Richard Land, a leader of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, disagrees. Romney, he says, has a lot more explaining to do. "When he goes around and says Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior, he ticks off at least half the evangelicals,'' Land said. "He's picking a fight he's going to lose.''
To my Mormon friends, that is not as offensive as it appears at first blush. I think we can agree we have different very different understandings of both salvation and the Godhead. SBC people like Land think theologically to begin with, and especially when they are in a position like Land's. My guess is Land is being lifted somewhat out of context here and he is making more of a theological statement than anything quite as visceral as some of our email indicated they took it.
This is indeed thoughtless and insensitive, but it is not the worst thing ever said as some of the email has indicated.
Lowell gripes just a wee bit: Land's comment is silly, and I think such statements are being perceived as sillier all the time. Look, I am a Mormon, and like all believing Mormons, I consider Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. If someone has a problem with that, too bad. Neither Land nor anyone else can expect any Mormon to say otherwise; to do so would be to deny our faith. My guess is that people will get wearier and wearier of hearing such theologically arcane attacks, which, whatever their underlying intent, are in effect cheap shots. Over time people like Land are simply going to be marginalized.
Bill Wichterman – this one is important both because it is another conservative creedal Christian, but also because it is a "get" from the Thompson camp.
Though thousands of evangelicals flocked to Washington for the recent Values Voter Summit, more than two-thirds of Americans think presidential candidates should not use their religious beliefs to sway voters, a new poll shows.
Now this absolutely begs a question – who is using their religion? Romney? or perhaps Huckabee, who said: “it’s important that the language of Zion is a mother tongue and not a recently acquired second language”? – Don't know about you, but I'm going with the latter.
Religion and Conservatism…
We have talked about the two broad wings of the Republican party – fiscal and social. Just for insight, there was an interesting discussion at The Corner yesterday regarding Michael Gerson's forthcoming book. It is a view more from the fiscal wing than the social wing, but it does illustrate the divide to some extent:
The charitable impulse is religious in nature. Which is why religious political influence can tend to liberalize. But the religious influence is also the source of freedom which demands that the source of charity NOT be governmental in nature.
Anyway, this is just some interesting insight into the religion/politics mix that I thought some of our readers might enjoy.
Meanwhile, over at The O'Reilly Factor, Mike Huckablee is talking. Lowell comments:
The interview, which took place on October 31, is fascinating in its own way. A transcript should be up soon here. [Update: At 2:15 p.m. Pacific time today, still no transcript.] At one point O'Reilly pressed Huckabee on his religious beliefs, asking, "Do you believe only those who believe in Jesus will go to heaven?" (A silly question to ask a presidential candidate.) Huckabee properly avoided a direct answer, saying only that he believed that for him, faith in Jesus Christ is the only path. In his view, Huckabee stated, the most important thing was for candidates to "be honest about" their faith. At first I wondered what he meant by that, but he later clarified that he's talking about living up to one's Christian beliefs, rather than professing Christianity but living a lesser standard.
In short, in his deflection of religions-based questions, Huckabee sounded a lot like Romney. I wonder if dialogues like this one aren't actually helpful by putting the issue in perspective and taking pressure off Romney. It's worth noting that Romney's not the only very religious conservative running in 2008 – and that the questions Huckabee is starting to get are just as irrelevant to his candidacy as they are to Romney's.
John adds briefly: It also worthy of note that just yesterday we passed on and seconded Jim Geraghty's concern, in response to Ramesh Ponnuru's "pragmatism," that :
I realize Mike Huckabee has only been in the top tier for a short time, but I wonder if we soon hear questions about "the Baptist preacher factor" in his bid.
Such was very much O'Reilly's tone with the interview. When he went to commercial and when he came back, he promoted the interview with the question, "Can a deeply religious person be elected president of the United States?"
We have been saying just about forever on this blog that attacks on religion, are just that, attacks on religion. Huckabee's continued appeals to being "one of us" and the whole "second language" crack from above are backfiring – easily foreseeable. It was interesting to watch Huckabee become entirely dismissive and duck the question, and the comparison to Romney when O'Reilly tried to press it.
Huckabee seems to want it both ways – a lot. Consider this from Hugh Hewitt's interview with him yesterday:
Several months in advance of that, I’d indicated that I might, that I did indicate I would commute his sentence. But after reviewing his case and deciding that he wouldn’t have supervision, I decided against it and denied the commutation.
Does that remind you of anybody? This is getting more political than we usually get here, but his veiled references to Romney's religion on one hand, and in front of one audience, and his denial of it being an issue in another is just below the belt. My comparisons to Jesse Jackson are seeming more and more apropos.
Lowell: Well, I am starting to think that the comparison is more apt when made to that other former Arkansas governor who also was "A Man from Hope" and was pretty slick with weasel-words.