There are times when I watch the news and my instant reaction is to find the nearest heavy object and hurl it at the screen. The most recent narrowly averted home appliance disaster happened when I watched Ted Cruz address an audience of Conservatives at CPAC last week.
The junior Senator from Texas who is seeking the Republican nomination for President used lots of scary words to convince the audience that this election is the most pivotal in modern history. His central thesis goes like this: elect Ted or else Christians will find themselves as the halftime entertainment on Monday Night Football as catnip for a pride of hungry lions.
Senator Cruz told the enraptured onlookers, “We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court ruling that government can take our religious liberty away and force every one of us to violate our faith on penalty of prison or fine.” Let’s take each of his claims and examine them more closely through the lens of reality.
First, Ted claims that if a liberal justice to the SCOTUS was appointed and confirmed, the government could somehow revoke our First Amendment right to religious liberty. To do that, someone would have to bring a case through the courts that challenged religious liberty in some fundamental way. That case would have to end up at the SCOTUS for consideration. The SCOTUS then would be in the unenviable position of striking down the foundational rights of every American. Can anyone truly imagine this happening? But let’s play this out.
SCOTUS strikes down the First Amendment and with it, they sweep away our right to religious liberty, free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and our right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. And even if such a dystopian nightmare were to come to pass, Congress could simply create a new Amendment to restore what was lost. I know this sounds insane. You know why? BECAUSE IT IS ACTUALLY INSANE!
Senator Cruz also stated that this radical new Supreme Court will force us to violate our faith or face fines or imprisonment. Here, the Senator is riding the wave of hatred and fear ginned up against the Affordable Care Act. The notion is that if one’s tax dollars (as an employee or an employer) are used to fund abortions or certain contraceptives, that somehow one is yielding to a tyrannical government and violating one’s conscience. This is terrible logic. I would ask Senator Cruz if his tax dollars being used to pollute the environment, drop bombs on civilians, or support horrific regimes like the Saudi Royal family keep him up at night praying to God for forgiveness. I suspect he sleeps just fine.
Cruz went on to say, “We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court ordering Ten Commandments monuments torn down all over this country. We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court erasing the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights.”
Holy crap! This super-villain liberal justice sure is going to be busy! Destroying the First Amendment wasn’t enough to sate their appetite for evil and mayhem, now they’re going to take away our stone tablets, nativity scenes, and guns?
Let me state this as clearly as I can. If Senator Cruz truly believes what he said to the crowd at CPAC and repeats daily on the campaign trail, then he is not fit to be President. Why? Because to say such things you are either genuinely insane or you are purposely lying to voters to scare them into action. Either way, “No president for you!” (Say it like the Soup Nazi and it’s way funnier).
As a Christian, I do not fear my government. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter 13, verses 1 through 7:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
If we understand this teaching, we would never fear our government as long as we do what the Bible teaches. Pretty simple formula for civic bliss.
So I want to ask all those Christian Conservatives out there, when was the last time you prayed for President Obama? When have you honored Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Do you pay your taxes through clenched teeth?
If so, I would recommend you get alone with your Bible and read Romans 13:1-7 and pray that God would give you a spirit of respect and honor, and help you to reject the spirit of fear that men like Senator Cruz seek to instill in you.
March 9, 2016 at 1:33 am
I agree with every word you say and may I say – I wish I could say it so beautifully
March 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm
“The notion is that if one’s tax dollars (as an employee or an employer) are used to fund abortions or certain contraceptives, that somehow one is yielding to a tyrannical government and violating one’s conscience.”
Sir, you’re wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and wrong on the logic. The ACA forces individuals/companies to pay for that coverage directly – there is no middleman.
Regardless, people of many religious faiths have long sought to remove themselves as contributors to collective evil. May I recommend, “Seeking Peace” by Titus and Linda Gehman Peachey. They offer lifestyle suggestions for tax avoidance to avoid contributing to those very problems you cite.
As to Romans 13: the victims of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. remain unavailable for comment, to say nothing of the victims of slavery past here, or currently abroad. Consider: ISIS is a governing authority. Or are you arguing that MLK was wrong to protest civilly against state enforced discrimination, to the extent that he was jailed for his actions? Do you really believe that MLK, Bonhoeffer, etc. were acting against Christian teaching when they opposed the state/gov’t?
Finally, since the most recent decision (Hobby Lobby) which upheld religious liberty was decided on a 5-4 basis, and as there is a vacancy on the court, the next justice appointed may very well overturn that decision at their first opportunity; that justice would also have opportunity to overturn Heller (guns) (5-4) and SCOTUS precedent on the display of the ten commandments in courtrooms.
You claim that restatement of these facts is insane. I tell you that it is insane to deny actual facts. You may feel that these impositions against personal religious freedom are benign, warranted, or otherwise justified. It doesn’t change the fact that the court would be restricting the freedom to practice religion.
Previously I offered you the benefit of the doubt regarding the nature and reasoning of your rant. You no longer deserve that. It is clear that your ignorance of Christianity, or the superficiality of your understanding of the faith, your ignorance of the law, in fact, your general ignorance of any position opposed to yours, renders your arguments specious and flaccid. You previously admonished those with whom you disagree to read; I humbly suggest it would be in your own best interest to take that advice.
March 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm
JR, thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy reply. “The ACA forces individuals/companies to pay for that coverage directly – there is no middleman.” No…you pay the money to an insurance company, or to MedicAid and they pay for the services. Even self-insured companies use a healthcare provider company to administer their plans. “Do you really believe that MLK, Bonhoeffer, etc. were acting against Christian teaching when they opposed the state/gov’t?” No. But you should also consider that Jesus lived under the most brutal regime in history and never uttered once encouraged anyone to seek social change through force or through politics. He favored a “power under” strategy where the faithful serve others (even their civil authorities) with the love of Christ to become “salt and light” in the world. Our conduct should affect the change in the world we wish to see, the might of our political power or wealth. I also believe that MLK was far more interested in changing people’s attitudes and hearts, than he was in changing public policy. He was insightful enough to know that if you change the way people think about one another, then the laws will change in due course. And he was right. When he said that we should judge one another not on the color of one’s skin but on the content of one’s character, he was not appealing to any governmental authority. He was appealing to us. I truly believe that Christians in America are so wrapped up in protecting our rights that we miss the most important thing. Instead of using our power and money and time to rail against our government, imagine if we spent all of that capital on serving people. That’s what we are called to do. Romans 13 puts our relationship to the earthy government in perspective. Essentially telling us, “Hey, chief. Don’t worry about what the temporary government can do to you. Give them their due, but don’t let them get you down. You are a citizen of Heaven and you serve the Most High King. So relax and pay your taxes with a smile. It’s all God’s money anyway!” Certainly one of the most difficult teachings to swallow is the fact that God is sovereign over everything. Even the horrific things such as slavery, Hitler, and ISIS. While He does not cause evil regimes, He certainly allows them to have their way. Our Savior even allowed himself to be murdered in the most horrific way possible at the hands of a tyrannical government. That was not by accident. He knew what would happen and willingly submitted to it. I think His example is hard to argue with. But if you want to, you’re not arguing with me, you’re arguing with Scripture. Peace!