Trump's Big Mistake: Attacking Carson's Faith and Character
By attacking Ben Carson’s faith and equating him to a child molester, Donald Trump just may have just shot himself in the foot so badly he'll be limping during the rest of his campaign.
According To USA Today, in a long and rambling speech at a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday, Trump said, "I love Iowa. And, look, I don't have to say it, I'm Presbyterian. ... Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."
Trump wasn’t finished. He devoted more than ten minutes attacking not only Carson’s faith, but his character, stating the neurosurgeon has a "pathological disease" with no cure, similar to being a child molester: "A child molester, there's no cure for that. If you're a child molester, there's no cure. They can't stop you. Pathological? There's no cure."
He suggested Iowans would be fools to believe, much less vote for Ben Carson.
Trump’s twofer -- attacking Carson’s faith and character -- reveals his glaring blind spots. No candidate should ever, ever attack an evangelical for his faith in Iowa, of all places. Iowa is home to a hugely influential evangelical community that won’t particularly warm to a candidate who implies Seventh Day Adventists are members of some wacko cult. Carson has great appeal to the evangelical community. Although the percentage of Iowans who are evangelical Christians is about one in four, according to the Pew Research Center, they represent nearly 60 percent of the Republican caucus turnout.
Trump just may have handed Iowa to Carson while alienating a huge chunk of other American evangelicals, some of whom have been enthusiastic about him. Trump’s tone deaf ramble may even have taken him out of the running, as he now has joined the Left’s vicious attempt to take Carson out.
It is ironic that Trump, who is a long-time member of the Presbyterian Church USA, would indirectly smear -- to put it politely -- the Seventh Day Adventists. Seventh Day Adventists are a Protestant denomination some may feel lies outside traditional Christian orthodoxy, but to imply the denomination is a weird cult is inaccurate. There is a marked difference between a sect and a cult. Adventists peculiarities, like insisting worship occur on Saturday, and following Levitical food laws -- about twenty percent are vegetarians -- do not equate to a Jim Jones Koolaid drinking death cult or the vicious Westboro Baptist cult whose website’s opening words are, “God hates fags.”
What unites Adventists with many other evangelicals is their belief in doctrines such as the infallibility of scripture and the Holy Trinity. It is a good idea to note that Seventh Day Adventists are some 18 million strong worldwide; and that their founder Ellen White is one of the most widely read American authors of all time.
Ironically, if any denomination is now approaching the cult-like status of the far Left, it would be Trump's church. The Presbyterian Church USA, which he describes as “middle of the road,” is anything but. The PCUSA, where Trump has been a member of for many decades, embraces just about every wacky, non-orthodox Christian, leftist tenet out there, including abortion on demand and gay marriage. This is to say nothing of the denomination’s anti-Semitism.
Long in favor of the “woman’s right to choose,” the PCUSA even has taken a notably weak stance on protecting babies who survive botched abortions. The denomination’s General Assembly voted 465 to 133 against a measure asking its members to reflect, for two years, on the plight of unwanted children, both the born and preborn.
As for the response of the PCUSA to the Planned Parenthood videos revealing the sale of baby body parts?
According to Presbyterians Pro-Life site, “It's no surprise that the Presbyterian Church USA has not spoken out against PP. The denomination has advocated against any legal restriction of abortion for years… all advocacy coming from the denomination in the last few decades has been in favor of a woman's unrestricted "right" to abort…”
Further, it appears PP and the PCUSA are allied:
“Planned Parenthood has the ear and collaborative support of PCUSA leaders. In March 2011, when changes were proposed to government funding of PP, Presbyterian News Service reported that the Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns (ACWC) met with representatives from PP and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) . In April 2015, a PCUSA congregation in Louisiana (First Presbyterian, New Orleans) made news by hosting a celebration of PP in their sanctuary. Also that month, Gail Tyree, Director of Community Partnerships with PP Greater Memphis Region, gave the keynote address at a Compassion, Peace, and Justice advocacy training day in Washington D.C. Although her topic was mass incarceration, her presence at the training event is indicative of the pervasive influence of PP on the PCUSA and the close ties between the organizations.”
And what about the church’s stand on traditional marriage? That, too, has changed. As the Huffington Post has noted, the PCUSA now supports same sex marriage with the church:
“About 71 percent of PC (USA) leaders approved of the change during a general assembly meeting last June. The church had been waiting for a majority of its 171 Presbyteries, or regional bodies, to approve the measure one by one. On Tuesday, this majority was reached, with 86 Presbyteries handing in decisions to support same-sex marriage within the church.”
What about Trump’s denomination’s stance on divestment of companies doing business with Israel? According to The Federalist, the Presbyterian Church’s divestment is a lot uglier than you think:
“What… admirers of divestment fail to mention is that Presbyterian Church isn’t only concerned with the perceived injustices of an “illegal” occupation. It isn’t merely crusading for a judenfrei West Bank, like so many others. Many in the church, and particularly those in power it seems, oppose the idea of Jewish homeland altogether. And that opposition is not new… Now, it’s not exceptionally concerning that the Presbyterian Church has allied itself with Hamas -- and sorry, that is the choice the church is making when it singles out one side for censure.”
So there we have it.
While Trump is implying Carson’s membership in the Seventh Day Adventist Church is suspicious; and while he is characterizing Carson’s former struggles with anger as the equivalent of child molestation, Trump’s own “middle of the road” church is about as far Left as they come.
Whoever says religion and politics are not to be discussed in the same breath is sadly mistaken. In Carson’s case, his faith has made the man. He has indicated anyone may examine what he believes.
In Trump’s case, it is only fair to ask if his denomination’s stances inform his political beliefs. So, yes, examine his beliefs, too. He, like Carson, should welcome the vetting process.
Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Her thoughts have appeared in many other online publications. She holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her a prize for excellence in systematic theology. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org