I am Christian first and American second. Is this an acceptable stance for the US President?

My take is no. Ted Cruz said this at a rally in New Hampshire the other day and it really disturbed me. I am appalled by this, but I don’t want this to be a pit thread or even a thread about Mr. Cruz. I want this to be a debate about whether this is an acceptable stance for a candidate to our highest office. There are several immediate questions it raises for me.

The first, and most obvious, question is whether Mr. Cruz’s religion has some favored status that is not available to those of us that are not evangelical Christians. If JFK has said he was a Catholic first and an American second would he have become President? If Romney had said he was a Mormon first and a an American second, would he have gotten the nomination? What about Joe Lieberman? The examples go on.

And if, as I believe, Mr. Cruz’ religion does have some special dispensation among the electorate, the question becomes why? According to Wikipedia only 51.3% of the US population was categorized as Protestant in 2004. Don’t get me wrong; I am perfectly happy to have a protestant as President of country. I was raised a Protestant, my family is Protestant. I don’t consider myself a Protestant, but I am certainly at home in this demographic. Why though would it be a good idea for me, or for those 48.7% of the population to have a leader that considers himself a Protestant (Christian) first and an American second?

The second, also obvious, question is whether having a primarily Christian President and Commander of the US military is a good idea with the current upheavals in the Middle East. I think that the majority of American’s would agree with me that it is in our interest to restore stability to the Middle East and to reduce our military interaction there if possible. Will a commander in chief that is first and foremost a Christian above all else be capable of doing that? Doesn’t his professed faith, above all politics and nationality, make him more likely to engage the hyper religious rhetoric put forward by Isis and Iran?

Finally, I like many American’s view the imposition of religious law, like Sharia, as anathema to the values with which I was raised. I have a hard time distinguishing between the tenets of Sharia law and the those laws proposed by Christian fundamentalists. Does this fear have any merit for an American? Isn’t our embrace of secularism and English common law a good thing or would it be a step forward to embrace biblical law (similar in many respects to Sharia)?

What says the dope?

Mods, if you feel this is more suited to the Pit or Elections, feel free to move it, but I really do have a hope of have a debate on what type of candidates are good for our multicultural country.

I don’t know. If you are a Christian American, you could probably imagine changing your nationality if you were to emigrate to another country, but you wouldn’t change your religion. IOW, it’s easier to see yourself changing your nationality than your religion. I’m guessing that’s a very broad feeling among Christians.

However, and this is more important for Cruz, does that mean he approaches policy issues that way? It’s not clear to me that he’s saying that, or that most Christian Americans would answer that question the same way as they would a person question.

I’d like to see him asked that in the next debate to clarify: Senator Cruz, you said you are a Christian first, an American second, a conservative third and a Republican fourth. Is that how you would prioritize the way you’d analyze a policy decision as president?

In case anyone is looking for the context, you have to click back to the source in Politico to see it:

So, this was in response to how loyal he was to the GOP.

Not like I was in any way admiring of Cruz to begin with, but, for me, this is a major political sin. He might just as well have called for a theocracy.

It’s absurd to say, “This time, he’s gone too far!” He went too far a long time ago.

I recall that this was a major issue in the 1960 election. Many people felt that Kennedy’s allegiance was to the Vatican, not to the U.S.

In Cruz’s case, this is just one additional reason why I consider him un-American. To clarify, it’s his *ideas *that are un-American, irrespective of where he was born.

Being a “Christian” is different from being a “Catholic”. Of course most of us cringe at this type of statement, but then most of us would never vote for Cruz anyway. Does you typical American cringe that this, though? I don’t think so.

I would be surprised to learn that Cruz is the first presidential candidate to express similar sentiments. I would even hazard a guess that there’s been a president or two who would agree with that sentiment.

Yes, it’s a perfectly acceptable stance.

The question is how that ranking expresses itself in job performance. He may feel, as a Christian, that Jesus would not approve of abortion. But will he give effect to Roe v. Wade in his official duties?

It wouldn’t surprise me if Jimmy Carter agreed with that sentiment.

I’d be VERY curious to hear how Obama would respond if asked what he thought about it. Again, a key aspect is how this informs your decision making, as president. As opposed to describing yourself, as a person.

It is evident Cruz’s true allegiance is neither to Christ nor the Republic but rather to Mammon.

A claim of fervent Christianity is not something I find particularly valuable in a US President: to claim such seems to promise a future of bad judgements based on superstition, so no.

I’m glad Mr. Cruz at least laid his cards on the table, although it’s not like I was ever considering him an acceptable candidate anyway.

I read this and was a bit taken aback. I was unable to imagine any other candidate expressing a similar sentiment. I am too young to remember JFK (I wasn’t even born), but I had heard about his difficulties in convincing Americans that he would not be beholden to the Vatican. I do remember what Kerry and Romney faced with regards to their faith and am surprised that somebody would go there.

Still, that is the question. We he respect the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding Roe vs. Wade or will he try to undermine the Constitution due to his faith?

I don’t agree that it is a “perfectly acceptable stance.” A perfectly acceptable stance would be “regardless of my faith I will do my utmost to respect and protect the beliefs and values of all the citizens that I represent and this is what being American means.”

To continue, I was taken aback until I read this:

I agree that it would not surprise me if Jimmy Carter agreed with this sentiment; he was (and is) a very pious man. Funny that conservatives view him with such disdain.

Then I read this:

And I just thought WOW!

Go back and read what Bricker and I wrote, We were talking about a stance as a person, not as a president. Then afterwards, the point is can you set aside your religious beliefs, if you are president, and put the law of the land first. Keep in mind that Cruz said that not in response to a question about how he would govern as president.

So, not that I don’t appreciate joining your journey, but can you sort of summarize what you now feel?

Not only acceptable, but it would seem to be the only answer a believing Christian could properly give. “Being an American” is a worldly attribute, and one changeable due to a variety of circumstances with only worldly consequences.

For heaven’s sake, folks, step out of your own experience for a minute. I’m an atheist, but I’m not so invested in my on atheism that I can’t understand what it means to be a Christian. If I were a Christian, that would be more important to me than my nationality. After all, Christians are concerned with eternal life, not this transitory existence. No one is going to care if you were an American or a German or an Australian in the afterlife.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to be beholden to their ethics before their country, even as the country’s leader. While in real life things rarely are as simple or clear as “country vs ethics”, a leader should absolutely be prepared to take a deal or action that may not be ideal for the nation just because it’s the right thing to do.

I can see the stance, inasmuch as Christianity is an ethical system, albeit I disagree with the possible implications given some of the things Christians have wanted to enforce on the rest of the nation.

But if you were also running for President? It’s a tone-deaf thing to say. It makes us wonder if he also believes (as we have heard others say) that “The laws of God are greater than the laws of man.”

As Happy Fun Ball wonders, will he use this as a reason to undermine Supreme Court decisions he doesn’t like? How far into “Roy Moore” territory will he go?

Of the United States? No candidate ever hurt themselves in the US by overstating their religiosity. Well, no protestant candidate, at any rate. The number of voters who might conceivably have voted for Cruz, but now won’t because he’s “too Christian” is pretty close to zero. The people who are outraged by this were never going to support him in the first place.

This is the US, not the UK.

The people who will vote for him WISH he would undermine Roe. Just as so many folks on this message board WISH that a Democratic president would undermine Citizens United.

No true. Only Americans go to heaven. Well, and a few particularly butch Canadians and Australians.

To a certain extent that’s true. But I think Cruz made a mistake by actually ranking things. Sure, he said Christianity is #1. But he also explicitly said America is #2. You’re supposed to be hyper-patriotic along with being hyper-religious. Cruz should have said that he is a Christian first and an American first.