Despite a massive campaign shakeup, presidential candidate and former knife-fighter Ben Carson continues to run for president, and continues to say really dumb, weird shit. That penchant shows no signs of abating, as Carson was recently put in the position of reassuring voters that yes, he does believe in a Rapture, just not the exact same Rapture as other evangelicals.
On CNN’s The Lead Monday, anchor Jake Tapper asked Dr. Carson and Carson adviser General Robert Dees (Ret.) about some of the fallout from the recent campaign shakeup, particularly an interview that former campaign manager Barry Bennett thought was very damaging to Carson’s candidacy. The damaging part was, apparently, that voters were left with the impression that Carson doesn’t believe in the Rapture, or in Hell. After Dees tried to work the “Can’t we all just get along?” angle, Carson jumped in to reassure voters that he believes in the Rapture, just not the Nic Cage-style empty clothes kind:
TAPPER: The former campaign manager said that an interview Dr. Carson did with Sally Quinn, in which he said he doesn’t believe in the rapture or hell, I believe, was damaging. That’s what the former campaign manager said.
Do you think it was damaging? And what do the religious voters out there need to know about Dr. Carson?
DEES: Well, first, I think we need to correct the false narratives about Dr. Carson. Every time, there’s — he’s labeled as such, we discover later that that’s not truly the case. Dr. Carson is a man who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ. He’s a man who believes in mainstream doctrine. And as far as I’m concerned and he’s concerned, we want to major on the majors.
Clearly, there’s lots of different denominations. There shouldn’t be divisiveness within the body of Christ. And there’s room for latitude in many areas. So, I think Dr. Carson is a wonderful man of faith.
CARSON: And just to add onto that, a lot of times when people say things, they take them completely out of context. So, you know, they come and say I don’t believe in the rapture. I don’t believe in a secret rapture where people just — he’s sitting here one minute and he disappears. I believe in what the Bible says and the Book of Thessalonians where he will come, everybody will see him, people will be raised from the dead, called up.
You know, I believe what the bible says.
And, you know, as far as hell is concerned, everybody has a different concept of what hell is. I personally don’t believe in the situation where there’s this dungeon and a bunch of little minions poking people forever and ever and burning them. You know, that’s inconsistent with the character of god. And that’s not what the bible says.
God bless Jake Tapper for keeping a straight face through all of that, and really, God bless Ben Carson for sitting through it. His explanation of his beliefs was actually one of the most sensical things I’ve heard him say. The absurd part is that there are actually people who would decide their vote for president on which subcategory of Rapture one believes in. There are enough of them that Barry Bennett thought this interview with Sally Quinn would damage Carson’s chances to win the Republican primary.
Speaking of that interview, which I missed the first time around, it was a rare example of Ben Carson sounding profoundly reasonable compared to his interviewer. I don’t know how Sally Quinn became a religion columnist for The Washington Post, because her understanding of theology seems to have ended on day three of Vacation Bible School. Carson isn’t all that well-versed in people’s beliefs about Hell (they don’t believe it’s God who tortures people), but compared to Quinn, he’s a scholar. The best part is Quinn’s utter amazement that Carson’s beliefs make no allowance for the torment of people who are “bad”:
End times theology is a ripe target for mockery, but I don’t find it any more absurd than any other religious belief. If they made too much sense, you wouldn’t need faith to believe them. What I find absurd is that when deciding the fate of the free world, adherence to those beliefs is given such serious consideration. There’s a certain logic to being concerned if someone does believe in an end times theology, but what possible difference could it make if you don’t? Is God going to need an effective president to shepherd the Affordable Rapture Act through Congress?
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.