Trump and Carson set to have the most ironic Jesus-off ever

On October 26, 2011, Mitt Romney led the RealClearPolitics polling average in the Republican primary by less than one percentage point over Herman Cain. He would never fall lower than second place on his way to securing the Republican nomination.

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On October 26, 2015, Donald Trump and Ben Carson hold a combined 48 percent of the Republican primary electorate in the RCP average. No other candidate holds more than ten percent. What’s more, practically every other candidate in the race is seeing their support decline.

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In other words, the Republican Party needs to start bracing for the very real possibility that their eventual nominee will be one of these two candidates. Unless there are major, rapid changes in the race’s dynamics, none of the remaining candidates in the field are going to be able to get half of the GOP electorate to change their minds and vote for someone else.

This also means that, being the two frontrunners, Trump and Carson will start attacking each other — in their own ways, of course. We’ve already seen a preview of what this kind of fight might look like, with Trump calling Carson “super low-energy” and Carson responding by blinking and shrugging.

Donald Trump, via iprimages / Flickr

Donald Trump, via iprimages / Flickr

But Trump’s also tested an attack line that would give Carson pause, were it not for Trump’s sheer hypocrisy on the issue. Over the weekend, Donald Trump went after Ben Carson over his religion, saying at a rally in Florida on Saturday that, “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.”

When asked on Sunday if he had intended to send a dog whistle about Carson’s faith (he had), Trump said he hadn’t, insisting that all he meant was that he really didn’t know anything about Seventh-day Adventism.

This is particularly rich coming from Trump, a man who very clearly has no religious convictions — a lack of belief that Carson has dinged him for in the past. And while on principle I’m fine with a candidate who obviously does not believe in god, it’s particularly discouraging that Trump has been able to hoodwink the American Evangelical movement into backing him simply by saying that he hearts the Bible very much.

That said, there really is something to Trump’s insinuation that Evangelical voters may not like what they find out if they ask even the most basic questions about Carson’s faith. As Mother Jones’s David Corn pointed out this morning, the religion has some unsavory thoughts and feelings about Evangelicals:

Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist who has publicly voiced his commitment to this church and championed its core beliefs, most notably the view that God created the world in six days (literally) and that evolution is bunk (and encouraged by the devil). He has spoken at Seventh-day Adventist events. In a 2013 interview with the church’s official news service, he was asked, “Are there ever any times when you feel it’s best to distinguish yourself from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and what it teaches?” Carson replied, “No, I don’t.”

In this interview, Carson went on to say that he was “proud of the fact that I believe what God has said…that I believe in a literal, six-day creation.”

Carson did not explicitly mention other Seventh-day Adventist tenets. But a central belief of the church is that most other Christian denominations will end up working with the devil. Seventh-day Adventists hold that the Sabbath should be worshipped on Saturday and that religions that observe the Sabbath on Sunday have been corrupted by Satan. The church’s early prophet Ellen White cast much of the blame for this supposed perversion of the Sabbath on the Roman Catholic Church.

As Corn continues, the belief that those who observe the Sabbath on Sunday instead of Saturday are going to Hell is one of the primary distinctions between Seventh-day Adventism and other Christian denominations (it’s even referenced in the denomination’s name). According to Ellen White’s prophecy, which is still cited by the religion as one of its central teachings, the final battle between Jesus and Satan will be fought over the Saturday Sabbath, with those who were corrupted by Sunday worship fighting on Satan’s side. And while Carson has never referenced this specific part of White’s prophecy directly, he did say in a 2014 talk that he believes the prophecy will be fulfilled — and soon. In other words, Evangelical voters are currently willing to give the nuclear launch codes to a candidate who, perhaps quite literally, believes that they will be fighting on the wrong side of the final battle of the apocalypse.

All this is to say that a Trump-Carson showdown could amount to the most ironic Jesus-off the Party of Jesus could have possibly imagined, pitting a candidate with no sincerely-held religious beliefs against a candidate with very sincerely-held religious beliefs that nearly all of their voters are damned to hell.

What a world.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Indigo

    It seems everyone has an apocalypse to sell these days.Speaking of evangelical types and their apocalyptic desires, we have a whole fresh set of them in the secular climate change world. They fixate on Florida being submerged by rising sea levels. It could happen. In 200 years, maybe. But how do scare tactics change anything? Same with the apocalypse-tomorrow crowd. They’re a joke.

  • Perfect!
    :-D

  • You might want to investigate Carson a little deeper if you think he’s not “fixated” theologically. I’ve never known a 7DA that wasn’t ready to go to Jebus and send everyone else to hell. Like the Mormons, they hide it well when conducting bidness, but they’re all fixated on the “end times”, and want to work to bring the end nearer. Carson, as President, could really nudge that along if, indeed, he believes what he claims to believe…

  • Ferry_Fey

    Ben Carson is not a hard-liner on the Saturday sabbath issue. I’ve read that he is okay with holding book signings at malls on Saturdays when he’s hawking one of his books.

  • Nicholas A Kocal

    The ONLY time that Graham sounds reasonable is when he is lying. Please stop just listening to republicans and look at their voting record. If the majority of Americans looked at the republican voting record they would be an extremely small minority party.

  • mf_roe

    Hey, they profit from ill health, ethics don’t apply. Actually keeping people healthy isn’t in the business model. What they did to HMOs proves that.

  • mf_roe

    I also recommend Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason”——A true argument against Christian Religion (Islam also) from someone who very clearly believed in a God of Nature. The fact is that essay destroyed his standing with many Americans of the time and he died with more enemies than friends.

  • Indigo

    American Medical ethics has little to do with ethics and much to do with market place economics. It’s bizarre enough that the entire medical profession is ripe for a profound reform that is nowhere on the horizon.

  • mf_roe

    Psychopaths have qualities that allow them freedom from the normal restraints of group life. They can operate without guilt or shame, those things don’t exist in their minds. It is a huge advantage.

  • mf_roe

    funny how xistians love the old testament more than the new. Must have something to do with the lack of vengeance.

  • mf_roe

    Remember Bill Frist?,Doctors in general, surgeons, most definitely. That “holding a life in their very hands” absolutely warps many.

  • Indigo

    The Prayer of Jabez is all I hear my Christian acquaintances talk about lately. Apparently, it’s some kind of a magic charm to get rich quick.

  • Indigo

    I don’t know what to think of Carson. He’s altogether too much like a few of the medical doctors I know in a pseudo-social setting. As a profession, they seem a bit detached from . . . the world they view as a personal money tree. Carson himself, as a medical doctor, is not helping improve the public image of that profession.

  • Some mental health experts think that it takes a kind of sociopathy to become ultra-rich. Or, just consider Trump: An undeniably wealthy man incapable of saying three sentences in a row without two of them being in praise of himself.

    Maybe it’s just crazies looking to elect one of their own, someone whose qualities they recognize in themselves.

  • And let’s not forget: The days of the week are named after Norse and Roman gods exclusively.

  • Yeah, Huckabee is the only one who truly humps his Bible. Trump still can’t name a single specific thing in the Bible (the one time he tried, he spouted something which isn’t in the Bible at all), and honestly I think Carson is just delusional and mentally ill. Quite possibly psychotic.

  • Jacob Tobler

    Incorrect. Augustine was a proponent of singlehanded predestination. I was walking forward through time. Paul-Augustine-Luther-Calvin. I was simply responding to the notion that prosperity gospel was an offshoot of Calvinism. Let’s argue about ideas, not people.

  • mf_roe

    The really strange thing to me is the whole Citizens United control going to an evil few idea. If CU really gives the evil few carte blanche why are they allowing certifiable lunatics on the stage? Are they just simply rubbing our noses in their shit just to show they can?

  • mf_roe

    He seems to think Augustine followed the tenets of John Calvin who was born 1200 years after him, why waste the energy.

  • Aye… I find it incredibly sad that ‘reasonable and measured’ are considered liabilities in the GOP now. I agree as well, Graham is still a very conservative Republican, but except for his ISIS and Iran “We’re all gonna die!” panic attacks, the rest of the time he doesn’t sound insane at all.

    From 2008 onward, I began grading the GOP candidates on my personal scale of “Would America Survive This One’s Presidency.” Or, “If they’re elected, we really do need to consider emigrating.” In that election, the two crazies were fundy-authoritarian Huckabee and the certifiably crazy Alan Keyes.

    In 2012, there were more of them and more crazies like Santorum, Bachmann, and Cain, but few stood a chance of winning and although it would’ve been terrible for progressives and liberals, I don’t think Rmoney would’ve burned the country to the ground. To this day, I still don’t know what to make of the Ron Paul campaign, other than to me it felt a lot like the Ross Perot run.

    Now though, I don’t know what the hell to make of the fact that the two leading GOP candidates for the nomination are manifestly unfit to be president. One’s a malignant narcissist and raging egomaniac, while the other one seems to be suffering from both dementia and psychosis.

  • mf_roe

    Zackly!

  • mf_roe

    “They also emphasize that church-state separation was seen as a guarantee of – not a hindrance to – religions liberty.” that part?
    See Jefferson’s letter to the Anabaptists

  • nicho

    Read “The Godless Constitution.” The Founders knew exactly the damage that religion could do and they made sure to exclude it from the “councils of governance.”

  • nicho

    I get that you hate Clavinism

    Hate Clavinism? Why? I thought Cliff was a nice guy.

  • nicho

    When Graham looks reasonable or desirable, you know things have gone too far. It’s like when the sheep rancher decides that the new ewe is looking kind of hot.

  • Jacob Tobler

    You don’t know a thing about Calvinism, friend. Please convince the father of Calvinism, Paul, of worldiness. Please show me how the first non apostle calvinist, Augustine, lived a life of luxury. Show me how Martin Luther was a prosperity gospel swine. Then explain how a belief system that espouses that every human is totally depraved and deserves nothing about from Hell? I get that you hate Clavinism because you want to be in control of your life, but don’t spread lies please. The prosperity gospel offends me.

  • mf_roe

    They like the hard part of the Calvinist idea, they just want someone else to do the work while they collect the rewards.

  • mf_roe

    I have plenty of spare time some of which I spend on C-SPAN. I watched Lindsey Graham speak at the No Labels Event and was impressed with how reasonable he sounded. I have never seen him as especially worthy but the crop of repugs we’re faced with today make him seem Desirable.The Grading Curve has been warped beyond recognition. Graham makes McCain look sane that he stands out as the sanest choice in the repug field is an indication of a total realignment of the historic repug party. It’s a new breed, more dangerous than what it replaces and very possibly more capable of success. The new breed doesn’t want control of government they want total power unfettered by check or balance.

  • emjayay

    I’ve often pointed this out in relation to former Rhodes Scholar Bobby.

  • emjayay

    Good point in relation to Trump. The Prosperity Gospel seems to be a mod version of Calvinism without the hard parts, and with Christian rock and arm waving.

  • mf_roe

    I hold to Jefferson’s defense of the separation issue it’s intent was to protect religion from oppression not to exclude it from the councils of governance, the 1st amendment reinforces that position. No religion or denial of religion can be allowed to impose on the other.

  • The GOP Devolution:

    2000: “Let’s pick a dim figurehead to counter this smart Democrat, and make ‘smart’ a liability.”
    2004: “WAAAAAAAR!”
    2008: “We’re kinda fucked after Dubya, so let’s run a cranky old veteran… oh crap, he went with his dick on the Veep pick.”
    2012: “The Not-Romney Primaries” (Where every not-Romney, one after the other, would lead for a very brief time in the polls until the Ur-Romney was the only one left standing.)
    2016: “The Batshit Insane Primaries”

    With this last one, their poll-leading primary candidates are all the ones with ZERO political experience, and all of them seem to be trying to outdo each other by spouting ever crazier remarks.

    Ben Carson isn’t the only one who seems to think the “fire-hose of awful” is the way to go. There are only a few exceptions (and all of them are polling near zero) who seem to think that troll-rage spittle-flecked raving isn’t appropriate behavior for a would-be presidential candidate.

  • Indigo

    Actually, a disqualification I like to think is grounded in the separation of church and state.

  • nicho

    I appreciate your awe.

  • mf_roe

    W was re-elected, doubling down is time honored ‘Mercan Tradition.

  • mf_roe

    Let me remind everyone of a very broad theme in modern American Christianity—the Prosperity Doctrine. This is the belief that the true followers SHOULD be rewarded in this life and that the RICH are rich because of gAWD”S favor..
    They see Thumper and see someone their deity has marked as chosen. Carson is small change, Thumper is annointed with gAWD’s true seal Worldly Riches.

  • mf_roe

    Bingo! Finding rational thought about religion in Iowa is like searching for ACLU cards at a KKK rally.

  • mf_roe

    Once more I am in awe of your ability to present stinging criticism in a civil manner.

  • mf_roe

    A religion based qualification, I’m sure your aware of the irony.

  • dcinsider

    Carson is off his meds. Certifiable and scary. Trump’s just a blowhard.

    Either one is going to lose the election for the Rs. Americans are stupid, no doubt about that, but even we won’t elect Donald Trump as President.

    Of course, I said the same thing about Ronald Reagan.

  • Alpha 50327

    Iowa Republican caucus goers voted for Pat Robertson. Pat. Fucking. Robertson. These same people, who haven’t died since then, only gotten older, are still the Iowa Republican caucus goers. Carson has the Iowa Caucuses in the bag. It won’t matter though, Iowa always goes to the nutjob on the republican side, why do you think Bobby Jindal hit all 99 counties here?

  • nicho

    The wonders of the human brain . . . .

  • Indigo

    Neither one of them strikes me as a theological heavy weight. That’s a good thing, actually. I don’t want a theologically fixated person sitting at the desk in the Oval Office. In fact, introducing this kind of theological blither-blather is a disqualification for the office, IMHO.

  • therling

    Seriously? Do these people really believe that our rather arbitrarily devised days of the week is reason to send someone to hell? Is this based on the Gregorian, Julian, Orthodox or other calendars?

    When Britain and Colonial America switched to the Gregorian calendar in the mid-18th century, eleven days were dropped to reconcile the calendar with various astronomical events, like the Winter Solstice. That’s why the Gregorian calendar was devised.

    Seems to me one could figure out how far off the Seventh Day Adventists have miscalculated just which is the “seventh day,” and that they’re all going to hell too.

  • 2karmanot

    The Holy Babble is Huuuuggggee….because Benghazi, slavery and Nazis, end of story

  • LanceThruster

    Jeebus, protect me from those who claim to be your followers…

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