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."

Dems, Religion, Missteps – Even Mistakes

Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:36 am, August 26th 2008     —    3 Comments »

Their Convention . . .

. . . would by all appearances be the most “religious”convention ever. Consider this coverage:

But . . .

Their problems began with the opening prayer:

The young Evangelical minister Cameron Strang, editor and publisher of Relevant magazine, a Christian who describes himself as a pro-life Republican, has been talking for some time to the Obama campaign on issues important to him. He accepted an invitation to offer a prayer from the stage at the Democratic National Convention, but then withdrew.

In fact, something one would take as simply common courtesy, inviting the local Roman Catholic Archbishop to pray at the convention, never happened. As things developed Sunday and through yesterday, that has turned out to be a very good thing. More in a minute.

Because you know, Biden’s a good Catholic . . .

. . . or is he? Says the Boston Globe:

Barack Obama’s chosen running mate, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, is a Roman Catholic who would become, if elected, the first Catholic vice-president of the U.S. Like many Catholic elected officials in the US, he runs afoul of church teachings on abortion rights, but cites church teachings on a variety of social justice concerns. His selection is likely to rekindle the debate over whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should receive Communion.

Now that is reasonable coverage, though I am not really comfortable with a newspaper, or us, judging whether Biden is a good Catholic or not, that is for the church to decide. But the Denver Post is a bit less circumspect:

When Joe Biden underwent brain surgery for a life-threatening aneurysm in 1988, he asked doctors whether he could tuck his rosary beads under his pillow. The six-term Democratic senator from Delaware also has offered to shove his rosary down the throat of the next Republican who tells him he isn’t religious.

OK, I guess I am a little bothered by this line of reporting. This is akin to The Question. Can a Catholic be Vice President? But there is some difference in this coverage and Romney related coverage. The RC church has made an issue of non-conforming politicians before, and if the church makes an issue of it . . .

Lowell adds: Good point, John. If the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (boy! that is a long name!) started telling LDS politicians who disagreed with Church teachings not to take the sacrament on Sundays, that would arguably make it relevant whether or not a Mitt Romney or Harry Reid adheres to the Church doctrines in question. And yet, like you, I am very uncomfortable, as I’ve said before, with public probing into any politician’s religious conscience.

Speaking of Non-Conforming Catholics…

Nancy Pelosi stepped in it BIG TIME on Meet The Press Sunday. So much so that the Archbishop of Denver (I told you we’d get back to him) had to respond.

So What’s The Difference?

Seems like Mike Huckabee has finally found an actual issue to pin his obvious distaste for Mitt Romney to:

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) says that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) should not have complied with decisions by their state supreme courts that ordered legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Now there is a point, that option is open to state chief executives since supreme courts have no actual enforcement power – that power is in fact left to the executive. We can argue for a very long time the legal ramifications of the move Huckabee suggests, and even the theological legitimacy of, as a person of faith, defying governmental authority when its mandates run counter to our faith.

But that is not what has happened, nor is it what is happening in the Roman Catholic situations looked at above. Huckabee first attacked Romney’s faith (the Jesus/Satan crack way back in Iowa) and then has finally tried, after being pilloried time and again, to find an issue to hang his attacks upon. And further because of his prior attacks this comes off reading more like, “See he’s not a real Christian,” than a legitimate discussion of the issue that it should be.

This sort of attack is actually really common amongst a certain segment of Evangelicals and it is not even particular to those of “other” faiths. “If you take even a casual drink you are not a ‘real’ Christian.” I know my LDS friends discourage drinking as well – that is not the point it is the attitude that comes with the prohibition and the willingness to denounce the legitimacy of the faith of someone that is less adherent that is at issue. When you take that attitude and pile heterodox theology on top of it, bigotry can be born.

The other thing that is important to remember here is that Evangelicalism has no hierarchical structure from which pronouncements of who is and is not right can be made. Unlike Roman Catholicism and the CJCLDS, Mike Huckabee’s opinion on what a Christians should do has no ecclesiastical authority on me, let alone a Mormon.

I mean, we Evangelicals have all sorts of opinions.

Remember Jacob Weisberg?

(Lowell adding a little here.) Mr. Weisberg is the fellow James Taranto aptly describes as someone who “has come in for a lot of criticism for smugness and his uncharitable attitude toward fellow Americans.”

Well, yes. Long-time readers here will instantly recall Weisberg’s sour, mean-spirited little screed that almost takes the cake for religious bigotry in the 2008 presidential election cycle.* He’s the one who asked, back in 2006:

Someone who refuses to consider voting for a woman as president is rightly deemed a sexist. Someone who’d never vote for a black person is a racist. But are you a religious bigot if you wouldn’t cast a ballot for a believing Mormon?

His answer: No. “I wouldn’t vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism.”

Now Weisberg is back, arguing that if Obama loses the election, racism will be the only reason.

Taranto pretty much leaves that smug little proposition bleeding and gasping for breath on the floor, which is probably all right with Weisberg, because he cannot possibly believe the nonsense he writes. I suspect he just loves to be the skunk at every garden party. As a child, he probably made flatulent sounds during solemn moments, or ruined group pictures by making a face at the last moment. Most of use grow out of such behavior; Weisberg seems simply to have taken it to his adult keyboard with him.

The man seems to be saying, “I can be a religious bigot because I don’t like Romney’s faith, and that’s not only acceptable, but the only responsible position to take. But if a politician who happens to be black loses the presidential election, racism is the only possible cause.”

What utter small-mindedness. And what a steaming pile.


*Joel Belz actually took that cake with his repulsive World Magazine piece explaining Mitt Romney’s alleged flip-flops is typical for Mormons, who tend to be liars. Belz assured himself a spot in the Religious Bigotry Hall of Fame with that one.


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