Senator Ted Cruz has often stated that Jesus Christ is central to his life. He talks about how his father had left his family but returned after receiving the gospel, how his mother turned to Christ, and how this changed his life:
I was raised in the church.… When I was eight years old… [I] gave [my life] to Jesus. … [To] know that… I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, nothing is more important to me. I am a new creature in Christ, and it [is] central to who I am today.
I couldn’t run for president without relying heavily on my faith…. From the day we launched the campaign, Heidi and I have prayed simply that his will would be done. Each day, we try not to seek his hand (asking for help winning the race), but rather to seek his face (praying that his love and glory would be seen every day in the campaign).
Cruz’s unashamed affirmation of Christ resonates deeply with many Christians. But it has also created concern among many Christians and non-Christians alike. In this article, we’d like to clarify what we believe are misrepresentations of Cruz’s faith and its relationship to his politics.
Some have charged Cruz with being a “dominionist.” John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College, raised this issue in an article in Religion News Service(picked up by the Washington Post). Another version of his views was recently published in Christianity Today. Fea is echoed by Warren Throckmorton, professor of psychology at Grove City College, and by Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy (1997). Then there is the provocative article by Jay Michaelson, an LGBT activist and religion columnist at The Daily Beast, “Does Ted Cruz Think He’s the Messiah?”
Dominion theology and dominionism were terms coined in 1989 by sociologist Sara Diamond (Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right), referring to Christians who want to take over the government and six other facets of society (the media, business, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion), together known as the “Seven Mountains.” Diamond views this as “the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right.”
The term has become elastic, encompassing Christians who believe the United States was once a predominantly Christian nation as well as those who hold “right-wing” views. But as many writers have noted, this elastic sense has become a bogeyman. Jewish journalist Stanley Kurtz called it “conspiratorial nonsense,” while Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson declared: “Thin charges of dominionism are just another attempt to discredit opponents rather than answer them.” Even the liberal journalist Lisa Miller called the loose accusation of dominionism “the paranoid mot du jour” (On the dubious ways that this term is used, see also Joe Carter.)
Cruz, however, is not a dominionist. As a teenager he joined the Constitutional Corroborators, travelling throughout Texas reciting from memory the text of the Constitution up through the Bill of Rights. He was taught law at Princeton by Robert George, and at Harvard Law School by Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz, who is Jewish, observed that he was “one of the brightest students we ever had.” Cruz, with his formidable knowledge of the Constitution, is a passionate proponent for a republican form of government with checks and balances, accessible to all.