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."

  • Today’s Reading List – July 31, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:51 am, July 31st 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Lots of stuff over the weekend about the intersection of faith and politics. Most importantly, the CT interview of David Gerson, someone this blog hopes to interview in the future. Then there is the absolutely bizarre mixing of scripture and politics this post links to. Then there is the big story that was about concerning the mega-church going “apolitical.”

    It occurs to me in reading all this, there is a difference between ideas and power. The church, religion, comes with power. Government has power. The constitutional mandate against establishment and Jefferson’s appeal to separation, were about power – but it is not against ideas. Of recent years prohibitions against combined ecclesiastical and governmental power have been used as a means of crushing ideas. This idea may deserve further exploration on this blog. Lowell: Yes, it does!

    UH-OH!

    Lowell: That same term appears in David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest; Halberstam used it to describe Vietnam. Still, I don’t recall seeing anyone complain about that. I even used the term myself, in the past, before someone kindly pointed out to me that it’s offensive to many. Frankly, I had no idea. I guess that makes me naive, but I think Romney and I have lots of distinguished company, as this etymological definition, and especially this Wikipedia entry, show. See for yourself– just Google “tar baby” and see how deep you have to dig to get any idea that the term is objectionable. I think this will go away, but it will be interesting to see if the news media allow it to. Update: Brandon Denning asks, at InstaPundit: “Can we save the public shaming for public officials who actually intend their comments to be offensive? Like, say, Mel Gibson?”

    John adds: I guess this must be the circles you run in. Coming from the hyper-racially sensitive South and Midwest I’ve know this was a poor choice of words since elementary school. While I don’t think the Governor had any malicious or insulting intent here AT ALL, I do think he should have known better.

    The numbers – Friday’s WaPo “line” – Lowell’s taking a poll.

    Yeah, but I bet he won’t turn one down either. Lowell: Huntsman’s political judgment seems a little off here. He’s getting nothing from this but a (new) reputation as an amibitious and scheming politician. Is that worth the “chit” he now has with McCain?

    Romney takes a risk, by admitting to taking a risk.

    Why the MSM loves McCain. Why he makes me shudder. There are just some people a man should not drink with.

    Jerry Falwell says:

    I have no problem voting for a person who is not of my faith as long as he or she stands with me on the moral and social issues. (Massachusetts governor) Mitt Romney may be a candidate for president. He’s a Mormon. If he’s pro-life, pro-family, I don’t think he’ll have any problem getting the support of evangelical Christians.

    Another corner of the Evangelical universe heard from, and one where I would have expected more difficulty than is apparent. And yet, the rumors persist – is it A) Pundits and wonks needing something to talk about; or B) that politically savvy Evangelicals know a pubicly bigoted stance when they see one and so save it for closed doors and smoke-filled rooms? Why does B) sound like conspiracy theory nonsense? – or does it?

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    On Political Attack Ads and Christian Forgiveness

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 05:33 pm, July 30th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Hugh Hewitt has an interesting post today about his experience in Colorado Springs, where Hugh reports that Jeff Crank, a candidate for Congress, was the victim of attacks that “did not come from the left, but from the ‘Christian Coalition of Colorado,’ the operator of which has a brother running the campaign of one of Jeff’s competitors.”

    A Google search revealed this PDF of an anti-Crank mailer/hit piece, to which I was directed by a July 18  post on ColoradoPols.com.  Reportedly, The Christian Coalition of Colorado did indeed finance the direct mail campaign.

    I agree with Hugh:  “Such tactics play into the hands of those who would discredit the efforts of people of faith to influence politics.”  I commend to you Hugh’s other thoughts on such campaigning viewed in the light of Christian forgiveness.  It seems to fit the general purpose of this blog.

    I won’t delve further into this sordid business, except to say that it is interesting and alarming that the folks behind this attempt to slime Mr. Crank seek to cloak themselves in Christianity.  I said below that attacks on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism during the primaries by groups claiming to be evangelicals would seem like “child’s play” compared to what the left would come up with in the general election.  Now I am not so sure.

    John adds: There is little I can say that Hugh has not already said quite well, but as a creedal Christian I am compelled to add my voice to pile shame on those that did this.  It not only is awful politics, but it pushes away souls that need what we have on a spiritual level.

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    Today’s Reading List – July 28, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:58 am, July 28th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    We have mentioned previously analysis of the LATime/Bloomberg 37% number saying that most of the objections came from the left because they know Mormons are more likely to stick closely to their religious convictions than Evangelicals.  But is there a similar affect, regardless of religious particulars, with the old-school conservatives?  Time to keep an eye on Ohio.  Lowell adds:  This is a big subject.  One might say it’s the inevitable and uncomfortable friction that arises between Republicans who happen to be religious people, and religious people who happen to be Republicans.

    This is funny.  It is so gossip column, but cannot resist the slam that Romney is leaving the state during the Big Dig disaster, and obviously attempts to paint Romney with the dastardly “Cheney Brush.”  What’s funny is there is a not a single substantitive issue anywhere, it sounds like high school politics.  Lowell adds:  “Seasonal berries and fish– colonial-themed fare.”  Yum.

    Speaking of judges.  Who said we were speaking of judges? – see below.

    Make sense of this:

    Quote 1:

    “I don’t think it does anybody any good to see it through a religious prism,” Huntsman said. “This is much broader than that.”

    Quote 2:

    Romney, Huntsman said, “is one of the most impressive human beings I’ve ever run across and I think he’d make a great president. However, being politically monochromatic as a state isn’t always in our long-term interests.” [Emphasis added.]

    What in the world makes Romney “politically monochromatic” with Utah other than religion?  Methinks Huntsman speaketh with forked tongue.   Lowell adds:  I actually think Gov. Huntsman has done some damage to his national standing by endorsing McCain at this point, which is frankly so bizarre on so many levels that it has left everyone wondering what Huntsman is up to.  He ends up looking like a deeply calculating politician with McCain-like unpredictability.  Not a good combination.  As one of my old law professors liked to say, Huntsman may be “too clever by half.”

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    The Cry of Theocracy, And Other Red Herrings

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 12:25 am, July 28th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Theocracy! Theocracy! Theocracy! by Ross Douthat, is the featured article in the August/September issue of First Things.  I heartily recommend the entire article, in which Douthat reviews four books attacking the rise of religious influence in American politics.  Here are two excerpts.  The first tells you where Douthat is going:

    The term theocrat has become a commonplace, employed by bomb-throwing columnists, otherwise-sensible reporters, and “centrist” Republicans such as Connecticut’s Christopher Shays, who recently complained that the GOP was becoming the “party of theocracy.” And now the specter of a looming Khomeini’ism has migrated into the realm of pop sociology, producing a spate of books with titles like The Baptizing of America, Kingdom Coming, Thy Kingdom Come—and, inevitably, American Theocracy, the Kevin Phillips jeremiad that shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list this spring.

    Kind of strikes a familiar chord, doesn't it?  The second excerpt is one of Douthat's concluding paragraphs:

    So the rise of the Religious Right, and the growing “religion gap” that Phillips describes but fails to understand, aren’t new things in American history but a reaction to a new thing: to an old political party newly dependent on a bloc of voters who reject the role that religion has traditionally played in American political life. The hysteria over theocracy, in turn, represents an attempt to rewrite the history of the United States to suit these voters’ prejudices, by setting a year zero somewhere around 1970 and casting everything that’s happened since as a battle between progress and atavism, reason and fundamentalism, the Enlightenment and the medieval dark.

    As both John and I have argued here several times, whether the GOP nominee is Romney or someone else, if that nominee is an unabashedly religious person, the fearsome attacks will come from the left, and from the kinds of writers who authored the books Douthat reviews. If Romney is in fact the nominee, any attacks on his Mormon faith from evangelicals during the GOP primaries will seem like child's play compared to what the Daily Kos fever swamp, and the likes of Kevin Phillips, will dish up.   Update:  John notes below that calling attacks from some evangelicals "child's play" tends to understate the level of venom they will carry.  Good point.  What I am saying is that as terrible as those intra-religious attacks will be, I think the eventual attacks from the left will be farther beyond the pale than we can even imagine now.  I hope I'm wrong. I hope I've whetted your appetite for Douthat's entire article.  It's well worth your time. John adds: I agree it is an excellent piece, and I agree that any GOP nominee of strongly identifiable faith, Mormon or creedal Christian, will suffer massive attacks from the anti-religious left, but I am not yet entirely convinced that attacks on Romney from the Evangelical right will be "child's play" – that's a very strong phrase.  There is little more potentially venomous confrontation  in the world than a believer attacking a "competing" believer.  I am increasingly convinced that the size of the group on the right that would carry out such attacks is not as large as feared, so the attacks may not be that effective, but measured in pure venom…

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    EXCITING RUMOR…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 01:46 pm, July 27th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    … in need of confirmation.  From our recent interview with David Barton this exchange emerged, revealing a very interesting rumor:

    John:  What do you see as the 5 most important issues for the current election cycle — and take a shot at ’08 too.

    Barton:  The 5 most important issues for the election cycle are all the same:  The judiciary.  Additionally, one of the justices has told friends that he intends to retire very soon.  Therefore, what every Senate race is about in this cycle is the ability to get a fifth strict constructionist on the US Supreme Court and thus begin rolling back 40 years of judicial activism and return decisions about cultural issues back to the people.

    John:  Now, is this proposed resignation going to happen before the next court term?

    Barton:  Well . . . perhaps . . . .

    John:  Is there a commitment there?

    Barton:  That particular justice has said that he was appointed by a Republican and he is going to allow a Republican to appoint his replacement.  That’s gotta happen in the next two years, in my thinking.  I know some inside guys in D.C. who are on pins and needles right now, thinking that it may happen shortly, even this term.  If it were to happen this term, it would actually change the complexion of most Senate races.  If it happens after the election – after the 2006 election – it will certainly change the complexion of the presidential race in 2008.  We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks, but even if that were not something that we’d been told was going to happen soon, you still have the age issue for one justice and health issues for another justice, so there are two to three on the verge of retiring within a short period of time.  In my mind, the most important thing for any presidential race or any Senate race is what happens with judicial nominees. 

    Are you supporting Hugh Hewitt’s “Big 10″? (See the advertisement in the right hand column.) The entire David Barton interview is now in transcription and we will publish it as soon as available, but we thought you’d be interested in this bit of information right away.

    [tags] SCOTUS, retirement, Senate races, Supreme Court, justice, nomination, Republican [/tags] 

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    Upcoming PBS Documentary: “The Mormons”

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 10:30 am, July 27th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    The Mormon Church get its share (or perhaps more) of attention in the news and entertainment media.  In April 2007 PBS will air a two-part, three-hour documentary on “Frontline” and “American Experience,” the first time the two shows have ever collaborated.  The timing is interesting, because by then Mitt Romney’s candidacy may well be official and Mormonism will probably be a common subject of discussion around the country.  It would nice if voters were discussing something else, like the issues, but the reality is that Romney’s religion will be a big topic.  Hence the usefulness (we hope) of blogs like this one.

    “Frontline” has been criticized for agenda journalism– see also here and here, but the filmmaker here, Helen Whitney, seems like a credible person.  PBS says her film will “explore the richness, the complexities and the controversies of the Mormons’ story.”  We shall see.

    [tags] PBS, Helen Whitney, Mitt Romney, Frontline, The American Experience, Mormonism [/tags]
     

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