Ted Cruz Lies Right to Christian Journalist’s Face About ‘Tithing’

If you’re not much of a church-goer, then the word “tithing” probably sounds like a cockney guy with a lisp getting ready to taze you, but in the evangelical circles where Ted Cruz hopes to find his advantage in Iowa, it is an Old Testament guideline that sets the level of an individual’s charitable giving at ten percent of their income. That custom has now become part of the Republican presidential campaign.

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church, so I can attest to the fact that tithing is really important to some pastors, but most Christians wouldn’t judge someone on this standard because even the churchiest among us gives the side-eye to this convenient bit of New Testament-ignoring self-service, and are more inclined to heed the two Corinthians on this: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

But in Republican politics, what the pastors think really matters, so CBN’s David Brody asked Cruz about a recent story concerning his failure to tithe, and Cruz chalked it up to a long-ago time of financial struggle as a newly-married man:

Ted Cruz: “Listen on the question of tithing, all of us are on a faith journey, and I will readily admit that I have not been as faithful in this aspect of my walk as I should have been”

“That article focuses on ten years ago. We don’t have the ability to go back and change what occurred ten years ago when Heidi and I were newly married and we’d just started a family. But at the end of the day, being a Christian is not about holding yourself out as righteous. It’s about beginning with the understanding that we are flawed sinners and we are saved not by deeds but by Christ’s redemption. I am grateful that God is a patient and forgiving God and this area, as in many areas of my life I am working to do a better job walking in my faith.”

Look, the real answer to this question is that nobody tithes, not even that guy at your church who sings all the hymns without looking at the book and scowls like you farted every time someone reads a verse from a New International Version, but if you’re going to engage the question, Jesus would like it if you told the truth.

The story he references, first of all, doesn’t focus on “ten years ago,” it covers Ted’s tax returns for a five-year period that ended five years ago. From 2006 to 2010, Ted Cruz made $5,064, 248.00 and gave $44,000.00 to charity. That’s 0.86% of his income, or about 8.6% of a tithe. In 2006, when Cruz made “only” $350 grand, he and Heidi weren’t “newly married,” they’d been married for five years, and they weren’t “starting a family,” they didn’t have kids until 2008.

The thing is, Ted Cruz knows he’s not telling the truth, because this issue also came up during his campaign for U.S. Senate, and he threw an entirely different piece of spaghetti at the wall that time:

Asked to explain, the Cruz campaign told News 8 Cruz also donates many hours of his time to charitable and educational endeavors.

I guess with $5 mil to account for now, it’s tough to make the case that Cruz did $500,000.00 worth of soup kitchen shifts.

Look, I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s garbage for liberal outsiders to try and attack Ted Cruz over a custom that they, themselves, think is silly, and Cruz could have responded to this in any number of ways. The doctrine of tithing isn’t widely practiced or believed. But if you’re going to treat it seriously, then make Jesus happy and tell the truth.

Update: a SuperPAC supporting Mike Huckabee has just started running an ad in Iowa that features two very concerned-looking white ladies discussing all the things they’ve “heard” about Cruz, including this:

He doesn’t tithe?

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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