Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cruz and Trump and the evangelical vote

One of the most interesting things about this interesting election year is the popularity among evangelical Christians for candidates who talk about their Christian faith but don't demonstrate it.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who has made Christian activists a key to his election strategy, makes frequent mentions of the Bible and Christianity, but his tax returns show he doesn't put his money where his mouth is. It's not just that he gave less than 1 percent of his income to charity. He gave nothing ($00.00) to his home church, where he worships (but apparently doesn't read the Scripture or hear the sermon). He explained that he had concentrated his spending on securing the future for his family. How nice. He's investing in his daughters' future. Actually, he's demonstrating to his daughters and others his selfishness. With $5 million in income, he should be able to stash away enough to get his daughters through college, weddings and all that and still have a little left over to give to the church and the less fortunate.

Donald Trump, the boastful billionaire, has also touted his Christian faith, making appearances in churches and at Liberty University. But his reading at Liberty showed just how unfamiliar Trump is with the Scriptures. Given a "favorite" reading from II Corinthians, he told the audience he was reading from "Two Corinthians." Any kid in Bible school knows the accepted reference is to "Second Corinthians." Yet, this gaffe, like all of his other miscues, has not deterred his loyal fans who praise him as a godly man and shrewd businessman. It's probably true, as Trump boasted, that he could shoot down someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and he wouldn't lose any support.

Trump's "Two Corinthians" reading was reminiscent of 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's revealing response when he was asked what New Testament book was his favorite. He quickly replied "Job," which is in the Old Testament. The mistake revealed Dean, then the front-runner for the nomination, as someone severely lacking in biblical literacy.

Maybe biblical literacy doesn't matter anymore in this increasingly secular society, but the hypocrisy of candidates who woo Christian voters and claim to share their faith but neither practice that faith nor display any knowledge of that faith should turn truly religious voters away.

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