Cross-posted from The Quinton Report.
This picture was taken outside the White House Thursday and includes Ted Cruz praying.
No, he’s not praying that Barack Obama will overturn Obamacare and no, he’s not praying that he will occupy the presidency one day. Instead, he’s alongside Rev. Rob Schenck (from Faith and Action) and Rev. Frazier White (a Democrat and Obama supporter) praying for Saeed Abedini, who has been in an Iranian prison for one year. He is being persecuted for his faith to Jesus Christ
Schenck also wrote about the experience:
In the image you see me at the center with my prayer stole as we intercede in Jesus’ name for our brother in Christ and imprisoned pastor, Saeed Abedini, who has suffered in an Iranian prison for one year because of his faithful witness to Christ. Kneeling with me on my left (the significance of the placement should be noted) is the US senator Ted Cruz, a tea party Republican from Texas. Sen. Cruz just made wall-to-wall headlines for his 20+ hour filibuster opposing Obamacare, the President’s signature legislative achievement. On my right (again, note the orientation) is Rev. Frazier White, a Democrat community organizer from my neighborhood of Capitol Hill, and a huge supporter of President Obama. At the moment the photo was taken, though, the politically polar opposite positions of the Senator and the Pastor were irrelevant. We were bowed before the Holy, the Supernal, the highest Lord in the universe, and the One and Only Eternal King. Everything else: party labels, policy positions, job descriptions, accents, zip codes, skin color, filibusters and organizing, were all utterly and completely dwarfed. In that moment of prayer–especially for a fellow Christian, a persecuted believer, whose circumstances are for most us unimaginable–our political and cultural squabbles seemed petty. Pastor White, Sen. Cruz, Rev. Pat Mahoney, Jordan and Anna Sekulow, myself, and so many others, were there in front of the White House to do the really and truly important business of crying out to God for one of our own that was suffering for his faith.
Both of these accounts above contrast with what conservative activist Jimmy LaSalvia wrote:
I was shocked today to see his tacky display at the White House. He and others kneeled for the cameras to publicly pray. Using religion to further his political brand, Showbiz Ted crossed the line for me. The political statement they were making didn’t matter to me because I was so appalled by the stunt.
His dramatics are just too much, even for me – and I’m a GAY!
Authenticity in a politician is important because, at the end of the day, voters need to be able to trust them. I just don’t know if Ted has it. Maybe he should try Hollywood.
If you read the whole post LaSalvia wrote you will also see that he was talking about Cruz’s speaking style in general and also points out that he largely agrees with Cruz on issues. Of course, LaSalvia also wrote the following about the picture above:
I have tolerated the theatrics because I felt that the message was more important, but today the theatrics overcame the message.
LaSalvia left the Log Cabin Republicans to co-found GOProud. He did a great job there. He was hired earlier this year to work as a strategist for the ACLU.
I will note that I know Jimmy, and I harbor no ill will towards him personally. I do think his criticisms fall flat in this case. Pointing out the larger pattern of problems he might have with Ted Cruz and his speaking techniques is one thing. However, when you focus on this picture of people of all backgrounds praying for something that everyone can agree with, then you risk having it blow up in your face, especially when you say the issue doesn’t matter to you, which could imply you didn’t even bother to research it.
I suspect all the mess last week with Cruz is what is behind this attack, but the attack is still off-target. I have intentionally not discussed the budget or defunding of Obamacare efforts because they don’t matter for my points. There are plenty of legitimate discussions to have on that and plenty of people have legitimate criticisms of all sides on those issues.
The people who do support what Cruz did last week on the Senate floor (or the ones who don’t necessarily support him but support the efforts to pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini) will probably react unfavorably to this attack and see it as more of a sign of what’s wrong with our political culture and those working inside the beltway.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons for attacking Ted Cruz if you disagree with his tactics or policies. There are plenty of reasons you could attack him for his speaking style in general once you establish a pattern. However, attacking him for praying in an effort like this (and there are countless other public prayers outside the White House on plenty of issues that people of all religions and political persuasions participate in without a peep of criticism) is not something that conservatives should be attacking someone on their own side on.