The detractors, however, should be talking about Ted, not Rafael. One shouldn’t fear a theocracy from a politician whose avowed intent is to return power to the states. The charge of dominionism, applied to the father, is exaggerated. Applied to the constitutionalist son, it is farcical.
Some also have associated Cruz’s supposed dominionism with military intervention overseas. For example, John Fea implies that Cruz’s statement about “carpet bombing” ISIS shows him to have a hypocritical disregard of human life that undermines his pro-life claim. Cruz’s explanation makes clear, however, that he was not referring to the targeting of the civilian population, but to the deployment of massive air power, increasing the current 15–30 air strikes per day to 1,100 (as in the first Persian Gulf War). Furthermore, Cruz is hardly a trigger-happy hawk. Cruz has called the 2003 Iraq invasion a mistake. He has also critiqued efforts at regime change in Syria through military intervention, given the destabilizing opportunity for ISIS already seen in the regime changes in Iraq, Egypt, and Libya. It’s hard to see how all this adds up to dominionism.
In step with these concerns over traditional morality and triumphalism is the complaint leveled at him by David Brooks concerning his “brutalism”— that he is a modern-day “Pharisee” more concerned for legal niceties in a Supreme Court case than the plight of a particular incarcerated man. Lawyer David French comes to a very different view. Anyone who reads the oral arguments will discover that Cruz himself suggested another way for this man to get the shorter sentence he deserved. It was Cruz’s job as state Solicitor General to care about the precedent this case would set: he was supported in his decision by six of the nine the Supreme Court justices.
Our point in all this is not to convince readers to vote for Ted Cruz, but to try to clarify the actual relationship of his faith to his politics. To be sure, he clearly wants Christian values to shape this country. But this does not make him a dominionist. It makes him a conservative constitutionalist who takes his Christian faith seriously—someone who believes that many Christian values could be beneficial for the whole body politic.
Robert Gagnon, a member of the PCUSA, and Edith M. Humphrey, who is Eastern Orthodox, are colleagues and professors of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Gagnon is author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, and other books and scholarly articles. Humphrey is author of seven books, including Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit, Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as in Heaven, and Scripture and Tradition: What the Bible Really Says.