Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • The Liberal War on The Judiciary: Comparing The Evangelical And Mormon Perspectives

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 10:36 pm, May 31st 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    For the ’06 election cycle Hugh Hewitt, in Painting the Map Red, identifies five GOP messages and we are looking at them here from an evangelical and Mormon perspective. Message 3 is:

    The Democratic Left and Its Senators Have Declared War on the Judiciary

    John: An Evangelical Perspective

    Of all of the points in the book, this one is to me the most obvious. The most devastating point is made when Hugh reprints these tables. It is clear that the Democrats are losing political influence, but attempting to hold control through judicial action.

    This is a clear attempt to override the checks and balances among branches of government and the political ebb and flow that the nation was designed to accommodate. This issues is also, to my mind, of almost singular importance. The “War on Religion” discussed as the previous issue is largely being fought in the judiciary. From abortion “rights” to “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, the greatest restrictions of the religious voice in public life have come not through the ballot box or the legislature, but from the courts.

    I’m not sure there is an “evangelical perspective”on this particular issue – I think there is simply an American one. If the courts escape the bonds of their constitutionally restricted purview, that is to say interpretation, not creation, of law, then we will rapidly fall into autocracy. We would no longer be the United States of America.

    We find ourselves in that position now, at least when it comes to certain issues. The vast majority of American, somewhere around 90%, identify themselves in believers of in God. Yes, there is an immense spectrum of such belief, but most believe in a Higher Being/Creator. And yet, decision after decision after decision comes down from the courts of our land seeking to deny this simple statistical fact from public discourse and consideration.

    From the filibusters of a huge number of Bush’s appellate court nominees to the lines of questioning aimed at other nominess, it is clear that the Democratic left seeks to control the nation through the courts. They seek to short-circuit the democratic process and re-write the constitution without a vote fo the people. This simply cannot be tolerated.

    Lowell: A Mormon Perspective

    I don’t believe there is a particularly Mormon view of this issue. A politically conservative Mormon will see the matter the same way any conservative evangelical or Catholic or Methodist or Jew would see it, and would agree fully with John’s post.

    There are several reasons for this. As John notes, liberals tend to see the judiciary as a means of overriding the Constitutional system of checks and balances, and so they want desperately to control the courts. This is probably because liberals know they cannot achieve their policy goals (such as abortion on demand and same-sex marriage) at the ballot box, so they see the courts as mini-legislatures where they can do so.

    Abortion on demand is the great liberal success story in this regard. How do Mormons see that issue? The LDS Church opposes abortion, and so Roe v. Wade is outrageous to  Mormons who are paying attention to what the Supreme Court did in that case.

    Turning to gay rights, the Church filed a “friend of the court” brief in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the case in which the Supreme Court came within one vote of deciding, as a matter of Constitutional law, that the Boy Scouts must allow homosexual scoutmasters to serve. (I blogged extensively about Scouting and the Supreme Court here.) The Mormon Church also recently announced its support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which provides, in pertinent part:

    “Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

    Romney’s already on record as opposing gay marriage, and vigorously criticizes his own state’s Supreme Court for discovering a right to gay marriage in the Massachusetts Constitution. That case was called Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Romney’s opposition to the Goodridge decision, which he repeatedly calls “judicial legislation,” is quite well-known. So there appears to be little doubt where he stands on the role of the judiciary.

    All of these cases exemplify judical arrogation of power. Opinions among Mormons will differ, but there is nothing in Mitt Romney’s religion that would separate him from Hugh Hewitt’s proposition that there is a “liberal war on the judiciary.” Indeed, I am confident that most committed Mormons would readily agree with Hugh that the judiciary is too often deciding matters best left to the legislative branch. And most conservative evangelicals should be delighted with Romney’s position on the issue.
    [tags]Hugh Hewitt, Democratic left, courts, judicial legislation, Boy Scouts, gay rights, gay marriage, filibuster, abortion, Pledge of Allegiance[/tags]

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    Hewitt’s Talking Points #2 – Liberal War On Religion – The Evangelical And Mormon Perspectives Compared

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:16 am, May 31st 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Continuing our look, that started here and Lowell continued here, at the talking points Hugh Hewitt lays out for ’06 in Painting the Map Red from an evangelical and Mormon perspective, today we turn to the following:

    The Democratic Left Has Declared War On Religion

    Hewitt begins this chapter by pointing out the increasing leftward movement of the Democrat party and how that creates problems with much of its traditional base, like Roman Catholics, but the real meat of his contention lies in the later part of the chapter where he examines recent judiciary hearings. Specifically he notes Chuck Schumer’s objections to the Bill Pryor nomination because of Pryor’s “deeply held beliefs.” This, Hewitt contends, and rightly so in my opinion, amounts to a “religious test” in violation of Article 6 of the constitution. He then goes on to examine much of the anti-religious screed that passes for journalism and thought pieces on the left, and particularly the left blogosphere. (Note – this blog is born out of perceived evangelical attempts to do similar things.)

    John:  The Evangelical View

    As evanglicals and Christians, we are johnny-come-lately to this issue, Mormons historically suffered under immense polticial oppression, but I won’t steal any of Lowell’s thunder here.

    This issue is extremely important for Christians. The attacks are very real, but they are not very straightforward. They are either couched in controlled language and presented in dim lights, like Schumer’s comments to Pryor. Or they are dressed up in “separation of church and state” when in actuality they are “shut the church up.” It is vitally important to remember that “separation” does not imply lack of the ability to be one voice amongst the many.

    I think the biggest point I could make on this issue is that if, as evangelicals, we disqualify Romney. or any other candidate, SOLELY on the basis of his/her religious affiliation, we are guilty of the same crimes and the Democratic left. We want, deserve, and have a right to a voice in the great debate of government. Our viewpoint will be informed and tempered by our faith, but all we ask is the opportunity to participate and be heard. If our views do not prevail, then so be it. But we want we should not be rejected just because we label ourselves “Christians.”

    Why should it be any different for a Mormon? If a candidate like Romney brings viewpoints that we cannot agree with, then he will lose the debate, but such a candidate most definitely should be allowed to bring those viewpoints, and if we fail to allow it, we are no better than our political oppostion.

    I would hope that on this issue more than any other, Mormons and evangelicals could find common ground.

    Lowell’s Response: The Mormon View

    I hope I can make this interesting, because as a Mormon I agree with everything John says. I just don’t see any significant difference in the way Mormons and evangelicals view this issue.

    I’ll turn to one example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court later struck down in
    City of Boerne v. Flores. (Adding insult to injury, a Reagan appointee, Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion of the Court in that case.) According to this description, in the City of Boerne decision

    the Court declared that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 . . . was unconstitutional, shocking and disappointing many religious liberty advocates. As Senator Orrin Hatch, one of the leading proponents of the bill, commented, “This decision shows the Court’s blindness to a pervasive trend in society, which does not just discriminate against, but is expunging, religion.”

    (Senator Hatch of Utah is a devout Mormon, by the way.)

    Congress later considered a replacement for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Liberty Act of 1998. The 1998 legislation had the same goal as the earlier one: to require that government demonstrate a “compelling interest” before passing laws that interfere with the free exercise of religion.

    During the Senate’s consideration of the 1998 Religious Liberty Act, Elder Dallin Oaks of the Church’s Council of Twelve Apostles addressed the Judiciary Committee. Elder Oaks has been a professor of law at the University of Chicago, President of Brigham Young University, and a Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. His statement before the Judiciary Committee expressed the Church’s view succinctly. An excerpt:

    The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormon or L.D.S.) illustrates why government should have a “compelling interest” before it can pass valid laws to interfere with the free exercise of religion. No other major religious group in America has endured anything comparable to the officially sanctioned persecution imposed upon members of my church in the nineteenth century by federal, state, and local governments. Mormons were driven from state to state, sometimes by direct government action, and finally expelled from the existing borders of the United States, only to be persecuted anew when those borders expanded to include the Territory of Utah. . . .

    The Bill of Rights protects principles, not constituencies. The worshipers who need its protection are the beleaguered minorities, not the influential constituent elements of the majority. As a Latter-day Saint, I have a feeling for that reality. Although my church is now among the five largest churches in America, we were once an obscure and unpopular group whose members, including many of my own ancestors, repeatedly fell victim to officially sanctioned persecution because of their religious beliefs and practices. We have special reason to call for Congress and the courts to reaffirm the principle that religious freedom must not be infringed unless clearly required by a “compelling governmental interest.”

    It is nothing short of outrageous that the Supreme Court currently extends extraordinary constitutional protection to words that cannot be found within the Constitution, such as the “right to privacy,” while abandoning the vital “compelling governmental interest” requirement that is needed to ensure the effectiveness of the express Bill of Rights language guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. The fact that the Constitution has two express provisions on religion suggests that religious freedom was meant to have a preferred position, but the Supreme Court’s Smith decision has now consigned it to an inferior one. That mistake must be remedied, and S. 2148 is appropriate for that purpose.

    Governor Romney has said that his decisions as a public officeholder will not be dictated by his religious beliefs. There can be no doubt, however, that his core beliefs will inform his public policy positions. Regarding the issue of the liberal (and judicial) attack on religion, there is nothing in Romney’s Mormon religion that would be anything but music to the ears of evangelicals who see the issue as John sees it.

    Add your two cents, maybe more, in the forum.

    [tags]Democrats, faith, religion, religious test, Mormons, evangelicals, church and state[/tags]

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    Today’s Reading List

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:46 am, May 31st 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    New poll – honestly, can you believe all this network polling on a race 2 years away, when there are mid-term elections pending?

    Know your candidates’ educational background.

    Working the numbers, and setting the strategy for the ’06 election.

    In an era where the best bet for Republicans is to nationalize elections – do we really need stuff like this?

    Sounds like the Protestant work ethic to me – so where’s the rub with evangelicals?

    Something to say about any of these links?  Visit the forum and speak your mind.

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    Liberal War on The Military – The Mormon Perspective

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 09:32 am, May 30th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    As we began to explore the issues in Hugh’s book, and as John notes in his post just below, the two of us expected that we would find no significant differences in the way evangelicals and Mormons are likely to view those issues. That’s certainly true of this one. Most American Mormons who are Republicans (which I am confident is a large majority) would agree with Hugh regarding the liberal attack on the military. As a life-long, practicing, multi-generational Mormon, a President Mitt Romney may be expected to share that view. Here is some background into the strong patriotic tradition in Romney’s faith.

    I think it is safe to say that Latter-day Saints, although not militaristic, have a strong sense of duty to our country and we find miltary service exceedingly honorable. For an excellent overview of what Mormons believe on war, peace, and military service, I recommend this LDS General Conference address by President Gordon B. Hinckley. It is a sweet and touching treament of the subject, and is authoritative. (Mormons consider President Hinckley God’s prophet on the earth today.) Here’s an excerpt:

    This places us in the position of those who long for peace, who teach peace, who work for peace, but who also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our governments. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do. It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.

    Doctrinally, as a Mormon I find everything in John’s post in full agreement with my church’s beliefs.  A few facts fill out the picture of a deeply patriotic religious culture:

    • Historically, and like most Christian churchmen, the First Presidency of the Church decried the carnage of World War II, but Mormons served, often heroically and by the thousands.
    • Mormons cannot be conscientous objectors on account of their faith, because the Church is not pacifist.
    • Mormon doctrine expressly recognizes the right to defend one’s liberty and family “even unto bloodshed,” althought efforts at forebearance are necessary.
    • There are many Mormon Medal of Honor recipients.
    • A number of cadets and midshipmen at the military service academies are Mormons. Here’s an interesting example of a Mormon cadet at West Point who also was on the basketball team and left for two years to serve a mission for the Church. At this writing, the top midshipman at the Naval Academy is a Mormon; so is the top cadet at the Air Force Academy.
    • We believe the United State Consitution was divinely inspired, and that the Framers were men raised up by God for that very purpose.
    • If you walk into any Mormon meetinghouse in the United States, you’ll find a display case with the photos and addresses of the young men and women who are serving as full-time missionaries for the Church.  Alongside the photos of the missionaries will be photos and addresses of any member of that ward (congregation) who is serving in the military. 

    In short, voters who support the military, whatever their religious background, will find no reason to be concerned on the basis of Mitt Romney’s faith.  Instead, they’ll have to evaluate his positions on military issues.  And that seems very right to me.

    And by the way, this recent action is not the sort of thing an anti-military public officeholder does. Nor is this one.

    We’d love to have your thoughts.  You can discuss this on the comment forum here.

    [tags]military, evangelical, Mormon, pacificism, patriotism[/tags]

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    Hewitt’s Talking Points #1 – Liberal War On The Military – The Evangelical Perspective

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:28 am, May 30th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    In his book, Painting The Map Red, Hugh Hewitt identified five key messages for the GOP for the ’06 election season. Here begins a series of posts in which Lowell and I will give our comments/thoughts/impressions on each message from our perspectives and an evangelical Christian (me) and a Mormon (Lowell). The idea is to show how, on the things that really matter when it comes to choosing for whom to vote, for there is little or no difference between evangelicals and Mormons.  (Lowell’s post on this subject is just above.)

    Hugh’s first message is

    The Democratic Left and the MSM have declared war on the military. Again.

    In the chapter devoted to the message Hugh makes his point on the basis of media coverage of the war and its interviews of key adminsitration officials, then Dick Durbin’s torture accusations on the floor of the Senate.

    There is not much I can say, since Hugh and I are both evangelicals and see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. A quality and active military is necessary for the nation. As much as my faith makes my preference to convert ‘em rather than kill ‘em, there are simply too many people in the world too willing to kill without provocation, and beyond reason for me to think that will always work.

    There is a significant pacificist streak in Christianity, but most would not identify as evangelicals and most would not identify as Republicans. There is nothing that I have been able to find in Christianity that identifies pacificism as doctrinally mandated. I understand where my pacificist brethren come from, but I am forced to comment that they enjoy the freedom to live safely as such because there are many of us that feel differently. Absent evangelical willingness to participate in and support the military, the only genuine option open to pacificist Christians would be martyrdom.

    Christian martyrdom has proven to be useful at points in history. There are situations and enemies wherein the willingness to die for one’s beliefs would prove itself a catalyst for resolution of conflict, but it is not a universal. There are also many other situations where such willingness to die would be viewed as invitation to invasion, and genocide.

    The United States military itself is well populated with Christians, these Christians work hard and fight valiantly to defend our nation. I am proud to be under thier protection – I thank them for their service – and it brings me joy to know they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    [tags]military, evangelical, pacificism[/tags]

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    Today’s Reading List

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:39 am, May 30th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Liberatarian views on polygamy and same-sex marriage.  I really disagree with my friend Josh here, but more importantly, Romney should be out front commenting on this.

    Stanford Review surveys the field.

     How the other side thinks:

    Romney’s money situation in Iowa (HT: Krusty Konservative)

    Romney to Michigan in August.

    But Ohio seems to be THE place to be seen these days.

    Military coverage of Romney’s visit to Iraq.

    Score one for the CJCLDS in the issues department.

    McCain’s campaign and campaign finance reform – George Will.  Is it possible, just possible, that McCain wokred for that silly bill to aid his own aspirations?

    Andrew Sullivan in the Times of London on Gore’s comeback.  Any Republican against Gore – please, oh please, oh please!

    An unusual take on presidential prognostication.  It also hits a little too close to home for comfort.  A more convential view.

    Presidential politics – this is funny, I think we have found the man’s neickname for this blogger.

    ’06 negativity 

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