Ted Cruz says his loyalty is to the church, not the state.
Speaking on the campaign trail in Iowa last week, GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz told conservative Christian audiences his faith comes before his country, declaring:
I’m a Christian first, American second…
Cruz, who is currently in second place behind Donald Trump for the GOP nomination in several national polls, was responding to recent attacks on his conservative Christian credentials.
In particular, Americans United for Values recently released a 60-second radio advertisement in Iowa that harshly criticizes Cruz for being a “false prophet” and a “hypocrite.”
The ad challenges Cruz’s conservative Christian credentials, noting that Cruz recently told a New York audience that he would not fight gay marriage, and pointing out that despite being a very wealthy man, Cruz gives less than one percent of his wealth to charity, failing to meet the 10 percent standard tithe required of good Christians.
In response to the ad and other attacks on his Christianity as well as his conservatism, Cruz responded:
I’m a Christian first, American second, conservative third and Republican fourth. I’ll tell ya, there are a whole lot of people in this country that feel exactly the same way.
Writing at Daily Kos, Ian Reifowitz notes:
The politics of this aside, I want to highlight here something we might call Christian Privilege. Could you imagine, for example, a Jewish candidate for president saying that he or she was a Jew first and an American second? Now imagine the sheer outrage if a Muslim American of any prominence whatsoever declared that he or she was Muslim first and American second. People’s heads would explode.
Reifowitz is right to note the reality of Christian privilege. Only a Christian candidate could get away with saying such a thing and not be castigated by the mainstream media.
Now contrast Cruz’s claim that he is a Christian first, and an American second, to the wise words of John F. Kennedy.
On Sept. 12, 1960, then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. The following is an excerpt:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute…
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source…
I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none; who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him; and whose fulfillment of his presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.
The stark difference between Kennedy’s rational patriotism and Cruz’s desperate pandering could not be more clear.
Kennedy demonstrates a respect for the American people and the secular values embodied by the U.S. Constitution. In contrast, Cruz panders to conservative Christians while abandoning the U.S. Constitution and the American people.
Bottom line: Cruz is unfit to be president. If his loyalty is to Christianity first and America second, he should be running a Christian church; he should definitely not be running the country.