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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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Beyond Disagreement, Evangelical Backlash, and more…

Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:58 am, December 17th 2007     —    1 Comment »

Religion is one thing . . .

. . . lying is another. Huckabee has apparently misrepresented his religious education credentials. EFM cites the discrepancy and Powerline does the research. You know, it is a bit more than convenient that this little factoid that Huckabee is without seminary education, comes to light only after his claims of ignorance of Mormon theology have been called into question. (His claim, by the way, has been used as an excuse for yet another MSM profile of Mormon theology.)

So let’s get this straight: The man misrepresents his credentials, then reveals the misrepresentation when it best suits his campaign, and he is running as the guy of religious purity. Oh, that really helps the cause of the Evangelical voice in politics. Leave us remember that I argued on Saturday that it is people, transformed by God, that bring the voice of God to the political debate in this nation, but not God’s voice directly. So how, precisely, is this misrepresentation helping to bring God’s voice to the political debate?

It’s Not, We Are Getting Backlash…

Said Eugene Robinson:

Not so with Huckabee, who has defined himself, basically, as anti-reason.

Much is made, and rightly so, of Huckabee’s vocation as a Baptist minister and his promise that his actions as president would be in accord with his fundamentalist beliefs. “My faith is my life — it defines me. I don’t separate my faith from my personal and professional lives,” he says on his campaign Web site.

Somebody go check Jefferson’s grave; he’s spinning again.

Said Patterico:

What disturbs me about such an approach is not that Evangelicals seek to align themselves with a candidate who shares their “Christian values”, but the fact that they seem to be so willing to overlook the obvious flaws of Huckabee simply because “He is one of us.” But this same guy is outside the “GOP tent” on just about every policy he pursued as Governor of Arkansas.

Said milBlogger Neptunus Lex:

With all of that said, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of God-talk I’m hearing this election cycle. I find it as unlikely that a Baptist preacher and former governor of Arkansas now leads the primary polls of the Republican Party as I do to find Barack Obama opening a speech in South Carolina by saying that he was “Giving all praise and honor to God,” and urging those present to “Look at the day that the Lord has made.”

A simple, “God bless America” stuck there on the end used to suffice.

Says David Limbaugh:

The group’s uncompromising commitment to protecting life and defending America’s traditional institutions has been instrumental in beating back the left’s relentless assault on our culture. Without its grassroots contributions, we’d be seeing a lot more Ruth Bader Ginsbergs and a lot fewer Antonin Scalias.

But this primary campaign season, because of the competing resumes and platforms of various Republican presidential candidates and the complex interplay of religion and politics that has emerged, I am concerned that Christian conservatives could lose sight of the big picture of conservatism, all of whose principles are vitally important for this nation.

It is even hitting candidates that have no dog in the religion hunt. And then there is this piece by the AP out of Iowa describing the Republicans efforts and they make it sound like viral marketing for a tent revival. I started this blog because I feared that my Evangelical brethren would shoot themselves in the foot, and I am watching it happen right before my very eyes. If we keep this up, we are going to find ourselves disgraced and the pace of secularization of this nation increasing instead of decreasing.

Although some still think Huck’s attack last week was a good thing:

Meanwhile, regarding the discussion of Mormonism, or any other religion, let’s recall that the same First Amendment that prohibits government establishment of religion also guarantees free speech.

Yes, it’s true, we are free in American to say very dumb things, and take the heat for it if we do.

A6B Ahead Of The Curve Again

Way back in late February/early March of this year we wrote extensively (IIIIII IVV) about the the hearings associated with the seating of the first Mormon Senator in American history – Reed Smoot. This is the first MSM piece I have seen in this whole cycle that broached the subject with more than a passing mention. (Late correction: the SLTrib did a piece a couple of weeks ago) American journalism, slow and often off point. Score one for the new media!

Fighting Fair…

John Mark Reynolds has penned a piece on not overreaching when attacking Huck. In other words, don’t repeat the man’s mistakes. Read the whole thing.

Violating The First Rule Of Holes . . .

. . . Lawrence O’Donnell, in spades. The man just does not know when to quit.

Lowell: I think he just wants to help Big Love’s ratings. The show’s struggling.

John: No Lowell, sadly it is much deeper than that. The HuffPo piece linked above appeared on Friday late. On Sunday, the NYTimes carried a Frank Rich op-ed, that among other things, tried to JUSTIFY the O’Donnell rant. (Newsbusters tackles the silly argument)

O’Donnell is rapidly becoming the spearhead for the attack on religion from the left that we have feared on this blog for some time. Huckabee has changed the narrative in the short term. But have no doubt, that narrative shift is ammunition for the left. All the backlash discussed above is from the right, but it is protective, too aggressive. The worst is yet to come.

Some Sunday Op-Eds Worth Reading

PoliGazette

Bill Curry (Originally from HuffPo, imagine – reason from there)

Laurel (MS) Leader Call

The People’s Voice (really have to separate the wheat and the chaff on this one)

EFM’s Charles Mitchell on Townhall

San Jose Mercury News

The Roanoke Times

And Some Weekend “Analysis”

The Christan Century

The Wall Street Journal

Religious Intelligence blog

Much of that linked in these two sections is analyzing, still, The Speech. Most are wondering about its effectiveness. The ones from the left in the predictable “where’s the atheist?” fashion. But there is an undercurrent here that I find fascinating. Huckabee with his heinous comment managed to ride The Speech’s coattails. Now, everybody writes pieces in the compare and contrast mode, pitting the two religious candidates against each other.

Missed entirely is the sub-text that Huckabee was running to and about his faith while Romney was attempting to relegate his faith the the proper perspective.

Huckabee’s “innocent” question has quite successfully drawn some battle lines. There is a battle within the party between the Republican who have faith and people of faith who want to take over the Republican party. There is a second battle line between the religious and the secular. Right now the in-fighting in the party is weakening the external battle line. This moment is one of the “bookmarks” in the campaign. If we lose the big fight because of this in-fighting, it will not be the Mormons’ fault.

Inescapable Theo-nerdness…

The Weekly Standard and Washington Post both dig deeply into the tenets of Mormonism and the “cult” question. But this Dallas Morning News piece hits exactly the right note.

Romney’s speech illustrated that most faiths seem bizarre to outsiders

AMEN! This DMN piece offers a “counterpoint” – right conclusions, wrong reasoning – that will just stoke the fires. A paper in upstate New York also offered a point/counterpoint pair of pieces on questions that just don’t matter to a presidential race. And the LATimes can’t resist, nor the Kansas City Star. Even history professors are getting into the act. You know, that papers in the east and mid-west write this stuff is not great, but understandable – sometimes Mormons are hard to run into in those parts of the country, but LA? Give me a break, we have a huge Mormon population. Anybody in LA that does not know about Mormons isn’t trying.

Lowell: The Weekly Standard piece is by a self-described “lapsed Mormon” and contains something guaranteed to offend someone on every side of this debate– if you have the patience to read the whole thing. Lapsed members of any faith sometimes have a compelling perspective, sometimes they have an axe to grind, and sometimes their perspective is simply strange. Kenneth Anderson, the author here, manages to combine all three, with an admixture of the condescension that often goes along with being an academic who has “outgrown” his or her faith.

To me, the WaPo piece is really funny — it shows how non-monolithic Mormons can be in political matters. The old joke is that if you ask four Mormons about a political issue, you’ll get five opinions. Of course, this will come as news to some people, who think we Mormons simply sit obediently in our chapels and say, “Yes, master,” when our leaders give us instructions. I hate to disappoint anyone, but that ain’t reality.

Late update: Rod Dreher comments, “with something to offend just about everyone.” Nothing new here (Rod still wants to play the Christian definition game in a way that’s simply confusing — we addressed that a long, long time ago), but it’s an entertaining read.

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