the retired neurosurgeon once best known for separating conjoined baby twins, has announced Monday (May 4, 2015) that he will pursue the Republican nomination for U.S. president. He’s known as a culture warrior whose criticisms of President Obama have made him a favorite of conservatives.
Says Adele M. Banks¹, “Here are five faith facts about him”:
1. He’s a twice-baptized Seventh-day Adventist.
In his book Gifted Hands, Carson, 63, describes being baptized as a boy by the pastor of Detroit’s Burns Seventh-day Adventist Church. At age 12, he told the pastor of another Adventist church in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, that he hadn’t completely grasped his first baptism and wanted to be baptized again.
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Carson has served as an Adventist local elder and Sabbath school teacher. But he attends other churches. “I spend just as much time in non-Seventh-day Adventist churches because I’m not convinced that the denomination is the most important thing,” he told RNS in 1999. “I think it’s the relationship with God that’s most important.”
2. He prayed before starting any surgery.
“Even when I don’t operate, I pray because I feel that God is the ultimate source of all wisdom,” said Carson, the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, a role that gave him the status of an African-American hero.
“Quite frankly, as a neurosurgeon, there’s a lot of emphasis on technical ability, but I believe that that’s something that can be taught, but wisdom comes from God and I think that it’s something that you have to seek.”
3. His prayer breakfast speech slammed political correctness, not just Obamacare.
“The PC police are out in force at all times,” he said at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. “People are afraid to say ‘Merry Christmas’ at Christmastime. …We’ve got to get over this sensitivity. You know it keeps people from saying what they really believe.”
4. He’d govern for all in this “Judeo-Christian nation.”
Asked a year ago at a National Press Club appearance about how he would include non-Jews and non-Christians, he said: “The same way that we always have. Everybody’s free to do whatever they want. To try to impose one’s religious beliefs on someone else is absolutely what we should not be doing. That goes in both directions. Someone who is an atheist doesn’t have a right to tell someone who isn’t an atheist what they can or cannot do or what they can or cannot say. We have to be fair but it has to be fair in both directions.”
5. He doesn’t think a faithful Muslim could be president.
“I would have problems with somebody who embraced all the doctrines associated with Islam,” Carson told CNN’s “State of the Union” in September. “If they are not willing to reject Shariah and all the portions of it that are talked about in the Quran — if they are not willing to reject that, and subject that to American values and the Constitution, then of course, I would.”
And he confirmed that he believes some Muslim beliefs are not consistent with the Constitution: “I’m assuming that if you accept all the tenets of Islam that you would have a very difficult time abiding under the Constitution of the United States.”
[We will have more about Seventh-Day Adventism in upcoming posts.]
¹ This post rides heavily upon an early (2015) summary (that we’ve slightly modified) posted on the Internet. (Remember the time of our writing this is Jan. 4, 2016. Circumstances, “clarifications” and reactions may change in the days ahead.) Adelle Banks is production editor and a national reporter, who joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.
Adelle M. Banks
Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.