Timing is everything. And it didn't hurt that during the early months of Ben Carson’s campaign churchgoing folk across the country flocked to theaters to see a movie called War Room. Never heard of it? It is a hugely popular film in Christian households. By the way, this movie is not to be confused with The War Room – the documentary chronicling Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. No, War Room tells a story about the power of prayer. It presents a middle class family dealing with a series of difficult life challenges. And as filmmaker ￼￼Alex Kendrick says, "People of faith and the church are the bull’s-eye audience." The movie, has not only stayed in theaters for months, it even pushed the big Hollywood film "Straight Out of Compton" off the top box office spot one summer weekend.
So what does this have to do with Ben Carson, Republican presidential candidate? I maintain that the people who are still going to see are a big part of the secret sauce in Ben Carson’s campaign. They are the people who believe as he does that, "I can do all things though Him who strengthens me." Seen through the lens of these self -proclaimed devout Christians, a pediatric neurosurgeon without political experience can be ￼president. Those flocking to meet him on the campaign trail and at book signings could care less about the media questions concerning the secular events of his life. It is his authentic life as a believer that attracts them.
One more thing—the central characters in the movie whose faith is tested and revitalized are African-American. Faith has yet to break down all the racial barriers so black evangelicals on screen is a powerful image. "The 11 o'clock hour on Sunday morning," Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. famously noted, "is the most segregated hour in America." It is a big deal that white evangelicals are comfortable embracing Carson. Their support could mean he wins in Iowa, and if he is not wiped out in the New Hampshire primary, he may have a claim to victory in heavily Christian South Carolina.
￼But even if he wins in Iowa and South Carolina, political observers say it will take a miracle for Ben Carson to be the last one standing by the end of primary season. No doubt Carson’s Christians are taking that prediction in stride. After all, they draw their confidence from a higher power -- Mark 9:23, "all things are possible for one who believes."
>> Callie Crossley is the host of Under the Radar, and her commentaries can be heard Monday mornings on WGBH. You can find previous commentaries, here.