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 – January 30, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:53 am, January 31st 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    The very last way I ever expected to see religion enter a presidential election.  Utterly blasphemous, apropos the left, and yet somehow oddly appropriate and funny.

    This is silly, but it makes a couple interesting points.  Hillary's nomination is presumptive enough that she can run against the Republicans already.  Secondly, it says who she is worred about.

    The Question must be one of Romney's talking points this week.  There was the Nightline piece previously discussed — There is a new AP piece (which makes it look like the liberal MSM is going to turn Mosteller into the proverbial bad penny.  Turning to her in this circumstances should violate even the MSM idea of unbiased) — and FOXNews.  Nothing new, but he is talking about it.  Could it be because he is in South Carolina?

    Lowell:  You'd think the AP could at least note that Mosteller is a long-time McCainiac.  That is, assuming the AP writer knew that.

    The American Prospect thinks Romney's evangelical problems are over.  I do think evangelical objections have been reduced to minimal effectiveness.  That said, however, there are some remaining that will manage to be heard from time-to-time, and the left will capitalize on it faster than Indianapolis in the month of May.  I think a more realistic appraisal is that Romney has enough traction that evangelical fence-sitters now have to seriously consider him or risk being marginalized.

    Things like this out of the UK are where the real church-state lines should be drawn. 

    The NYTimes is so far behind the curve with this story as to render themselves irrelevant.  Old media trying to do a story about how fast new media moves is kind of like asking a glacier to tell you about a rabbit – all it sees is a blur.

    Extra, Extra Update:  Send in the clowns, there ought to be clowns.


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    The ABC “Nightline” Interview

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 11:04 am, January 30th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Nightline's Terry Moran interviewed Romney last evening; the video is here.  Moran blogs about the interview, with transcribed excerpts that include material not in the broadcast version here.

    As usual, the MSM is far behind the blogosphere (and this blog, I might add) on the issues.  The interview is very basic and doesn't shed any new light on The Question.  For people who watch mainly television for their news, however, the Nightline interview may be important.

    Moran's framing of the interview was interesting.  He describes Romney as far behind McCain and Giuliani among voters (which really means name recognition at this early stage), but said he believes Romney will be a "formidable" candidate.  Moran referred to Romney's Mormonism as  the biggest question facing the candidate.  That's debatable, but the MSM is bound to see and report it that way for the near future at least.  He cited the obligatory ABC News poll numbers and Evangelical doubts about voting for a Mormon. 

    Here are Romney's answers to Moran's questions about The Question:

    Moran: “You’re a Mormon. Would you describe yourself as a devout Mormon, a true believer?”


    Romney: “Absolutely. I’m proud of my faith, part of my heritage. I think the American people respect individuals of faith. That’s the kind of people want to lead the country. I don’t think they get into doctrines and if you will the periphery of a faith. My faith has made me a better person than I would have been otherwise…

    Moran:  “You may be the most serious Mormon candidate for president the country has ever had, and a lot of Americans don’t know much about the faith–at some point polygamy was involved, et cetera. Is that a hurdle for you?”


    Romney: “I think people are going to not spend a lot of time looking at a religion of a candidate. Everytime I consider our history of the nation, I look back at someone like John F. Kennedy, people thought his faith was going to be an issue that just got overwhelmed by the differences and the perspective and character and viewpoints and issues. When I ran for governor of Mass. At the beginning people said gosh what do you think about his religion? And that was quickly brushed aside and the real issues because the central focus. I think the same thing will happen at the national level. After all I subscribe to what Abraham Lincoln called American's political religion. That is you abide by the constitution and the rule of law. And when you take the oath of office, that’s your highest responsibility.”


    Moran:  “I don't want to press you on this. As people get to know you and get to know your faith they may have questions…for example, like do you believe that the garden of Eden was in Missouri  and that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming will be there. Or that God has a physical body? Do you expect those questions? How would you handle them?”


    Romney: “I don’t expect those questions. What I expect people to do is to say there are differences between faith, theology is different, but we don’t judge a candidate based on the theology of the religion they grew up in. my family’s heritage is in our faith and I’m proud of that. But I’m not going to go through and cafeteria style talk about each doctrine, and which I accept. That’s not the nature of a campaign. As Dr. Richard Lance [Land – Ed.] said, I’m not running for pastor in chief. And the differences between faith really aren’t what’s critical. Instead I look at the commonality of faith. And in our faith, like the other faiths in this land, we try and serve others with compassion. We believe in a divine creator. We believe in the family nature of humankind, we believe in marriage, and devotion to our spouse, and to our kids.”

    In the on-air version Moran asked Romney about the Mormon belief that Church leaders are prophets and whether Romney, as president, would feel bound to follow prophetic guidance. Romney responded that he has never been told what to do, as a political office-holder or seeker, by Church leaders.  He noted that Harry Reid is the highest-ranking Mormon ever and clearly is  not getting or taking orders from his church, and concluded by saying that as president his duty would be to follow the Constitution and uphold the rule of law.

    Again, not much new, but the issue seems to be getting the light and attention it needs and deserves.  Moran observes on his blog:

    The other thing that struck me is Mitt Romney himself: He is personable and smart. He's done his homework. He takes tough questions without blinking and dodges them like a member of the great Average Joe's 's squad–just as all top politicians do these days. And he's already got what seems to be a crackerjack team on the ground. Watch for him; he's a real contender.

    John adds:  The work done by Moran here reveals the press' religious bias in general.  Moran pegs Evangelicals as the source of Romney's biggest opposition on religion, and yet, as we have chronicled on this blog, while there are evangelical inquiries and concerns, it is the irreligious left that has sounded off most loudly, most vociferously, and with the greatest venom when it comes to Romney's faith.  As with most MSM pieces on The Question to date this one manages to support bias against Romney because of his faith – by discussing it so much – while at the same time painting a picture of Evangelicals as small-minded and closed off.  As we have contended on this blog from its inception, as Evangelicals we can ill-afford to exclude Romney based on his faith, for to do so, would be self-exclusive.

    I must also comment that to do a "profile" piece, and yet devote nearly half the piece to a single issue without interviewing evangelical leaders, leftie voices like Linker or Weisberg, or even the likes of Lowell or I or the EFM people is just flat out bad reporting.  With so much devoted to a single issue, the piece was no profile.

    [tags]Romney, ABCNews, Nightline, Terry Moran[/tags]


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    Today’s Reading List – January 30, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:38 am, January 30th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Wasn't that long ago and Romney was polling single digits – pretty good rise in polling numbers.

    This is simply historically, blessedly ironic.

    In the wake of Huckabee's announcement, a pastor friend of mine looks at the issue of clergy running for office.  The line is a little fuzzier for him than it is for me, but in generally I agree with his comments.

    The "Fairness Doctrine" again?  I hope not, it could potentially put blogs out of business, particularly if Democrats get control of the Internet, which they have been trying to do for a while now.

    The "On Faith" discussion continues.  Evangelical leftie Jim Wallis write one of the first things I have ever agreed with him on:

    In a democratic and pluralistic society, we don’t want to evaluate candidates by which denomination or faith tradition they belong to (or whether they are a person of faith at all), and only vote for the candidate in our group. What’s important is not how often they attended church or synagogue (like a tally of votes missed by a member of Congress), but rather what is the moral compass they bring to their public life and how do their convictions shape their political priorities.

    Professor Stephen Prothero argues there is a "faith" test out of pragmatics, not ideals.  If he is right, Romney is a goner, but I don't think he is right.  I think he grossly oversimplifies people's views on this subject.

    The endorsement battles continue with Romney picking up some key ones in key South Carolina.


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    Today’s Reading List – January 29, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:45 am, January 29th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Continuing with last week's On Faith question — Chuck Colson appears to be speaking directly to Brownback and Huckabee:

    If a candidate were to attempt to use his religion for political advancement, I think it would instantly backfire with the American people.

    Speaking of which, like I have said, I think Brownback has already disqualified himself.

    Lowell:  Regarding Brownback, the phrase "not ready for prime time" comes to mind.  Moreover, both Brownback and Huckabee profoundly misunderstand the electorate's attitude toward candidates and religion.  Religious conservative voters don't want a candidate who runs as "the religious choice."  They want a candidate who they believe will vote in agreement with them on the issues they consider most important.

    Back to On Faith, David Saperstein says:

    First, in discussing policy, it is inappropriate to suggest that one should support or oppose a policy solely because of religious beliefs…. Second, it is never appropriate for candidates or others, explicitly or implicitly, to suggest that there is a religious test for holding office…. And finally, candidates should minimize their use of divisive and exclusive language.

    Romney's looking good with bloggers. Although he hung out with a questionable bunch over the weekend.  The audio and some commentary is available here.

    Speaking of Romney and public appearances, he apparently wowed them at the big NRI conservative do over the weekend.  And like he did with me when I talked to him, brought up Rick Warren.  As K-Lo points out, Warren is playing the neutrality game a bit at the moment, and despite his book's popularity, he won't pull that many votes.  Romney needs to work on his evangelical namedropping, broaden it a bit.  Warren has a big school of detractors too.  You can hear Romney's speech here. (long, slow download warning, but worth the wait) Although, Mark Steyn may have stolen his thunder a bit, in typical Steyn fashion, with humor.

    Powerline reports quite thoroughly on Romney in Israel.

    Lowell:  An interesting excerpt from Joel Mowbray's comments there:

    Like many, I believed that Romney’s Mormon faith would be an electoral deal-breaker, especially with evangelical Christians who dominate GOP primaries in the South. That still may prove true. But unless his competitors are able to discuss our battle against radical Islam with as much aplomb as Romney displayed in Herzliya, the former Massachusetts governor could easily stake out a leadership position on the single most important issue facing America.

    Obama's religious problems continue.

    A Baptist minister, in the sometimes virulently anti-Mormon Salt Lake Tribune, writes an op-ed that seems pretty good to me.

    That same paper has another piece that would indicate Democrats might know something a lot of Republicans do not.

    Staying in Utah papers, the LDS church and its political neutrality statements.

    Speaking of Baptists, one such preacher makes it official.  Meanwhile, Rudy's still thinking.

    The Service Employees International Union wants to hear from Romney.  When's the last time a union wanted to hear from a Republican, particularly a conservative one?  Can you say "electability"?


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    Today’s Reading List – January 26, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:48 am, January 26th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    I hope you are still keeping an eye on this week's question at On Faith.  As a commentor on yesterday's Reading List pointed out, the comments on Otterson's entry are a bit disappointing, both in number and content.  As a creedal Christian, I have to say the thing I find most shameful is the willingness of some of the brethren to pass on and act upon ignorance.  Mohler's entry prevaricates a bit:

    In my view, candidates should be as forthright and direct about their personal religious views as about any other question. Those who make too much of these beliefs risk appearing as a candidate for national preacher. Those who make too little of their beliefs risk appearing insincere and evasive. Those who seek to exploit their beliefs will do themselves harm political harm.

    Where is the line Dr. Mohler?  Or does it depend on what particular faith they belong to?

    Lowell:  It is disappointing that some commenters to Otterson's post assumed he was promoting Romney's candidacy.  The conspiratorial view that Richard Bushman describes does indeed survive, it seems.

    A student at Pepperdine gets it just right.

    McCain is apparently worried about Romney.  He ought to be if he has joined those that would dishearten our troops.  Hmmm . . . McCain, Episcopalian, defeatist — Romney, Mormon, for victory.  Seems to me a Mormon whose religion matters to him gets it right, while a creedal that holds his faith at arm's length is off the mark a bit.

    Women, OK — Black, OK — Mormon, Whoa….  Come now, isn't that a bit inconsistent?

    Blogger Dan Riehl considers Romney:

    As to his being a Mormon, I couldn't care less. And anyone who does should read the Constitution – twice, if required. My concern is can he reach sound judgments and lead?

    It was a Bob Novak piece that started this blog.  Now, he appears to be changing his tune a bit.  Ahhh, political gossip mongering.

    Playing the religion card in reverse.  If they oppose Romney on political grounds, why is it necessary to identify their faith?  And if on religious grounds, I wonder if they realize the effort will only help as hesitant creedals would take some satisfaction in Romney's not being a "total sell-out?"  Sounds like they are not being effective with the message either way.

    A friend sent me the link to this wonderful music video yesterday.  Correct me if I am wrong Lowell, but I think every Mormon would sing it as loudly as the rest of us.  I wonder if we all realize that if we withold our vote for each other on religious grounds, we void its meaning for both of us?

    Lowell:  Loudly, with gusto, and in four-part harmony, John.

    Update:  This one's from the irony department.  Reader Mike Stevens tells us that one member of the band featured in the music video, Diamond Rio, is a faithful Mormon who may even have written the song.


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    Today’s Reading List – January 25, 2007

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:44 am, January 25th 2007     &mdash      1 Comment »

    The team grows.

    The President's health care proposal and Romney.  While that may be Romney's keystone acheivement as MA Gov, I think he is running for President on a whole lot more.  I also find it a bit disturbing that in the middle of the discussion on it, reporters have to ask The Question.  Talk about a non-sequitur!  At some point it ceases to be a question and becomes a hammer.

    Important political dates '07.

    John Derbyshire makes some interesting church/state comments based on this story out of the UK.  I am not sure Derbyshire is right that it is a "lesser" evil.  But what is truly fascinating is that it is about the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches working together on legislation in the UK.  A common enemy makes allies of those that might otherwise be at odds.  Kind of like Mormons and creedal Christians, I'm thinking.

    This week's question at On Faith:

    As the presidential campaign begins to take shape, do you think it is appropriate and or important for the candidates to express their personal religious views and to use religious rhetoric? Why?

    Check back over the next week or so as the answers continue to come in there.  Two of note at the moment are creedal Christian Cal Thomas:

    If a candidate's faith is important, that person should say how it affects his or her perception of public policy. Otherwise, it might be interesting, but is of little political importance.

    and LDS media guy Michael Otterson:

    The American people seem to want their presidents to share their values, and they believe religious beliefs are relevant to those values. Where the American public becomes uncomfortable is when a candidate or president goes beyond those generalized values and begins talking about their personal religious beliefs in a way that sounds like advocacy.

    Sounds like Mormons and creedals have very similar views on this question.  Which means, essentially, we should be able to vote for each other.

    Note to Readers:  The discussion forum's gone – the spam got too ugly and too much to handle.  In its place, we have reopened Comments.  We can't promise we will always read them, and they are moderated, so it may be a while before your comment shows up.  Please be respectful and decent; we'll be very quick on the delete trigger when we do take a look.


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