It is well known that Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is soliciting and receiving support from evangelical Christians. And if it turns out that some of them are blinkered and offensive, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Every group has its crazies.
Cruz is being supported by Kansas evangelical Pastor Mike Bickle, who intimated in 2011 that Jews will be hunted and put in death camps before Jesus returns. Bickle also runs a project whose goal is “partnering with Messianic Jews for the salvation of the Jewish people.”
It is clear that Bickle does not live in the same world as most Americans or most American Jews. But what may be more important is the response to Bickel of Cruz himself and the campaign he oversees. Asked whether Cruz embraces the pastor or repudiates him, Nick Muzin, a senior adviser to the senator’s campaign, told Washington Jewish Week, “This whole thing is being used by people who are predisposed to oppose our campaign, when there really is no comparison to this being a Rev. Wright moment.”
The mention of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s controversial former pastor who the then-candidate was forced to renounce, might indeed be gratuitous, as it is only relevant to people who were disposed to oppose Obama. But it is unfair to demand a candidate condemn every questionable theological view of those who are supporting him. At the end of the day, it is pastors such as Bickle who are endorsing Cruz, not the other way around.
And when reaching a judgment about the man who won the Republican contest in Iowa and came in a dead heat for third in New Hampshire, what should be considered are his record and positions. Cruz believes that life begins at fertilization and is opposed to abortion in the case of rape and incest. He advocates overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. He is “fully committed to repealing every single word of Obamacare” and famously conducted a 21-hour filibuster against the Affordable Care Act during which he read Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” None of that has anything to do with Bickle, and if you agree with these and other Cruz positions, you should vote for him.
There will always be Pastor Bickles on the right and the Rev. Wrights on the left — just like there will always be people like Ted Nugent, author of last week’s other outrage du jour. The gun-toting rocker (and board member of the National Rifle Association) shared a graphic featuring images of 12 Jews branded with images of Israeli flags below the words: “So who is really behind gun control?”
Outrageous — but fleeting. Let’s hold our powder dry, and save our outrage for debates that really matter.