Values Voter Summit: Two Different Visions of Faith

Values Voter Summit: Two Different Visions of Faith

Addressing the Values Voter Summit last Friday, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul came out with two different messages and two different visions of America moving forward.

For Cruz, it was a day posturing to a demographic and trying to secure votes. Not so for Paul, who used the opportunity at the Values Voter Summit to look to the future instead of the past.

Traditionally, when speaking to a coalition of Christian voters, politicians’ themes are rhetoric, scripture and a call to a simpler, Christian-based past of politics and America – some simpler time that nostalgia has turned into this utopia we never truly had. By that measure, Cruz won the day. Strutting the stage, he quoted scripture as if it was his regular Sunday routine. Quoting Psalm 30:5, Cruz likened the Obama administration to some Biblical nightmare voters could lift America from:

“Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (TIME)

Sure, Cruz’s vision of the apocalyptic reign of Obama might be good for some sound bites and applause. I’ll grant you that. But Paul came out only armed with truth and a vision for our future. Where Cruz quoted scripture, Paul quoted the founders of this nation, like Thomas Paine.

Now, I know, you may be wondering why I would groan at Cruz quoting scripture at an essentially Christian event. Here’s the thing. I grew up in the Deep South. As both my parents worked, I was largely raised by my grandmother, a Southern Baptist of intense faith and grace. It was she that would stop me when talking badly about someone not present, even when deserved, because “it is un-Christianlike.” It was she that taught me faith is not something to wear on your chest, like a general showing off his medals. Faith was a quiet infusion. It was not a hammer to judge others, but a forgiving parent to help you judge yourself and be better for it.

And that’s what turned me away so much by watching Cruz trying to show off his Christianness. That posturing itself would have made my grandmother do that horrible thing when she just looked at her hands, trying to hide her disappointment. And it’s also why I was so proud of Paul. He spoke in a voice that was true to the struggle every true Christian knows. It is so easy to quote the New Testament, but it is so very, very hard to live by it. Paul spoke honestly, hat in hand, to that struggle in a voice that was simple and honest:

“Dostoevsky wrote that I did not arrive at my hosanna through childlike faith, but through a fiery furnace of doubt. My faith has never been easy for me, never been easy to talk about and never been without obstacles. I do not and cannot wear my religion on my sleeve. I am a Christian but not always a good one. I’m not completely free of doubts. I struggle to understand man’s inhumanity to man. I struggle to understand the horrible tragedies that war inflicts on our young men and women.” (Politico)

So I thank Paul for his words at the Values Voter Summit. I thank him for his honesty. And I thank him for confessing how hard it is to preserve faith in a difficult world rife with injustice. Religion is morality. It is a personal investment to do right in the face of opposition for the simple reason that it is the right thing to do. If you find your religion easy, you’re likely doing it wrong. It was never meant to be. Nothing worth doing is. What are your thoughts? Let us know on Twitter or follow us on Facebook.

Written by Mark Davis

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