In the wake of the “debate”…
The Salt Lake Tribune looked through the YouTube submissions, all I can say is that the ones that made the cut were creepy enough, but some that didn’t were frightening. Some were predictable, and some were just stupid:
Another question, from Spartanburg, N.C., noted that Mormons give a certain percentage of their income in tithing to the LDS Church, and asks whether Romney would do that if elected president.
“Now there’s a conflict of interest there if you are elected president; that means that taxpayer dollars will go to the Mormon Church by people that didn’t vote for you,” Mike said in his question. “What do you think about that?”
First of all, many religions tithe, I know I do, I’m betting the current President does, probably Jimmy Carter did. More, Romney is already on record saying that he will not take his salary as President. This, like so many of the questions, was not designed to illuminate, but to speechify.
But it turns out the guy that asked the Bible question is a Paul-pod. And if that is not weird enough, consider this from the Huffington Post:
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) got a bit overzealous in trying to present himself as an acceptable candidate to Christian America, as his religion increasingly becomes an issue for Iowa caucus-goers. Responding to this question, which asked the candidates if they believed every word of the Bible, Romney claimed, “I believe the Bible to be the word of God, absolutely.”
But that claim jibes with the teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to the Church’s Eighth Article of Faith . . .
Now, to all my Evangelical brethren out there who think this silly lib has a point, just for a moment put the shoe on your own foot. Imagine this someone quoting to you from the Westminster Confession , or Luther’s Smaller Cathecism, or any number of other fundamental works to the variety of creedal Christian expressions. Would you not cry foul? Think about it.
It appears that Mr. Romney, in attempting to deliver an answer that did not raise any more alarm bells among evangelicals grappling with questions about his faith, obscured at least certain theological differences between Mormons and some evangelicals about the trustworthiness of the Bible.
Luo then goes on to quote various Mormon sources about what Mormons believe and conduct a thorough and completely pointless exegesis of what Romney said and whether it was and “accurate” representation of Mormon belief.
Now just for starters, what in the blazes are Luo’s qualifications to conduct theological investigation on this deep a level? Secondly, who is Luo to decide whether Romney is, essentially, a good Mormon or a bad Mormon? Let’s put the shoe on the other foot here again.
Just for example, suppose I were to challenge whether Huckabee is really a good Christian or not because of big government charitable impulses. Suppose I quoted I Timothy . . . :
1 Tim 5:3-4 – Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
1 Tim 5:16 – If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, let her assist them, and let not the church be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.
. . . and on the basis of that citation I declared Huckabee to be misrepresenting real Christian belief because he wants to burden society with those who are not “widows indeed.” Oh, I hear the cries of some of my Evangelical brethren already: “John, you take the scripture out of context.” “John, that’s not what Huckabee is saying.” “John, how dare you judge this man’s faith!?” “John, Huckabee is entitled to his own interpretation of these scriptures.”
Do you see my point? The only people suitable to do this kind of investigation on what Romney believes and whether it is adequate Mormon belief are those within the Mormon church. Luo cites not a single Mormon official, you know an actual expert, on the accuracy of Romney’s answer. This is beyond bad journalism, it is grossly presumptuous on the part of Luo, and bigoted on the part of the NYTimes to allow such theological speculation about one faith when it would never dare about another.
Consider, we have seen articles about Guiliani’s faith and his representation thereof, but they have been based on statements by Roman Catholic officialdom, bishops, etc. Where are the articles comparing Guiliani’s statements against Vatican II? Or Huckabee’s against the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith? Who would dare?
Compare and Contrast…
CNN’s story on Huckabee mixing religion and politics and Obama trying not to do so. I have rarely seen anything more starkly demonstrating that despite people’s attempts to argue that there are legitimate reasons to discuss religion in an election context, it almost always boils down to the politics of identity. The Huckabee story is reasonably positive, and much as I fear an Obama presidency, that story is about the fabrication of innuendo and lies on a religious basis – something readers of this blog are pretty familiar with.
As we saw with the “debate,” we are running to the lowest common denominator, and when it comes to religion that is VERY low indeed.
The Paul-pods go religious. Heaven help us all.
Lowell adds: Finally, here’s something you may not see in the New York or L.A. Times.