Dr. Ben Carson’s bid for presidency is suddenly in big trouble. First, his knowledge of foreign affairs was called into question. Now, his religious beliefs are being put under scrutiny. Both issues seem to have played a role in the sudden resignation last week of both his campaign manager and chief spokesman.
The now former campaign manager, Barry Bennett, was particularly unhappy with Carson’s explanation of his religious beliefs in a recent interview with the Washington Post, in which Carson seemed to give the impression that he does not believe in the rapture or hell. Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist, a denomination of Christianity indigenous to America, and which throughout its history has often been denounced by adherents of Christian denominations of European extraction.
As a result of the controversy, Carson went on CNN in an attempt to assure the Republican evangelical base that he does indeed believe in the rapture, though admitting that his specific interpretation of how the end days will transpire is not precisely the same as that of most evangelicals. Other than that, he said, the only difference between him and most evangelicals is that he goes to church on Saturday instead of Sunday, as Seventh-day Adventism requires.
Prior to Jimmy Carter, presidents rarely made a big deal out of their religious beliefs. But since that time, it has been considered of utmost importance for politicians to at least give the impression that they are devout Christians. Even Bill Clinton made sure he was seen going to church every Sunday! Current global instability — including economic crises, the emergence of ISIS, refugees wandering the face of the earth, mass head-chopping in Saudi Arabia, crazy threats from North Korea — has made even more Americans think the world is devolving into a Godless den of iniquity, making the issue of our political candidates’ religious beliefs seem ever more important.
However, whether or not Dr. Carson will pass the test of piety remains to be seen.