GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz gave an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) where he said, “we have a prayer team of people all across this country that are lifting the country up in prayer,” as part of a long response to how he was going to “make America great again” and to get “the people to rise up.”
Fellow evangelicals, I’ll assume, hear rhetoric like this and generally comprehend what he’s talking about. It has to make sense to someone, otherwise why would he say it? Perhaps, dear reader, it even makes sense to you. But as for myself, when I hear talk like this, at best I can only wonder what kind of fantasy is going on inside the head of Cruz. Talk like this suggests that there’s some sort of real world effect when people pray, whether individually or en masse (I’d presume the effect would simply be stronger the more people who come together). And I’m not talking effect like, “oh, we feel so good and spiritually connected to one another when we pray.” Cruz’s response, and speeches that I’ve heard from so many other Christian Right leaders, appears to mean, “Our prayers will make physical changes in the world around us, and in the minds of those not praying!” Is that what he really thinks? Is that what evangelicals collectively think?
It’s funny, because this all makes me think of the scene in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” where Admiral Motti tells Darth Vader, “Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels hidden fortress.” So in this analogy, I suppose I would be Motti and Cruz would take the role of Darth Vader. The only difference, though, is that Motti never gets to end his sentence, because Vader then uses his “ancient religion” to strangle the Admiral with nothing but sheer will, making a real-time and physically manifested demonstration of what his religion can do. This makes it all the more frightening when he then retorts, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
Often times when religions are portrayed on the silver screen, the reality of the narrative assumes the actual power of the respective faith, and the world is guided thusly. And that’s great, because it makes for some great fantastical fiction. But that’s just what it is; a fun fantasy. Christians (and people of many other religions) seem to act like they’re somehow different, or have control over some magnificent power that the rest of us simply don’t comprehend. If this were a galaxy far, far away, and Christians managed to move solid objects with their faith alone while all the rest of us could only watch with awe at the awesome natural gifts they possessed, then this would be all well and good. But I have a news flash for everyone: that’s not how the world works. If it did, I think we would’ve seen it by now.
It’s bad enough when I hear televangelists on their hucksterish TV shows trying to con the credulous out of what little money they have in exchange for the power of prayer to heal their wounds, or find love, or magically refill their bank account; it’s another thing entirely to hear candidates for the highest office in the land to speak in such a way. If it weren’t for his vast influence, Cruz would be nothing but a two-bit con man, looking to fleece anyone within earshot out of a few shekels lest they make the gods angry. But unfortunately, he’s practically a theocrat, a demagogue looking instead to further the influence of Christianity over democracy because he’s under the delusion that his god gives him super powers.
I’m sorry, Ted Cruz, but you’re not a Jedi (though you do have the ambition of a Sith).