There was never much doubt that Madison Cawthorn, the new, 25-year-old congressman-elect from North Carolina’s 11th District would be offering up some interesting takes on politics, policy and life.
Cawthorn, who eked out a second place finish in a crowded GOP primary in March, defeated an opponent favored by outgoing Congressman and current Trump chief-of-staff Mark Meadows in a light turnout June runoff and then emerged victorious on Nov. 3 in the heavily Republican district, is a piece of work.
A hard-line right-winger prone to making outrageous, Trumpian pronouncements who was raised by a homeschooling family, Cawthorn only briefly attended college for a short time after being partially paralyzed in a spring break car wreck seven years ago. He does not appear to have ever held much in the way of what might be considered traditional employment to this point, though Wikipedia reports that he worked at Chick-Fil-A as a teenager and is now “the owner of SPQR Holdings, LLC, a real estate investment firm in Hendersonville. The firm was created in August 2019 and reported no income; he is its sole employee.“
Despite his relative lack of experience in life, Cawthorn appears to believe he knows what is best for a lot of other people. He has voiced strong opposition to abortion rights and immigration and just this week, informed the news outlet Jewish Insider that he has tried to convert Jews and Muslims (and, presumably, others) to his brand of conservative Christianity:
The congressman-elect, who was raised Baptist but is now nondenominational, said that he is a devout Christian. “I would say I have a very, very, very strong faith and [am] very grounded in the actual word,” he told JI, adding that he had read through “just about every single religious work there is,” including the Torah and the Quran.
Cawthorn said he had converted “several Muslims to Christ because of that,” including a “young woman” who lived in New York and someone “down in Atlanta” when he was in rehab after his accident. “It was pretty incredible.”
He did not go into specifics, but seemed to believe that evangelism was a calling on par with public service. “If all you are is friends with other Christians, then how are you ever going to lead somebody to Christ?” Cawthorn mused. “If you’re not wanting to lead somebody to Christ, then you’re probably not really a Christian.”
Had he ever tried to convert any Jews to the Christian faith?
“I have,” he said with a laugh. “I have, unsuccessfully. I have switched a lot of, uh, you know, I guess, culturally Jewish people. But being a practicing Jew, like, people who are religious about it, they are very difficult. I’ve had a hard time connecting with them in that way.”
And when reporter Matthew Cassel pressed Cawthorn on the appropriateness of such a stance by a public servant elected to help defend the Constitution, he didn’t back down:
After JI inquired about Cawthorn’s thoughts on the separation of church and state, he said that many people have asked him if he will be able to divorce himself from his faith as a congressman. “That is the basis of all of my experience and everything I’ve learned, everything that I believe in, how I’ve formed all of my worldview,” he said of his religion. “I always think of that question as just so silly.”
“The Lord and the Bible and the value systems I’ve gotten through Judeo-Christian values,” he added, “it affects every single decision I make.”
This figures to go over well with Jewish Americans — especially given that Cawthorn has won support from white supremacists and once called a visit he made to a vacation home of Adolf Hitler’s something on his “bucket list” — though he has subsequently denounced white nationalism (thank goodness!).
The bottom line: If North Carolinians thought their time as the butt of late night comedy jokes and the subject of cringe-inducing national media stories had ended, they probably need think again and get prepared for the fun to begin again in 2021.