Ted Cruz is God’s Tool

You know that old joke about the Christian trapped in rising flood waters, faithful and confident that God will save them? A rowboat comes by, then another boat, then a helicopter hovers overhead, and each time the Christian refuses rescue, saying “God will save me!” In the end, the Christian dies and goes to heaven, and on arriving they ask God, “I prayed and prayed, why didn’t you save me?” To which God replies, “What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter!”

I was reminded of this joke when reading the usual spate of “thoughts and prayers” messages from Texas’ Republican leadership. I’ve posted before about the uselessness of prayer and God’s seeming indifference to our country’s mass shooting epidemic, but something occurred to me this week that may sound unusual coming from an atheist: what if God isn’t to blame?

I focus on my state’s own Senator Ted Cruz in this situation for a few reasons. For one thing, he happens to be up for reelection this year. For another, he is cartoonishly pro-gun. He is also at the forefront of the Texas Thoughts and Prayers Battalion after every single goddamn mass shooting.

I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t pray for God’s help in the wake of tragedy – it’d be pretty inconsistent and worrisome if they didn’t. But here’s a thought to add to your prayer: what if God has actually provided help in the person of Ted Cruz, but Cruz has somehow completely missed God’s calling in this area? What if Cruz goes to heaven and asks God, “Why didn’t you answer my prayers to stop mass shootings?” and God says, “That’s why you were elected to the Senate! I made you my instrument to enact gun control legislation, to promote background checks and restrict dangerous weapons. You could have saved hundreds of lives – why didn’t you ever try doing something?”

Feel free to substitute your own senators or representatives into this scenario as well. If they are unwilling or unable to use their legislative power to help prevent senseless tragedies, perhaps it’s time to elect someone who will.

Photo: Gage Skidmore

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Protect Yer Johnson! Why Churches Should Support the Johnson Amendment

The Republican party’s hegemony in American Christianity never ceases to astound and befuddle me. Jesus had tons to say about eschewing wealth and providing for the poor, yet the GOP, the de facto Christian party, consistently rewards the rich while turning its back on the needy and destitute. Conversely, Jesus never broaches the subjects of abortion or homosexuality, yet somehow these are among the most pressing issues in Christian political circles.

The fact is, neither of our two major political parties is 100% representative of Christ’s teachings. Politics is a nasty, sinful business, and the church cannot ally itself with one or the other without getting blood on its hands. That said, the GOP is so cartoonishly opposed to Christian values that the church would do well to speak out against them, rather than support them unthinkingly.

You can’t “Love thy neighbor” when your party’s president emboldens white supremacists. You can’t really support “the least of these brothers” when your party consistently cuts programs that benefit the poor and destitute. You can’t preach that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” when your party of choice is entirely in the service of their wealthy benefactors.

This is why I think churches should support the Johnson Amendment, even though recent legislation proposes an exemption for churches. I see no reason why the church shouldn’t elucidate the Christian view on issues of the day (even though I question which issues they emphasize), but when you enter the realm of specific candidates and parties, you are now inextricably associated with their actions, Biblical or not. The church is losing enough members these days without formalizing their involvement in our political quagmire.