GOP God-Off: Candidates vie to express their faith

August 8, 2015 • 10:00 am

I just want to highlight one aspect of the Republican Presidential-candidate debate that I missed—because I missed the whole thing. (Really, they’re such a pack of morons that I have zero interest in hearing them go at each other.) But what is a Republic debate without the candidates trying to out-God each other, proving that their faith is stronger, and their pipeline to Jesus straighter, than anyone else’s?

So here’s the God-Off: Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly submitted to the candidates a question that came from one Chase Norton, who put it on his Facebook page:

“I want to know if any of [the candidates] have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.”

To us atheists, we know that such a question will be followed by lots of laughs, but it’s sad for our country that a). such a question would be asked and b). the pervasive religiosity of this question demands answers that pander to the faithful.

I’ve embedded the whole debate, but started it at the point near the debate’s end when the moderator asks the question:

Here’s the summary of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

Enter U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

“Well, I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the scriptures and reading the scriptures. And God speaks through the Bible,” he announced. [JAC: Note the loud audience applause.]

Cruz never hesitates to brandish his evangelical bona fides, and didn’t deviate from habit last night. He embarked on a lengthy discussion of his father’s conversion to Christianity, and added, “I would also note that the scripture tells us, ‘You shall know them by their fruit.’ We see lots of ‘campaign conservatives.’ But if we’re going to win in 2016, we need a consistent conservative, someone who has been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.”

“There are real differences among the candidates on issues like amnesty, like Obamacare, like religious liberty, like life and marriage. And I have been proud to fight and stand for religious liberty, to stand against Planned Parenthood, to defend life for my entire career,” he finished.

Gov. Scott Walker (Wisc.) said, “I’m certainly an imperfect man. And it’s only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I’ve been redeemed from my sins. So I know that God doesn’t call me to do a specific thing, God hasn’t given me a list, a Ten Commandments, if you will, of things to act on the first day.

“What God calls us to do is follow his will. And ultimately that’s what I’m going to try to do,” he added.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida stated that he thinks God “blessed” the U.S.

“This country has been extraordinarily blessed. And we have honored that blessing, and that’s why God has continued to bless us,” he said. “And he has blessed us with young men and women willing to risk their lives and sometimes die in uniform for the safety and security of our people.”

(The families of those young men and women may quarrel with Rubio’s definition of “blessing.”)

Other candidates were slightly more restrained. Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich limited himself to some boilerplate on the importance of family and hard work, and surgeon Ben Carson talked about using faith to bridge racial divides.

The God question came near the end, and time expired before every candidate could weigh in. Business magnate Donald Trump, who leads evangelicals in the polls despite his relative lack of visible religious commitment, didn’t get a chance to answer. In fact, Trump didn’t mention faith at all at any point in the debate.

And that’s the only good thing about Trump.

Can you imagine such a thing taking place in European or Canadian politics?

h/t: Diane G

72 thoughts on “GOP God-Off: Candidates vie to express their faith

  1. The Flying Spaghetti Monster came to me and told me to put my hat in the ring. On the first day, I was told to enact a law prohibiting putting ketchup on pasta; only marinara sauce would be legal. I now have as much credibility as these cretins.

  2. I call them the Republican clown car of mental midgets. Their spewing of religious nonsense and their immoral stances on social issues due to religious dogma is what makes every one of them unqualified (except Trump who is a narcissistic, bombastic, bigoted, xenophobic clown).

    1. Totally agree. The lot of Republican candidates this round include a large number of total morons. I have also often said that Trump is a bona fide narcissist. But he is not stupid.

  3. If I may, I’d like to introduce a delicious bit of schadenfreude on the god-bothering front from my own benighted state of Michigan. Two state reps from the religion-besotted southwestern part of the state, Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, both virulent tea party-family values-gun toting-god fearing lunatics who feel the bible supersedes the constitution had an affair that was, of course, discovered and about to be reported upon by the press. Courser attempted to deflect the scandal by inventing a bigger scandal, that he had had relations with a male prostitute behind a club in Lansing and instructing his aides to carry out the scam (caught on audio), telling them that this fake smear campaign would deflect interest from the real affair. No, I am not making this up nor do I understand it either. Here’s a Detroit News report on it: It’s all too good to be true. God works in mysterious ways.

    1. I do so love a plate of schadenfreude. Todd Courser is the same legislative twerp who introduced a bill to make it harder for homosexuals to get a marriage license while at the same time elevating the importance of clergy in the process. I wrote an article about it after reading what The Friendly Atheist had to say about Mr. Courser’s bill.

    2. I’m in southwestern Michigan. I know southwestern Michigan. Lapeer is NOT southwestern Michigan.


      (Although the female legislator involved is from southwest MI, quite close to me in fact.)

      How can anyone be so stupid? And of course, “The freshman legislator, who had strong support from conservatives and the Tea Party, ran as a family man.”

      You can’t make it up.

  4. Nothing here to take seriously. . . oops! yes there is: one of them might become POTUS.

    I measure every U.S. president by the high water mark that Abraham Lincoln set. I do understand that he wouldn’t have a chance today of achieving nomination in the very party helped found in 1856 and of which he was the first to be elected president.

    Even Lincoln had to finesse charges of ‘infidelity’ when he ran for U.S. Congress (as a Whig) in 1848. He managed nicely. But it wouldn’t work for him today, given the instantaneous media attention in our society.

    This is one reason I despair for our Republic. The system does not allow us to elect genuine leaders: all such are filtered out of the process long before they can get to nomination time. Can we imagine what the U.S. would have been like during the Civil War without Lincoln?

    We need to try! For we do have/will have crises, and we won’t have leaders of mark to see us through them. So we must somehow wrest the power to lead our duly elected ‘leaders.’

    I so wish I could laugh.

  5. Strangest in my eyes actually was this part:

    “And he has blessed us with young men and women willing to risk their lives and sometimes die in uniform for the safety and security of our people.”

    While some politicians play that card,[1] patriotism has somewhat fallen out of favour here in Germany (except when it comes to soccer!). As if people, for some unknown reason, came to mistrust it …

    [1] Like the infamous “Germany’s safety is defended also at the Hindu Kush” of our former Minister of Defense Peter Struck, meant to justify the controversial Afghanistan assignment of the German military (which, by constitution, should only be allowed to defend German territory from invasion).

    1. ‘Strangest in my eyes actually was this part:

      “And he has blessed us with young men and women willing to risk their lives and sometimes die in uniform for the safety and security of our people.”’

      They somehow never get asked who they think should so go in harm’s way, or who is exempt from so going.

    2. And we have a lutheran pastor as a prsident, and a pastor’s daughter as a chancellor.
      Yet that much “goding” would not go over well here in Germany.

    3. “And he has blessed us with young men and women willing to risk their lives and sometimes die in uniform for the safety and security of our people.”

      Instead of, like, curing the ills that cause wars in the first place.

  6. If I may, I’d like to introduce a particularly delicious bit of schadenfreude on the the god-bothering front from my own benighted state of Michigan. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, both tea party-god fearin’-gun toting’-family values-the bible supersedes the constitution lunatics had an affair that was, of course, discovered by the press and about to be revealed. Courser decides to instruct his aides (caught on audio) to create a false-flag campaign that he had relations with a male prostitute behind a club in Lansing. Courser somehow felt that the furor created by this false scandal would make the real affair “mild by comparison.” No, I don’t understand it either nor can I explain it any better. I hope this link will enlighten, then perhaps someone will explain it to me.

      1. I read about this over at Friendly Atheist. While there’s no complete explanation in Hemant’s article, I’m guessing that Courser and Gamrat hoped the “smear campaign” they fabricated would 1) not be discovered as a fabrication, rather 2) that it would be dismissed as an unfounded smear campaign from some anonymous source. I think they further hoped that this would take the spotlight off their actual affair and possibly cast doubt on the question of whether they were having an affair.

        But that’s just a guess.

  7. Those Godly answers were revolting. But, the candidates are just mouthing the sentiments of a large swath of Americans. Given these pandering statements, it’s easy to see why out atheists don’t stand much of a chance in American politics. The Enlightenment will someday dawn (again) in the good old U.S.A., and it can’t be too soon.

    1. “But, the candidates are just mouthing the sentiments of a large swath of Americans.”

      George Carlin had some choice words about the American people in this regard.

  8. Sadly, I can imagine such a thing in Canadian politics, at least in a convention of Canada’s current misruling party, the CONservative Party of Canada lead by a dyed in the wool evangelical Christian Koch-sucker.

  9. I’ve written before that American politics is much more exciting than Canadian politics which tends to be boring, but US politics is like a car wreck, you don’t want to watch the carnage but you just can’t look away.

    The US Republican debates are a level of masochism that I just can not condone or nor endure.
    Especially when it’s on Fox News.

    It’s a little like the religion they profess to follow, or a Stephen King book, The Dead Zone.
    It’s like seeing a horrible future prophecy that may come to pass, if we are very, very unlucky. In fact, many of the men on that stage are eerily similar to the religious lunatic presidential hopeful in King’s book.

    1. I feel the same – all the dreadful things and people in US politics, especially the GOP, make it an exciting spectator sport.

      Our politicians cooperate across party lines on stuff they agree on, families aren’t involved, candidates sexuality isn’t mentioned, baddies resign straight away, and negative politicking genuinely turns off voters. It’s very boring most of the time. Despite that, 80% is considered a low election turnout here.

  10. The scariest of the bunch is easily Ted Cruz for his apocalyptic thinking, his conspiracy theory thinking and his theocratic ties.

    His father has been involved with Dominionism which is utterly contrary to the vision of our Founding Fathers.

    Cruz claims the lefties want to make government into God, so they need to attack religion to do so. He praises Biblical kings who bring to spoils of war to priests so that “God’s work” can be accomplished. He talks about an “end-time transfer of wealth” in which “God’s bankers” will usher in the second coming.

    More info here

    I hadn’t seen the term “God-off” before. There’s a lurking pun about the “God-offal God-off” in there.

    1. Cruz isn’t the only End Times believer in the running – Huckabee and Carson also buy into it. It’s scary that people like that are any where near the the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth.

      1. Though he has no chance, Jindal is closely tied to the Louisiana Family Forum and Family Research Council. Both have Dominionist leanings (though they try to hide them). I don’t think Jindal himself believes much of anything, but is willing to say or do whatever he has to.

        1. “I don’t think Jindal himself believes much of anything, but is willing to say or do whatever he has to.”

          He has said that he “prayed” (for guidance, a sign, a revelation, I gather)about running for POTUS.

  11. Wasn’t that a very dangerous question? Suppose the first one had said God told him to fix problem A.
    How could any of the other 9 say God told him to first solve problem B? That would have put God in an very awkward position.
    Is Megyn Kelly that devious?

    1. Excellent point! Rather than the vague walk-arounds that got given, I would have expected them all to give same concrete set of priorities. Seeing as the majority of the candidates stated they were certain that the almighty wanted them to run, it would appear he/she/it didn’t give very clear instructions.

  12. The Religiosity of the republican party is so over the top and fanatical that asking such a stupid question is just natural to them and to Fox as well. I would point out one of their many candidates is more dangerous in this regard than the other and yes, it is hard to tell. Scott Walker is very likely getting his direction via direct line from g*d.

    I would be hard pressed to even mention Abe Lincoln in the same sentence with any of these people and to look at or compare this party today, with the republican party of 1860 would be a waste of time. The democrats of the 1860s thru to nearly 1960 are the actual republican party of today.

    I will refer to a comment by Joseph J. Ellis in his new American History book called the Quartet. Viewing and judging the founding generation through the lens of our own values is inherently presumptive and presentistic, much like evaluating the child-rearing practices of indigenous tribes in Samoa by the standards of Dr. Spock.

    1. There’s a map I’ve seen of R vs D support in the US. Basically, it changed overnight with the introduction of a particular civil rights act in 1964. I can’t remember the name of it, but I’m sure USians know the one I’m talking about. The previous D south, for example, became R overnight.

      1. You are correct – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the one that sent all southern democrats into the Republican party. Started by Kennedy and finished by LBJ, a democrat from Texas. This one outlawed discrimination based on Race, Color, Religion, Sex …. It also said racial segregation in the schools was no good.

        They knew this law would be the end of their party as they knew it but I don’t think the republicans realized what a mess it made of their party as well.

        It amazes me that people in far away countries seem to know more about the U.S. than many of the people living here.

        1. “It amazes me that people in far away countries seem to know more about the U.S. than many of the people living here.”

          Because US culture (via TV, and movies before that) is pervasive, I think.


          1. I understand what you are saying but even the Television covered the riots and big events such as this. We have to throw in the poor education and the lack of reading as well.

            They use to require one year of American History in High School, way back when I was there. Not sure if any is required now?

        2. The fault with the US population. The Europeans I’ve known not only know far more about Europe than any American I know, they also know much more about the US. The only things most Americans seem to care about are what professional sports teams and various celebrities are doing.

      2. The Dixiecrats… Democrats who fled the party in droves after the Civil Rights Act was passed. They formed the base of what is now probably a majority within the Republican party.

        1. Too bad Megyn Kelly did not get around to asking Carson and Huckabee about St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, re: wives subordinating themselves to husbands.

  13. Well, I just threw up a little in my mouth.
    That was curdling listening to all that mealy mouthed God talk.

    I’m actually scared when I watch American politics, if only for the influence it has on the world. Ever since the American public voted in George W not once, but TWICE my confidence in the electorate took a dive from which it never recovered.

    When a Trump arrives, or any of the bozos in that video, I can no longer think “Well, no one is going to elect someone so manifestly idiotic as THAT!” Actually, yeah, they will.

    1. My feelings about this are hard to describe. Some combination of utter dismay and maximum incredulity. Not only is Trump leading in the polls, but I’m seeing lots of support for Trump from conservatives I know. In the words of Mugatu, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

      1. Oddly, I grew to dislike Trump a little less from the debate (I didn’t watch, but I read about it). He’s still a narcissistic clown and it’s embarrassing that he made it onto the stage, much less into office, but I found it amazingly refreshing to read Trump saying nice things about single-payer health care: “As far as single-payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland.” You don’t hear that on a GOP stage very often. Maybe it’ll cause a few gears to grind in the minds of his fans who aren’t used to hearing such unorthodox things from someone who isn’t an evil communist.

        1. I just don’t get the impression from him that he cares about governing. I feel this is a more like a notch in his belt. As wrong as they are, it seems to me that most of the other candidates are in it for something other than ego, at least partly.

          Although, he bothers god significantly less than the other candidates. There’s that. Which makes me wonder how on earth he’s leading.

          1. “Which makes me wonder how on earth he’s leading.”

            The power of $$$ and notoriety.

            Who knows, if he just wants the title and doesn’t have much of an agenda to enforce, he might actually be _better_ (i.e. less awful) than the other candidates?


            [1. Press ‘send’.
            2. Take cover.]

  14. This makes us even MORE of a laughingstock to the rest of the civilized world or, should I just say, …”to the CIVILIZED world”?

  15. I think it is a fair question to ask. Especially given this field.

    The more than fair follow-up would be, “Can you give us any evidence that it was god that talked to you?”

    If you cannot, please keep your opinions to yourself and step away from the adult table.

    We have very real problems to discuss.

  16. I expected a question like this in this field, and the answers were typical. The question that disturbed me more was an earlier one about making sure business owners had the right to express their religious beliefs. Already in the campaign there have been several indications that some candidates have serious plans to impose a strict social conservative agenda on the country. Watch Walker, Huckabee, Cruz, Carson, Santorum and Rubio in particular.

    Huckabee, for example, declared the Supreme Court has gone rogue and has no right to allow same-sex marriage, and he’ll see it stopped. He still loves gay people of course – it’s his Christian Duty. F**kwit.

  17. ‘“I want to know if any of [the candidates’ have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.”

    To us atheists, we know that such a question will be followed by lots of laughs, but it’s sad for our country that a). such a question would be asked and b). the pervasive religiosity of this question demands answers that pander to the faithful.’

    Is it possible that one could ask that question sarcastically? If so, how does one best ask the question so that the sarcasm is inescapably obvious?

  18. More proof that g*d is a total asshole. The All Knowing Father didn’t mention to any of these candidates anything about climate change, income inequality, voting rights, voter suppression, money in politics, student debt, stagnant wages, insane trade policies, prisons for profit, mass poverty, mass incarceration, clean energy, better healthcare, or an out-of-control militarized police force.

    The All Knowing Father is obviously more interested in the quickest way to war, killing foreigners, building walls, the fact that Trump is a misogynist, women’s freedom not to choose, getting rid of healthcare, Social Security and Medicare, promoting the rich, and of course Himself.

  19. “Can you imagine such a thing taking place in European or Canadian politics?”

    Probably not.

    Here in NZ (at the risk of sounding smug), anyone who raised religion in a political campaign would suffer for it. Both our last PM and our current one are just not religious (though they’d never bluntly say ‘atheist’).

    (We do have one tiny party, the Conservatives, funded I think mostly by a Christian millionaire, but it disintegrated amongst a storm of accusations of impropriety of some sort by its founder).

    However, it would be instant political suicide for any politician to profess dislike of sport, particularly rugby. I suppose this is slightly less bad.


      1. Rhetorical question, was it? 😉

        At the moment, if you’ve got the necessary skills (which vary from time to time), I believe it’s not that hard. Oh, and having money helps. Don’t come to Auckland, it’s full. (Seriously, there’s some sort of ‘points’ system, and as of now, offering to settle ‘in the regions’ earns extra points).

        But I’m pretty hazy on it.


  20. Well there is one good thing that came out of that debate — most people seem shocked at Trump’s mysogynistic treatment of Meagan Kelly. That is progress inthinknwe should celebrate – no doubling down & no explaining away, at least among many.

  21. There was ONE other positive thing Trump did in the debate: He highlighted the problem of lobbying/high dollar donations. Hey, a broken clock is right twice per day…

  22. I can’t and won’t consider Trump’s lack of a religious statement at the debate as a good thing. For one, he’s professed his faith more than once already in his campaign. More importantly, those professions have been utter fumbles and gave me a clear impression that he’s put as much thought into religion as he has women’s or racial rights, income equality, the environment, foreign policy, or any other issue we face…that being no thought at all.

  23. Sadly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear some similar god-related question in the Democratic debate.

    1. On Real Time Friday night, Bill Maher proclaimed that such stupid questions would be weeded out because Democrats are more rational. I hope he’s right.

  24. their pipeline to Jesus straighter,

    That’s a line straight out of homo-erotic porn, I’m sure.
    If it wasn’t before, it will be soon.

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