Ted Cruz/Wikimedia Commons

Shutting Down: Cruz, Christianity, and the Campaign

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By Lace Williams Tinajero

To think for oneself can be problematic, especially in politics and religion.

After Sandy Hook, I became turned off from the Republican Party for good because I heard too many Republicans turning this tragedy of senseless loss of innocent children’s lives into a paranoid narrative of how the government will use Sandy Hook to come for their guns.

One relative went on a buying spree of guns for fear that guns would soon be unavailable, despite not knowing how to use a gun and having no prior need for one.

This absurd way of thinking—or non-thinking—continues when it comes to politics and religion. I’m talking about a segment of Christians who collapse politics with a narrow expression of Christianity. These Christians vote Republican. That isn’t the problem, as there has been no shortage of Republican candidates to choose from. The problem is the naive way in which these Christians decide who to support.

For example, can’t Christians who support Ted Cruz or Donald Trump based on perceived shared Christian ideals see that they are being told what they want to hear? To quote Hippolytus, “I swore it with my tongue, but my heart felt otherwise.”

Cruz professes to be a believer and attends First Baptist Church in Houston, but even Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus’ closest disciples. Cruz has gone from being trusted to busted with his nasty antics during his campaign.

His ‘legacy’ goes back further. In October 2013, I sat in an auditorium on the campus of the National Institutes of Health awaiting the appearance of NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. I have an interest in Collins because he helped to discover the genetic breakdown of a gene on chromosome 17 that causes my son’s tumor condition, Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). My son participates in a natural history study of his condition at the Pediatric Oncology Institute. We happened to be at the NIH right after the government shutdown. Others were not so fortunate.

Collins is also a professing Christian. He models beautifully how science and faith can co-exist. Thinking and believing. Together.

Collins stepped up to the podium. He was enthusiastic, yet tired. He shouldn’t have to be here doing this. He should be tending to his duties of running the NIH. But thanks to Cruz, a promoter of “limited government” except for when it comes to his comfortable salary as a senator, Collins had to deliver a welcome-back speech to the myriads of employees that were furloughed due to the 16-day government shutdown.

One week before the shutdown, Cruz delivered a 21 hour-long speech. It’s called the  “Until I Am No Longer Able To Stand” speech. Here, Cruz attempted to speak on behalf of all Texans and Americans to protest Obama’s health care act. Ultimately, Cruz and like-minded colleagues succeeded in shutting down the government to prove that they had the power to do so. Is this not an abuse of power?

Yet no small percentage of Christians support Cruz. Why? Is it because he goes to church? Is it because he makes comments that they want to hear that would suggest he is a man of prayer, a man of God, a follower of Jesus?

These same Christians cannot afford to ignore the negative impact of the government shutdown on countless innocent lives. Take just one government-funded entity, the NIH. It brings billions of dollars worth of good–mostly through grants to the American people by way of research and treatments–every year.

Three-fourths of the NIH employees were furloughed. One nurse told me that the only workers allowed on the premises included security officers, inpatient staff, and staff caring for the research animals.

I hope we’ve learned and never forget that what is good for the American people has a cost worth keeping the lights on for, a good that is priceless.

It is time for Christians to stop turning off their minds when it comes to supporting a particular presidential candidate. For those of us who no longer adhere to the party of our youth (Republican for me), and cannot fully align ourselves with the opposite party, we face a dilemma when it comes to choosing a candidate based on our values and beliefs.

The deeper work of reflection and open-mindedness means not settling for candidates who make promises with their mouths but cause needless hurt with their actions.

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One comment

  1. Being without a party in this country is a wee bit like being homeless. It’s uncomfortable, it’s generally looked down upon (often by people who feel compelled to recruit you to their “team”), and most of all it requires constant thought and reflection. When you’re homeless, you don’t get to take for granted where you’ll sleep tonight, what (or even if) you’ll eat next, whether or not you’ll get to shower this week et cetera. When you’re an independent, you don’t get to take for granted that your “team” will be represented in the next election, or that the friends who cheered you for your choice of candidate last time won’t chide or even shun you for your choice this time. It’s a lot of responsibility to inform yourself on multiple issues, multiple candidates, multiple histories and promises–which is why many independents just wind up not voting at all. But I truly believe our democracy is only possible to the extent that individual voters are willing and able to live that uneasy tension. It’s not easy and it’s not fun, but in my experience few things worth doing are.

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