Cruz: “I Am Not Running for Pastor-in-Chief”

Cruz Pastor in Chief

Here is Ted Cruz talking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network about his so-called “God Talk.”  (I am having trouble embedding the video.  Watch it at the link above).

Cruz is a master politician.  This is a very shrewd answer.

He says that it is not his “calling” to deliver the salvation message.  Fair enough.  Cruz will not use the presidential bully pulpit to preach the Gospel.

He is right when he says the First Amendment reflects the religious beliefs of Muslims and atheists.  Again, Cruz is right.  But the Texas Senator rarely talks about religious liberty outside the context of Christianity.

And when Cruz says that the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian principles that need to be restored today in America, it raises questions about how he reconciles this belief with his defense of religious liberty.

And one more thing about his discussion of the “founding.”  The United States was not “founded” by people fleeing religious oppression.  Most of the so-called founding fathers were born in the British colonies. Here Trump is confusing the “founding” with what I have called the “planting” of the British colonies in the seventeenth century.  I talk about the difference here and in Chapter Five of Was American Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction.

But let’s give Cruz the benefit of the doubt here.  Perhaps he might accuse me of playing semantics when I distinguish the “planting” from the “founding.”  What Cruz is really talking about is the seventeenth-century migrants who first settled along the eastern seaboard, developed societies, and eventually rebelled against England in 1776.

Were these settlers fleeing religious persecution?  Some of them were.  In New England a small group of Puritans came to Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay in pursuit of religious liberty from what they perceived as the tyrannical leaders of the Church of England, clergy and bishops who were not fans of Calvinism.

But when they arrived in North America, they were certainly not champions of the kind of religious liberty that Cruz celebrates in the First Amendment.  They imprisoned, fined, ousted, and even killed people who did not share their religious beliefs.  So let’s not pretend that the colonies were planted (or “founded”) on principles of religious liberty. As I tell my classes, inhabitants of Massachusetts Bay were religious free–free to conform to Puritan orthodoxy.  Government did “get in the way” of people practicing their faith according to the dictates of their consciences.  Just ask Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, and Mary Dyer, to name just a few.

But the Puritans are only a small part of the story.  There were several colonies–including Virginia, the first British colony–that were not founded by people seeking religious liberty.

I am afraid that Cruz is taking his history cues from David Barton, the Republican activist who runs his super-PAC.

I also want to call attention to what Cruz does not say in this interview with Brody.  He never says how his Christian faith will inform the way he governs or his moral vision for the United States.

This may be going too far, but I wonder if Cruz’s claim that he will not be “pastor-in-chief” can be compared to the way that John Winthrop, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was also not a “pastor-in-chief.”  Winthrop was a political leader.  He was not responsible for preaching the gospel in the colony.  At the same time, he enforced and advanced all of the discriminatory policies I mentioned above.

In Massachusetts Bay, church and state were separate.  Technically, it was not a theocracy. But the line that separated the government from the church was very, very thin.

And finally, if the events of the last couple of days are any indication, it appears that Cruz’s commitment to the Constitution is not as important as his moral politics.

3 thoughts on “Cruz: “I Am Not Running for Pastor-in-Chief”

  1. The people did not revoke Obama in 2014. That is an incorrect and clear side stepping around the facts. The people elected him twice. In 2014, the Senate races just happened to coincide in states that were extremely red leaning. When the Democrats win the Senate in 2016 and the Democratic nominee for president wins the election what will you say then? Will you be tiptoeing about your claims like the GOP did in 2008 when the people of this country elected Obama as president?

    By the way, Obama is not perverting the Constitution with the ACA. Guess what? Now that Scalia is dead, the liberals are going to have the majority on the SCOTUS. Get ready to watch a lot of conservative erosion of the progress made in this country thrown out the window.

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  2. And finally, if the events of the last couple of days are any indication, it appears that Cruz’s commitment to the Constitution is not as important as his moral politics.

    On what level is this argument? There is nothing unconstitutional or even in violation of statute about ignoring Obama’s nominations to the Supreme Court; indeed in a lame duck year there is ample historical precedent. And what’s wrong with moral politics? Senator Cruz explicitly argues that ‘moral politics’ is the work of legislators, not judges!

    If the argument is for the spirit of the laws, the 4 liberals on the Supreme Court have long since infused them with a “living constitutionalism,” which with the addition of one more LCer, would abolish the Constitution as many or most of us understand it, for as Ted Cruz effectively notes

    “If any of us believes in democracy, in the constitutional rule of law, then whether we agree or disagree with a policy … we should be horrified at the notion that five unelected judges can seize authority from the American people,”

    as did the late great

    http://reformclub.blogspot.com/2016/02/nino-scalia-on-living-constitutionalism.html

    hisself. [So much of our use of history is legal these days, but I must question how conversant in law historians really are, let alone those who aspire to be ‘public intellectuals.’]

    “We must prevent these things being done, by either congresses or courts — The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it —”—Mr. Lincoln

    Many of us believe that President Obama has attempted to pervert the Constitution–Hosanna-Tabor, Hobby Lobby, The Little Sisters of the Poor–and that surrendering control of the Supreme Court to a leftist majority with a 5th vote would betray our duty as Mr. Lincoln saw it.

    In 2014, the people, in their wisdom [?], revoked Barack Obama’s control of Congress and the appointment process. [Presidents only nominate; appointment requires the Senate.] If I am a duly elected Republican senator, to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” is on.

    As a historian, I want my students to understand the “original intent” of the United States Constitution. But I also want them to see that the document is a product of the late-18th century. In other words, it is a product of a very different world than the one we live in today. So I have always been somewhat suspect of the kind of originalist interpretations that Scalia espoused.

    The historian, if not the linguist [but certainly the student] might find “original public meaning,” the real ‘originalist’ razor–how the ratifiers, not the framers of constitution texts–quite fascinating. If I sign a contract with you–or the people sign one with their government–whether legally or morally, we can only be reasonably held to what we thought we were agreeing to.

    http://originalismblog.typepad.com/

    Originalism is not as arcane as

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/12/30/wapos_ezra_klein_constitution_confusing_because_it_is_old.html

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