Ted Cruz: When Civil Religion Goes Too Far

Our fellow Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton posted about recent comments Glenn Beck made at a Ted Cruz rally, held at a South Carolina church, about the Constitution and the Bible both being “sacred scriptures.” [start at :50]

Christian conservatives need to draw a clear line on this topic.

Yes, religion and the Bible have had a major role in shaping our nation’s ideas, and the mental world of the Founders, regardless of their personal faiths.

Yes, a nation that strips itself of those framing concepts and resources risks creating a “naked public square,” as Richard John Neuhaus put it.

Yes, all things being equal I would prefer to have a candidate of serious personal faith, who can speak intelligently about their beliefs in public.

And yes, we want a candidate who cares deeply about issues such as life, marriage, and religious liberty.

BUT, the American nation and the Constitution are this-worldly, secondary commitments for us. The Constitution, wonderful as it is, is man-made and imperfect. The Bible is God-breathed and perfect.

Lest I get a bunch of flak about being a “liberal” for saying these things, let me note that I see a lot to like in Ted Cruz. I voted for him in the Texas GOP primary for Senate. (Many readers will also know that I am a former guest on Glenn Beck’s program.) I do not know how Cruz himself would respond if asked about these comments.

But Cruz’s platforming of this kind of civil religion, and conflating of the Bible, the Constitution, the Kingdom of God, and America, are the most troubling aspects of his campaign. It confirms that Cruz’s relationship with David Barton, the leading “Christian America” advocate and head of Cruz’s Super PAC, is not just incidental but central to his outreach.

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