Here's the Nonsense: Ted Cruz is a solid evangelical who has unwavering support from his evangelical base.
Here's the Horse Sense: Ted Cruz is getting support from some evangelicals now, but if they become more aware of Ted and his father's faith, they just might drop him as fast as they dropped Ben Carson.
Of course his followers will immediately reject the idea that Ted Cruz could be on a duplicate path to Ben Carson's rise and fall in voter support, but the similarities are there. Could they be pointing to the same fate for Cruz in the polls that Carson has gone through?
To understand what may happen to Cruz we need to first understand what happened to Carson. Let me warn you that unless you are a person of faith, and probably an evangelical, these points may not seem important to you (and possibly not even understandable).
But to evangelicals, these are core issues that kept them from supporting Mitt Romney in 2012 and can impact any candidate. So, whether you agree with them or not, the point is that to many evangelicals these are very important to them to the point that they could affect whether a candidate is supported by them.
Ben Carson was moving up in the polls. In fact, you may remember his rise to Trump levels at one point (primarily shown in the Quinnipiac poll) and then suddenly his rising star became a falling star.
His rise was due to support from a variety of voters, but primarily driven by evangelical Christians who embraced him because of what they perceived was the same beliefs about God. But something happened that caused many to abandon him.
Some attributed his fall to his failures with voters regarding his foreign policy positions. With rising threats around the world and now even in the United States, Americans are concerned about the security of our nation. Security has become a major priority to voters. The NY Times, for one, reported on Caron's struggles and stumbles with foreign policy issues.
Even though some said that foreign policy is what turned voters against him, there is a much bigger issue to some evangelicals who supported him.
Ben Carson, as most people know, is a Seventh Day Adventist. And since he spoke softly and humbly and was open about believing in God, many evangelicals saw him as a fellow believer of like faith. But they never took the time to understand the difference between what Seventh Day Adventists believe and the core teachings of evangelical Christianity.
Their eyes were opened when Sally Quinn interviewed Carson for the Washington Post. She asked him about his beliefs and he responded by saying that he did not believe in a literal hell, which goes against the teachings of evangelical Christianity.
Carson believes that when people die they go to sleep until Christ's return. At His return all those who have died will be awakened and judged. If you are not a believer, then you will be annihilated.
This flies in the face of orthodox Christian teaching. For annihilation simply means you won't exist. And if you won't exist, you won't be punished for your sins.
That alone is enough to make Carson's beliefs be seen as aberrant by evangelicals. It is these kinds of beliefs that don't fall into line with orthodox Christian teachings that caused many evangelicals to reject Mitt Romney because of his Mormonism, which also teaches many things that do not fall within Christian orthodoxy.
I should pause here to make something clear about evangelical beliefs. Evangelicalism has been infiltrated in recent decades by people who don't hold the beliefs that traditionally have been held by evangelicals. It may seem odd, but probably a fairly accurate comparison would be what's happened to the Republican Party over the years. Today many who call themselves Republican (primarily moderates and establishment Republicans) do not hold to the traditional conservative values that once was the defining point for what a Republican really is. In fact, this is what has caused the creation of the term RINO, which stands for Republican In Name Only. Today many who call themselves evangelicals don't hold to the traditional beliefs of the evangelical movement. But for this discussion, when talking about evangelicals, we are referring to those who hold to the traditional beliefs of evangelicals.
Now, back to the point of this column.
Many evangelicals have a hard time accepting a candidate that they think doesn't believe as they do. While many others take the approach that they are electing a president, not a pastor, others believe that they only want a president that sees the world through the same spiritual lens they do. And revelation of beliefs like Carson has are enough reason for them to reject him as a candidate. Once they learn of this the chances of Carson winning them back are nil.
Now, you're probably asking what this has to do with Ted Cruz. Let me show you.
First, I said at the beginning of this piece that there were similarities (plural) between Carson's and Cruz's rise in voter support. So, before I address the spiritual issue that may impact Cruz's campaign, let me point out that it's very interesting that Carson's big rise was shown primarily by the Quinnipiac poll. Cruz's rise is also being shown primarily by Quinnipiac. What does that mean? I have no idea but it sure seems interesting that they are almost exclusively showing the same thing for Cruz that they showed for Carson when no one else is close to what they show (or did show for Carson).
Ted Cruz's biggest rise is in Iowa, just as Carson's was. And the Iowa caucuses, while frankly they don't mean much of anything when it comes to the national race, are heavily influenced by evangelicals in Iowa.
I should point out that in the last 10 elections, 6 times the winner of the Iowa caucuses went on to be the Republican nominee. BUT, 3 of those times the winner was a candidate that was an incumbent president that was virtually unchallenged. So, the impact of Iowa on what happens nationally is small to nothing. They are noticed because they are the first, not because they have impact on what happens nationally.
As I mentioned above, many evangelicals in Iowa are very prone to support someone who they perceive has the same faith they do. So will they reject Ted Cruz if they find out his beliefs don't match up with traditional evangelical beliefs?
Cruz has made part of his campaign the story of how his father, Rafael Cruz, had left he and his mother, claims to have turned his life over to Christ and then returned to his family, became a minister, and raised Ted to be an evangelical Christian. Ted wants evangelical voters to accept that because he believes that he can rouse what they claim are 20 million non-voting, unregistered evangelicals to get registered and sweep him into the presidency in 2016.
We don't hear specifically what Ted's spiritual beliefs are, just that he's an evangelical. (And personally I don't think it should be a campaign issue, but the evangelicals I'm speaking of certainly make it one.) Given that Ted and his father claim that he was raised under his father's teaching, of which Ted speaks so highly, we can only assume that Ted's beliefs are the same as his father's. But if that's the case and evangelicals find out what Ted's father teaches and endorses, chances are that Ted will have the same problem that Ben Carson has with evangelicals who tie their spiritual beliefs to their decision of who to vote for.
Rafael often speaks at campaign events and is very good at getting the audience worked up and supportive of his son. Whether it's at churches, Tea Party events, or campaign events, Rafael often is there speaking for his son, which is what we would expect from a loving father whose son is running for office.
But what people don't pay enough attention to is when Rafael speaks about spiritual beliefs. At that point any true evangelical should have a real problem with what he claims.
Rafael is part of the Purifying Fire Ministries (It was founded by Suzanne Hinn, wife of Benny Hinn. These people have somehow become known as part of evangelical Christianity, but in fact teach unbiblical doctrine and theology that flies in the face of traditional evangelical teaching).
Rafael also teaches theology that is against traditional evangelical teaching. (Click here to see a YouTube video of Rafael speaking at the Word of Faith Church of Larry Huch.) He preaches Dominion Theology, which is developed by twisting what the Bible teaches.
In simple terms, evangelical teaching has long taught that the world is a fallen place and we are separated from God by our sin. Because the world is fallen, no matter what we do we cannot fix it. Christ died for our sins and will return one day after which He will fix the mess man has made of things.
But somehow a group of people who don't teach that have worked their way into being called evangelical. They teach Dominion Theology. Dominion Theology teaches that Christians are to bring the entire world under the dominion of Christianity and then hand over that Christian world to Jesus when He returns. The fact that sinful men made the mess this world is in is very simple proof that we can't fix it, only God can. But teachers like Rafael Cruz are teaching a theology that says man can fix it and will do so by taking over the world's institutions, one of which is government.
In aligning himself with the teaching of Larry Huch and Benny & Suzanne Hinn, Rafael Cruz is supporting unbiblical teaching. Huch teaches that Jesus was not the only begotten Son of God, something that is nothing short of blasphemous to evangelicals who recognize the Bible as the Word of God. Hinn has said that men can become little gods, another unbiblical teaching. Ideas like these would set any true evangelical on their ear. They would be shocked to know these things.
None of these people teach traditional evangelical beliefs, but Rafael Cruz is involved with them.
Given that Rafael Cruz raised Ted under his own teaching, Rafael often speaks at events for Ted, and Ted has never been known to speak out and reject these teachings, we can only assume that he either agrees with them or at least refuses to disagree. As outspoken as Ted is, it's hard to believe he would not speak out against them if he disagreed.
Since Rafael claims to be an evangelical but is involved with such non-evangelical beliefs, the question is what evangelicals will do if they become aware of this information.
Evangelicals do not always support people who agree with their beliefs. But many evangelicals feel that having that common ground of same faith is important in their decision regarding which candidate to support.
When a candidate holds beliefs that radically depart from evangelical beliefs, often some evangelicals reject them. That's why so many rejected Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. That's why many had problems with Ben Carson's Seventh Day Adventist faith.
So, if evangelicals become educated about Rafael Cruz's (and therefore Ted's) faith, will we see Ted's support from them crash just like it did for Ben Carson?