The Undead Religious Right: Why I Cannot Support Ted Cruz

It is a well-known story: The Religious Right first galvanized around Ronald Reagan in 1980. Their ascent was over by 1988, when Pat Robertson’s failed campaign divided its constituency and the Moral Majority was dissolved. But the obituary was premature. Robertson’s campaign rose from the grave as the Christian Coalition, which handed out over 30 million voter guides to help usher in a Republican Congress and Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” securing the Religious Right’s influence on the American political landscape for at least the next decade. George W. Bush (in)famously made evangelicals central to his campaign in 2000 and 2004; by the time his tenure was complete, the “Religious Right” had morphed into “social conservatism” and stories of its demise began reappearing, thanks to the ascendance of Barack Obama and a hopeful media obsession with the moderatish, rapidly maturing “young evangelicals.” In both 2008 and 2012, social conservatives were too divided to do much more than give Huckabee and Santorum the appearance of being serious contenders without any of the substance. In the years since, the stream of stories about the end of the religious right has became a flood, thanks in part the resolution of the gay rights marriage dispute in Obergefell.

And yet here we find ourselves one more time, with social conservatives playing a starring role in the Republican nomination. By uniting behind Ted Cruz instead of traditional stalwarts Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee, social conservative leaders have helped push him into the top three in the race. Cruz’s strategy is straight out of 1980: He has made the Religious Right the base of his campaign, fostering social conservatives’ waning hopes that they might once again have a representative in the White House. Such pandering is what wearing Reagan’s mantle apparently requires.

By all appearances, then, the Religious Right is as alive as it has ever have been. But this time, the grievances that animate them have flowered into an overt anti-politics, a willingness to trade the responsibilities of governance for the therapeutic cleansing of disruptive chaos. Trump and Cruz are dominating evangelicals—and Cruz has provided evangelicals what Trump has popularized, except in a (slightly) more respectable form. The life of the Religious Right is that of the undead: Theirs is not the politics of hope grounded in a vision of a common good for all people, but a nihilistic cynicism animated by resentment and anxiety. And therein lies a tale.

Falstaff and Trumpism

The spectacle of Donald John Trump, Sr. would be entertaining if it were a play—as it kind of was, once. Sir John Falstaff—yes, the rotund, uncouth drunkard who is Trump’s nearest literary analogue—gripped the world when Shakespeare first introduced him to the stage and commands our attention even now. Like Trump, Falstaff is a boundlessly charismatic, amusing-yet-damnable force of nature. Henry can’t help but love him, even if he must eventually banish him. Falstaff is the “true and perfect image of life indeed”—or perhaps in our own tongue, ‘high-energy’—and, like Trump, is infamously willing to say whatever his own advancement requires. He is the embodiment and manifestation of an anti-political enthusiasm, a repudiation of governance for the sake of self-interested pleasures and concerns.

But Falstaff is also the most religious character on stage in Henry IV Part One, the play that made him a legend. Shakespeare had originally named the character John Oldcastle, a proto-Protestant dissident who was friends with Henry V. Falstaff is his own man, of course. And Part Two takes pains to distance Falstaff from Oldcastle. But the enthusiastic, devil-may-care spirit that both he and Trump embody has real sympathies with a religious temperament that is skeptical of social forms and emphasizes a grace free of moral reform—both of which suffuse the evangelical world.

The atmosphere that pervades Trumpism, and not policy, is the basis for his surprising shared sympathy with the evangelical world. While the evangelical leadership has gone other directions, the laity has its own attitudes and impulses—and those have more in common with Trump than most evangelical leaders would like to admit.

Consider Hurricane Trump’s rhetoric and aesthetic, which has a simplistic genius: Whatever making America great again means, it is simultaneously aspirational and nostalgic, both laudatory and critical. It’s easy to see why blue collar evangelicals in the heartland who are sharply infected with an anti-China, pro-populist sentiment like such a promise. But the rhetoric of ‘greatness’ has a broader cultural appeal. Video gamers were promised by Playstation that “Greatness Awaits,” and Nike told athletes you should “Find Your Greatness.” Even American Airlines these days is “Going for Great,” proving definitively that the concept can mean anything and hence means nothing. Trump’s sales pitch perfectly fills the greatness-deficit in American public life, and plays upon characteristically evangelical ambitions. Saving the world is what we do, which makes Trump’s promise of having a unique role in history nearly irresistible. In its own way, the promise of making America great again evokes Reagan’s own aspirational “shining city on a hill,” an aspiration that evangelicalism’s pietistic patriotism strongly endorses.

The sympathies appear even more pronounced when considering evangelicalism’s tensions with the prosperity gospel. Trump’s promise of greatness has all the credibility and cash value of the multi-level marketing schemes he has invested in. But such operations offer users a life of financial independence, freedom to be your own boss, the ability to do what you have always wanted to do. They promise for a person what Trump has offered the country, with the same level of clarity and specifics about how that could possibly come to pass. But if Trump’s brand sells to struggling middle-class people who are beholden to the man and yet await their reward, well, so does Paula White’s prosperity gospel. The only pre-requisite for making the appeal work is that one has already been successful: gold thrones for the evangelical preachers, and golden hair for our President-Elect.

But the glitzy promise of multi-level marketing is also inherently evangelistic—more evangelistic, even, than most evangelicals. The “Come to Jesus moment” often comes by way of conversion stories that mimic evangelical salvation tales: “Well, I once was working a dead-end job on the fast-track to nowhere, but now thanks to the magic of Life Saving Product I have an independent income stream and am my own boss! And so can you!” [Stage cues:  Just As I Am sounds sweetly in the background.]  “I once was lost, but now am free.”  Trump is no caricature of this sort of testimonial: he’s so much better and more entertaining at it that he’s broken the curve. The inherent appeal of being a ‘winner’ is not far from the hope of being set free from all one’s earthly troubles. Trump flouts the Bible these days like Big Dan Teague, in part because the kind of commercialized religiosity they represent is not far from the center of the evangelical ethos. “It’s all about the money, boys!” Or in this case, the votes.

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And then there is ‘authenticity’, which has governed evangelical political sympathies more than anything else for the past 30 years. Trump may also be a traitor to his own class, as Ross Douthat suggested; but his appeal to evangelicals is not that he’s an Insider who will tell Elite Secrets, but that he’ll say precisely what he thinks—if he thinks. Mike Huckabee went from longshot to serious in 2008 on the strength of evangelicals’ admiration of his ‘authenticity.’ Romney couldn’t fake his realism well enough for evangelical tastes. But Trump’s transparency is—you guessed it—yoooooge. He may be the most authentically real candidate in the history of politics, at least if you ask him. And evangelicals, as much as anyone, have no problem with the presentation of a self that has been inflated to unusual proportions. Evangelicals love a good show, especially when there’s a sales pitch attached. Dallas megachurch pastor Ed Young, Jr. once sold a book on sex by teaching from his bed for twenty-four hours. Trump’s self-aggrandizing seems rather limp by comparison.  

The Nihilistic Roots of Evangelical Power

How did we get here? For the past thirty years, evangelicals have sowed an anti-political wind, and now in 2016 they are reaping the Trump whirlwind. Having stoked the affections of alienation and disenfranchisement, evangelical leaders have this cycle scrambled to prevent the laity from voting on them. But those political passions have deep roots, which is why popular evangelical support for Trump has not (yet) diminished. In 2010, James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World argued that the Religious Right’s political approach has been shaped by a Nietzschean will to power, which aims to  enforce its will through “legal and political means or to threaten to do so,” rather than persuading others or negotiating compromises. This interdependence between the evangelical world and the government has a long history in American life: From Prohibition to the Comstock Laws, evangelicals have been particularly keen to pursue legal remedies for moral problems. Paradoxically, then, while evangelical Protestants have made much in recent years about maintaining a sphere of life beyond the reach of the state (the family, the church, and so on), they themselves have been an instrumental part of the politicization of everything.

On marriage, the recent source of so much consternation within the evangelical world, the problem of how the church and state interact is particularly acute. As University of Chicago legal theorist Mary Anne Case has observed, evangelical Protestants are uniquely dependent upon the State for their marital practices. As they do not have their own formal divorce or annulment proceedings and courts, evangelicals have outsourced such statuses to the states. Such intimate integration of the church and state, Case argues, has a historical lineage: The Puritans themselves viewed marriage as a political contract, rather than a sacrament, to the extent that in some cases preachers were not present so as to not confuse the church and the state.

This narrow identification between the religious community and the political order, however, has generated a strong sense of grievances at the shifts in political opinion, grievances that the Roman Catholic community and Black Protestant churches do not feel as acutely given their long history as outsiders. As Case writes, for evangelicals, marriage law “could be put in service of sectarian ends by groups that substituted capture of the state institution for development of their own clearly religious alternatives.” When those institutions were lost (as the public schools were in the 1960s), an acute but understandable sense of oppression gripped the evangelical political life. Hunter’s analysis concurs, identifying ressentiment as the corollary of the political will to power. For evangelicals,“injury—real or perceived—leads the aggrieved to accuse, blame, vilify, and then seek revenge on whom they see as responsible.”

Such an anti-politics of resentment, alienation, and disenfranchisement is at the heart of Trump’s appeal, even if the issues that he has been most vocal on are not traditional social conservative concerns. But ressentiment is not rational to begin with; it is not rooted in a deliberative, robust account of the common good, even if it uses such rhetoric to justify itself. The energy that generates ressentiment is more primal, more visceral—and hence, like Falstaff, less bound by particular moral outlooks than it might seem. The strange willingness of social conservatives to sometimes overlook the wildly disparate moral characters from their own outlooks of those who seek their votes—as evangelicals almost did in 2012 in their flirtations with Newt Gingrich—represents a willingness to sacrifice their principles on the altars of political power. This is the political ethos the Religious Right has fostered within their constituency for thirty years—and now, at the hands of Trump, it has finally born its nihilistic fruit.

Cruz, Trumpism and the Vanity of Evangelical Politics

Donald Trump may not be palatable to the establishment Religious Right—but Ted Cruz is, and as a candidate whose sole accomplishment seems to be ‘disruption’, he promises evangelicals Trumpism with a veneer of respectability. The galvanizing support by the traditional evangelical leadership class for Cruz was as predictable as the Cruz-Trump love affair. Cruz has followed the Reagan-Huckabee playbook of wooing evangelicals impeccably, while holding the decisive advantages over Huckabee and Santorum of not being either of them. In Cruz, conservative evangelicals have the embodied promise of a younger, chaos-light candidate who is firmly and securely one of their own—that is, one who shamelessly subordinates the religious life to the pursuit of political power.

Compare Cruz’s courtship of conservative evangelicals with Marco Rubio’s. Rubio endorsed Mike Huckabee in 2008 (disclosure: as did I), so he has roots in the social conservative world. Rubio’s stance on abortion is impeccable for social conservatives, and his personal life seems to exude the family-first conservatism that social conservatives have (ostensibly) made their distinctive witness. Rubio even packs more theological freight into a five-minute explanation of salvation than many evangelical preachers. As a religious conservative, Rubio seems almost too perfect. Consider the astonishing fact that on a November Sunday in Iowa, Rubio went to church—that is, he went to church to go to church, rather than to shill for votes. His decision to forgo campaigning that day “raised questions” among those who have apparently forgotten the 10 Commandmentswhich evangelicals infamously have sought to keep in public places, even if they have not taken them all to heart.   

Ted Cruz went to church in Iowa, too, one week after Rubio. And there he made it obvious (if anyone could doubt it) that he is willing to pander to evangelicals in ways that clearly make Rubio squeamish. Cruz reduced the evangelical megachurch he visited to a glorified campaign rally, complete with Cruz 2016 slides on the screens behind him. What began with Reagan’s delicate “I endorse you” to an extra-ecclesial gathering has culminated in the shameless, overt subordination of the inner life of the church for political gain.

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.

Cruz’s unsavory use of the religious life for his own advancement, however, is the playbook that the Religious Right has written for itself, creating a vicious cycle that identifies the evangelical world with such shameless politicking. Attempt to carve out a path respects the church’s independence, avoid subordinating the Christian life to political ambitions, and many conservative evangelicals will simply tune out. Pandering is the litmus test for politically conservative religious ‘authenticity.’ Evangelical pastors and laypeople who are more careful in their theological politics are understandably invisible to the media in political seasons—which rewards the Religious Right with the attention they crave, and is instrumental to their ongoing power.

Ignore the fact that such an empty political cycle lacks the robust theological sensitivity that Scripture requires of the people of God. Overlook, if you will, the idea that Cruz’s naked flattery toward evangelicals and Trump should make anyone who has read Proverbs cautious. Remember, instead, the jilted feeling evangelicals have had from political leaders who promised evangelicals the moon and did not deliver: that alone should require from evangelicals a healthy skepticism about Cruz’s promises. And then consider that Cruz’s overt religiosity—which itself should make evangelicals wary—appears to some people who knew Cruz in the past to be a learned art. Fool me once, and all that. But nostalgia is a force both forgetful and powerful and the vanity of the Religious Right is apparently insatiable.

The Politics of Hope and Despair

By signing on to the Disruptive Wing of the Republican party, conservative evangelicals seem to have finally traded in the hope of governing for the politics of disruption and despair. Since George W. Bush left the White House, conservative evangelicals have luxuriated in their perpetual alienation from the halls of power. Maintaining just enough influence without actually governing has been a structural feature of the movement. It has allowed evangelical leaders to perpetuate the illusion of having political clout without being able to generate enough votes to win the White House or having enough political savvy to be taken seriously by whomever does.

Supporting Trump and Cruz because they promise to introduce the chaos our political class deserves may give vent to the dissident, chaotic spirit of John Oldcastle. But electing Falstaff or the politician most eager to imitate him would be an apocalyptic, anti-political judgment that our political order is beyond repair. That is hardly the ‘good news’ that the name ‘evangelical’ is meant to signify—but then, evangelicals are some of the only American’s remaining who use ‘apocalyptic’ non-metaphorically.

Voting for Ted Cruz further subordinates the faith to the aim of political gain in a way that should make preachers of the Gospel blanch—which is why, as a conservative evangelical Republican, I will abstain in the general election if Cruz is the nominee. No politician who so overtly, so profligately subordinates the life of the Church to his own political gain should receive the support of those who claim the Gospel as their banner. The only small consolation the Religious Right might have is that the exhausted, cynical anti-politics that Cruz has so effectively tapped into may at last finally die with a bang this cycle, and not with a whimper.

Matthew Lee Anderson is a D.Phil. Candidate in Christian Theology at Oxford University. He wrote this because he needed to get it out and on with his life. 

Feature image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Cruz#/media/File:Ted_Cruz_by_Gage_Skidmore_4.jpg

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  • Adam

    What a silly article

  • Adam W.

    This is probably one of the more tragically shallow critiques of Cruz that I’ve read, which is sad, because I have a lot of respect for Mr. Anderson and his work here at Mere Orthodoxy.

    As a Christian law student and Masters student, I think Mr. Anderson ignores the all-or-nothing nature of the political contests that Evangelicals have been engaged in, utilizing vague critiques of a “politics of alienation” without offering clear alternatives or concrete examples. As a young, conservative evangelical myself, this piece rings with all the classic disaffection of young evangelicals that I’ve come to hear on a regular basis.

    When discussing Cruz and his alleged mere pandering, Mr. Anderson would be well served looking deeper than the political soundbytes. Have you heard of the First Amendment case that Ted Cruz argued before the US Supreme Court, Van Orden v. Perry? Are you aware of the opinions he helped draft under Chief Justice Rehnquist while on the Supreme Court? Do you have credible alternatives to the so-called “politics of disruption” that Cruz employed, in the face of a Republican Establishment that has long taken evangelicals for granted, while refusing to deliver on core values and promises of that constituency?

    Sure, we’d all prefer to live in a world where there was more irenics and less polemics, but that’s no argument against the need for polemics in certain cases. The critiques here seem to boil down to personal preference claims, along the lines of, “I don’t like how overt Cruz is with his faith, it seems like pandering.” Ironically, this sounds a lot like the “inauthentic” arguments that Mr. Anderson so derides in other evangelicals. Sure, we all agree that the life of the Church should not be subverted for political ends, but this sidesteps the more important question: how “biblical” is the sacred/secular divide that our culture embraces in the first place?

    • Nathan

      While I think you raise some very intelligent points, I think the issue here is that Mr Anderson simply thought it would be interesting to write an article that went against the tide and this is the best he could come up with…. I will also note that Mr Anderson didn’t seem to take into account Ted Cruz’s history and reputation as a man and a Christian… The idea that Cruz did something wrong by promoting himself at a church that invited him to do just that is the most absurd critique I have possibly ever heard. To be frank, I think the article shows a lack of character.

    • Dennis

      Adam W. says what I think in much more charitable terms. I too am surprised, after years of reading and recommending Mere Orthodoxy, by the superficiality and superior-sounding tone of this article from Mr. Anderson. Most discomfiting is his shrugging off any possible alternative reasons Christians might have for supporting Sen. Cruz. Many Christians are somehow quickly reduced to only ignorant, power hungry nihilists.

    • See my comment above. My point is simple: if we’re going to have a theologically informed politics, then subverting the Church for political ends is not simply a pecadillo: it’s a grave and gross error, and one that a Christian should seriously consider to be disqualifying of the office.

      • Second Breakfast

        What do you mean by “subverting the church for political ends”? Are there no political ends that the Church, which is constituted by believers, should participate in achieving? That seems horribly misguided and reeks a little bit of Platonism.

        Perhaps you mean that the means are wrong. He’s “subverting” them. But what do you mean by *that*? Subversion is defined in Merriam-Webster as “a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or system by persons working secretly from within.” Anderson seems to imply that subversion is “tricking” people into doing something that they don’t realize they are doing, *or* tricking them into doing something evil that they think is right…from within.

        Two things. Is Cruz a Christian? Then he fails the subversion test. Second, if he isn’t, is he “tricking” anyone? Is electioneering is intrinsically evil/disordered? No. So, while possibly tacky, electioneering at a church is not in itself evil. And, if there are rightly ordered political ends that the church properly should be engaged in, and a church agrees with those good political aims and knowingly endorses them via Cruz, how are they subverted when they participate in his electioneering?

        You might argue that Cruz’s aims are wrong, so *that’s* the problem. He’s leading people astray. But then, which ends does Cruz aim for that are wrong? You do not say. You’re offended at the “means,” not the aims. And then, due to your distaste, you will make the colossal mistake of foregoing your moral obligation to vote for good ends. Sorry, man, but that does not seem well-considered

        It is political theology informed by a seemingly confused teleology and ontology of both State and Church. If there are no immanent (earthly, physical, embodied) goods, then the sort of theology that says we (the Church) should eschew all pursuits except for the Great Commission makes sense. However, this is not the position of scripture, right reason, nor the Church over the last two millennia. She has understood that God created the world and He said it was good; that things have a natural order and ends at which they are aimed, and those ends provide guidance for which activities we should participate in. There are good ends that are meant to be realized by the State, and there are ways the State needs to be structured in order to achieve those ends. Both of those suggest a political theology of engagement for all humans, the genus of which the believer is a species. Human endeavors can have good ends, and if an end is good, we should engage in activity that realizes it.

        • It may surprise you, but I’ve argued extensively in the past here at Mere-O both that the church has its own political ends (which is why I could not, at this point, vote for the Democratic party) and that there are immanent goods which the church supports. I even wrote a book defending the latter in the context of embodiment! So however you’re reading me….it’s pretty far off from the truth.

          “Subverting” was not the term I was looking for, but then, I wrote that comment very quickly. “Co-opting” would have been better. While I think that the church bears an important witness in its political life, I also will argue for a necessary and intrinsic independence from that political order, for lots of reasons beyond any empirical ones you alluded to above.

          But yes, I think his means are wrong. And I’m interested, as you do not seem to be, in supporting and sustaining immanent goods even to the point that I’m willing to make political decisions based on the appropriate use of those means. After all, that is precisely what endorsing the importance of immanent goods…well, what it requires.

          • Second Breakfast

            I am eminently interested in supporting immanent goods, and have yet to see how his means are wrong. You haven’t really shown us why you think his means are wrong, and indeed, rather gravely ignored most of my argument. Great, so you think there are immanent goods, and so mobilizing the church for those goods could not be “consequentialist calculus.” What about the method is wrong? You fail to state as much in your article.

          • Yes, then, read it again. If you think that supporting immanent goods requires instrumentalizing prayer to bring them about…then I think we are on different wavelengths about what supporting those immanent good requires.

      • Shelley Tuttle

        Nobody’s subverting the Church. Evangelicals have their own mind unless you believe your brethren are simply like Michael Weisskopf of the Washington Post (1993) said once: that we’re largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”

    • wmrharris

      The danger of politics always lies in its division, a necessity for decisions, but always at risk of something worse: the placing of millstones around innocents’ necks. The danger in politics is often spiritual, the transformation of one’s opponents into devils, and one’s allies into tools.

    • Shelley Tuttle

      My thoughts exactly. I feel the same way about the” “disaffection of young evangelicals” (Do they even want to be called that?). I’m hearing the same things as you are, and I think it is based on something deeper that they are willing to express for whatever reason. They have a real hatred–I believe it is hatred, even though they cloak it in spiritual terms–for those who were trying to bring a moral attitude to the political front. For some reason, they despise what Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and other Christian leaders were doing who were giving it all they had to impress upon the culture that when you give up decency, , you give up on the commission to be the salt and light. For some reason these young “evangelicals” want to walk very softly and safely around the issues rather than confront them head on. It’s sad! Can you tell me what you mean by what you said here, though?: “Mr. Anderson ignores the all-or-nothing nature of the political contests that Evangelicals have been engaged in, utilizing vague critiques of a ‘politics of alienation’ without offering clear alternatives or concrete examples.” Good word, Adam. Thanks.

      • Shelley,

        I’ll happily admit to being frustrated by Dobson et al. One major reason is because they have made it *harder* for my generation to be unreservedly pro-life and pro-marriage, as I am, because of their political missteps along the way. I’ve defended the Religious Right as much as I can. But it’s precisely *for* the sake of marriage, life, and the Gospel that I object so strenuously to their willingness to follow Cruz’s panderings.

        Let me put it this way: why has the Religious Right deemed Rubio ‘unacceptable’? From what I can tell, they have one reason: immigration. Rubio has (essentially) a 100% pro-life, pro-marriage rating. Now, since when did the Religious Right, who have made those two issues their central concerns, treat immigration as a deal breaker? And wouldn’t a pro-family immigration policy be more open to working with immigrants, many of whom have strong family cultures, to assimilate them into American life?

        In moving immigration to the forefront of their decision-making process between Cruz and Rubio, the Religious Right had to sell out its own principles. Which is why I have no interest in defending them this cycle.

        Matt

        • Glaivester

          Now, since when did the Religious Right, who have made those two issues their central concerns, treat immigration as a deal breaker?

          Since it became obvious that if we don’t do something to stem the tide, people who vote overwhelmingly Democrat will flood into the country and make it impossible to get people who are conservative on any issue elected?

          And why are we assuming that people in the Religious Right ONLY vote on Religious Right issues?

          And wouldn’t a pro-family immigration policy be more open to working with immigrants, many of whom have strong family cultures, to assimilate them into American life?

          Excusing virtually everyone who came into this country and vastly increasing future legal immigration is pro-family? What about the current Americans who find that their wages are lowered, housing is more expensive, and they cannot afford to have a family?

          Moreover, Rubio won his race against Charlie Crist by touting himself as anti-amnesty (although he had a record of voting against enforcement as House Speaker in Florida). Then he became the face of a legalization-first, we’ll try to enforce the borders later bill once he was elected. Maybe voters just feel that Rubio is not trustworthy.

        • Glaivester

          Oh, come on, Matt. Why don’t you come out and support Angela Merkel for President? She has the exact immigration policy you want.

    • 1) Thanks for reading!

      2) I am aware of Cruz’s Supreme Court history. I also think it doesn’t have bearing on the argument I’ve made above.

      3) I didn’t include all the alternatives to a ‘politics of alienation’ because it is a 3,000 word piece, not a 30,000 word book.

      4) “Do you have credible alternatives to the so-called “politics of disruption” that Cruz employed, in the face of a Republican Establishment that has long taken evangelicals for granted, while refusing to deliver on core values and promises of that constituency?” Can you offer me a single thing that a President Cruz would be able to do on life or marriage that, say, a President Rubio would not? Will a President Cruz be able to do anything at all with a Congress (both parties!) that seems to actively loathe him and not want to work with him? I’ve been accused of ‘idealism’ and ‘perfectionism’ and all sorts of things. Ironically, I think it’s the Cruz supporters who are perfectionistic idealists. If politics is the art of the possible, then it depends upon negotiation, compromise, and so on–everything Cruz has clearly not wanted to do with his theatrical (but essentially ineffectual) resistance to Obama while in the Senate.

      5) “Sure, we all agree that the life of the Church should not be subverted for political ends, but this sidesteps the more important question: how “biblical” is the sacred/secular divide that our culture embraces in the first place?”

      Oh, it’s not obvious given all the feedback that I’ve gotten that people are *at all* worried about the Church being used for political ends. At all. I’m arguing *for* the integration of the sacred into the spiritual, which means rejecting Cruz’s form of such an integration.

      • illuvitus

        Oh, it’s not obvious given all the feedback that I’ve gotten that people are *at all* worried about the Church being used for political ends. At all. I’m arguing *for* the integration of the sacred into the spiritual, which means rejecting Cruz’s form of such an integration.

        The easiest way to use the church for political ends is to make it irrelevant. Given the number of abortions and the radicalization of social norms in the past sixty years, someone has surely succeeded in using the church this way, but it certainly wasn’t Ted Cruz.

  • Nathan Barber

    So: It would be better to have a Hillary administration which is clearly the antithesis of any of the conservative values we share, either as moderates or blood-mooning Religious righters, than to vote for Cruz because we don’t like his campaign style? The issues at stake, such as the fight for the unborn and the preservation of our basic liberties, are more important to me than the shortcomings of his personality and campaign impieties.

    • Nathan – You’re not getting Matt’s point. This is not about campaign style in itself, but what Cruz’s career, campaign included, tells us about him as a leader. He has shown time after time that he is the right wing version of Clinton, completely bereft of any principles and interested only in advancing himself. The man went to an In Defense of Christians event whose purpose was to protect eastern Christians from genocide and turned it into an event about himself. It’s one thing to have principles and run a really terrible campaign–that’s basically Ben Sasse IMO and I’d vote for him for president. He ran like a Tea Partier and hung out with Palin and Cruz way too much. But he got to DC and hey, surprise, he has principles and is actually really compelling. I can get behind him even if I thought his campaign style was awful. But what we have with Cruz is something different.

      • Christian Thomas

        How in the world is Ted Cruz like the right wing version of Hillary Clinton? Has he lied consistently at every turn? Does he target his political enemies with such ferocity, hatred, and anger that no one will challenge him because they are afraid of him? Is he so obsessed with power that he will change his position numerous times on various issues? Comparing Ted Cruz to Hillary Clinton is like comparing fire to water and insulting to Mr. Cruz.

        How in the world is he “completely bereft of principles?” You make a bold statement and yet have nothing to back up your claim. So he went to an event and campaigned at it. WHOOAAA! A person campaigning for political office took his valuable time and went to an event using the opportunity to talk about how he could change things? That’s unheard of! (Note my tone of sarcasm)

        Let’s examine that particular instance you mentioned. How is the event going to help protect eastern Christians from genocide? Are they sending an army there? Was this a training event on how to protect yourself? No, it was an inaugural dinner for the group. The only purpose was to celebrate the group and raise awareness for their cause. Ted Cruz spoke for a few moments and spoke about Christians and Jews in the Middle East. So he actually talked about the topic for which the dinner was taking place. That’s hardly hijacking the dinner for himself. They way you worded it made it sound as if the man went there and completely changed the topic to “me, me, me,” which couldn’t be further from the truth.

        The reality is this. Ted Cruz is one of the strongest Christian candidates this country has right now, but the evangelical movement has become so fractured and polarized that it can’t see the writing on the wall. Mr. Anderson’s threat of abstaining from the general election is the attitude that will get Hillary Clinton elected. Abstaining from our most important civic duty because you have a few griefs with one candidate and therefore allowing a vulgar, evil, and vile opponent of God and His Word to be elected is not something to be proud of. It is shameful, selfish, and childish. This is how America will die, because Christians would rather throw temper tantrums and cast away the most powerful tool they have than vote for someone with whom they have a few minor disagreements.

        • Glaivester

          The issue Mr. Anderson has with Cruz is that he didn’t sponsor an immigration bill that would flood the United States with the third world (see his comment to Shelley Thomas, below). Once you get his desire for even higher levels of mass immigration into the U.S., Anderson’s hatred of Cruz and Trump become understandable.

          https://mereorthodoxy.com/the-undead-religious-right-why-i-cannot-support-ted-cruz/#comment-2461929535

          • Christian,

            Continue to post this comment, which is false, everywhere and I’ll have to block you. If you’re interested in meaningful discussion, then you should only post it once. Otherwise, I have no other reason to think you are anything more than a troll.

            And it is, in fact, completely false (and laughably unfounded). I have never once said I was for open borders, and your comparison to Merkle ignores the fact that Germany is not America and we can withstand levels of legal immigration (in terms of sheer volume, not percentage relative to population) that Germany cannot. I am, in fact, convinced that we need immigration reform–but I happen to think that Cruz/Trump style plans of deportation are entirely implausible.

            Best regards,

            Matt

          • Glaivester

            Okay, I’m sorry I got so heated. (btw, I think you are confusing me with Christian Thomas – my comment was a reply to him, so his name is next to mine – not a big deal, but I don’t want to get someone else blocked inadvertently).

            I guess the problem here is that you do not seem to understand just why Rubio’s position on immigration makes people so angry. I was very concerned with the bill at the time, so I know a lot of thing about it that get me very upset, and I guess that I tend to assume most people know these things too and are okay with them when most probably just don’t know the details).

            People are not out to get him because he supported at some point legalizing some illegal aliens.

            People are furious at Rubio because he helped to push a massive bill (S. 744, the “Gang of Eight” bill) that had the same “legalize first, worry about improving future enforcement later” structure that has burned advocates of enforcement every time it has been passed since 1986. Moreover, the sponsors of the bill absolutely refused to make the legalization dependent on the enforcement, indicating to most enforcement advocates that they were determined to trick us all over again (because they demanded that we not put in the one provision that could prevent them from reneging on enforcement). Beyond the provisions for illegal aliens, the bill also included provisions that the Congressional Budget Office said would increase legal immigration by 10 million from 2013 to 2023. Polls consistently show Americans do not want immigration levels increased.

            And this was after in 2010 Rubio won the Senate primary by presenting himself as tougher on immigration than his opponent, and as being opposed to “amnesty.” He explicitly referred to a path to citizenship as being amnesty. Given that Rubio’s record as Florida House Speaker was very poor from an pro-enforcement point of view, when he supported the Gang of Eight bill it seemed to many to indicate that his actual position on the subject was completely different from what he claimed it to be in an election year.

            If you want to understand why Rubio’s support of the Gang of Eight registers as such an abject betrayal with so many people, please read this.

          • YES… and even for those who favor amnesty… they need to realize that Rubio has engaged in LOTS of deception when trying to sell that bill… and continues to lie about his role in it, and lies when he calls Cruz “a liar” in situations where Cruz spoke the truth. Rubio has been extremely unethical about this for a long, long time, with a large pattern of deception and lying about this record. Yet this article throws Cruz overboard due to MUCH MUCH LESS (and less substantiated) problems.

        • 1) The idea that voting for President is our “most important civic duty” is one I repudiate entirely. We have vastly more important ‘civic duties’ than that, most of which are entirely neglected by us.

          2) “The only purpose was to celebrate the group and raise awareness for their cause.” Yes, a purpose which Ted Cruz couldn’t even honor, but had to grandstand (deliberately) in order to raise headlines for himself. It was the only such gathering in Washington D.C., and was a genuinely bipartisan affair. Cruz knew exactly what he was doing, as reports of conversations with reporters prior to the event made clear. And that kind of cynical manipulation of worthwhile events to his own end is an obvious pattern to anyone with eyes to see.

          3) “Is he so obsessed with power that he will change his position numerous times on various issues?” Yes. Rubio’s critiques of him on this have been on point. The idea that he’s immune from changing his view is simply false.

    • Lindsay Stallones

      The alternative to Cruz is not Hillary. The alternative to Cruz could be Rubio, or Kasich, or a candidate backed by thinking Christians who seeks to represent rather than exploit the church.

  • razajac

    I sorta enjoyed the “Trump as Falstaff” article, tho it reminded me that Shakespeare trotted out more than one Falstaff: Sometimes, he was a relic of jolly olde England; a hale-fellow-well-met, ultimately a kind of saving grace of England. But there was another Falstaff out there; a hapless cosmic schmuck behind whose back absolutely everyone was laughing: _That_ Falstaff was McCain, and his playing out of that role almost looked like it was by cynical design.

    • Keith Miller

      “_That_ Falstaff was McCain…”

      Did you mean Trump?

      • razajac

        Well, first off, I wrote what I wrote. I read it again to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, and I wasn’t. Just go and read it again.

        But I guess I could flesh it in a bit. What I’m saying is that McCain looked like a tormented elderly boy scout, a comically tragic joke, at the expense of Repub power jackals. Like, it’s not enough that they were handed the keys to the treasury to fulfill their planetary power projection fantasies, on the public dime; they also had to take an aging guy who tried to steer the Republican Party toward some semblance of republicanism and offer him the glimmering promise of the wheel of the Ship of State… AFTER a ne’er-do-well spoiled frat boy put that wheel in flames and set the ship heading straight for the maelstrom.

        That’s the McCain I’m referring to, and my post is saying that there was more than one Falstaff portrayed. There was also a hapless buffoon. Y’know, like McCain.

      • razajac

        Well, first off, I wrote what I wrote. I read it again to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, and I wasn’t. Just go and read it again.

        But I guess I could flesh it in a bit. What I’m saying is that McCain looked like a tormented elderly boy scout, a comically tragic joke. Like, it’s not enough that Repub power jackals were handed the keys to the treasury to fulfill their planetary power projection fantasies, on the public dime; they also had to take an aging guy who tried to steer the Republican Party toward some semblance of republicanism and offer him the glimmering promise of the wheel of the Ship of State… BUT NOT UNTIL a ne’er-do-well spoiled frat boy put that wheel in flames and set the ship heading straight for the maelstrom.

        That’s the McCain I’m referring to, and my post is saying that there was more than one Falstaff portrayed. There was also a hapless buffoon. Y’know, like McCain.

      • razajac

        I meant what I said!

        I guess I need to flesh it in: McCain served his country “well”, even committing to deadly service as a bomber pilot targeting farmers and schoolhouses of a practically defenseless Asian country and then doing time in the Hanoi Hilton.

        But a smirking frat boy supercedes him into the Oval Office.

        Then, AFTER that frat boy has the Ship of State in flames, speeding toward the maelstrom, the party heavies chuckle and say among themselves, “I guess it’s time!” They tear the flaming steering wheel from its mooring and shove it toward a now-doddering McCain, saying, “OK, we’ve decided that you can have a go at it!”

        And THAT scenario, dear friends, is the “cosmic schmuck” Falstaff put utterly to shame.

      • razajac

        Nope. McCain. Think about it.

      • razajac

        Nope. McCain. Look at his history, his earlier parries at the Oval Office, his deadly service to American state, all of it. Then he’s treated shamefully by Rove, relegated to the back burner, then–when the bus of the American system is in flames and hurtling toward the precipice, they rip the steering wheel from the column and offer it to McCain. “Wanna taker ‘er for a spin, Johnny Boy? Hmmm?”

        Pretty Falstaffian, in _my_ book….

  • When responding to an article bemoaning evangelicalism’s all-or-nothing approach to politics and willingness to subordinate the life of the church to partisan politics in order to get elected it is *probably* advisable that you do so without resorting to an all-or-nothing approach to politics while also exemplifying the evangelical willingness to subordinate the life of the church to politics. Just a thought.

    So far all I see is “But Hillary would be worse!” and “But Cruz isn’t so bad!” without any substantive attempt to wrestle with the man’s obvious pandering at Christian worship services as well as the In Defense of Christians event in DC or the larger question of what limits there are to who evangelicals can support politically. Is there any scenario in which you *would* sooner sit out an election than vote for a horrible Republican nominee?

    • Steve Billingsley

      I wouldn’t vote for Trump.

    • Arimathean

      It depends on how bad the Democratic nominee is. If it’s Hillary Clinton, I’ll vote for just about anyone with a good chance to beat her.

    • Do you think the democratic nominee would be better? I mean, are you willing to more or less lose big by electing them, and that our own side has to be shunned because they’d be losing owrse?

      Why then are you even a republican?

  • ChrisM

    I no longer wonder why our country is in the shape it is in when thinking, writing, persuasive Christians come to such conclusions.

  • Brad

    Thank you, Matt, for putting to words what so many people unavoidably feel in their gut. This is outstanding.

  • “We must use the ring against the forces of Mordor!”- all the comments today, apparently.

    • Anthony Rodriguez

      I was told, growing up in church, that the ends do not justify the means, that good intentions do not justify sinful actions. What I didn’t realize until I grew up was what most people (silently) meant was, “LOL unless we’re talking about politics, bro.”

    • illuvitus

      More accurately, it would be like opposing Aragorn for king, not opposing the ring. Aragorn, while he would make an excellent king, is not perfect and is probably just pandering. And for those who support him, why, don’t they know that he wouldn’t provide eternal salvation for the people of Middle Earth.

      • oh honey. I’m kinda bowled over because you’re like one of my favorite McSweeney’s articles come to life.

    • Lindsay Stallones

      Spot on.

    • we have no frodo to bear it, and to be blunt it was an idiotic plot device to force Frodo to go all the way into enemy territory to cast it into a fire.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Sincere question here. Is there any politician who has the ambition, ego and willingness to run for President in today’s world not almost by definition a full-on panderer to whatever constituencies he or she thinks will provide enough votes for them to get elected? This may sound cynical and I understand that everyone has their limits to what they will tolerate, but Cincinnatus ain’t walking through that door anytime soon.

    • penny50

      Ben Carson

      • Steve Billingsley

        Are you sure about that? I think he’s a fine man, but running for President won’t hurt his future speaking and book gigs. He will already have a great database built up for marketing pitches.

    • To some degree I think this is true, but I think you can still with some legitimacy distinguish between different gradations of pandering/cravenness. The Clintons and Cruz are at the top of the list there, of course. Romney is bad too, but not as bad as the Clintons IMO. You do also get those rare birds like Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders who don’t seem to have a pandering bone in their body, which is part of what makes them refreshing. FWIW, I *think* I’m ready to support Rubio. I think he’s more of a panderer than Sanders or Paul, but whatever level he’s at I think is probably tolerable.

  • Wow, interesting how a supposed Christian author can so easily and strongly impugn the motives of another professing Christian. Either Anderson personally knows Cruz and has talked with him regarding his motivations and thus has provided a fair and accurate analysis of the heart motivations of the candidate OR he is unashamedly participating in the shallow and shameful activity of “subordinating the faith to the aim of political gain”. At the very least, Anderson seems to be a perfect example of the cynical, anti-politics evangelical that he seeks to analyze…

  • Midnight Ride

    The article reeks of pride and self-righteousness. This author is giving a lot of flowery explanations to back up assumptions he has already made without evidence. Impugning the motives of Ted Cruz reveals more about you than Cruz. Meanwhile Rubio is genuine and his motives pure as the driven snow. It seems the author would be happier if Cruz did not promote his Christian principles and simply hid his light under a basket. But of course, the article isn’t really about Christianity or an objective analysis of the candidates, it’s the ramblings of another Pharisee looking for faults wherever he can find them, so as to justify conclusions he has already come to on his own, dressed up in supposedly religious arguments, like a “child sitting in the marketplace”. Supposing we judged this article and the author’s motives by the same standard, I think it’s entirely hypocritical and the author is also attempting to “subordinate the life of the Church to his own politics”. If you think that’s unfair, then perhaps you should rethink your own unfounded accusations. Thankfully, this appeal will largely fall on deaf ears as the politically motivated nonsense that it clearly is.

    • Semaino

      Outstanding reply. Certainly this article is not a serious attempt at anything intended by a true Christian. It was indeed amusing to read the author’s attempt to beguile the audience. He believes it is so weak and so misinformed until he came along to enlighten us as to believe that the best way to find men and women in public service to honor and obey God are to seek ones who will not say anything about God. And if they do, it is “nihilistic fruit.” A very poor Christian witness this author is.

    • razajac

      Well, the whole problem with any ostensibly “christian” writing on current politics is that Christ was rather famously apolitical. So “christian” apologetics for this or that political stand are going to have tenuous threads, at best. The best things you can go on are fairly vague. I can only think of two such things, myself.

      The one time Christ was pressured into getting political (re taxes), he cleverly ju-jitsued it into a poetically stark reminder that money is, after all, a fiction that the state imposes on its subjects. The only other time that you could construe Christ as having gotten down to brass tacks on the societal, distribution of wealth thing was when he did that fiery diatribe about the Rich Guy and poor Lazarus. The rich guy is consigned to eternal torment for the heinous crime of… wait for it… simply *being rich* while there was even ONE poor guy in proximity. The parable goes on to say that this teaching (inequality as very high treason against the on-Earth-as-it-is-in-Heaven ethos) has a solid pedigree in the Torah.

      Those two things (money-as-maya and the inequality story) dovetail pretty nicely to give a unified, straightforward picture of where Christ stood on the earthly matter of resource distribution.

      Given that, seems to me that most Christians would vote for Bernie. The problem, of course, is that to most American Evangelicals the stuff I mention above may as well be in the Koran for all the effect it might have on the conduct of their “Christian” lives.

      [NOTE: I also just thought of one other arguably “political”/resource-distribution moment in the Gospels: That jar of ointment and the talking-down of Judas. I think my observations above work, notwithstanding.]

      • caanon

        Upvoted, but I’m not sure how you got to Bernie :) I really have a problem voting for anyone who wants all the things to be “free”. It is not kind, realistic or responsible to add to present and future human’s debt and it isn’t necessarily good for the people receiving them either. But then again, I’m anabaptist and libertarian (and I know what this site thinks of those)

      • Christian Thomas

        You’ve made a fatal flaw in your understanding of of the story of Lazarus. You incorrectly come to the conclusion that the Rich Man was punished for “simply being rich.”

        If you read the context of the passage, Lazarus was a man beset with all sorts of maladies. He was “laid at the gates” of the Rich Man. So the Rich Man had to walk by Lazarus every day. He saw the man on a daily basis and would therefore know the plight of Lazarus. This isn’t simply a poor man who had minimum wages, this was a disabled man who could not work and therefore had no food. Period. All he wanted was to eat the table scraps of the Rich Man.

        The Rich Man was punished for blatantly ignoring the fact that a man was starving to death on his doorstep, not because he was richer than Lazarus. The fact that you believe that Christ would favor redistribution of wealth is abhorrent. It is a Communist principle seated in atheistic humanism, not Christianity. There is a difference between charity and redistribution.

        In every circumstance that Christ appeared to encourage redistribution, there is a deeper meaning that is missed. When Christ told the rich young ruler to sell everything he owned and follow Him, it was because Christ saw that the rich young ruler loved money more than anything else in life. It was an idol to him. Therefore he must depart from his idol in order to follow Christ. The young ruler would have to set aside his pursuit and love of money for the love of Christ. It wasn’t the wealth that was sinful, it was his love of wealth.

        If wealth is so bad, why did God lavishly reward those who were faithful with wealth and prosperity? Solomon, Abraham, Job, David, all of these were rewarded richly in life in addition to numerous others! Were they condemned because they didn’t redistribute all their wealth to the poor? You take one thing out of context and apply it to the whole without further consideration. God told the Israelites that He would send them to a rich land flowing with milk and honey. He didn’t tell them to stay in the desert because wealth and prosperity was evil.

        • razajac

          I didn’t emphasize the disparity element of the Rich Man/Lazarus story, but nothing about that emphasis takes away from my argument. And I’m glad you did mention it because that certainly is Bernie’s emphasis.

          Also, redistribution of wealth is very, very much an Early Christian Church value, unequivocally: Acts 4:32-37.

          I’m sure there lots of vintage cold-war U.S. State Dept. foreign policy realpolitik that can be turned to good effect in modern Christian thinking, though. So don’t let me stop you.

        • razajac

          Re: “He saw the man on a daily basis”…

          I did mention that, fleetingly (“… while there was even ONE poor guy in proximity”). I took that into account.

          Taking from those with resources to give to those without was a staple doctrine of the early Christian church. Find the passages in the book of Acts. In fact, one of the most delicious ironies is to hear “Christians” use that very biblical language when heaping ire on “godless” communism!

        • razajac

          I did compare rich guy with the poor guy.

  • Adam Omelianchuk

    Wow. This was a barn-burner. Love it.

  • Harold3H

    Love believes all things. This article hardly seems to believe anything good about evangelicals or Cruz. The author says that he favored Huckabee in the last election cycle and is a Republican. Well, he should rejoice over a candidate like Cruz. He has a long, fine record of service to the country and has a Christian faith that is healthy. I have listened to many of Cruz’s interviews and speeches, and he almost always strikes me as admirable. How can this article be so jaundiced? I saw that conference on persecution, and Cruz did nothing wrong. Politics was very important to the founders of our country as a God-given freedom to govern themselves. We need Christian office-holders, and it is no sin for them to seek the votes of other Christians. It is the logical thing to do. Brothers, there are forces trying to tear down everything good and godly in our nation. The last thing we need to do is attack those who are fighting on our side for our good.

    • Stuart Blessman

      “Love believes all things.”

      what?

    • Maine_Skeptic

      “…I have listened to many of Cruz’s interviews and speeches, and he almost always strikes me as admirable….”

      It’s not hard for a politician to seem admirable in interviews, especially when he is gifted at rhetoric. What chills a lot of people to the bone about Cruz is that he lies so easily and inexcusably with that same sincere “aw shucks” look on his face. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2015/12/18/so-how-can-we-tell-when-ted-cruz-is-lying/

      • I’ve researched all the so-called “lies” of Cruz.. and Cruz comes out on top when you examine all the evidence/history/etc. I can’t say the same about Rubio, who lied when he called Cruz a liar at the last debate… when EVERYTHING that Cruz said was verified truth. Meanwhile, articles like the Washington Post blog you linked to are heavy on hype… but short on verifiable examples. So then I go around asking… “can you give me one example where Cruz told a lie… in quotes… and sourced”… I either get nothing… or one of a few things that are then easily debunked.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          He said the terrorist who attacked Planned Parenthood in Colorado was a transgendered leftist activist.
          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3339783/Ted-Cruz-attacks-claims-Planned-Parenthood-shooter-pro-life-saying-transgendered-leftist-activist.html

          He also said Planned Parenthood “makes money selling body parts,” which is demonstrably untrue.

          He lied about his past position on immigration: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/28/ted-cruz-s-flat-out-lie-on-immigration.html.
          http://www.factcheck.org/2015/12/did-cruz-support-legalization/

          He also lied and said he was not responsible for the government shutdown. Now you can disagree on that point, but only if you say that any time someone doesn’t give Ted Cruz what he wants, the consequences are their own damned fault for disobeying Ted Cruz.

          • (1) Planned Parenthood had been caught on tape numerous times admitting that they sell baby body parts, and attempting to procure another such deal. The liberals scream “those tapes were doctored”… but very large uncut portions of those tapes that have been released to the public proof otherwise. Only someone deranged and in denial could possibly believe otherwise. People have been put on death row with LESS compelling evidence.

            (2) The “he lied about immigration” DEPENDS on the WRONG assumption that… if he offered an amendment to a bill.. that therefore means that he desired and approved all other aspects of that bill. In fact, that is exactly what the article you linked to assumes. However, there are two problems with this: (A) that was one of MANY amendments that Cruz and his allies offered up… most of which were voted down by the democrats along with liberal republicans like Rubio–some of them were things like “lets FIRST finish the part of the border we already legislated” and “lets get border security under control FIRST”–things that Rubio is NOW saying… but, incredibly, Rubio and the Democrats voted AGAINST those common sense amendments THEN. But the bottom line is that it is wrong to believe that when someone offers an amendment to a bill, they therefore approve ALL other aspects to that bill–AND Cruz backs that up because Cruz ultimately voted against the final horrific version of the bill–while Rubio voted for it> (B) Also, the article doesn’t allow for the idea of a poison pill amendment that is intended to show the Bill’s authors true intentions. One of Cruz’s amendments did exactly that and caused a major revolt against the bill in the house… then it became apparent that creating democrat voters was the real intention. But that is another story

            (3) The PP attack in CO was carried out by a deranged person who did NOT fit the stereotypical attacker of a PP who someone might think was a staunch right wing pro-llfer. He in fact had a trail that included lots of leftist ideology. I think the transgender part may have been not proven, so Ted probably jumped the gun on that. But when someone goes too far in their description about something and includes an adjective that isn’t yet fully substantiated, that doesn’t make it a “lie” …to be a lie, the person must know that what they said is untrue at the time they said it. There is a difference between being mistaken about one detail… and lying. If that were not true, Hillary and Obama would lie almost every day.

            (4) Regarding the government shutdown, I think they are pretty cool. Why? Because we get to figure out that a MASSIVE amount of our government is “non essential services”.. that pretty much speaks for itself. And I can’t bring myself to blame one of the few people who is trying hard to NOT pass on massive amounts of debt to our children for something like that. The greater problem is that fact that Obama (along with Democrats and liberal Republicans in congress)… together have increased the debt by so much, it makes the “200 billion in hot checks” that 1988 Democrat VP Candidate Lloyd Benson complained about… seem like pocket changes. But, then again, Democrats only care about the nation debt when it increases under a Republican President’s watch, right. So if government shutdowns are required to finally get people to take the national debt seriously.. that is a “lesser of evils” compared to not dealing with that larger problem at all. Ted is one of the “good guys” in this area. You grandchildren will be grateful if Cruz were president because their standard of living will be MUCH better if we get the national debt under control. They won’t care about a bunch of wimpy liberals complaining about their temporary short-lived government shutdown.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            In the order I first pointed out samples of Cruz lying:

            You said: “(3) The PP attack in CO was carried out by a deranged person who did NOT fit the stereotypical attacker of a PP-that being some staunch right wing pro-lifer.”

            That has nothing to do with the Cruz lie.

            “when someone goes too far in their description about something and includes an adjective that isn’t yet fully substantiated, that doesn’t make it a “lie” …to be a lie, the person must know that what they said is untrue at the time they said it.”

            And that excuse is how Fox News and the National Enquirer avoid daily charges of slander and libel, because you can’t prove or disprove what someone knew unless they admit they’re lying. But here’s the big problem for Cruz:

            He’s saying he’s qualified to be POTUS, but the most charitable interpretation of this is that he doesn’t have the judgment to recognize when an accusation is too wild to repeat without confirmation.

          • You still don’t seem to understand the difference between being honestly mistaken, and telling a lie. Let me clear this up for you. When Obama said he had “been to all 57 or 58 States”… Obama didn’t tell a lie. He was honestly mistaken. When Hillary said that her airplane had landed in a war zone and encountered gunfire… that was a lie. If you want to say that, in order to be qualified to be President, dozens of opposition research people must be able to scan through thousands of hours of statements over many years of time… and not find a single instance where someone is mistaken… then nobody is ever qualified to be President… and some of our best Presidents (Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Truman, etc)… were not qualified, according to your standards (and I bet you only selectively apply to Cruz, right?) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpGH02DtIws

          • ALSO: yes, it had everything to do with what Cruz said… because the small detail that you got caught up in… is but a tiny part of a larger point, where that larger point is absolutely true.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            “….because the small detail that you got caught up in… is but a tiny part of a larger point, where that larger point is absolutely true….”

            When the anti-abortion movement is caught in a lie, these are the excuses it gives. “The facts don’t matter as lang as a bigger truth is served.” ” Or it *should* have been true that he was a transgender liberal instead of a maniac energized by Christianist lies.”

            What this comes down to is that the anti-abortion movement thinks its lies become truth because it’s on “the right side.” There was a time when I was willing to cut the movement some slack because I figured a certain amount of mania was understandable if you think that abortion is murder. Those days are over. The anti-abortion movement needs to quit lying if it doesn’t want to become irrelevant.

          • Meanwhile, we’ve established that Cruz has told the truth about everything other than possibly one time when he mistakenly called a known murder a “transgendered” person. Even then, you still can’t prove that Cruz wasn’t simply mistaken. Your material supporting the “Cruz is a liar” narrative… really really lacks substance. It shows that oppositions researchers pored through thousands of hours of Cruz statements… and that this is the best they could do is amazing. I can find 10 times as many lies (or mistaken comments)… in Rubio, Trump, Hillary.. just in the past few months. That you seem to know the difference between being honestly mistaken about on minor detail… and a lie… without providing evidence that the person knew they were saying something untrue at the time they said it… is arrogant and juvenile. Meanwhile, you obviously don’t hold other candidates to the same standard.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            ” I can find 10 times as many lies (or mistaken comments)… in Rubio, Trump, Hillary.. just in the past few months.”

            I agree that you’d find plenty of lies on Trump’s scorecard, and I’m not a fan of any of the presidential candidates. With Cruz and Trump, however, the lying is especially cynical. Both of them attempt to capitalize on the country’s frustration with political manipulation, but they’re doing so by lying more than any other politicians. Their campaigns are both sick jokes played on their own supporters.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            You said: “(1)lanned Parenthood had been caught on tape numerous times admitting that they sell baby body parts…Only someone deranged and in denial could possibly believe otherwise.”

            “Selling body parts” is illegal. Independent legal experts agree that there was no illegal behavior on the part of Planned Parenthood in those videos. ONLY the anti-abortion movement continues to claim otherwise, and while you may not be aware of it, the anti-abortion movement has demonstrated a hostile relationship to facts and evidence.

            Ted Cruz knows full well that those videos don’t include law-breaking. He’s a lawyer, and while he’s well-practiced at deception, he knows enough of the law to know better than to say those videos demonstrate illegal behavior.

          • Are you trying to say that since the money and baby body parts didn’t actually change hands–therefore no law was broken?…that is laughably stupid semantics that defies common sense. It was obvious that they were engaged in negotiations over the sell of baby body parts, and PP described how they had done this before on a number of occasions. That is the absolute truth, with video taped evidence to back it up. I invite all readers to read “Maine_Skeptic”‘s statement above.. .then go watch the actual tapes of PP attempting to sell baby body parts… the come back here and get a good laugh at how crazy it is to claim that the tapes didn’t depict (attempted) law breaking.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            Any attempted law-breaking was on the part of the filmmakers.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            “(2) The “he lied about immigration” DEPENDS on the WRONG assumption that… if he offered an amendment to a bill.. that therefore means that he desired and approved all other aspects of that bill.”

            He repeatedly told his own allies that it was important to pass that bill, and he said that the amendment allowing legalization would make that bill passable in his view. He lied. Either then or now. No way around it.

          • The bill he might have supported, bore no resemblance to the actual bill at ANY stage of the actual Bill’s development. Period. end of story. There was NEVER a version of the bill that Cruz would have voted for. Every statement he made in support of the Bill was a statement of support for a hypothetical bill that never materialized because the amendments that Cruz and his allies attempted did NOT get passed… and there would have been others had the processed not be shut down. Therefore, the ONLY person lying is YOU… YOU are lying about Cruz’s record. The proof is simply this… numerous amendments to the bill (i.e. CHANGES to the bill) that Cruz voted for… were voted down… and Cruz voted against the final version of the Bill. Period. Why is that so hard for you to understand? It makes absolutely no sense to say that Cruz liked all aspects of the bill (other than one particular amendment he proposed) when he actually voted on numerous amendments that were defeated, and he voted against the final version o bill. (whereas Rubio voted for the original bill every step of the way!)

          • Maine_Skeptic

            “(4) Regarding the government shutdown, I think they are pretty cool.”

            Which doesn’t change the fact that Cruz lied about his role. If *he* thinks government shutdowns are so cool, why is he pretending that it’s Obama’s fault? Why is his mindset like that of an abusive thug who tells his victims it’s their own fault he had to beat them up, because they shouldn’t have disobeyed him?

          • Because if Obama and the Democrats and the Liberal Republicans (who together make up a majority in congress) had done their jobs properly, then there wouldn’t be a need for a shutdown in the first place. What you’re doing is equivalent to when a football team plays poorly all throughout the game… missing many easy opportunities to score… but then blames the kicker for losing the game on a last minute missed 60 yard field goal attempt. The kicker shouldn’t have been put in that situation in the first place. When Cruz blames Obama.. I think he is basically saying, “partly due to Obama, we shouldn’t have gotten into this situation in the first place”

            Regardless, you’re really having to dig deep into minutia in order to maintain the false narrative that Cruz is a liar. it is getting kind of ridiculous. Meanwhile, Hilary and Obama can lie about her usage of top secret material on a private e-mail server… lying through her teeth before congress… which is felony perjery… and the liberals just yawn. Meanwhile, Scooter Libby and General Petraeus were each prosecuted over much, much less… and demonized by the liberals for years. I knew that liberals held their leaders to different standards… but this is ridiculous. Just like your examples are grasping at straws. The average citizen who now thinks that Cruz is a liar due to the liberal propaganda… would be shocked at just how little material you have on him… and at how badly that material stands up to scrutiny.

  • I, unfortunately, don’t have time to respond to all the comments and questions. However, I will make this more general observation, which follows:

    If you are committed to the proposition that theology has some bearing on political life, then it has to go *all the way down.*

    It’s not enough to simply say that a particular candidate supports the policies we prefer, if that candidate engages in a theological politics that themselves turn the church into an apparatus for his own election. A theologically informed account of political life must be as attentive to the means being used as the ends being sought.

    My refusal to support Cruz in the general election–which I am serious about–is built upon the conviction that theology matters in just this way. Moreover, it refuses to deploy the consequentialist calculus that suggests we *should* subordinate theological concerns because the alternative will be *so much worse.* Such a line of reasoning is not merely sub-theological: in other areas of deep controversy, like marriage, it positively works *against* Christian convictions.

    If evangelicals are really going to unravel the deeply flawed political theology from their internal life, it is going to have to cost us something. Against those who use the consequentialist calculus I say: What do we gain if we gain the White House but lose, for one more political cycle, our theological convictions and our soul?

    Of course, it need not be this way. After all…no votes have been cast yet.

    • Second Breakfast

      You have confused “consquentialist calculus” with political teleology. Which activities has Cruz participated in that are intrinsically disordered, and as such are evil in spite of some good end? Do you agree that the end is good? That would be the only way to make sense of your argument, but then your argument goes away. If he’s doing something ordered at good ends, and there is nothing intrinsically evil that he’s doing in electioneering, then he is, by necessity, doing a good thing.

      Your entire article seems to require that electioneering is opposed to the gospel. But that’s silly. It’s not. The only one participating in consequentialist calculus seems to be you, when you argue that our participation in politics turns the world against our convictions. I’m not convinced that I should care what the world thinks. I will vote for good ends, and will not demean a man because he attempts to, *gasp*, earn votes.

      • I’ve not argued anywhere that “our participation in politics turns the worlds against our convictions.” At all. In fact, if you read carefully, you’ll discover that I’m actually arguing for a more robustly theological approach to campaigning. One example of this in the above is the mention of the Sabbath: why on earth would a Christian support what has functionally become a seven-day work week for politicians?

        I also have no idea why you think that an action being ‘intrinsically disordered’ is the only grounds on which it is wrong. One can think, as I do, that electioneering is a fine activity and also think that unless it is bounded by other goods–like the independence of the church, etc.–it can become disordered, as it has in this case.

        I will vote for good ends, too–and for means worthy of them, which Cruz apparently cares nothing about.

        • Second Breakfast

          “I also have no idea why you think that an action being ‘intrinsically disordered’ is the only grounds on which it is wrong.”

          Those aren’t the only grounds on which an action can be wrong. They can also be wrong if they are sought for bad ends. In this case, we are assuming good ends. So, given that, then you must think something is disordered about the means, and you have said so. The activity, you believe, violates a boundary that should exist between politicians and the church. I’m not sure why, but ok, we can grant it ad arguendo. This agrees with my claim that you think electioneering in church is intrinsically disordered, by which I simply mean disordered per se, and not as a result of its outcomes.

          • You oscillated here and below between suggesting that I think electioneering is disordered, and had one sentence where you intimated maybe the problem was electioneering in church. But you haven’t established anything. You simply say: “Is electioneering is intrinsically evil/disordered? No. So, while possibly tacky, electioneering at a church is not in itself evil.” Okay then!

          • Second Breakfast

            I’m waiting for you to establish that there’s a problem with electioneering in the church. I haven’t established anything because I’m pointing out that it’s not clear what you take the flaw to be.

          • It instrumentalizes the church for the pursuit of political power, which impinges upon the church’s independence and disestablishes the church from its rightful locus as the intrinsic, non-instrumentalizable community of God.

            That’s as much as I am going to say. If you think that using a prayer list to gin up votes for President has (a) any precedent in the tradition, or (b) is a licit activity for a Christian politician to partake in….then we’re going to be at a pretty deep impasse, and it would take far more time and energy to persuade you than I have at the moment. Thanks.

          • Second Breakfast

            Ok, thanks. I genuinely wanted to know what you thought the problem was, as it was not apparent from reading your article. I tried to outline the contours of your argument, and the fact that the feature of electioneering in the church that you took to be faulty was unclear.

          • I think the four paragraphs comparing Cruz and Rubio make it *very* clear where I think the problem lies. I’m not sure I said anything in my paragraph above that isn’t contained in them, such that a careful reader would struggle to grasp the objection.

          • Second Breakfast

            Hmmm, well, I’m glad that you outlined it more analytically in the comments. I don’t want to quibble over whether your analysis in the article does that. I will just say that you seem to provide some sketchy assumptions about internal motivation in the ‘in article’ version of that statement.

            Also, you are correct. We do disagree about whether electioneering at a church does actually ‘instrumentalize prayer.’ I think I’d need to see an argument for that. Perhaps it violates some intuition about separation of Church and State, but it is not explicitly or semantically obvious that that activity contradicts the role of the politician or the Church. Are we talking about the maintenance of liturgical sanctity? Ok, I’m amenable, but again, I don’t see a deeply convincing reason to see that such activity could, as an exception, be ok. All this is said as one who has no particular concern for Ted Cruz’s candidacy, and I certainly don’t want Trump to win.

          • Except the evidence I put forward IN those four paragraphs is that for Cruz, it’s not an exception: it’s what he has basically said his campaign hangs on. He can’t come out and say “I’m instrumentalizing the church for my own political ends!” So amassing evidence for the claim is a delicate task, and people are going to try to take each bit and reduce it to nothing…when in fact the cumulative weight of the case is such that any other conclusion seems unreasonable to me.

      • Glaivester

        Once you understand that Matthew Lee Anderson wants America to adopt Angela Merkel’s immigration policy (let everyone in, no restrictions), it becomes clear why he loathes Trump and Cruz and why he loves Rubio, and why he gets after Cruz for being insincere but has no problem with Rubio lying through his teeth about his immigration beliefs during the Senate race in 2010.

  • illuvitus

    “Voting for Ted Cruz further subordinates the faith to the aim of political gain in a way that should make preachers of the Gospel blanch—which is why, as a conservative evangelical Republican, I will abstain in the general election if Cruz is the nominee.”

    The closest thing I found in this article that approached an explicit criticism of Cruz is that some people think he is faking his faith. The rest was just a tirade.

    Modern, tired, Western Christians always seem to demand perfection in areas where perfection will never happen and then tolerate imperfection where it ought not be. Churches embrace feminism and the sexual revolution, yet there is outrage that Cruz is not quite Christian -enough-.

    If anyone wants to know why Christianity is increasingly irrelevant to the rest of the world, it’s because Christians choose to be.

    • “If Cruz is a Christian as he states, why should he then pretend to be outside of the church when running for office?”

      That is, of course, a horribly false dichotomy. He doesn’t have to pretend to be an atheist to respect the integrity of prayer by not instrumentalizing it for fundraising and votes.

  • Mark Buzard

    What a load of crap. Cruz is awesome. And who do you propose would be good? Sanders the socialist? Hillary the corrupt lawbreaker? Rand Paul the isolationist? Bush the RINO? I like Cruz and he isn’t what your blathering idiotic article says he is

    • Josh Alexakos

      Okay, so you really haven’t engaged with any of the articles points. You’re essentially saying “There is no viable alternative to Cruz.” That’s more of that “all-or-nothing” tendency of evangelicals.

      How about Cruz the Demagogue? Remember his statement: “The world is on fire”? Are you serious? There’s nothing substantive about his statement. A step outside the front door disproves that. Could things be better? Yes! But the world isn’t in this near apocalyptic scenario in which ONLY the right leader can lead us to salvation! Yet Cruz makes statements like these with reckless abandon. Doesn’t sound like someone confident that the good news of the gospel is true.

  • Alan

    Rubio is a Roman Catholic. Who said plainly in his so called “evangelical testimony” (which would certainly be religious grandstanding giving its viral nature) that he fully believed and supported all RCC doctrine which means he does not believe in justification by faith alone in Christ alone. RCC Is a cult, period.

    • Carlos

      While this doesn’t disqualify him for presidency.. it seems Matthew is more concerned with authenticity then doctrine. Authenticity is measured by fruits and unfortunately for Matthew Ted Cruz has fruitful evidences for those who desire to look. In the fruitful department, it looks very dim for Marco.. I will start with his preference of Niki Manaj, Jay-Z music.

  • Jim Jordan

    While the article makes a few good points about the Prosperity Gospel, it reveals a grotesque naivete in the writer’s mind – or something darker. The greatest red flag is his disdain for Cruz’s action of exposing a fake “In Defense of Christians” movement. That was awesome and biblical of Ted Cruz to state that he stands with Israel and “If you don’t stand with Israel, you don’t stand with the Christians..and I don’t stand with you.” That’s true. It’s absolutely correct, so why is Matthew so offended by Cruz putatively “making it about himself”? That’s a super-sized red herring.
    In conclusion, with Christians like Matthew Anderson, who needs atheists?

    • Josh Alexakos

      What does standing with Israel have to do with standing with Christians? What is it about Israel that makes them a nation that Christians should stand with? They commit horrible human rights abuses that any Christian should oppose. Please explain why Cruz’s position is “absolutely correct”?

      • illuvitus

        Horrible human rights abuses Christians should oppose? You’re thinking China or Palestine.

        • Josh Alexakos

          Um, no, illuvitus, I’m referencing this: https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/

          Israel commits atrocities against Palestine constantly. I’m not saying the Palestinians are innocent lambs, but Israel sure does have blood on its hands.

          • Christian Thomas

            That’s called war, my friend. When you have a group of people who attack you for no reason, hate your very existence simply because you exist, and strap BOMBS TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN to kill your people, you go to war. Look at this website’s articles on Palestine. They still reference Israel in an attempt to justify Palestine’s actions. Their main problem is with a 50 day offensive (Which refers to a military campaign, by the way) that was initiated AFTER the Palestinians attacked Israel without provocation. People die in war, it is a horrible, undeniable fact. Israel has blood on its hands… from defending itself. Does that apply to every single circumstance, no. I’m sure there are some legitimate human rights violations that certain Israelis have committed, but to condemn all of Israel when they are surrounded by the most hateful, vile, and evil men on earth (i.e. ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Al Queda, etc.) who daily commit the most heinous crimes known to man (like pulling a woman apart by attaching her limbs to four separate vehicles and driving in opposite directions) is kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?

          • illuvitus

            All you had to say was that you sided with Amnesty International for me to have disregarded your original comment. I originally thought you might be a reasonable person, else I would never have responded.

      • caanon

        So when Christians and Jews are killed by a group of people professing similar beliefs,
        Christians should only call attention to the plight of Christians and try to ignore the Jewish lives taken?

        • Josh Alexakos

          No, but when Jews kill Muslims, we should call that out too. Once again, we see a Christian with an “either/or” response. How about we call out ALL human rights abuses, even those done by Christians or Jews?

          • caanon

            Absolutely. So I’m not understanding what the problem is.

          • Josh Alexakos

            There seems to be this view that only Muslims commit atrocities, and only the Palestinians commit human rights abuses. But Israel is just as guilty. So Cruz is wrong. We cannot always stand with Israel.

      • Carlos

        The room was full of Arab Christians. If you see the video for yourself, when he began speaking about Israel several people began to boo. The host of the event asked the people to be respectful. After it became clear that there was an anti Semitic view being presented, Cruz made the comment. So his opposition to anti Semitism is absolutely correct.

        • Josh Alexakos

          Or maybe those Arab Christians have seen that Israel isn’t the innocent nation we always think it is. Just another possibility.

        • HChris

          Being critical of Israel foreign policy does not, necessarily, equal being anti-Semitic.

          Or to put it in terms conservatives might better understand: Being critical of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement does not, necessarily, equal being racist towards black people.

          • illuvitus

            Unless Israel’s foreign policy is good and is only being opposed because of anti-antisemitism. Which, unfortunately, is what the BSD is all about.

  • Arimathean

    How could you write a whole article about the politics of Evangelicals in the current election cycle without ever mentioning Ben Carson? He is the candidate that Evangelicals felt most excited about. If he had not failed to get himself up to speed on foreign affairs, he might still be leading among Evangelicals.
    Now that the only viable candidates remaining are Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Christie, many Evangelicals are settling for Cruz as their second choice – as are a lot of other conservative Republicans. Personally I would prefer Rubio, but I’ll be happy to vote for Cruz if he gets the nomination. (Trump or Christie, not so much.)

  • Eliot Ritchie

    So what is the alternative? when the election comes around, what do you suggest I do?

    • There’s still time to vote for someone else besides Cruz, you know. I will vote for Rubio in the primaries, unless something changes between now and then.

  • Pingback: Ted Cruz: The Champion You May Need()

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  • david dunham

    Very insightful, and well-done. Thanks.

  • bean spout

    Christians should not expect government to reify their religion in state actions, but support constitutionalists who will maintain the principles of the Bill of Rights that protects their liberty of conscience.

  • Trump and Cruz are both terrible, I agree, but for less philosophical reasons. Trump is not a traitor to his class; his tax proposal mainly benefits the wealthy. He’s apparently racist, sexist, and his morals are obviously suspect. Christians shouldn’t support him. Cruz is a true believer but an awful person. He might win so evangelicals are supporting him. Really, you should consider Bernie Sanders, if you care about the less well-off in our society. The Bible has more to say about that than other social issues. Any likely GOP candidate is going to be serving the interests of the wealthy.

    The political ends of the church should be to improve the well-being of all people in the society it is part of. Before you get upset: Abortion is legal. Christians think abortion is immoral. Therefore, Christians should not get abortions. Your free exercise of religion is not infringed upon by this fact. Same goes for same-sex marriage. This world is the province of the prince of the power of the air so why attempt to influence its sin-corrupted institutions? That’s a bit troll-y but it’s a serious point. Just live morally according to your beliefs and don’t impose them on others.

    According to the First Amendment, government should be neutral so that it doesn’t favor one religion over another. The idea of evangelical Christians as a political interest group seems wrong to me somehow. Electing a candidate that they think will implement policies in line with their evangelical beliefs–if successful in actually changing policies–would infringe on the rights of non-Christians.

    • illuvitus

      “Before you get upset: Abortion is legal. Christians think abortion is immoral. Therefore, Christians should not get abortions.”

      Lets go back 150 years.

      Slavery is legal. Christian abolitionists think slavery is immoral. Therefore, Christian abolitionists should not own slaves.

      Go ahead and be consistent.

      • Good point. I guess you’re assuming I would support that if I was commenting on a blog 150 years ago. A lot of Christians felt that it was totally fine; it was in the bible, after all. The Three-Fifths Compromise was written into the Constitution so christian popular opinion and government are not a good arbiters of morality.

        Owning a human person as property is objectively wrong because it infringed on the liberty of those who were owned. Government intervention was necessary to restore those individuals’ rightful freedom. The expansion of women’s rights and marriage rights increased the freedom of individuals so your analogy doesn’t hold.

        Maybe you think that taking away a woman’s right to control her body and same-sex couples to marry would be the moral thing for government to do but it would restrict individuals’ freedoms. There is no harm to society in giving individuals more freedom in these cases. I think we probably disagree on that, though.

        • illuvitus

          I guess you’re assuming I would support that if I was commenting on a blog 150 years ago.

          I assumed nothing. I used your reasoning exactly as you did.

          A lot of Christians felt that it was totally fine; it was in the bible, after all.

          A lot who claim the name “Christian” today support same-sex marriage and abortion. So what?

          The fact with slavery is that Christendom abolished it. The “Enlightenment” brought it back, and Christian abolitionists abolished it again.

          Margaret Sanger, Adolf Hitler, and company tried to purge the untermenschen through abortion, holocaust, and a variety of other ways. Christians still stand for life.

          Maybe you think that taking away a woman’s right to control her body

          Babies have their own bodies and DNA from the moment of conception. Please, let us at least have the scientific literacy of a middle-school student who can distinguish a chicken from an egg.

          and same-sex couples to marry

          Same-sex couples have the right to marry in the same way that a bachelor has a right to marry without a spouse; that is, your talk of “rights” is misplaced because it can only come after you acknowledge human nature. But if you acknowledged human nature, you’d have to acknowledge the marriage act which requires a man and a woman, thus undermining your own case.

          There is no harm to society in giving individuals more freedom in these cases.

          The tens of millions of dead, unborn children certainly count as harm. And as for the gradual redefinition of marriage to mean nothing and everything, the lasting harm of that remains to be seen while the harm caused directly to children is already in full effect.

          Unfortunately for you, like many Leftists it seems, the welfare of children is a non-issue.

          • I am reminded why I don’t bother to comment here. You’ve mentioned slavery and Hitler so I can see we can’t really have a discussion.

          • illuvitus

            I used neither one incorrectly or out of context and if I have, I’d appreciate it if you could show me. It’s immature to leave a debate because you don’t like what your own position leads to when applied consistently.

            Slavery, like abortion now, was legal. Yet you disagree with it, meaning legality is not the root of morality. You can’t ignore this just because it involves slavery.

            Hitler and Sanger knew of each other and admired each other. And if you listen to Sanger discuss her reasons for starting Planned Parenthood, you’ll see just how much they knew and admired each other. You can’t ignore this just because it involves Hitler.

          • Consistency is appropriate only for treating like things alike. I tried to explain my position about why the two things you equated are not alike. The root of morality is harm to persons. There are other bases, too, but that’s the most relevant one here.

            I tried to explain how slavery is categorically different than being pro-choice on reproductive rights. Slavery caused obvious harm to persons but the moral status of the unborn is more ambiguous, although not to you. I know they have a distinct genetic code (which is why I was once pro-life) but about 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. That said, I don’t think you can assert that a god who allows (or makes happen, if everything that happens is his will) so many pregnancies end recognizes the personhood of each conceived child. Maybe you believe that is god’s prerogative. About 90% of abortions are terminated by human intervention in the first trimester; this suggests an appropriate aversion to aborting fetuses in later stages of development when they could possibly survive on their own, which is reasonable. The decision to terminate a pregnancy should be legal and left to the individual to decide, due to the harm to the mother.

            About Margaret Sanger, could you cite some evidence? I just read a few articles from academic sources (here’s one publicly available here: http://goo.gl/qEhDUr) and they state that quotes that people have cited about her being racist are taken out of context and, in a few cases, misattribution of quotes to Sanger when she was quoting someone else. She was associated with the eugenics movement, which was awful, but was a tangential figure. She believed that all parents without means and/or abilities to raise a child should have access to birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. She worked with Black leaders to educate Black Americans about contraceptives and family planning. The origins of an organization do matter some but what it does today is more important. Those videos about fetal tissue were deceitfully edited so please don’t cite those. Providing family planning services to women who could not afford it otherwise is good and reduces harm and human suffering.

            I can see that we won’t resolve our disagreement. I felt that I should reply, even though we’re way off topic for this thread.

          • illuvitus

            “The root of morality is harm to persons.”

            Where “persons” is defined by whom? Because just as you define the unborn out of the category, racial-slavery proponents defined their slaves out of the category. The two are parallel in many ways.

            “About Margaret Sanger, could you cite some evidence?”

            Her full BBC interviews are available you YouTube now and have been for a few months. Take her at her own word.

          • I did not define the unborn out of personhood. I said that it was ambiguous and indicated that the process of fetal development was a consideration. You didn’t address the point about why so many pregnancies end naturally and what issues that raises with defining personhood as being at conception.

            You’re asking a lot of me to prove your point about Sanger but I am curious to listen to those. A link would be nice.

          • illuvitus

            You didn’t address the point about why so many pregnancies end naturally and what issues that raises with defining personhood as being at conception.

            Almost every life ends naturally at some point, so what exactly is your point? It would need to apply to all lives, not just the unborn.

            Children once had a high mortality rate. Did that raise issues as to whether the value of their lives were ambiguous?

          • I don’t think it can ever be solved, honestly. It’s literally two different philosophies about what makes a person, and there’s no way to categorically prove one over the other. No way to agree.

  • Robin Carbonneau

    I thought my views were compatible with this author’s analysis, until he revealed that he supported Mike Huckabee, in the past. Everything after that fell away into useless pontificating, for me. I consider myself a Christian, although I would say that most of my ideas differ greatly from many comments on this piece. Mike Huckabee is the antithesis of the Christian that I believe Christ wanted us to be. He is fixated on doctrines and judgements rather that spreading the love and hope that Christ embodied. Having said all this , I will end with the exact situation that made me completely dismiss Mike Huckabee as a fraud. His son, was arrested for for beating and stringing up a dog, in the past. Mike Huckabee is a man who makes harsh judgements on issues such as same sex marriage, yet raised a child who is obviously so soulness, that he could beat and abuse an innocent animal with relish. Jesus wept.

  • John M.

    I deduce from this article that Mr. Anderson is strongly supporting someone else, not due to principle, but preference. So he feels the petty need to bash others to make himself feel good about the fact that his candidate is insignificant. His generalized use of the word “evangelical” is most times inappropriately used, while his grasp on politics appears virtually non-existent. It’s sad that a proclaimed Christian feels the need for speculation, conjecture and slander toward someone he doesn’t even know. This article and attitude is completely uncalled for and reeks of a hit piece for someone else. Sorry, Mr. Anderson, but you’re completely off base in this entire article, and you have revealed your hatred for a decent, hardworking candidate. It’s apparent that you don’t appreciate what this country has to offer, but you are free to move elsewhere.

    • Keith Miller

      Allow me to assure you that Matt did not write this as a way to boost the Rubio campaign or any other. I disagree with Matt’s conclusions, but that “deduction” is simply wrong.

    • If I had to vote today, I would vote for Rubio. I have said virtually nothing in support of Rubio publicly, nor have I given him any money, so the claim that I am “strongly supporting” him is laughable. Many of the reasons why I prefer him to Cruz are articulated above…and, if I may say so, are in fact principled. Should I deduce from your (apparent) support of Cruz that it is merely a preference and not principled?

  • eastcoastangle

    You’re wrong about Cruz. Lets just let a godless baby killer walk right into office.

    • You know, it’s not too late to support “not-Cruz” on the Republican side….like Rubio.

      • Like he’s really that better? Like he hasn’t pandered as much, or would suffer from the same dangers? Will you write another article about how shocked you are that evangelicals support him once the media decides he’s worthy of savaging too?

      • eastcoastangle

        Even if I supported Rubio, if he lost the primary to Cruz, people like you would still be voting de facto for Hillary by your refusal to support one of the best and most conservative candidates to come along in decades. On the other hand, if Cruz loses to Rubio, I will be happily voting for Rubio in the general election.

      • eastcoastangle

        Hey Matthew. I wrote this 2 months ago and things sure have changed. I have been humbled by the turn of events that now makes it look like I too will not be able to vote for the GOP nominee. I still don’t understand why you wouldn’t support Cruz against Clinton and I still maintain that I would vote for Rubio for president if he won the nomination. But Trump and his followers have showed me that there clearly is a scenario where I can’t vote for the person running against Hillary either. All this to say, I’m sorry for the disparaging and emotional language I used.

        • Thanks, ECA! This comment officially makes you the top 1% of 1% of all internet commenters alive. : )

          I’m glad you found a place to draw the line. That’s one that I’ll hold to even stronger than my Cruz position. I won’t vote for Trump…and I’m *thisclose* to saying I’ll never vote for a major politician who supports him, either. But then….I clearly would take that kind of stand. : )

          Matt

  • LeLeMans

    Oh for God’s sake. We have an out-and-out Marxist blowing up our economy, destroying our culture, ramming secularism down our throats, going out of his way to offend Christians, allowing Christians in the ME to be slaughtered en masse, going out of his to make sure that Catholic institutions have to eat the contraceptive mandate, going out of his way to force private businesses to cater to gay weddings, jamming transgenderism down our throats……and you won’t vote for Cruz because of his “style”? The one guy that you can be 100% sure would vigorously and constantly advocate for religious liberty? Really? Pardon me, but evangelicals brought this upon themselves. When you mix your faith with the state, the state wins. Always. Id’ suggest you buy yourself a clue, figure out a way to extract Protestantism from the clutches of the atheist left and then beg President Cruz to make it happen.

    • RustySkywater

      If this is how Cruz’s supporters vilify anyone who criticizes him (even strong conservatives like Anderson), and demands total lockstep… it is very telling of the dangers of a potential Cruz presidency.

    • Evangelicals *did* indeed bring this on themselves. They taught me, rightly, that a candidate’s religious commitments matter for political life, as much as and even more (in some circumstances) than other commitments. Which is why, in this election, I cannot abide Cruz’s instrumentalization of the church for political gain.

      • LeLeMans

        Then you will get the deeply corrupt Hillary and her pedophile husband. And I see zero good in that. If you actually think that Ted Cruz is the hand maiden of Lucifer himself, then so be it. I happen to think that Hillary is just about that. We will have two choices this year and I will stand with he who I am sure will at least try to protect religious liberty (as well as many others), whatever his sins of ambition or ego.

  • There are many comments here charitable to the author’s point of view while still admitting that it is flawed at best. Call it “non-Christian”, but I can’t be so charitable. This piece is pure pap, wrapped in “highfalutin'” language meant to impress the author’s inimitable intellect and analytic capabilities. It’s hogwash. It’s ridiculous. If you want to get down to brass tacks, it’s an unmitigated attack piece based in clearly un-Christian and fallacious premises.

    This holier-than-Cruz argument is decidedly the mirror image of any leftist pie-in-the-sky ideological argument of [insert subject here]. It takes no account of reality as it exists in this nation, nor of the intentions of the founding fathers as they conceived the Constitution, meant to embody the most perfect government possible on this side the grave (until His glorious return, of course).

    Cruz’s faith is evident in his life as well as his words. Perfect? As much as any of us, which of course means no. Neither are/were Huckabee or Santorum. In fact, the argument against Huckabee (as a big-government progressive) is pretty easy to make. This country can’t be (and I would argue shouldn’t be) a theocracy, which means that the balance between bblical and constitutionally tolerant ideals must be what we strive for in order to preserve freedoms and make the biggest impact for Christ. Cruz embodies this balance better than any of them. He lives his faith and has spent his life and career fighting for the Constitution. I can’t imagine a better combination.

    • RustySkywater

      Shorter Wally: it’s “un-Christian” to criticize Cruz in any way. He must not be questioned or challenged at all.

    • “This piece is pure pap, wrapped in “highfalutin'” language meant to impress the author’s inimitable intellect and analytic capabilities.”

      Surely the irony of accusing me of ‘highfalutin’ language while using “inimitable intellect and analytic capabilities” is not lost on you!

  • Carlos

    Matthew your wrong. There is nothing more pandering than cutting a commercial to explain the gospel as Marco has done.. Nothing wrong with going to a church and asking for their support.. especially upon being invited. Ted has given his testimony in these events and has fruitful evidences of his faith and his family’s faith. Furthermore, judge fruit and listen to those who bear witness of these candidates. Marco’s lifestyle should be reflecting his rhetoric. His boasting of liking the music of Nikki Manaj, Drake, jay Z is shameful and not reflecting of a serious Christian. Again note that I said boasting…

    • I haven’t seen that commercial. Have a link? And, I’m pretty sure that announcing your campaign at evangelicalism’s largest university and establishing a ‘prayer team’ is worse.

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  • ashv

    The USA political order is beyond repair, and that is the only reason I would consider voting for Trump. My only concern in doing so is that it may convince Christians that the system is sustainable and still represents their interests.

  • Jeff Dwiggins

    Many thanks to those who warned me that the article was long. So many words to say, well, so little. In the spirit of things, I tried to make the response just as long. Not really. But it is long. I guess the main thesis is the following:

    “No politician who so overtly, so profligately subordinates the life of the Church to his own political gain should receive the support of those who claim the Gospel as their banner.” Thus, Mr. Anderson has decided not to support either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz for president. Okay. Because of the article’s length, easiest just to pick out a few statements I found interesting and address those.

    Anderson spends a good deal of literary space trying to compare Donald Trump to the Shakespearean character of Sir John Falstaff. I take it that Mr. Anderson is uncomfortable with the manner in which Trump can be insulting and critical of his opponents. He doesn’t feel like Trump comes across as a genuine Christian or politician for that matter, and laments that “evangelical Christians” have bought Trump’s “sales pitch.” He adds, “The atmosphere that pervades Trumpism, and not policy, is the basis for his surprising shared sympathy with the evangelical world.” Yet, the article is very short on any discussions of policy or the substance of what Trump and Cruz want to do as president.

    Did Falstaff ever run a billion dollar real estate company? Yeah, I didn’t think so. So when Anderson says, “He’ll say precisely what he thinks—if he thinks,” that’s a bit disingenuous. Trump is not stupid. He’s far more qualified than many of his critics give him credit for. One of the reasons we saw Barack Obama elected as president in 2008 was the fact that his scant qualifications were not vigorously challenged enough during the campaign. I’m okay with questioning candidates’ qualifications, but let’s keep it in perspective.

    BTW, every politician running for president seems to have some sort of slogan – “Make America Great Again,” “Hope and Change,” “A Political Revolution is Coming, “A New American Century,” etc. I’m pretty sure we’re going to hear each one over and over, so I can’t fault Trump for having a slogan or repeating it a thousand times over. I do find some of Trump’s comments to be “over the top” and insulting. He’s not one of my top candidates. But ultimately I’ll make my decision on whom to vote for based upon policy not political jabs in the heat of a campaign.

    Anderson makes a somewhat odd diversion in between his discussions about Trump and Cruz to discuss how “evangelicals have been particularly keen to pursue legal remedies for moral problems. Paradoxically, then …. they themselves have been an instrumental part of the politicization of everything.” I guess he’s trying to explain the appeal of Trump and Cruz in a roundabout way. He adds, “Such an anti-politics of resentment, alienation, and disenfranchisement is at the heart of Trump’s appeal.” Anderson concludes, “For evangelicals, “injury—real or perceived—leads the aggrieved to accuse, blame, vilify, and then seek revenge on whom they see as responsible.” You’re too hard on your own, Mr. Anderson.

    So the rise of Trump and Cruz can be explained by all of their followers galvanizing around the idea of obtaining some political redress for deep-seated grievances rooted in political solutions to moral issues? That’s too big of a leap of faith for me – no pun intended. Maybe some people feel that way, but Mr. Anderson doesn’t attempt to address the myriad of problems evangelical Christians and others have with President Obama’s policies, or that many of the people flocking to support Trump or Cruz see in their candidate an antidote to many of these destructive policies and dearth of leadership. Anderson, however, seems more concerned with style over substance.

    Moreover, many people in this country are fed up with federal and state judges “creating law” rather than interpreting it. Many of us believe that legal rulings should reflect Biblical, or, at the very least, constitutional principles. We don’t want a president who politicizes every moral, legal, constitutional, and social issue that comes his way. Certainly, evangelicals do not have a monopoly on the politicization of moral issues in this country. If anything, evangelicals are playing catch-up on legal strategies and frequently find themselves left in the wake of both political parties. Reactionary not proactive. Why the appointment of judges is not a bigger issue in political campaigns, I will never understand.

    Anderson then moves on to Cruz and describes him “as a candidate whose sole accomplishment seems to be ‘disruption’, he promises evangelicals Trumpism with a veneer of respectability.” He takes issue with Cruz holding a “glorified campaign rally” at a megachurch complete with Cruz 2016 slides on the screens behind him,” announcing his campaign at a … wait for it … Christian college …. that would be Liberty University, employing a behind the scenes “Prayer Team” for his campaign, and his “overt religiosity.” Anderson derisively notes, ““The prayers of [middle-class, registered Republicans] availeth [many votes].” So the Bible says somewhere.

    Suffice to say that Anderson’s critique of Cruz’s actual policies in his piece was extremely scant. Again, Anderson seems more concerned with style over substance. As a Christian, I want the candidates to come to me and tell me about their political vision for the future. So Cruz went to a megachurch and a Christian university to promote his campaign. He wants people praying for his campaign. And??? Am I missing something here? I assume the church and the university invited him. Perhaps Cruz’s style is not something I would do or be comfortable with, but I’m not running for president. The church’s leadership could have told Cruz to take his signs down and just speak to the audience, but they didn’t. And this is horrific and terribly anti-Christian because?? What did we expect in a megachurch? Different streams in the Body of Christ do things differently.

    I have to say, I haven’t decided yet who I’m going to vote for to be president. I want my top candidates’ policies to reflect Biblical values as much as possible. I want them to be successful leaders with good character. I want them to support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I want them to thoroughly understand the issues. I want them to be solution-oriented. I want them to keep America safe. I want to look beyond what candidates say to what they will actually do, or have done. This is the initial critique Trump and Cruz and others must pass through.

    Beyond that, as a Christian I have a moral obligation to be salt and light in the world. Part of being salt and light is voting, and voting for candidates that are going to cultivate a climate of salt and light and reflect Christian principles. No candidate is going to be perfect. If one candidate doesn’t perfectly reflect my particular “brand” of Christianity, I can deal with that. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are political candidates not preachers. I don’t expect either of them to always “properly” handle their faith in the political arena in ways that will make all believers happy.

    Is their behavior so out-of-bounds and grievous that I can’t vote for either of them? We all have to search our hearts on that one. Whether I vote for Trump, Cruz or another will depend more, however, on whether I feel their policies will be Christ-like as opposed to where and how they hold campaign rallies, how overtly religious they are, how closely their faith experience resembles mine, or whether they have prayer teams supporting their campaigns. The decision requires far more substantive thought than that.

    • Jeff,

      Thanks for reading, and the substantive response. A few remarks.

      1) “Yet, the article is very short on any discussions of policy or the substance of what Trump and Cruz want to do as president.” Yes, it is, because if it included those it would have been (at least) twice as long. Additionally, it’s simply not the case that most people choose on the basis of policy: we may think of ourselves as pure rational agents, who coolly and detachedly evaluate positions in the abstract and align ourselves with the candidates that take up those stances, but that’s just not how politics works, especially not in a media-saturated age like our own. “Optics,” as they say, “matter.”

      2) “Trump is not stupid. He’s far more qualified than many of his critics give him credit for.” My analysis of Falstaffism is not based on qualifications. Trump’s willingness to say whatever he needs to in order to advance his own cause, and his undeniable ability to continue to attract voters despite saying horrendous things, are shockingly similar to Falstaff, who is a horrid ass whom we all love. Trump has obviously run big businesses–like casinos. Why shouldn’t *that* matter to evangelical conservatives?

      3) “You’re too hard on your own, Mr. Anderson.” Or I’m aware of the dynamics at work in my own community, and critical of them in order to expunge them….

      4) “Suffice to say that Anderson’s critique of Cruz’s actual policies in his piece was extremely scant. Again, Anderson seems more concerned with style over substance.”

      Again, the medium *is* the message. My critique of Cruz has to do with his instrumentalization of the religious life for political gain. That *is* a substantive critique, not simply a matter of ‘style.’ You seem to recognize this when you try to defray the objections by suggesting that Cruz’s behavior is ‘not that bad’ (essentially). As I’ve said about a hundred times, the problem is not wanting people to pray for him, but fundraising and politicizing that prayer list. (Seriously, why should we think that the point of the list is prayer when it requires a home address? Why would a campaign need *that* to send out prayer updates?) And if you have no problem with churches turning over their worship services to candidates who promote themselves in the central gathering of worship….then, yeah, we have two fundamentally different notions of how the church’s political life should go. But, then, that difference is a substantive one….and not simply a stylistic one.

      5) “If Candidate A goes to the AFLCIO, the National Education Association, or the Value Voters Summit, for example, and delivers a speech, is Candidate A pandering to that group for votes? We could say this about any candidate’s speech in any number of forums.” It would depend upon the content of that speech, no? Telling the people that the country essentially hangs upon them to ‘rise up and vote their values’ is, yes, pandering. As is taking positions (like on immigration) specifically designed to woo them.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Jeff Dwiggins

        Matt – Thank you for the response. You have responded extensively to others in the Comments section covering many of these topics, so not sure I’m going to be able to add much in the way of “new” so I’ll try and keep my responses fairly short.
        (1) Optics may matter to some degree, but not more than principles or policies. I think your Optics reference subtly undermines the point you are making on principle. I agree with you that there is not enough space in the article to cover policy, and that you were not trying to write an article on policy. Fair enough.
        (2) Understand that your critique is not on qualifications. But to your point on Trump, come on, Trump has built more than casinos, and he’s been a genuine job creator. That has to matter to evangelical conservatives.
        (3) Okay, well I guess need to read more of your work to see the “expunging” side
        (4) Just a bridge too far to me to say that the “medium *is* the message.” The medium is a vehicle to deliver the message. Campaigns collect home addresses and fundraise … all day long. If Constituent A really loves Ted Cruz and wants him to be President, he or she has probably already decided to give the campaign his or her address before they join said Prayer Team. Moreover, if there was no demand for a Prayer Team, I don’t think it would have been created. I think you and I are just going to disagree on the style/substance question in this case. That said, if I had been running this megachurch, Mr. Cruz would have had to tone down his presentation quite a bit, get rid of the banners, etc., but at the same time, I respect this church’s decision to give him the floor. There could have been other components to their church service that day other than Cruz’s speech. I don’t know. Look at it this way, Ted Cruz made it pretty easy on those parishioners to evaluate his candidacy. He came to them and spelled out what he wants to do. These folks can now make a well informed decision on Cruz. I’m okay with that.
        (5) I don’t know that I can agree with that. I see your point. But this is what political candidates do. They go after voting blocs and try to get their votes. I plan to vote my values, but voting my values may take me to a different candidate than Cruz. If it’s pandering, it may not be very effective in some cases.

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  • Tim OK

    Matt- excellent piece. It’s writing like this that keeps me coming back to Mere-O.

    Persuasive, bold, clear-eyed, insightful, and theologically robust. I think that describes you at your best. It gives me confidence that evangelicals can be all of the above.

  • So what are evangelicals supposed to do, nothing? The politics of despair are only happening because our useless Christian punditry and Republican establishment keep sabotaging our own side. At this point its either nihilism with trump, or nihilism as the pundits keep doing this, and then act shocked, shocked! when the secular left wins and furthers its dominance over the country.

    Guess I’d rather choose fire than ice.

    • There’s still time to vote for someone else. The idea that Cruz and Trump are the only choices here is false.

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  • The Professor

    I feel sorry for anyone, regardless of religious proclivity who cannot see that underneath Cruz and Trump are ruthlessly ambitious snake oil salesmen who have no intent of doing anything that does not advance their own particular agendas. What is worse is the lie that one of Cruz biggest agendas – dismantling Obergefell – will be even remotely possible. What gives thinking people pause is the idea that one of these crazy pandering liars will convince enough casual (or careless) voters to get into the White House. How soon till we are in yet another Vietnam (Iraq) style endless war in the Middle East. Does one of them drop the bomb this time? The kind of judges that would allow the power of the state to enter into people’s homes and forcibly divorce them would likely also be willing to allow the power of a racist theocracy to do other things less pleasing to any so-called Christian. I haven’t yet heard any “Christian” candidate discuss feeding the poor or taking care of the sick. Instead, they are more likely to yank help away from both groups, demonizing them in the process. The author does not appear to be fooled. Sadly the thousands showing up for the rallies do not seem to be so willing to give these candidates, and their own, agendas a harder look.

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  • OrthoAnabaptist

    Thank you Matthew for the courage to write something like this. I’ve been tempted often to give up hope on the existence of principled, thoughtful conservative christians. (Self-disclosure, I do not consider myself a “conservative” evangelical but do try to follow Christ, His teachings and hold to the historical orthodoxies of the Church universal – politically/culturally I self-describe as moderate/progressive)

    I don’t know where it happened, but many, too many american christians (left extreme included) have abandoned the Way of Christ in dealing with society/culture/gov for another way. You’ve shed light on this problem. This radical, unChristian way of the-end-justifying-any-means has and continues to turn many away from seeking the true God. It’s very sad. I just don’t understand where christian people get the idea that acting in ways Jesus, the apostles or the early church fathers would have never acted, is somehow going to bring a good result…

    Many of you here are quite zealous and believing that this angry, vindictive, manipulative political means will get you the america you want… It Ain’t Happen’n – God’s heart will be and is set against your political machinations because Means Do Matter. This is especially true on this side of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His Kingdom does not come about by worldly means – Period. It never has and it never will.
    Does one see Jesus, the apostles or the early church fathers talk like Trump or Cruz? – No
    Does one see Jesus, the apostles or the early church fathers speak about their gov, leaders or institutions like the Religious Right does? – No
    Does one see Jesus, the apostles or the early church fathers act and speak in the Nationalist manner that our politicians (all or most) do? – No

    Go vote for any one of these guys and every single one of them is going to disappoint you and not deliver, because you can’t see or don’t want to deal with the real issues at the heart of the american soul – issues that plague all of us, but are especially out of place in the hearts of claiming Christ followers. Begin addressing some of those, particularly in our churches first – (where these american soul issues fester and have corroded as well) Let’s clean our houses first and the rest might follow, if God wills.

  • Evangelical Trump & Cruz supporters represent a Euroethnic Middle America that is being destroyed culturally, demographically, and spiritually by the elites. Sometimes the only defense left to those under siege is nihilistic sabotage.

    What Anderson mistakes for a chaos lust is desperation. Desperation is producing strength and will to power. Before he condemns Middle America, I suggest he live in their shoes (and stop pandering to the oppressive establishment).

    • I’m not sure I do mistake it. I think my final paragraph nods to the kind of desperation that is at work. I simply think that allowing that to govern our political witness is sub-theological: hope needs to be about more than Jesus’s eventual return, if our political activity is to take the tenor and atmosphere of the ‘good news.’

  • John Hutchinson

    This a particularly inchoate rant, which seems to misread the Evangelical and political landscape. First; Evangelicalism has been in a long slide towards spiritual, theological, and ethical entropy and incoherence, such that there really is no such thing as a unified Evangelical vote, even to the point that a would-be moderate Democrat contender, if such a thing exists nowadays, would pull a significant # of self-identifying Evangelicals to the other side. Comparisons between the Reagan coalition and the chaos that now exists in Jesusland are invalid.

    There is a difference between voting as an Evangelical, versus self-identified Evangelicals who vote. And the “chaos” or “revolution,” which popular contenders on both left and right wings of the political continuum are promoting, are based on genuine socioeconomic and political realities, and not mere political posturing. This will endure and worsen in the years to come.

    – the enduring and ever widening political schism between left and right, and/or the religious/cultural conservative and secularist/naturalist/skeptic makes it ripe for civic strife – think of France between 179-1945 or the last century of the Roman Republic
    – the organic economic imbalance of power between the plutocratic/corporatist classes versus the wage/salary classes makes it ripe for civic strife and explains why Obama’s numbers hold up, despite the fact that he will be proven among future historians to be the worse president, America has ever had, up until this point
    – we dwell in a false economic “boom”, sustained by the duct tape of a legalized counterfeit operation by the Fed, which at best induces indebtedness and asset bubble wealth effect to sustain the economy – neither of these are sustainable – and a debt-deflationary spiral (Fisher 1933) is around the corner, which can only be avoided by a worsening addiction to debt inducing money printing
    – Washington’s politicos and talking heads seem as oblivious and out of touch with the pulse of the nation, such that describing them as a Versailles by the Potomac becomes a trite depiction
    – the Pax Americana is dead and chaos is beginning to engulf the world and is creeping into the West’s backyard

    It is understandable why the nation, of which Evangelicals are a part, wish to upset the apple cart on both wings of the political spectrum.

    • I absolutely understand why people want to upset the apple cart. However, there’s nothing particularly conservative about that approach. And yes, there are lots of differences within the evangelical world. Part of my point was to drive a wedge between an evangelical politics and that which the Religious Right has manifested, which is why I still happily claim the evangelical label as my own and am willing to say that it is those evangelical beliefs that animate my repudiation of Cruz.

      • John Hutchinson

        Mr. Anderson:

        The times, at least in the U.S. remind me of the late Wiemar Republic. It too was a liberal republic, with its own spiral into relative decadence. The middle class had been demolished in the 1923 hyper-inflation and again with the Depression, which hit the Germans as hard as the North Americans (less so in other European nations). The center was collapsing with one quarter of the electorate becoming socialist/communist, while the other side favoring the Fascists. And it was the lower middle, working and rural classes which constituted the bulk of the Nazi support.

        Now neither Trump nor Cruz is a Hitler. However, just as Hitler was caricaturist representative of the German militaristic tradition, Trump, at least, is caricaturist representative of the American capitalistic tradition. It is in those terms that I see the current state of U.S. politics. In that all the rest of G.O.P. candidates are hardly inspiring for the needs of the day, Cruz may be a lesser of evils to Trump. However, quite frankly as a historical Evangelical (I don’t know what I would classify the current version of Evangelicalism), I have a hard time associating with either party. And perhaps, being an independent is better choice, both from conscience sake and tactical purposes.

        I do not know what Evangelical politics is. My impression from ancient Hebrew history and the Epistle to the Hebrews is that a seminal Biblical theme is the ultimate futility of politics to hold back the evil. And study of secular history verifies this reality. In that I reject the notion of moral nativism (law of God in the hearts of natural man) as being Platonist rather Biblical, it becomes difficult to impossible to legislate an ethic which is literally alien to the minds of those who are not given to Christian understandings of the cosmos and ideals. And conservatism is not Christianity. Read the Hebrew prophets.

  • Torin

    My remarks are constantly blocked when I point out that the Religious Right is the most anti-christian movement this country has developed. By seeking power and money the leaders of the RR have now defined the Conservative Believer as a Hyper Vitriolic Nationalist hating everything and wanting to suppress everyone and everything that doesn’t fall withing their belief system. None one wants to admit by linking the Conservative Christian Movement so closely with national politics it has damaged the message of Christ! Until Conservative Christians shun leaders that want to use politics to force change instead of simply living a life of faithful devotion to their beliefs as an example of the Christian message, the movement is doomed.

  • For the Social Justice Left with their identity obsessed grievance-mongering to accuse others of ‘cynical and nihilistic’ politics is truly the pot calling the kettle black.

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  • Julien Benney

    To me, what you are saying about Evangelicals could be said about fascism and even many related movements (Franco, the “Estado Novo” under Salazar, and perhaps others) following World War I.

    At that time, as during the 1980s, longtime working class demands for radical secularisation were intensifying and becoming rapidly more vocal as they spread beyond the workers and latterly welfare recipients – most crucially to educated women. Political panic among US and UK ruling classes and other conservative sectors, along with a complete inability of traditional “Left” parties to meet the new radical demands, led to a string of conservative victories, but once these older Left parties adapted to the newly radical working and welfare classes, this conservatism based upon taking control of a democratic state was totally doomed.

    Political gain based upon traditionally conservative policies of small government, low taxes and traditional morality has since been impossible outside Australia — the masses cannot accept it! For Christianity to survive in Europe and the America’s, it cannot therefore subordinate daily Christian life to politics.

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  • run12

    I am profoundly disappointed in this article as a conservative follower of Christ. I support Cruz because he has some more libertarian leanings than Rubio. But I in no way would ever question Rubio’s sincerity or faith in Christ simply because I support Cruz. Unfortunately, it appears that is what is going on here. I do not like the mudslinging going on between the two campaigns as I believe it is unbecoming of brothers in Christ to act in this manner, politics or no politics. I have seen people in both camps begin to imitate this bad behavior, but I never thought I would see it from this author. Ever.

    I found nothing compelling in this article that would make me think Cruz was a fake Christian or a return to the Jerry Falwell days of old. I would remind Mr. Anderson that Rubio and other social conservatives also courted the “Religious Right” (whatever that means anymore though I frankly do not think it exists nowadays). Asking for votes from a known voting block is not unusual or immoral. It is when you compromise your convictions to do so that it becomes problematic. Cruz did not pander when he stood his ground on the ethanol mandate or when he stated he believed marriage should be left to the states and not a national amendment to make marriage between a man and a woman (something several in the “religious right” excoriated him for). I am sure there are many things Rubio has done as well that are praiseworthy and where he stood on conviction. I would happily vote for either because I believed them both to be good men, though not perfect. It should not be an unusual thing for a candidate to go to a church and talk to the people. Why should that be considered off-limits? Church people as well as average people have a right to be informed and make a decision accordingly. It is no different when a speaker comes to a church and promotes/sells his/her book, website, or blog. Cruz does engage in massive data gathering, but so does every other candidate. It is the modern way of politics, though it does feel annoying at times. I have received e-mails from both the Rubio and Cruz campaign and they are very similar.

    I would ask Mr. Anderson if he has ever met Sen. Cruz. Does he know him well? Has he heard about how he came to follow Christ? Had a cup of coffee with him? I would venture to guess that the answer would be a resounding no. I find it disheartening to see Christ-followers rip each other to shreds over their support of another candidate. The personal nature of the attack in this article is astounding. I find myself reminded of Matthew 7:1-2 Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and ]by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. May God help us show the grace and mercy to one another He shows us. If we don’t, how will we ever show it to the world?

  • Who ARE these evangelicals who throw Cruz overboard over what are basically such touchy-feely hunches… meanwhile, Rubio can lie about Cruz and lie about his own record… with impunity, on things that are verifiable… and they don’t seem to care about that? I wonder, do this people really worship the same God of the Bible that I worship?.. the Good of TRUTH? …doesn’t seem like it. And using Huckabee and Santorum as a measuring stick is so wrong… both Huckabee and Santorum are big government Republicans, of the GW Bush type, but worse. Huckabee and Santorum both have a tendency to not respect limited government, separation of powers, etc. Candidate Santorum had lots of good ideas… but ones that Senator Santorum never seemed to promote. Huckabee, when a talk show host, talked a great talk… but it wasn’t too long ago when Huckabee called the “Club for Growth” the “Club for Greed”… meanwhile, families and small businesses are being destroyed by our unfair tax system… and more able-bodied people than ever are purposely gaming the system and getting free money while living in grandma’s basement… that isn’t “greed”… that is promotion of sin, at the expense of harming innocent hard workers… so using Huckabee and Santorum as a measuring stick was also ridiculous and short -sighted. It sounds to me like some of these evangelicals are “conforming to the world” by trying to be cool and acceptable to their “progressive” or worldly friends? (“I’m not the extremist you think I am because I too hate Ted Cruz”–could that be it?)

  • Dave B

    Ok, let me understand Chriztians should be involved but not act like a Christian?

  • hoosier_bob

    I’m late to the game here. This was a well written piece by someone who has matured as a thinker and writer.

    I did not grow up as an evangelical. I was raised in a fairly nominal mainline Protestant home. A college girlfriend dragged me to an evangelical church, Park Street Church in Boston, and I stayed with the movement for about 15 years. And although I still attend a PCA church periodically (on Communion Sunday), I’ve largely divorced myself from evangelical church life. I simply grew weary of the church’s refusal to call out the grievance-focused life as fundamentally inconsistent with genuine faith in Christ.

    When, at the age of 19, I first came to a crystallized appreciation of the Gospel, my first thought was, “I will never need to fear anything again.” I still believe that. But a substantial number of evangelicals live lives that are largely characterized by anxiety and grievance. And, in many cases, the anxieties and grievances are over things that are so remote or petty that they’re almost laughable. It strikes me that large numbers of evangelicals are simply looking for ways to be outraged. The comment thread here seems to prove my point.

    And I’m not alone. I work with a number of de-churched evangelicals. None of us had any kind of radical falling out with the church, and all of us still hold to the basic themes of evangelical theology. But we all feel estranged and alienated from the church. Starting in the late 1990s, evangelicalism seemed to take a dark turn into an abyss of grievance-centered populism. I’m now at a point where I feel like my faith is enriched by staying away more than by going. This story is quite common among white-collar professionals, especially those of us in creative-class professions. And I don’t see it changing. Three decades ago, Bill Hybels developed a worship style aimed at appealing to the unchurched. Perhaps we need something that appeals to the de-churched.

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  • glynis

    I loved the article – very intelligent and thought-provoking. But the commentary – that is sublime!

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