It is becoming abundantly clear that the Evangelical Intelligentsia has chosen their candidate in the 2016 Republican primary election, and it’s not the evangelical. It’s not even a Christian. No, it’s former Mormon and current Catholic (and still-protesting Protestants don’t consider that an improvement), Marco Rubio.
Russell Moore has led the support for Rubio, albeit stopping short of officially endorsing him. Moore, a former democratic staffer (source link) for Democrat congressman Gene Taylor – who Moore has said was more “a Republican in everything except name” (source link) but in fact voted repeatedly against most tax cuts, coalesced with fiscal liberals repeatedly while still maintaining props as a “Blue Dog Democrat” (source link) but only receiving a “conservative action score” (a popular ranking of a congress-person’s conservative or liberalism) of 30 percent (source link) – has repeatedly dogged Rubio’s two front-runner competitors, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, while consistently praising Rubio.
Russell Moore isn’t the only member of the Evangelical Intelligentsia (EI) to support the Roman Catholic, Rubio. More overtly, Manhattan Declaration ecumenist, Eric Teetsel, has officially joined Rubio’s campaign. Days after, it seems Teetsel was able to pull some strings with his friends at Evangelical Intelligentsia headquarters, The G̶o̶s̶p̶e̶l̶ Coalition, and get Rubio promoted at their website (source link). Yes, that’s right. The “Gospel” Coalition has been subtly promoting Roman Catholic Rubio (note: because The G̶o̶s̶p̶e̶l̶ Coalition has not – and would not – officially endorse a candidate, there is some plausible deniability, but in that they’ve not given glowing accolades to any other candidate, I feel it’s a fair characterization in the same way a church may bring in a candidate to speak but is totally not endorsing them **wink wink**).
Since Russell Moore chose to bring two Roman Catholics to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting (Rubio and Bush), it seems that the EI can’t get enough of the non-evangelical options for president. While Moore has reserved his harshest criticisms for Donald Trump, claiming that evangelicals who support him have “lost their values” (source link), he’s also taken special interest in dogging the sole evangelical with a shot of winning the nomination.
BuzzFeed and others (source link) have picked up on Moore’s animosity for Cruz, chiefly over the issue of immigration. Moore, who pushes regularly for amnesty for illegal aliens and who has called Jesus an “illegal immigrant” in the process (source link) stands firmly opposed to a front-running evangelical candidate who is, himself, a child of immigrants.
But Moore, while perhaps leading the push for a Roman Catholic candidate among evangelicals (aided by Teetsel), he’s not alone.
Christianity Astray has lauded him (link). The G̶o̶s̶p̶e̶l̶ Coalition has lauded him (link). The Christian Post lauded him (while writing about his denial of young earth creationism – link, and another link just for grins). CBN has lauded him (link). Heck, even Dominionist and pseudo-historian, David Barton, has lauded him (link). And, of course, Catholic-owned (source link) and Mormon-owned (source link) news sources have lauded him (obviously).
While these publications, like Moore, have stopped short of endorsing him (they don’t “endorse” anyone **wink wink**), when ERLC research fellows like Sam Webb begin to giving glowing accolades it’s easy to see which direction the wind is blowing.
Marco Rubio is presently being lauded for the video referenced by Webb above, in which he discusses his faith. Evangelicals have been falling over themselves in excitement to congratulate him and share the video with others. In fact, the de facto Southern Baptist “regular guys” blog run by former 2nd VP of the SBC, SBC Voices, heralded the video. The author of that post, the aforementioned 2nd VP of the SBC and who Pulpit & Pen affectionately calls The Company Man™, Dave Miller, says…
Yes, I am a fan of Marco Rubio, but I believe I’d get excited to hear any presidential candidate give as cogent a testimony of his or her faith as he gave here. I could micro-critique a few things, I suppose, but this sounded like it could come from the local First Baptist Church pulpit, not an Iowa political event!
The Company Man™, a Southern Baptist pastor (who once made great arguments for closing down the ERLC), thought that Rubio’s testimony was a stalwart representation of the Gospel. Many agree with him. And many of your friends and loved ones have probably shared the clip or a news story or blog about it in jubilant celebration that a candidate with a chance at winning the nomination has a sincere testimony of faith.
Let me be abundantly clear. Vote for Rubio if you are a conservative and you feel he best represents your views. If you’re voting for him in the Republican primary because you think he has a better chance of winning the general election than someone else who better represents your views I’d estimate that you don’t understand the American political process and don’t have enough faith in conservative ideals, but that would be up to you. In short, vote for Rubio if you think he would make a great president. If he would protect religious freedoms, all the better.
The problem is when The G̶o̶s̶p̶e̶l̶ Coalition begins to convince run-of-the-mill evangelical pastors like The Company Man™ that Rubio is one of us…that his gospel is our gospel…that having faith is the same thing as having faith in grace-alone salvation. We saw that happen when Mitt Romney was the Republican nomination in 2012 and the Billy Graham website (and others) suddenly declassified Mormonism as a cult (source link). Essentially, this is the worst consequence of merging politics and religion – the tendency to make candidates we like into candidates who are like us. But cultists are not like us.
The video touted from The G̶o̶s̶p̶e̶l̶ Coalition to The Company Man™ indeed demonstrates faithfulness. But to what? At the 3.21 mark of the video, Rubio says….
“I am fully, theologically and doctrinally aligned with the Roman Catholic Church … but we retain our relationship with Christ Fellowship and I’ll tell you why: because they preach from the same Bible.“
Just a few seconds prior, Rubio said that he fully understands his faith now (and credits the Bible-emphasis of the evangelical church he sometimes attends). Clearly, Rubio is claiming to have a good grasp on what the Roman Catholic church teaches, and yet he remains Roman Catholic. Let me be very clear, and to the wind with those who will complain about my lack of charity. In spite of hearing the word of God (supposedly and presumedly) preached at an evangelical church, Rubio remains an idolater. Rubio remains a non-Christian. And if you have a problem with that, welcome to Protestantism.
Upon being challenged in the comments thread, that perhaps a Southern Baptist pastor shouldn’t be insinuating that a Catholic is a Christian, The Company Man™ retorted…
Of course, Miller must have overlooked the fact that in this video, Rubio confessed being aligned with Roman Catholicism theologically and doctrinally. This means that he believes as the Council of Trent states, that Dave Miller is anathema for believing he is justified by faith alone (source link). Why are we promoting this guy?
Folks, vote for whoever you want. Well, not Democrats. And not Trump, unless you’re a glutton for punishment (but that’s my subjective opinion). But don’t compromise the Gospel to do it. I said it before and I’ll write it here…it seems that the only thing a Roman Catholic has to do to be considered a Christian by Southern Baptists is run for president.
That, folks, shouldn’t be.
[Contributed by JD Hall]