Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson has officially entered the 2016 presidential race for the Republican Party. Carson is well-known for his medical accomplishments such as separating conjoined twins, but he is also as well-known for his religious beliefs. The Seventh-day Adventist has relied upon his faith from a young age and continues to do so today.
Ben Carson stood with his wife Candy stood with his wife Candy as he officially launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Detroit, May 4, 2015.
Here is a look at six key elements and issues related to Carson’s faith.
1. Carson is a twice-baptized Seventh-day Adventist.
While he was baptized at a young age, Carson asked to be baptized by a different pastor when he was 12, stating that he didn’t fully understand the importance of his infant baptism, he wrote in Gifted Hands.
2. Even though he belongs to the Seventh-day Adventist church, he often attends churches of different traditions and has said that he appreciates the beliefs of other faiths.
“I spend just as much time in non-Seventh-day Adventist churches because I’m not convinced that the denomination is the most important thing,” he told Religion News Service in 1999. “I think it’s the relationship with God that’s most important.”
“As a Christian, I am not the least bit offended by the beliefs of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons and so forth. In fact, I am delighted to know that they believe in something that is more likely to make them into a reasonable human being, as long as they don’t allow the religion to be distorted by those seeking power and wealth,” he wrote in his book America the Beautiful in 2012.
3. Carson believes that religious practices should be respected across the country so long as they do not limit or infringe upon the rights of others and links religious “persecution” in America to acts of persecution from abroad.
“It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to allow Americans to practice their religious ways, while simultaneously ensuring that no one’s beliefs infringe upon those of others,” he told Breitbart News in March 2015. “As Americans, we have an obligation to denounce these acts of persecution. For when we stand up to such intolerance, we are defending the root of our freedom, both at home and abroad.”
4. He puts faith in God, even though bad things may happen without any explanation, including his own personal battle with prostate cancer.
“I always say if God didn’t allow any bad things to happen we would already be in heaven, and we are not there. So there’s evil in the world, there’s bad in the world, and as long as there’s more than one force, you are not going to have one force dominating everything. I do believe that will eventually be the case, but it’s not the case now. We don’t know the end from the beginning the way that God does. These are just things that we don’t know, and that’s where trust and faith come in. You just say, ‘Lord, I don’t understand it. But one thing I do know is that You understand it and You are in control and I trust You,’ and that’s the end of the story,” Carson told PBS in 2008.
“It [cancer] gave me real perspective, that’s for one thing. …the prognosis was pretty grave at that point. And I just said, ‘Lord, if it’s time for me to go, You know what is best.’ I don’t want to go, but if it’s time, that’s fine, I trust You,’ and I was at peace. It gave me more perspective and I think it really did — think I was pretty empathetic before, but I think I am even more empathetic now when people are facing death or when they are facing really horrible things, in terms of having a real sense of how they feel. So I think it was a good thing.”
5. Carson once tried to stab a friend when he was 14, but when he failed, he turned to the Bible to help him deal with his anger issues and violence.
“The knife blade struck [the young man’s belt buckle] with such force it broke and of course, he fled in terror. But I was even more terrified because it dawned upon me that at that moment I was trying to kill somebody over nothing. I just fell on my knees [in the bathroom] and started praying. I just said, ‘Lord, there’s got to be something better, I can’t control this.’ And there was a Bible, and I picked the Bible up and it just opened to the book of Proverbs, and I started reading and there were all these verses about anger and what happens to angry people. And I stayed in there for hours reading and contemplating and praying, and I came to an understanding during that time that to react, to lash out, was not really a sign of strength. It was a sign of weakness. When I came out of the bathroom after three hours, I was a different person, and I never had a problem with temper since then,” he told PBS.
6. He wants to include everyone’s religious beliefs in America and as president would protect non-Christians.
“Everybody’s free to do whatever they want. To try to impose one’s religious beliefs on someone else is absolutely what we should not be doing. That goes in both directions. Someone who is an atheist doesn’t have a right to tell someone who isn’t an atheist what they can or cannot do or what they can or cannot say. We have to be fair but it has to be fair in both directions,” Carson said at the National Press Club luncheon in 2014.