Hugh Hewitt remains the center of the discussion at the moment; publishing a book on the subject will do that. This time, it's in the form of a National Review Q&A with Kathryn Jean Lopez. Hugh does not say much new in the interview, but he's pithier in some places. Example:
Lopez: A lot of non-bigoted smart people think the Mormon thing’s a killer for Romney. You’re just not buying that?
Hewitt: No, though it is a real handicap. But I’d rather be a Mormon in this race than have sponsored the Gang of 14 or been indifferent on the issue of judicial imposition of same-sex marriage.
Of course, anything new to this blog when interviewing Hugh would be hard to come by since we were there first.
Meanwhile discussion surrounding the Erick Erickson review of Hugh's book continues. Consider:
The point Erick made repeatedly in the interview that Hewitt treated as though it were no point at all is that there is very little public knowledge about the Church of Latter Day Saints…. I would assume that equal respect for a Mormon would be to assume that his religious beliefs are not purely private but actually have some impact on what he thinks, believes, and does.
To hold otherwise is to become a secularist who says that religion is only private and doesn’t matter in the public square.
No one questions the first observation, but the point is it is not a candidate's reponsibility to fill that information void. As to the latter point, this belies a rather shallow understanding of how religious beliefs actually do affect thinking and action. It's not like any church dictates policy on most of what a president will have to deal with. But more, in the end, the candidate still decides how much he/she lets religious belief affect those things. What the candidate thinks and does is what matters. Besides, our government IS secular, that's the whole point. Religion has a public voice, one among many, but government decision listens to all those voices and decides, granting no more or less weight to the religious voice than others.
On Erickson, the ever reliable John Mark Reynolds puts his two cents in. Actually, it's about $100 worth, but you hate to blow a chance at a good cliche'.
Lowell: I liked these graphs:
It is time Christians deal with Mormons as another faith and not indulge in the wishful thinking that if we only marginalize them (by not inviting them to our Baptist cocktail parties?) that they will go away.
Let me stress that I do not think Mormon theology (as I understand it) is Christian. I do not agree with it, but then I do not agree with Islamic theology, Jewish theology, or other mainstream religious ideas. The best way to deal with these ideas is to forcefully witness for my faith (as Mohler does so ably!) and pray for my neighbor’s conversion. [emphasis added]
To me, that seems like the approach that someone would take who is confident in his or her beliefs.
OK, for the record, my post yesterday was sarcasm. Apparently; however, that fact escaped James Dobson. USNews reports:
"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added,…
That simply is not the a very smart thing for Dr. D to say, it's just not. I could fisk it to death, but the Bull Dog Pundit at ABP did it for me:
Just because that person talks about their faith, does that make them more of a “committed Christian” than someone like my elderly relative who never utters a peep to others?
If so, then Dobson’s definition is to me, meaningless. Hell, Bill Clinton used to talk all the time about his religious beliefs, which really didn’t seem to fit his behavior did it?
And in order to get Dobson’s blessing do you have to talk openly about your Christian faith? What if you don’t feel comfortable doing that? Or what if you talk openly about your faith, but are pro-abortion in your political views?
Call me crazy, but I’m just more than a little uncomfortable with someone being the arbiter of what constitutes a “committed Christian”.
There is a film pending based on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, a rather dark day in American history with enough stuff to smear all sides. Which is why this quote from the director is fascinating:
"I was most interested in the parallel between the religious fanatical world at that specific time, at that specific place, and the religious fanatical world today, which dominates the news and dominates our lives," Cain told The Politico.
Uh-huh, there they go, trying to paint all religion with the same brush. Get it?
It is not this blog's portfolio to solve inter-religious disputes between Mormons and creedal Christians in all their various forms, but they are worth noting as they will spill over into the political arena. The DVD-distribution story has been around for several days now, but this telling says something very interesting:
Arguing that Mormon missionaries aren’t telling what they really believe when they go door to door in quest of new followers, the Mesa-based Concerned Christians are distributing free DVDs to East Valley homes to ensure people “hear both sides of the story.” [emphasis added]
Now when creedals do evangelical outreach, we certainly do not tell the people we are talking to everything we believe, nor do we air the open questions between the various creedal sects. Similar charges could be made at us. After I confirmed my committment to my creedal faith, I started reading a lot of books and found many places where I do not believe the same way the person that originally talked me into this does. I know there are a lot of books about what Mormons believe, written by Mormons – I've read them.
But more importantly this is nothing short of a charge of lying. That has political ramifications. This charge says Mormons are liars and therefore cannot be trusted. Like it or not, this is an attack at Romney and any other Mormon candidate. How much have we creedal Christians read from the left about how Christians cannot be trusted? After all, there are pedophile priests and guys like Jim Bakker. We don't like it when we are attacked that way and all we do when we attack others that way is legitimize that kind of attack, opening ourselves up to it.
Lowell: If I may lapse into a personal reflection here, let me just share that I was a full-time Mormon missionary in Guatemala and El Salvador 30 years ago. I taught many, many people about my faith's beliefs, and I believed every word I said. I still do. To claim that we Mormons are out there, concertedly lying to the world about what we believe, is simply not reality. It's also a bizarre claim to make. Can 60,000 19 to 21 year-olds really manage a conspiracy like that, for decade upon decade? What kind of Kool-Aid do those folks think we Mormons are drinking, anyway?
Fortunately, there are examples of more reasonable discussion. And some of the more unreasonable keeps bouncing around. The dust up surrounding Craig Hazen as a candidate for president of Biola University because he was nice to Mormons, which we linked to the other day, continues to reverberate. More temperate and wise voices are emerging and being seconded. There may be hope yet.