2015 Was the Year of the Adventist Politician (and Why 2016 Won't Be)

While there have long been prominent Adventist politicians in the US and around the world, the year 2015 saw an unprecedented spotlight on the Adventist Church as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced his candidacy for president of the United States.

Carson’s unexpected (and temporary) rise to the top of the GOP field invited national media attention on Carson’s appealing personal story of triumph over adversity, and to his Adventist faith. Real estate magnate Donald Trump brought up Carson's religious heritage at an October ralley, contrasting Carson's faith with his own: "I'm Presbyterian," he said. "Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."

Reporters across the country did their homework, looking into the Adventist Church, and asking questions about how Carson’s faith might impact his governing. Media outlets from the New York Times to Mother Jones to CNN to The Washington Post dug into the basics of Seventh-day Adventist history and practice, and scrutinized Carson’s personal beliefs. As the spotlight on Adventists intensified late in 2015, the North American Division launched a new website, WhoAreAdventists.org, to answer questions from the media and the public about the church.

Adventists themselves were divided about the desirability of Ben Carson's vying for the country’s top job. Officially, the church continued its politically neutral stance, honed over long decades and informed by a cornerstone Adventist belief in the separation of church and state.

While still a poorly understood religion overall, more and more average Americans can profess at least passing familiarity with some tenets of Adventism, thanks to 2015's attention on Ben Carson. Now, at the start of 2016, the year of the U.S. presidential election, Carson looks increasingly like a longshot for the White House as his poll numbers have fallen steadily since peaking in late-November.

While a Southern Baptist himself, Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), whose poll numbers have climbed as Carson's have nosedived, has strong Adventist connections have also been explored by the media. Cruz’s wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, an executive with Goldman Sachs (she took a leave of absence during the 2016 campaign) is from a long line of Adventist doctors and missionaries, and her orthopedic surgeon brother is on the faculty at Loma Linda. Religion has featured prominently in Cruz’s campaign.

Adventists can also claim Raul Ruiz, congressman from California, and Sheila Jackson Lee, long-time congresswoman from Texas. Adventist Barry Black, Senate chaplain, has also had his share of media attention in recent years. Longtime Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland retired from the U.S. House in 2013, and now lives in a remote woodland cabin off the grid.

Adventist politicians are nothing new in many other parts of the world, especially in places where Adventists are prevalent.

In Jamaica, Adventism is one of the country’s largest denominations, and the country’s Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen, is a prominent Adventist who, until his appointment in 2009, was president of the West Indies Union.

In 2015, Adventist Jioji Konousi Konrote was elected president of Fiji, and took office in November. He will serve a three-year term.

At the General Conference session in Texas this summer, the world church made an effort to organize and support its members who hold high political office around the world. A group of 21 leaders from 10 countries — a mix of ambassadors, ministers of state, members of parliament, a senator, a deputy chief justice, and high-level officials within international organizations — formed a new association called the new World Adventist Public Officials Association. Floyd Morris, Senate president of Jamaica, was elected president of the new association and The Philippines’ ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Bienvenido V. Tejano, was elected secretary.

As the Adventist church continues to attract more members around the world, more Adventist politicians will likely take office and media attention will continue. 2015 was a banner year for Adventists in politics, but in 2016, if trends in America's race for White House continue, when the dust settles, there will likely not be an Adventist living on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Alita Byrd is Interviews Editor for SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7262

never in the history of the World has there been a great need of leadership and such a drought of candidates. Moreover the leading candidates are the worst of the lot. When we need a Teddy Roosevelt we are offered a George Patton. I would vote for Hillary if she would pledge to appoint Bill as embassator to the Vatican. tom Z

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If being from a long line of Adventist professionals makes one an Adventist, there are many more closeted Adventists hiding behind closed doors.

Carson has not helped Adventism by his lack of knowledge of the beliefs and his rather strange ideas. As an expert neurosurgeon, it does not necessarily qualify for the POTUS office. Fact is, his party has no one that fully compares to the present office holder in ability.
Radicals make news; but not good administrators and executives.

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I would vote for Hillary even if she didn’t appoint Bill as ambassador to the Vatican.

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From what has taken place at GC 2015, politics, theological discussions and 150+ years of Adventist history…Adventists come in more than 31 flavors of spiritual maturity, consecration level and practice as far as being whatever a genuine SDA is supposed to be.
As far as the USA…it is so culturally contaminated that whoever is the next POTUS will make little difference.

I see little likelihood that any Republican will win the office. Fox News has pretty much seen to that.

There was a time when Republicans believed FN worked for them, but many realize it’s now become the other way around. FN is more concerned with ratings and income than long-term political play; they absolutely do best when there are political horrors and atrocities among liberals and unfaithful conservatives (and exaggerations and lies and prejudice) to stoke the increasing anger and hate talk. FN’s approach, for example, created Donald Trump, much to the chagrine of the Republican party, though he is unlikely to stay the distance. More importantly, FN’s approach now ensures that only someone far right–like Ted Cruz–can win the nomination; however, that individual will almost certainly be too far from center to win the election, as we saw with the last election.

Ask Google if Fox News is destroying the Republican party, and you won’t have to take my word for it. Even Republican leaders like Newt Gringich have reached this conclusion. Like it or not, we need to brace ourselves for further polarization of opinion in this nation–probably to the amusement and consternation of those in other nations.

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as it stands now, hillary has a good chance of becoming president, and the adventist connection here is bill and chelsea’s veganism…chelsea is also married to a jew, and so there may be a sabbath influence in a hillary presidency…

one of the more intriguing aspects of hillary’s presidency will no doubt be bill’s status as the country’s first first gentleman…given his past, which i don’t think he’s renounced - earlier last year there were convincing rumors that he, along with prince andrew, had visited orgy island ( http://nypost.com/2015/02/14/bill-clintons-libido-threatens-to-derail-hillary-again/ ) - it may be a good idea for hillary to divorce bill leading up to november, but retain him as a top advisor and personal confidante…i just don’t think another monica lewinsky scandal can be good for the country or the world…

but aside from bill’s baggage, which i personally think is unimportant, although it is true that many people get side-tracked by it, i think a hillary presidency will be a good thing, overall…i think she’ll definitely toughen up obama’ impending executive action on gun control through an effort to repeal the second ammendment - she’ll stack scotus to make that happen - and i believe she’ll be much more hawkish with the ISIS problem, which is now the global phenomenon possibly presaged in daniel 11:36-45…i think she’ll probably do better with reaching out to republicans in congress than obama has done, and that she’ll be a positive force for keeping wall street, the banking industry and big business in line - she’ll do that specifically to stem a challenge from elizabeth warren during a second term run…i do think she’ll approve keystone, put TPP on a fast track, repair relations with israel and germany, and revoke or add teeth into the iran nuclear deal that will effectively scuttle it…domestically i think she’ll move towards repairing race relations and ending the police problem that exists in american cities now, and it goes without saying that she’ll entrench obamacare along even more comprehensive lines, which she tried to do during bill’s presidency…

hillary will no doubt be controversial, and face a lot of opposition, but she’ll get most of what she wants…and the country will be better off afterwards…i think she’ll be one of america’s most consequential presidents…

That Ben could run shows the blessings of this country. Ordinary people, non politicians, can give it a whirl if they like.

The campaign is just heating up and the Adventist Church has crucified their brother. Don’t worry, he will rise in the polls again. There was a momentary fluctuation in the heartbeat; however, Carson picked new instruments to finish the job. The Adventist Church has been traditionally liberal. Most members have voted for abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, etc.,. The General Conference has never been quiet on politics. It just tells the members of the church and it’s ministers not to speak publicly about their political beliefs. Sad.

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Donald Trump is quite an entertainer … The prospect that an entertained society will go for an entertainer is quite horrifying to those who believe politics is not about entertainment. Ben Carson has not been entertaining enough, it seems. And no, the Adventist Church has NOT crucified their brother. The Adventist church (or at least many within it) marveled at the positions Carson took, including some political statements, but also religious convictions he proclaimed. As to the church and politics … the Adventist church has had an early tradition of being politically active (both, the anti-slavery as well as the health reform movement have been highly political). What we have been warned against is party politics. Allegiance to one party or another can quickly produce loyalty conflicts, if we believe in our heavenly citizenship.

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The title of the article is misleading. This has been a disastrous year for Adventism in general. The vote in San Antonio in July did tremendous damage to the mission and brand of the church. Then Dr. Carson, who is certifiable IMO and so boldly wore his religion on his sleeve, just as boldly made so many false claims and monstrous statements it sent a chill up my spine. In addition he showed himself to be completely incompetent as a potential POTUS. AND on top of it all, most of Adventism has fallen completely silent in the face of all of this. It’s quite interesting but not completely unexpected.

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Carson is message of persistence the embodiment of black achievement — a poor inner-city boy who became one of the world most accomplished neurosurgeons. A black icon since 1987, when he became the first person to successfully separate twins conjoined at the backs of their heads. He was a rare and much-desired role model: a black man who became known for his intellect, not a satirist, garners respect and pride among African Americans. Carson the role model because he’s done great things in medicine— urging parents to take control of children to the dangers of uncontrolled agitators on the streets that really like to foster division and conflict, particularly in the black community from whom he still has a reservoir of admiration sense of duty to help advance his race to the narrative of achievement and social mobility.

Not written on this Spectrum Website but from another that Seventh-day Adventist General Conference Liberty Director Chase is only concerned with the denominational reputation before everyone knows that Dr. Ben Carson is an Adventist that the denominational for rough ride. That is the very vertebral column Dr. Carson is not concerned with GC Liberty Director Chase affectation denominational vertical.

Ben Carson continuing doing what his heart tells him that his only concern to help advance his race to the narrative of achievement and social mobility from the AMERICAN BLACK RACE ROUGH RIDE.

Dr. Ben Carson is not stopping running or stop walking to appease denominational affectation but, his own, a solid tangible God fearing man of reputation as one of the world most accomplished Adventist neurosurgeons in the world. Win or Lose: Dr.Carson alive and well, there is another time for politics, he continues encourage the fresh gathering sweet fragrance of mankind add to his poitical experience and learning to run and walk smells the optimism of Americans hopes to good life, freedom, God bless America, while some cynics smell flowers, look around for a coffin.