reasonable option. But why? Politicians lie in many ways. We tend to accept this. But they usually do it for a reason: To hide a scandal, to paint their view in a more popular light, etc. These reasons don’t seem to apply to this situation.
Cruz could easily support Davis and acknowledge King at the same time, as fellow presidential candidate Mike Huckabee did, as well as Davis’s lawyer did who even stated, in stark disagreement with Cruz, “What Kim Davis is doing is nothing unusual in the history of our country.” Of course the similarities with King only go so far. That they were both arrested for following their religious convictions is the only similarity I’m willing to draw in this article. And Cruz could easily have recognized that, if he had chosen to.
This is where, finally, I will directly divulge my opinion on the matter. If you disagree here, please, please comment below. I’m honestly interested in hearing your (respectful) disagreement.
I have no reason to believe Cruz is stupid enough to think he can “cover up” the Civil Rights movement. He doesn’t think that, by repeating enough times that Davis is the first, that people might start to believe it, as they might on issue of global warming. This lie, in my opinion, is one of apathy. That is to say, Cruz doesn’t care what the truth is. He cares that people hear his message.
Why would Cruz want us to believe that she is a trail blazer?
I believe Cruz’s campaign is based on fear. His political message is that the sky is falling, and he is not alone in this campaign. To win votes, he hopes to mobilize those who also believe the sky is falling. If Davis is one of thousands, this doesn’t play into the “sky is falling” narrative.
I believe that Cruz willfully and intentionally distorted the truth to fit his political agenda. This is never appropriate, for any political party, for any person of any religion. It is, however, even less appropriate when Cruz professes to be a Christian. It demonstrates that his Christian façade is only skin-deep. He believes in his agenda, even at the cost of the truth, even at the cost of honesty.
And as much as it offends me that Cruz would lie in this regard, what I find most offensive is that in doing so, he so lightly dismisses the work and sacrifice of literally thousands of Christians before, as non-existent. In Cruz’s universe, Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t arrested. He probably wasn’t even assassinated for what he believed (if you follow to its conclusion the implication that Davis is the “first” to be persecuted for her faith in America).
Denying Dr. King his rightful place as a Christian martyr is insulting and disgusting. Cruz, as a Christian, ought to be ashamed. And not just “oh, I’m sorry” ashamed. Head-in-a-paper-bag. Ashamed. Hiding his face from reporters ashamed.
If you aren’t angry about this, go watch Selma, then tell me the people in that movie don’t matter. That their struggle wasn’t at least as important as Davis’s.
And any Christian who supports Cruz (and I imagine that’s all of his supporters) ought to think long and hard about why they support him. It’s okay to support a candidate who believes in traditional marriage. It’s okay to support a candidate who supports a ban on abortion. It’s okay to support a candidate who wants to lower taxes, keep out immigrants, and repeal Obamacare.
It’s not okay to support such a candidate because he’s a Christian if his actions prove that he’s willing to lie about thousands of other Christians, for political gain. Those are not the actions of an honorable Christian. Or an honorable man.
This leads me to the conclusion that only four types of people can support Cruz:
- Non-Christians who believe the means justifies the end. In other words, it’s okay to lie and be dishonest, if it means we can repeal Obamacare, end abortions, preserve traditional marriage, and whatever other issue you believe is important.
- Christians who are willing to cherry-pick which verses to follow. Specifically, Christians who believe it’s important to condemn homosexuality, but that the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16) is optional. I’ve met many cherry-picking Christians, but they rarely hold the ten commandments lower than Leviticus.
- You believe he was not lying, and rather that he is woefully uninformed and forgetful. While this may be a kinder view of the man’s integrity, I can’t imagine how such a person would be qualified to run a nation.
- Those who are too uncritical to consider whether Cruz’s Christian language matches his actions. Sadly, I suspect this accounts for approximately 100% of his support base. Hopefully it will account for 0% of those who read this article.