February 10, 2016: Dr. Ben Carson, the Adventist physician who is running for president of the United States, has three delegates committed to vote for him at the Republican Party convention next summer out of 1,237 necessary to win the party’s nomination. But the front-runner, billionaire Donald Trump, only has 17. These are the results of the Iowa caucuses last week and the New Hampshire primary election yesterday.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, Senator Rand Paul, former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee and former technology CEO Carly Fiorina have all ended their campaigns, winnowing down the large array of Republican Party candidates. Carson was doing better in polls than any of these four leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire and received more votes than any of them.
For a couple of weeks in the Fall, Carson was at the top of the polls among Republican Party voters. His lead soon faded and now he is the choice of about one in ten Republicans, less than half the rate of the top candidates, but about the same as former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son of one former president and the brother of another. Two Senators are doing better than Carson or Bush, but not as well as Trump; Marco Rubio from Florida and Ted Cruz from Texas. Cruz’s wife was raised an Adventist.
The American process of selecting a president is long and complicated. There are primary elections later this month in Nevada and South Carolina, many more in March and more in April, May and June. Usually by early Summer a candidate has emerged with a decisive lead, but the current Republican Party contest has proved to be unusual in many ways. The final decision on the candidates of the two major political parties will be made at conventions in August and the actual election is on the first Tuesday in November.
Cruz topped the Republican voting in Iowa, but did not do as well in New Hampshire. It has been widely reported that exit polls showed that the support of Evangelicals (conservative Protestants) was key to Cruz’s Iowa victory. There are far fewer Evangelicals in New Hampshire, but they dominate religion and politics in Texas and many other states in the American south and Midwest.
Christianity Today, the leading Evangelical journal in America, published an interview with Carson last week in which he shared his Adventist faith. Carson “considers himself an Evangelical with an asterisk,” The Christian Post said of the interview. “I would describe myself first of all as a Christian,” Carson stated in the interview. “Evangelical in the sense that I believe we have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel.”
“I obviously do look forward to the return of Christ … as described in 1 Thessalonians 4. I believe that you should lead your life in such a way that every day could be your last day,” Carson told Christianity Today. American Evangelicals generally are just as interested in the Second Coming and end time events as are Adventists, with a variety of differing and often controversial views about the interpretation of Bible prophecy and what is predicted to happen prior to Christ’s return.
Carson’s Adventist faith does not make him less interested in day-to-day developments on Earth. Christ’s “imminent return could mean three thousand years or 30 thousand years,” he said. “Or it could be tomorrow. For us to pre-define what that means in our minds and then live according to that predefinition I think would be foolish.”
Nonetheless, he keeps an eye on world events that align with Bible prophecy. “I do recognize what is happening in the world [especially] with the radical Islamic Jihadists. I do recognize that it will not be possible to keep nuclear weapons out of their hands forever. And I do realize that they have a mindset that would not preclude them from using them.” He has previously stated that he is concerned that groups with an apocalyptic world view could become catalysts for the end times, according to The Christian Post.
“You do have people who have a belief system that sees this apocalyptic phenomenon occurring, and they’re a part of it, and who would not hesitate to use … weapons,” Carson was quoted by The Christian Post in October. He was understood to be referring to radical Muslim groups, but he could have made a similar statement about other religious sects, including certain Christians. Even some Adventists may fall into the same category as was demonstrated in 1994 with the tragic events in Waco, Texas.
Cruz appeared to make an attempt to marginalize Carson’s share of the Evangelical vote in Iowa last week. Cruz campaign workers circulated a story that Carson was dropping out of the election when journalists reported that he was leaving Iowa for his home in Florida instead of going directly to New Hampshire as other candidates were doing. The next day Carson explained that it was a brief stopover to pick up clean clothing and Cruz apologized to Carson for the false rumor.
No person can be elected president in the United States entirely due to Evangelicals since they constitute only a quarter to a third of voters. They have become an important part of the Republican Party constituency in the last two decades.
If Carson were to be elected president, he would be the first Seventh-day Adventist to hold the office. If Cruz were elected, his wife would be the first Adventist to live in the White House. President Warren G. Harding, who was elected in 1920, had an Adventist mother, sisters and brother, although he was evidently not a believer himself.