Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at the Iowa State fairgrounds on Sept. 19, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. 
Photo by Steve Pope/Getty

This Week in God, 11.14.15

First up from the God Machine this week are some remarks from a leading Republican presidential candidate about the necessary religio-political qualifications for the White House.
 
Ben Carson, you’ll recall, caused a controversy a couple of months ago when he argued that Muslim Americans, regardless of any other consideration, should be disqualified from the presidency because of their faith. This week, Ted Cruz approached a similar line, but in reference to a very different minority.
 
Right Wing Watch reported on the senator’s appearance at right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson’s “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Iowa, where he reflected on a presidential religious test.
Swanson introduced Cruz by stating that Jesus Christ “is king of the President of the United States whether he will admit it or not and that president should submit to His rule and to His law” before asking Cruz to share his opinion on how important it is for “the President of the United States to fear God.”
 
Cruz, predictably, asserted that fear of God is absolutely vital, declaring that “any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this nation.”
To be sure, Swanson’s Iowa event was scandalous for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the pastor’s argument that Scripture demands the death penalty for homosexuality.
 
But it was nevertheless unusual to hear another GOP presidential candidate make the case that an entire group of Americans should be considered “unfit” for national leadership.
 
It’s probably worth noting there are plenty of faith traditions that don’t require kneeling as part of worship, though I don’t imagine Cruz was being literal. It’s more likely the senator was referring to theists vs. atheists – with the latter being dismissed as unworthy of the Oval Office.
 
Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum added, “[T]he press threw a fit when Ben Carson suggested that Muslims weren’t fit to be president. Will they throw a similar fit now that Cruz has suggested atheists are unfit to be president?”
 
My friend Rob Boston, meanwhile, highlighted the beliefs of many of the nation’s Founding Fathers, many of whom would likely be excluded from the presidency under Cruz’s test.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
 
* Apparently there was some kind of culture-war fight this week over seasonal cups at Starbucks.
 
* LDS protest: “Hundreds of people are formally renouncing their membership in the Mormon church in protest over a new policy that punishes same-sex couples and their children, an attorney assisting them said. Utah lawyer Mark Naugle, 30, whose family split with the church 15 years ago, is offering his services pro bono to those who want help with the paperwork involved in getting off the rolls. In the week since the policy was announced, 1,700 people have contacted him, he said.”
 
* To fully appreciate this story, you’ll have to click the link and see the photo: “A woman who identifies herself as a Pastafarian, a follower of a religion that teaches that a flying ‘spaghetti monster’ could have created the universe, has succeeded in her bid to wear a colander on her head in her driver’s license photo. Lindsay Miller claims the spaghetti strainer is a sign of her devotion to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
 
* Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) argued this week “that biblical prophecy is being fulfilled all around her and that it is more urgent than ever to convert as many people as possible – including Jews – to Christianity to prepare for the imminent return of Christ.” Somehow, the Minnesota Republican is still able to generate controversy, even without her seat in Congress.
 
 

Rachel Maddow Show This Week in God, Religion and Ted Cruz

This Week in God, 11.14.15