Dr. Ben Carson, who announced he's running for president from Detroit, is seen as a relatively conservative candidate by the media and some in the Republican Party. Yet his Southern Baptist Convention snub shows that he's still too liberal for some conservatives that he badly needs to win to get the GOP nomination.
Dr. Carson is seen as a fairly conservative candidate. According to Reuters, "Carson, 63, who is popular with the conservative Tea Party movement, is expected to formally declare his candidacy at an event in Detroit on Monday."
And, Igor Bobic of The Huffington Post lists a number of conservative statements Dr. Carson has made.
"Carson's tea party roots and outlandish positions often draw sharp criticism from Democrats. He made headlines last year for calling Obamacare the worst thing to happen to the country 'since slavery.' He refused to walk back those comments, as well as ones that compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany. Carson also caused an uproar after he compared gay marriage to bestiality and pedophilia."
In addition, he claimed that there were no rules for war, even for Christians.
But there's also a more moderate, even liberal side of Dr. Carson, which may be more appealing to mainstream Americans, which could make him less popular with the very conservatives who liked his more provocative comments.
Explaining why Dr. Carson was disinvited from speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention last month, Baylor University History Professor Thomas S. Kidd writes "Carson has also made statements about Muslims, Jews and Christians all being "God's children," perhaps implying that there are multiple paths to God."
Christian Post elaborates a little further, writing "In an Easter Facebook statement, Carson declared, 'Let us also remember that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in God, and while there are ideological differences in who Jesus was, we should find peace in the fact that we are all God's children.' Baptist21 [A Baptist group] raised objections to this statement because it is anti-Trinitarian, and further called it 'liberalism.'"
The Facebook post, which preaches freedom of religion and acceptance, is definitely a more moderate statement than what we've otherwise heard about Dr. Carson. It could just as easily have been written by a Democrat. It's non-partisan, and tolerant, in tone.
But this is hardly an isolated incident. Dr. Carson also appeared at the Rev. Al Sharpton's "National Action Network" last month and wrote about the experience in a column for the publication "The National Review." In it, Carson wrote that he and Sharpton had "the same goals," but a different path to achieving them. He claimed that Sharpton's audience gave him a positive reaction to his speech. Christian Post claims this could hurt him with Republicans.
Perhaps this is the real reason that Fox News broke ties with Dr. Carson as a political contributor, and not just that the news organization wants to maintain some political independence. These words from Dr. Carson may get him a second look from moderates, but may cost him with the most ardent conservative voters in the Republican Party.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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