Adventists Deeply Divided Over Ben Carson's Candidacy

Retired Seventh-day Adventist neurosurgeon-turned-presidential-candidate, Dr. Benjamin Carson, has proven a polarizing figure among Adventists. While some in the denomination laud his candidacy and his remarkable personal biography that propelled him to fame, others feel his deeply partisan rhetoric since turning to politics negates his legacy as a physician.

On May 4, the day Carson officially announced his candidacy as a Republican hopeful, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists issued a statement asking Church members not to engage in politicking under the auspices of the denomination on behalf of the first ever Adventist presidential candidate:

The Adventist Church has a longstanding position of not supporting or opposing any candidate for elected office. This position is based both on our historical position of separation of church and state and the applicable federal law relating to the church’s tax-exempt status.

The statement, issued on the Adventist Review's website, sought to remind members and leaders at all levels that the Adventist Church has long advocated for a clear separation of church and state, and seeks to defend the religious liberties of people of all faiths. The statement went on,

While individual church members are free to support or oppose any candidate for office as they see fit, it is crucial that the church as an institution remain neutral on all candidates for office.

For Linda Rosenquist, a Southern California resident, Ben Carson's candidacy was not only worthy of her support, but also of her involvement. Rosenquist volunteered in 2014 for the "Run Ben Run Draft Ben Carson for President Campaign." She connected with a group of activists and supporters who hoped to encourage Carson to run, and to raise money and awareness for his campaign. Rosenquist's enthusiasm for Ben Carson is representative of many Adventists' sentiments:

"He came up from nothing in Detroit and became world-class neurosurgeon. He’s just such an amazing person," Rosenquist said, speaking by phone from her home near Loma Linda. Rosenquist said that she has followed Carson's career since the 80's or 90's, amazed by his story of overcoming and serving. She admits that in many people's estimation, Carson is a long shot. "In my heart of hearts, I don’t think he has a chance," she said. Then quickly added, "There are a lot of people who aren’t even Adventist praying about this," she said. She is convinced that "if this is the time in history God is leading someone to change the world, then he has a chance."

Rosenquist says she is a registered Republican, and plans to vote for Carson in the California primary election.

Not everyone in the Adventist community share's Rosenquist's enthusiasm. A Facebook group called "Adventists say NO to Benjamin Carson for President" launched in May, 2013, when it became apparent Carson had presidential aspirations. The group has attracted a small but strident following. In response to an article from MSNBC, "Ben Carson: I don't think many people discriminate," posted on the page, Donna Engbertson commented, "He is just soooo embarrassing! I don't want anyone to know that I am of the same denomination he is."

Many Adventists feel that Carson's turn from his celebrated medical career to partisan politics made him a less admirable figure. Among them is Michael T. Nixon. Writing on his blog in a post entitled "Gifted Hands?," Nixon wrote,

I did not have to overcome what he overcame. I have not come close to accomplishing half of what he has accomplished. That being said I can promise you this: I will never forget where I came from. I will never demonize the people who may be struggling currently with what I overcame previously. The same hands that God gifted with the ability to save and transform lives medically are now being used to point down in judgment at the people Dr. Carson was gifted to inspire and save.

Nixon expressed dismay at Carson's apparent turning against the very programs that helped Carson rise out of poverty to be able to become a physician in the first place. Nixon wrote,

Ironically, if he would have followed the advice of the two verses from Proverbs that he read to begin his now infamous comments at that 2013 prayer breakfast, things might be going better for him: “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” -Proverbs 11:12 (ESV) “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” -Proverbs 11:25 (ESV)

Naomi Johnson, a columnist for The Daily Northwestern, recently wrote in an article entitled "Dr. Ben Carson needs to follow his own advice,"

As a Seventh-day Adventist myself, I grew up going to church every Saturday for most of my life, and it was at church, and through my mom, that I learned about Carson’s inspiring life story. [ . . . ] Fast forward 12 years to today, and the only word that I can use to describe my reaction to Carson’s announcement is apprehension. What troubles me is the rhetoric with which he addresses some of the most important issues in America today.

It is disappointing that this inspiring man is also capable of abrasive rhetoric that suggests a tendency toward political polarization. He has grouped “gays” together with those who commit bestiality, accused President Obama of being a “psychopath” and stated that Obamacare is the “worst thing since slavery.”

Love him or hate him, Dr. Carson has changed the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as the denomination's first aspirant for the highest office in the land, and his bid for the White House promises to hold interest for Adventists of all political persuasions, if for very different reasons.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I’ve been singing this song “Dare to be a Daniel” for such a long time. Now I’m beginning to see significance in Carson’s aspiration for the highest office. We brought him up, and we won’t let him down. Akan proverb says: “When you climb a good tree, you are given a push.” Let’s give him a push; in whichever way, someone will rule over us and I guess it’s better with our own. Go Carson!

Daniel surely didn’t insult Nebuchadnezzar when he was summoned to give the king an interpretation of his dream. Ben Carson blew his chance. Very few people have the opportunity to influence leaders at the highest level. That was his last prayer breakfast. No future President, democrat or republic will extend that invitation again. Had Dr. Carson only dared to be a Daniel there would not be this divide.


And do you think Nebuchardnezer liked it to hear that Babylon shall fall? And you mean Carson insulted the president? Mmmmm

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The problem with the Adventist Church is that you have to have pastoral credentials in most cases to run the business affairs of the church. The second problem is that MD’s think they too are businessman and that they also have spiritual insight that can only be obtained practicing medicine. They try to tell the pastors how to run the church both financially and spiritually. This MD God complex knows no limits such that when a world renowned surgeon watches a few hours of Fox TV, he becomes convinced that he could run the world.


I think the title may be an overstatement. I can hardly bring myself to care about Dr. Carson’s failed-before-it-was-launched campaign.


the office of president also carrys the title of commander and chief of the armed forces. how does an Adventist world view fit in that role? That aside, His world has not given him the contacts to form a competent cabinet

.I was dental consultant to the Georgia Board of Correction. yes, men are rasped in a Prison, some may even begin to enjoy it. but I have seen young men, in The infirmary who had has eaten crushed glass just to get away from sexual abuse. so his comments were not founded. On good information.


Very good question Thom. It would be a problem for me just as a human being to send people to kill and be killed. How can a modern-day Christian do it? I don’t know. How could an SDA do it? considering the traditional stand of the church on combat it seems to me that it would be a direct rejection of the SDA understanding of killing and war to direct a war.


I can’t get too worked up about it either, since I think it’s a flash in the pan. At best, it’s an interesting sideshow. He will not survive the primaries–if he even gets that far. I’m not sure a committed Christian could become president anyway. Too many unholy alliances and compromises are required.

Having said all that, I have a lot of respect for him, and like many of his ideas. I just think he could do more good on the lecture circuit, or (as has been mentioned before) he would be a good candidate for Surgeon General.


Not really a good question…It’s only a smart one Romans 13. :slight_smile:

The church defends in court people who conscientiously object to military fighting. It teaches that killing people in battle is not in line with the teachings of the church. This is direct disobedience of governments who call on people to kill in the name of the state. The church does not accept absolute power of governments and sees times when it is necessary to object.

To me it is just as immoral to send others into battle and fight as it is to fight yourself. I even have issues with being a citizen in a country that sends people off to war on my behalf.


I know if you happened to live in any of these countries: Uganda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Syria etc., I bet you, hearing the coming of the US army will make your heart jump :smile:

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I was born in Angola from missionary parents and Grandparents., The US meddled in that civil war supporting UNITA under the cover of the South African military. Probably why I am so much against war. It destroyed my beloved Angola. :cry:


He actually has a better chance of winning “Dancing with the Stars”. And to that I am sure the response from the church would be more decisive that an Adventist should not be dancing.


lol…that’s my impression of the way most american adventists i know feel…but stranger things can happen in politics…there’s so many in the republican field now, it may not take much of a following to win, or at least be one of the last ones standing…

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You bring up a good point there: not all men or women can handle that level of responsibility or pressure. And sometimes having to make a choice between, not so good choice #1 or not so good choice #2. Look at Obama; he’s aged so much in just a few years.

Maybe thats why where told to pray for our leaders, regardless if their our pick or not.



Not necessarily. Babylon was no heavenly Jerusalem when Daniel was Prime Minister. And lets not forget Joseph. They had to make laws which were for a predominantly pagan population, and somehow they did it, and even more so; were blessed by God.


I have mixed feelings about Ben Carson’s candidacy. I think he has a good foundation that with some preparation could be an excellent president.

However I do not feel that he is ready. His views sound too much like the typical republican so there is a uniqueness that he should have that he has yet to discover in himself. And I fear that those who run the council of foreign relations/federal reserve would take advantage of his lack of political knowledge to just use him.

What I’d recommend is for him to get and read the book “The Time of the End” by George McCready Price; recordings of the “Last Day Events” lectures from the 1976 Southern New England Campmeeting and to review “Liberty” especially the issues from the late 1970s through out the 1980s. Then to spend some time in discussion with Ron Paul. Rand Paul. Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchannan, maybe work with them. If he were to do this I’d strongly back him and believe he’d do an excellent job. But until he does these he will not be ready. For now the 5 men I have named have a better grasp of the issues important to us and I will continue to support them and pray that I can some day support brother Carson!

Doesn’t it make anyone wander how a fairly sophisticated guy can suggest that the president may declare marshal law before the 2016 election? I am unwilling to believe at this point that he was just making mischief by stirring up the right wing crazies. Is this notion a result of long-standing exposure to Adventist beliefs re: last-day events- an acquisition of an institutional (rather than personal) paranoia?


He can always speed up an alliance between the US and the Vatican and start the so much waited for persecution of Adventists! Who could focus on the target better than someone who knows what the prophecy says? …