The more I look into this revelation that Ted Cruz declared less than one percent of his income to charitable causes from 2006-2010, the more interesting it gets.
By any measure, Cruz has been blessed. His political career has been on the fast track. In 2012, he upset a conservative Republican for the GOP Senate nomination and then won an easy victory over the Democratic candidate in the 2012 Senate election. He currently is one of the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination. Financially, he has done incredibly well.
However, according to his own father’s teaching on tithing, such blessing should not be.
First, let’s establish from Cruz himself that he acknowledges not tithing. In an interview with CBN’s David Brody, Cruz implied that his meager charitable giving was primarily early in his marriage. Watch:
Transcript (from the Brody file):
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. 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.
As Mediaite writer Tommy Christopher points out, Cruz didn’t address the facts in a straightforward manner. The tax returns in question covered 2006-2010 (now removed from the Texas Tribune site – the numbers can still be viewed here). In 2010, Cruz reported just over $2 million in income while only declaring $22,337 in donations. In 2010, he wasn’t a poor, struggling newlywed. Obviously, the blessings were flowing, even though the tithes weren’t.
This is serious business to evangelicals who view tithing as the pathway to God’s blessing. Let’s listen to Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, describe what not tithing means to God (source video).
Rafael Cruz says that someone who is not tithing shouldn’t expect God’s blessing. He interprets Malachi to say that a non-tither is stealing from God. He adds that the devil will attack and perhaps devour one’s income. Rafael Cruz and others have expressed the opinion that Ted Cruz has been blessed because he has been faithful. How can this be if Cruz has been stealing from God?
Ironically, Ted Cruz is evidence against his own father’s teaching on tithing. Or perhaps Cruz isn’t really anointed. Or perhaps this whole dominionist business is just a way to provoke a great transfer of wealth, but not the kind Rafael Cruz preaches about. The main transfer of wealth of interest to prosperity preachers is from the congregation to their pockets.
For those who don’t believe tithing is for New Testament Christians, the amount given isn’t going to be the main problem. For them, what might generate concern is that Cruz has used the sincerity of his faith as an argument for his fitness to be president. The tithing issue exposes a potential problem with that narrative.
For those who view tithing as a mandate with dreadful consequences for lack of compliance, this revelation could be a deal breaker. Cruz has complicated matters now by telling David Brody a less than believable tale that is different that what his campaign said in 2012. Then they said Cruz volunteered a lot.
Cruz may hope the Brody interview will lay the matter to rest. He may be right. Such theological matters may not be of the same level of interest outside of the Christian nationalist camps of Iowa.
Even if this matter goes away as a political problem, it remains a problem for those who believe Cruz was blessed to rise rapidly through the political ranks all the while stealing from God.