Updated August 7, 2015:   Dr. Ben Carson, a retired brain surgeon who is an active member of the Adventist denomination, participated last night in a major political debate produced by Fox News and Facebook. This was the first Republican presidential primary debate for politicians bidding to be the party’s nominee for president of the United States of America.

As the debate unfolded with millions of Americans tuned in, Carson was given six opportunities to speak, each about 90 seconds long. The first question he was asked was about how he would conduct war against Muslim terrorists in the Middle East and he stated that he thought a “politically correct” war was impossible and seemed to indicate that he was not afraid of violating the Geneva Conventions in such a conflict. He was later asked about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war and stated that he saw a need for the U.S. to build up its military in order to make more credible threats in that kind of situation.

Carson used the Bible principle of tithing to explain his approach to tax policy in answer to another question. He stated that Americans should pay a flat tax of an unspecified percentage no matter what their level of income instead of the graduated income tax that has been in place for nearly a century. This is a favorite idea of conservatives in the U.S., although it is not used in any of the industrialized countries because it is generally viewed as benefiting people with higher incomes and hurting those with lower incomes.

Asked specifically about poverty in America, Carson answered that he believes that the “secular, progressive movement” is causing the problem because of the $18 trillion national debt. Toward the end of the two-hour program, he was asked specifically about “what you believe God tells you to do” about race issues in America. His answer again focused on those he disagrees with in U.S. politics, stating “don’t take every incident and use it to divide” Americans, but work for “unity.”

In the run-up to the debate a Fox News poll, placed Carson fourth (7 percent) among nearly 20 possible candidates, behind Donald Trump (26 percent), the billionaire reality TV star; Jeb Bush (15 percent), former governor of Florida and the son and brother of former U.S. presidents; and Scott Walker (9 percent), governor of Wisconsin.

Seventeen key Republicans have joined the presidential race; however, only ten were asked to be part of the debate. In May, Fox News released the criteria for selecting participants. “They must meet all constitutional requirements; must announce and register a formal campaign; must file all required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission; and must place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent, recognized national polls leading up to Aug. 4.”

Carson is well-known within the Adventist community for his books Gifted Hands (1992) and Think Big (1996), though he has also written more recent books, such as America the Beautiful, One Nation and One Vote. Carson began to receive national media attention after promoting conservative policies and denouncing political correctness at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event hosted by the White House.

Now retired, Carson was a noted neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, where he completed the first successful surgery to separate conjoined twins who were joined at the head. Carson was director of pediatric neurosurgery and also co-director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center. President George W. Bush awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. If he gets the party nomination and then wins the general election, Carson would be the first Adventist to become leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz also participated in the debate. He received six percent of the votes in the Fox News poll, falling one place behind Carson. Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is an Adventist. She recently stepped down from her position as a vice president at Goldman Sachs in order to support her husband’s presidential bid.

Related Articles