This week, Ted Cruz was accused of pimping his father’s conversion to Christianity for votes. The accusation was made by a professor of religion no less, who observed that Evangelicals prefer the godless Donald Trump because they “hate hypocrites.”
Stunning, isn’t it? That a professor of religion is so far removed from “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them,” that he confuses the ultimate aim of religion with base theft and cooptation. I can hardly grapple with the next sentence.
What is the entire point of religion? If it’s not to make us better, more Godly people—here and in the eternities—I don’t know what it is. If living our religion isn’t making us better, either we’re doing it wrong or it isn’t true religion.
Hundreds of pastors prayed over Sen. Ted Cruz in Des Moines, Iowa. (Credit: Christian Broadcasting Network)
Mark Silk, professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, complains that the testimony of conversion Ted Cruz so movingly bears “is his father’s, not his own.”
In the first Republican presidential debate last August, Cruz described the father of his youth as “alcoholic” and “not a Christian.” The non-practicing Roman Catholic Rafael Cruz abandoned his family when his son was only three. The born-again Rafael Cruz returned to his family and became an ordained minister. After he was converted, “[h]is son and wife followed him, becoming born-again Christians as well.”
Ergo, the fruit of conversion.
Professor Silk has it all wrong. His contention is that what Evangelicals “really want to experience is a fellow sinner explaining how Jesus turned his life around. Instead, Cruz gives them: 'Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, / That saved a wretch like Dad.'”
Of course we’re moved by amazing stories that come about when a life is put in God’s hands, but faithful belief in God is not a “give a man a fish” affair; it’s a “teach a man to fish” power that is in turn bequeathed to one’s willing descendants. After he was converted, “[h]is son and wife followed him, becoming born-again Christians as well.”
As exciting as it may be to hear Duck Commander Phil Robertson’s conversion from philandering drunkard to God-fearing husband and father, it is the result—the fruit of the decision—that reveals its glory. Decades later, he is still married to the same woman, father to four Godly men, one a pastor, who themselves are married to Godly women, all of whom working together have created a family and a business of lasting value; now that is some powerful testimony.
Ted Cruz isn’t stealing his father’s conversion story, or coopting it to get a few votes. He is telling his own conversion story, a story that begins with his father’s conversion and that is still in the telling. Ted Cruz may just be our next commander in chief. Is that not Ted Cruz’s story to tell of the power God has in his life? And the story continues with his own daughters. Sincere conversion waters desert flower blooms for generations to come.
I don’t know why Trump of the “Two Corinthians” has nearly as much Evangelical support in Iowa as Cruz, 29 to 31 percent respectively. I don’t know if Ted Cruz will be elected President of the United States. I don’t know if the Cruz daughters will continue in their family’s faith. What I do know is that turning to God put the Cruz family back together. I know that Ted Cruz credits his faith as the bedrock of his principled conservatism. If asked, he would likely say it is the bedrock of his roles as husband and father as well.
There is no telling Ted Cruz’s story without including the parts of his father’s story that molded him. Without the conversion of Rafael, the second, even more powerful conversion of Ted may never have happened. He talks about God because he and his life are inseparable from God.
Ted Cruz may be a lot of things, but a hypocrite isn’t one of them.
Donna Carol Voss is an author, blogger, speaker, and mom. A Berkeley grad, a former atheist, pagan, and hot mess, she is now a Mormon on purpose and an original thinker on 21stcentury living. Her memoir, “One of Everything,” traces the path through one of everything she took to get here.www.donnacarolvoss.com
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