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 – August 31, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:47 am, August 31st 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Amy Sullivan looks at Democrats and religion (I got this from Holy Coast, who has his usual excellent sardonic comment)

    In the longer run, though, the new focus on forming relationships with religious communities and voters has been the right move for a party that had essentially limited its religious outreach to black churches.

    Fascinating, but I think they will self-destruct. Given good old Teddy K’s actions in his race against Romney for Senate it’s quite possible the Dems will bash Romney’s faith in the upcoming Presidential campaign. That will likeley kill any Dems left in the Mormon community, but I think Evangelicals will react negatively as well – even if they wouldn’t vote for Romney because of his faith – they know “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” and a religious attack is a religious attack.  Lowell:  I’m glad you posted this. I saw it, but have been swamped with work for two days.  One aspect of Sullivan’s piece (and most such pieces) that always strikes me is that writers like her do not understand what motivates religious people.  By seeing everything in secular, political terms they miss the point.  Liberals and Democrats will never connect with any religious base unless they can connect to that group’s most deeply-held beliefs, the ones they are willing to sacrifice personally for, the ones they place above convenience and self-interest.  That’s why abortion, same-sex marriage, slavery, and civil rights are more powerful motivating forces than economic fairness or minumum wage laws.
    Michigan money news.

    Powerline seems to think Frist remains a viable Presidential option for ’08. Well, given that governors generally make better presidents than senators, and Frist has been a pretty bad majority leader on a number of key issues (THE JUDICIARY) there may be a perverse sort of logic to Hinderacker’s contention.

    From the world-of-the-bizarre department: Apparently, the problem isn’t the polygamy, it’s the Mormonism? This is a bit of anti-Mormon sentiment I never anticipated! Lowell:  I heard this guy on a talk radio show here in L.A.  He was such a nutter that the host cut off the interview early.  He also refused to say how many members his “Evangelical Christian polygamy” group has.

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    Today’s Reading List – August 30, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:45 am, August 30th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Warren Jeffs has been arrested. Despite what I am sure are the best efforts of the CJCLDS, he is being identified as “Mormon” by some press sources. This will undoubtedly create another spate of press items on the the history of Mormonism and polygamy. I predict a short term dip for Romney, but it won’t last.

    Lowell: Here’s the Church’s offiical press release on Jeffs and why he’s not properly called a “Mormon.” I suspect they’ve had this one ready to go for months now, in anticipation of Jeffs’ eventual arrest.

    Romney continues to spread the wealth. I’m not sure Hotline gets it – making friends really matters at this point.
    The line between religious bigotry and doctrinal preservation is a fine one – at least at a religious institution like a Jesuit University. It is, however, important to realize that the government has no doctrine to preserve.

    Fascinating! Romney on the dais with James Dobson and Donald Wildmon. Gary Glenn, of the Michigan branch of Wildmon’s organization, came out strong against Romney last week. In 2004, Dobson’s wife excluded Mormons from participating in the National Day of Prayer. Are we seeing a thaw of some sort from the Evangelical, perhaps fundamental, branches of creedal Christianity that might bear an anti-Mormon prejudice, or is this simply a case of the issue overriding those objections? Further, if this issue does override those objections, why can’t other issues?  Lowell:  That National Day of Prayer fiasco was, perhaps, the low point in Mormon-creedal relations.  Scars remain to this day.  I hope and pray that this latest event is a sign of healing.

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    Today’s Reading List – August 29, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:34 am, August 29th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Is McCain “making himself over?” (Lowell looked at this yesterday) Mark Daniels is not so sure. He is willing to go to Bob Jones University, which I find fascinating – it wasn’t a great move for Bush, and he had legit Evangelical credentials. For the uninformed, BJU is not Evangelical – it’s fundamentalist. But when I heard this, the big question for me was “Would BJU even invite a Mormon?” – I have sent an email and asked – we’ll see….

    It’s not news that Katrina response was politically damaging to President Bush, despite this story trying to make news out of it. But this observation is fascinating:

    Conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg believes that “there is a hunger for competence out there,” that Americans long “for a problem-solver on a white horse (as) a response to Bush’s record.” In fact, some ’08 presidential hopefuls – such as Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Mitt Romney – tout their gubernatorial records as proof that they know how to roll up their sleeves to get things done.

    Look, Romney had his own small scale disasters to solve in the Big Dig, and the flooding a few weeks before, and he’s done well to date, but do you honestly think his reactions were political moves calculated to distance himself from Bush? And ask yourself this, what former or current governor that has run for President doesn’t tout their records? What else do they have to run on?

    Lowell adds: Meanwhile, this interview has appeared on the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It addresses this question: What is the position of the Church on same-gender attraction and same-gender marriage? The interviewees are Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. For those unfamiliar with LDS organization, both men are called “General Authorities” of the Church. Elder Oaks is a former president of BYU, Utah Supreme Court justice, and law professor at the University of Chicago. As an apostle, he is one of the highest authorities of the Church. Elder Wickman is General Counsel to the Church, and prior to his call as a General Authority was a prominent attorney in California at one of the largest law firms in the USA.

    The interview will be added to our Resources page. It seems extraordinarily long and detailed, and probably reflects a decision by the Church to make a comprehensive statement on the Church’s position on the issues involved. It is not an easy read, even for those steeped in LDS doctrine. So why are we posting it here? Because Romney’s position on same-sex marriage will inevitably raise questions about his faiths’s views and how they may be influencing him. We will all probably see references to this interview in future news stories about Romney and homosexuality-related issues.

    I found the interview thanks to this post on an LDS blog. If you review the comments (of which there are 386 at this writing), you’ll get a sense of the diversity and intensity of views and opinions within the LDS community on what I consider to be deeply sensitive and complex issues.

    John Updates: The Washington Times opines on ’08 Veep possibilities and concludes that “the Mormon question” qualifies Romeny for the #2 slot.

    But that, in turn, provides an opportunity: With Mr. Romney in the No. 2 slot, the “Mormon issue,” such as it is, would play itself out nationally but without the stress of the top slot aggravating the question. It is especially true of Mr. Romney that he would be more plausible as a presidential candidate with a national run for veep behind him.

    That’s ducking the question in my opinion. Again, I find myself thinking “The Question” is either real – in which case the slot does not make a darn bit of difference – or it’s ginned up by political opposition to keep Romney down. If the latter, that’s just dirty poltics – fight on the issues – that’s how Republicans are supposed to play the game.

    Lowell: All presidential candidates, especially first-timers, have a v.p. run in the backs of their minds. It’s simply a possibility that has to be considered. The difference here is the reason for the suggestion that Romney is best-suited for the second spot on the ticket:  It is not that he lacks experience, or that he’s not sufficiently well-known to run for president; it is his religion. Can you imagine the same suggestion being made regarding another candidate because of his Jewishness, or her gender?

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    Today’s Reading List – August 28, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:45 am, August 28th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    A bit of polling data.  The more of this I see, the more I think it is pure name recognition at this point.

    Reports on Romney in Iowa – onetwothree -four.  Couple of brief comments:  First, the panel idea to fix Social Security says, as all such panels do, that our legislative branch cannot function.  I have a problem with that, and worry about assigning that much power purely executively.  Secondly, when it comes to entitlements, what does Romney think about the faith-based initiative?  It’s on these issues where evangelcals left-and-right most quickly divide.  Lowell:  I tend to agree.  I think we are seeing here Romney’s CEO style of leadership:  He’s asking, “How do we get this done?”  Good management, maybe not always great politics.

    Interesting, and very aggressive, Jed Babbin piece.  I’m wondering about it, and “The Question,” and a Romney strategy?  Lowell:  I hope Romney or his people are reading Jed’s piece. 

    Was a line crossed?  Too many unknown factors at play here to know for sure, Harris has been vilified by so many in so many circumstances, of all political persuasions, that it is difficult to sort the facts from the rhetoric.  The parsing of the quotes is pretty interesting in the piece.  Major point?  The left remains the biggest enemy to religion in public life, note the abundance of “D” objections in comparison to the single “R.” With such a foe, do purely sectarian divisions matter so much?

    To my mind, Evan Bayh remains the most interesting Dem possibility for ’08.  He’s moderate enough to win and not nearly so polarizing as you-know-who.  I know nothing of his religious tendencies, if any….

    The MSM McCain lovefest continues – San Jose Mercury News, while in the race in general the a Dallas paper, quotes Right Wing News as grouping Romney with McCain and Guliani in terms of moderation.  PLEASE!  Lowell:  They need something to talk about.

    And now an observation…Romney spent the weekend in Michigan, and with the exception of a few eyewitness blog accounts, I find no in-depth reporting, unlike Iowa of the day before.  What does this say about what how the MSM covers this stuff?  More importantly, what does this say about how to run a campaign?

    Lowell adds:

    This piece by Walter Russell Mead is an interesting discussion of the role of religion in foreign policy.  And this Washington Post profile of John McCain, despite its length, does not say a word about McCain’s religious beliefs or activity.  That is not a bad thing at all, but it’s interesting to ponder the question, “Why not?”

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    Today’s Reading List – August 25, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:49 am, August 25th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    McCain has an uh-oh.

    The new Pew Religion and Public Life survey is out. I have only had a chance to skim it, but it looks relatively unremarkable to me. The “religion and science” section seems most interesting from my perspective. As a scientist (I majored in Chemistry in undergrad and grad school) the very idea of polling on something that should be decided by data is kind of astonishing. Anyway, when looking at this analysis and this analysis you’d think they looked at two different studies. Hats off to Sager at RCP blog for linking to the study with his analysis and not leaving the reader at his personal analytical mercy.

    Looks like election ’08 is starting to move from the political junkie circles to the general public eye with pieces on Fox and in the NYTimes.

    Last-minute Add: Nice little profile. Now what I am wondering is, where are the counter voices?  I have heard “The Question” – this piece seems to say it’s answered in the positive, but no one ever has owned up to the negative.  I find this interesting, perhaps troubling…. Lowell:  Power Line comments further.

    An Even Later Last-minute Add from Lowell:  Hugh Hewitt writes about “Romney on a roll” — and Hugh’s not talking about a sandwich.

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    Today’s Reading List – August 24, 2006

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:11 am, August 24th 2006     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    One of the problems with mixing religion and politics is that you end up not doing really well at either one. This looks like a classic example to me. It’s lousy politics for the group to break up, and not very good religion for that much bad blood to be in the water. That’s why it’s about the values the religion reinforces and not about the religion itself when it comes to politics – the values seems missing here.

    On that same vein, this piece made me sad as it points how wrong many churches, as opposed to faith-based PACS, etc., are on politics – especially since my church is front and center. This does; however, once again point out that churches do church, and politicians do politics, so you want politicians that go to church, but you don’t want churches doing politics.

    Second item in this post is a Romney round-up, all items we have linked to here. I find it notable mostly because of it’s attitude – the guy is so sarcastic you think he hates Romney, but his ending sounds like he thinks Romney’s a shoo-in for the nomination. The guy is a hard leftie (Hey – he works for WGBH for crying out loud) that thinks he is cute and sly. He takes McIntyre’s Friday quip and uses it as fodder – double whammy time there Mr. McIntyre! Also, I hope this guy knows how many enemies he can make with those Mississippi cracks. I am related to the Democrat party chairman there, and I’m pretty certain this is help he would not want.

    Lowell: What I found most interesting and repulsive at the same time was the writer’s unabashed condescension toward those he considers his inferiors. He’s almost comical as a stereotypical Northeastern liberal looking down his nose at the heartland. Can you say, “unintentional self-parody?”

    Hugh Hewitt appears to be poking his nose into our business! Oh well, he’s a nice guy. The extensive comments on that post are informative. Seems largely like smart people there with a few knuckle-draggers, here’s hoping that’s reflective of the party and the nation as a whole.

    Lowell: I agree the comments are fascinating.  The themes raised and developed there are the same ones we’ve seen here.  (Some of them are a reminder of why we stopped taking comments on this blog.)

    Last Minute Add: This makes it official. Ambinder at Hotline just does not like Romney – he’s way too sarcastic.  Ok, fine, now we know, read the information, ignore the commentary, and you’ll be fine.

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