The Iowa caucus brings out the evangelical in all Republican candidates. After all, previous winners include Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, two candidates who exclusively appealed to evangelical voters (and pretty much no one else). In Iowa, the most devout and outwardly preachy Republicans get the nod. Donald Trump mistakenly thought making up bible verses and quoting “two Corinthians” at Liberty University would be a sufficient religious test for the Hawkeye State. It clearly wasn’t: he came in “two.”
Marco Rubio, who won the night by coming in third, has been offering on the stump, “America was founded on this powerful principle that our rights don’t come from government our rights come from god.” Ted Cruz, the official winner of the Iowa caucus this election cycle, repeated this idea in his victory speech Monday. “That our rights do not come from the Democratic Party or the Republican Party or even from the tea party. Our rights come from our creator,” the first-term Texas Senator said.
It’s like saying our roads don’t come from our tax dollars but from god, or that bridges aren’t because of engineers they’re from Jehovah—or space travel isn’t made possible by science and math but by a higher power.
Sure, if you believe god is everything, then yes, those statements can be technically true for you. But when it comes to rights, it’s not some magical mystical nebulous force which gifted us liberty. Rights are something for which humans have fought, struggled and died. Rights are liberties people have demanded and governments have acquiesced. Saying rights are just given to us because an omnipotent force wills it, robs all the notables who’ve laid down their lives to ensure the rest of us can enjoy personal freedoms.
Over 50,000 people posthumously dubbed Americans died in the Revolutionary War. Those men fought for our right to self-rule. This isn’t a biblical principle. The governments in the bible are composed of kings and subjects—not democracies! Obedience is a biblical principle; America was founded by rebels who rejected an indifferent monarch.
There were 620,000 Americans who died in the Civil War—a war about human rights—one side killing and dying to keep their fellow humans as property, the other side killing and dying to liberate them. Telling a crowd of Iowa caucus-goers god just amended our Constitution so that African Americans were no longer three-fifths a person—giving them “amnesty” and full citizenship mocks the blood-soaked struggle our ancestors waged. It sanitizes the brutality of American history with pithy pandering.
Suffragettes were arrested and tortured in a battle for the vote that spanned a century. That right was not just bestowed upon the gender the bible views as servants to men. Civil Rights were not just passively given to people in the segregated South. There were activists—champions and casualties. There were brave men and women subjected to fire hoses, German Shepherds and batons (or worse). They were kicked down yet they stood back up and demanded their rights again. And again. And again. (And still.)
But the worst part of Rubio and Cruz offering this boilerplate baloney is they’re saying god gave us our rights while hoping to take away rights from their fellow (at least in the case of Rubio) Americans. They both want to take away the right to marry whomever you choose—a right fought for by courageous regular people ostracized by their government and fellow citizens because of their sexuality. They both want to make women into public incubators, making health-care decisions for them—infantilizing a huge swath of the American electorate. Both oppose equal pay for women. They each want to repeal Obamacare which has in it the right to not be turned down by your health insurance for a pre-existing condition.
And before you tell yourself these men are really just for, as they claim, religious liberty, they are not. They both have expressed contempt for religions that are not their own, specifically Islam. Rubio wants to shutter mosques and “any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at,” he said on “The Kelly File.” Cruz wants to deny Muslim refugees sanctuary because their faith. So if you’re for your freedom but not for someone else’s—you’re not for freedom. You’re for subordination. Full stop.
Don’t take the credit away from those who’ve died for our rights. All of our liberties are stained with blood. And all of our liberties have been opposed by men like Rubio and Cruz—men who use faith for obfuscation, camouflaging a backwards agenda.
Photo by Archives Foundation