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."

  • California’s Proposition 8: Open Season on Mormons?

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 07:11 pm, October 21st 2008     &mdash      19 Comments »

    protectmarriage.jpgDoes that sound like an exaggeration?  Read on.  If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed and disgusted at the attacks on people of faith who are only expressing their religious consciences through the ballot process, and are doing so in the most all-American ways:  Grassroots organizing and small financial donations.

    The LDS Church and Proposition 8

    According to the 2007-2008 Almanac of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”) there are about 770,000 Church members in California.  In a letter dated June 29, 2008, the Church’s leaders asked members to “do all [they] can to support [California's Proposition 8] by donating of [their] means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman.”

    Proposition 8 would enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in the State Constitution.  Traditional marriage had been the only kind recognized in California since 2000, when another statewide ballot initiative passed with 61% of the vote.  In May 2008, however, by a 4-3 vote, the California Supreme Court held Prop 22 unconstitutional, thus opening the door to same-sex marriage in the Golden State. 

    By amending the Constitution, Prop 8′s supporters hope, once and for all, to settle the issue in California.  A coalition of religious groups, including all the Catholic Bishops in California, virtually all the Evangelical churches, the Orthodox Rabbis, and many others, are supporting Prop 8 with grassroots volunteers and financial donations from their members.  The Mormons, however, are most visible because of their geographic distribution and lay ministry, which lend themselves very well to grassroots organizing.

    Unfortunately, Prop 8′s opponents, having achieved through the courts what they could never have achieved by the ballot box, have now chosen to attack not the ballot proposition, but its supporters.  And because California Mormons have been so prominent in the “Yes On 8″ campaign, they have become the chief target.  Here’s a report on some ways in which that personalized opposition has manifest itself.

    Smearing Prop 8 Donors Because They Are . . . Mormons?

    Maggie Gallagher at National Review Online points us to this Daily Kos post, which she calls “disgusting.”  (I must agree.)  Here’s the key excerpt:

    [T]he No on Prop 8 folks told me recently that the “Protect Marriage” campaign has raised $30 million dollars–over half of it from the Mormon Church.  Now, I have nothing personally against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. . . .

    But when the church and its members invest millions of dollars in an attempt to write discrimination into my state’s constitution . . . there will be hell to pay.

    So what am I asking you to do?

    Some distributed research.

    There is a list of a bunch of Mormon donors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign (in case that one goes down, here’s a mirror with slightly worse formatting.

    Here’s what I’m asking for:

    This list contains information about those who are big donors to the Yes on 8 campaign–donors to the tune of at least $1,000 dollars.  And, as you can see, there are a lot of them.  It also indicates if they’re Mormon or not.

    If you’re interested in defeating the religious right and preserving marriage equality, here’s how you can help:

    Find us some ammo.

    Use any LEGAL tool at your disposal.  Use OpenSecrets to see if these donors have contributed to…shall we say…less than honorable causes, or if any one of these big donors has done something otherwise egregious.  If so, we have a legitimate case to make the Yes on 8 campaign return their contributions, or face a bunch of negative publicity.

    There are a crapload of donors on this list–so please focus on the larger ones first.  $5,000 or more is a good threshold to start with.

    Feel free to use Lexis-Nexis searches as well for anything useful, especially given that these people are using “morality” as their primary motivation to support Prop 8…if you find anything that belies that in any way…well, you know what to do.

    If you find anything good, please email it . . . .

    Here’s the bottom line for me: if someone is willing to contribute thousands of dollars to a campaign to take away legal rights from some very dear friends of mine, they had damn well make sure their lives are beyond scrutiny–because I, for one, won’t take it lying down.

    Translation:  If you are a Mormon and you donate to Prop 8, thousands of strangers will try to smear you, in the hope of intimidating you and others into not exercising your right to freedom of speech.

    In other words, they want to silence you.

    I wonder what level of care and caution the “distributed researchers” will apply to their efforts?  Will they be sure that any embarrassing information they find about Mormon donors is accurate?  Don’t bet the farm on that one, folks.

    And About That Web Site that Makes This Possible

    In his exhortations to smear and embarrass Mormon donors to Prop 8, the Daily Kos post relies heavily on a web site that is deceptively named “Mormons for Proposition 8.”  The casual reader might think the site favors Prop 8, but he would be wrong.

    This is a site, run by members of the Church who oppose Prop 8 and who are unhappy about the Church’s support for the ballot measure.  The site’s purpose?  Identifying members of the Church who have donated to Prop 8 by posting the names of all donors to Yes On 8 and asking readers to identify those who are Mormons.

    In what I consider a monument to sophistry, the site’s sponsors have claimed it is “neutral.”  That would be funny if it were not such an outrageous lie.  Just review the site for 2 or 3 minutes and decide for yourself whether that is true.  While you’re at it, look at the “FAQ” page and ask yourself if the answers given are sincere, or disingenuous and downright snide.

    (By the way, I donated $1,000 to Yes On 8, and although some helpful soul has identified me on this list as a Mormon, I see lots of individuals on the list whom I know to be members of the Church, but who haven’t been identified yet.   Obviously, the supporters of “Mormons for Proposition 8″ need to work harder.)

    A lawyer friend e-mailed the site’s sponsors:

    Disclosure of religious association is a matter of constitutional protection and a privilege held by the congregant against disclosure. (Church of Hakeem v. Superior Court, 1 Cal. App. 3d 184 (1980)).  Your forced outing to intimidate others would be a violation of civil rights if committed with the color of authority.  That you are private and anonymous doesn’t make what you are doing any more commendable.

    Make no mistake:  These people want to shine the spotlight on Mormons who donate to Yes On 8.  By doing so, they hope to discourage Mormons from donating by exposing them to smear efforts like those urged by the Daily Kos.

    In other words, these people are just like the Daily Kos writer:  They no doubt consider themselves very progressive, but nevertheless want to silence their opponents in the public square.

    That sounds an awful lot like this political system.

    Harassing Members of A Church – Because of Their Membership

    Apart from those repulsive efforts, how else is the opposition to Prop 8 playing out in the lives of ordinary Mormons?  Well, here’s a story you won’t read about in the mainstream news media.  I received it in a private e-mail:

    This weekend we have stake conference.  [Ed.:  A "stake" is a geographic unit of LDS congregations, and is the rough equivalent of a Catholic diocese.]  Our stake conference always begins with a stake temple session on Friday or Thursday night.  Early Friday morning I received a call from the second counselor in our bishopric to let me know that there would be numerous protesters outside the temple, and to remind everyone to stay calm and to drive carefully.  The beautiful Oakland Temple is located right across the bay from San Francisco, very close to the city of Berkeley.  Apparently the opposition to proposition 8, the amendment that seeks to make marriage in CA between a man and a woman again, has realized the deep involvement of the [LDS] church and begun to protest right outside of the temple and harass temple patrons.  The fastest way to get to the temple from our house is to take the 680 freeway, but the exit is a bit tricky. The off ramp is extremely short and straight uphill.  You then make an almost blind left turn, an immediate right and another left into the parking lot.

    As we approached the off ramp, I realized there would be trouble.  There was a backup onto the freeway from cars stalled on the off ramp.  As we moved forward inches at a time, we realized this was due to a large group of loud protesters who were standing on both sides of the street, yelling, screaming and waving signs.  When we got to the top of the offramp, ready to make our turn, one protester jumped out right in front of our car.  It took my husband all his self control to carefully maneuver around him to the left and proceed to the temple.  I tried not to listen to all they were shouting at us, but I was shaking as I got to the temple front door.

    Several of the sisters, especially the ones driving on their own, were crying . . . .

    Another e-mail correspondent tells me the Oakland police did not respond to requests for help.

    Keep in mind:  Not everyone in the Church supports Prop 8.  There is no way the Prop 8 protesters at the Oakland temple knew whether or not the members they were harassing had anything to do with the Church’s efforts in support of the measure.  They were harassing those people simply because they were Mormons. 

    As one of our readers notes, “It is more than a little frightening how much the Left is so much enamored with the tactic of attacking the messenger rather than engaging the substantive issues.”

    Yes, it is.

    _____________

    Full disclosure:  I am a Prop 8 grassroots worker myself.   My wife is Deputy Communications Director for the Yes On 8 Campaign.  She had no awareness of this post prior to my publishing it, and the views expressed here are my own.

    More on this at The Hedgehog Blog.

    John adds a few ponderingsBecause of my friendship with Lowell and his involvement with the Proposition 8 efforts I have watched this thing unfold from the beginning.  While there is a lot of Mormon effort behind it, there is also a great deal of Catholic effort and I got a robocall the other day from none other that Mike Huckabee (slight shudder there) in support of Prop 8.  This is truly an ecumenical effort.

    One is almost forced to ask why the Mormons are being singled out for this sort of ugliness.  well, having “help” from Mormons in opposition is certainly part of the answer, but I also would think it has something to do with how the primary played out. 

    Because Mitt Romney’s religion was used effectively against him, if I were opposing Prop 8, one of the tactics I would use would be to divide those united for it along religious lines.  By singling out Mormons for these attacks, I would emphasize their distinctiveness from orthodox forms of Christianity, and drive the wedge a little deeper.

    Further, creedal Christians cannot readily rise to defense of Mormons in these attacks, lest they be accused “defending the heretics.”

    Thus is a real sense the Huckster is responsible for harming the coalition he called me in support of.  Way to go there Huckster!

    Identity politcs and bigotry have a way of coming back to harm us in fashions we never imagined.

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    Notes From The Dark Side…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:27 am, October 20th 2008     &mdash      2 Comments »

    The doom-and-gloom predictions for the election are piling up.  Not my taste – I’m in this to the end and we are winning until we actually lose.  As Geraghty points out the polls are swinging, and at this point in ’04 we thought it was in the bag for. . . Kerry?!  This thing is not over.

    Nonetheless, in a post at Beliefnet, Rod Dreher looks at Christopher Buckley’s recent resignation from NR seeing disaster.  But the most interesting thing he has to say is this:

     It was not religious conservatives who caused the GOP to abandon all pretense of fiscal discipline. It was not religious conservatives who brought us the war in Iraq. It was not religious conservatives who brought us Jack Abramoff (though Ralph Reed had something to do with it). Mind you, religious conservatives rarely if ever stood up to any of this, but to say that the “kooks” brought about the collapse of the GOP is simply wrong. It was the Establishment that did it. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz — these guys are not religious kooks. Neither is George W. Bush. And though he presents himself as a churchman, let no one be under the impression that Tom DeLay did what he did for the glory of the Lord. I am certain that in the wake of the coming disaster for the GOP, there will be an attempt to scapegoat the religious right, so that the Republican Establishment — especially the national security and economic establishment — can escape its own reckoning. We religious conservatives have to accept our share of the blame for what’s happened, but we cannot let ourselves get scapegoated. The things we wanted most of all — Supreme Court justices favorable to the things we believe in — turn out to be the only undeniable triumphs of the Bush years, from a conservative point of view.

    Again, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and even if this election is the disaster that Dreher seems to think it is going to be, all those issues he raises are not the heart of the problem.  There was only one candidate that might have been able to hold the coalition together – Mitt Romney – and it was Evangelical conservatives in their blind, label-following view, that trotted off after a loser like Huckabee and blew it up.

    A bit later in the piece, Dreher says this:

    There is a conservative Establishment — a political establishment, yes, but also a think-tank establishment and an opinion-leader establishment — that has become ossified in its thinking and, over time, more interested in policing its heretics . . .

    Now, when you stack that up against Joel Belz’s deeply bigoted writing, and Mike Huckabee’s “innocent question” to the NYTimes, you have to think you are looking at the definitional case of the “pot calling the kettle black.”

    Furthermore, let’s assume, for just a minute, that all those issues he raises are the heart of the problem.   Had the religious right been less myopic and more about the business of governance – had they been in the middle of those things instead of clutching tightly to their few social issues and otherwise not seeming to want to get their hands dirty – then maybe they could have prevented or mitigated the damage done by them. As Dreher points out, “Mind you, religious conservatives rarely if ever stood up to any of this . . . .”

    If religious conservatives want to be taken seriously in politics, then it is time for them to do politics seriously.  This gadabout, “politics is really beneath us,” stuff has just got to stop.  And claiming to speak for them by brushing aside that very “I am above you” attitude as insignificant and pointing the finger at the other guy is not a way to do politics seriously.

    Oh sure, Dreher says, “We religious conservatives have to accept our share of the blame for what’s happened . . . ,”  which is where he should have ended.  In this individual religious conservative’s experience, the “conservative political establishment” has been more than willing to work with me, as long as I was willing to work with them.

    I think it was Jesus that said something about planks, specks, and eyes.  I think religious conservatives might want to keep that little parable in mind before they go making sure they do not get any more blame than “they deserve.”

    Lowell adds:  I agree fully with what John has said, and I’ll add my own expression of disgust over Dreher’s insistence on treating religious conservatives as a discrete, insular voter bloc within conservatism (and within the GOP, to a lesser extent).  I never thought I’d see the day when religious voters are flinging recriminations at “those other guys in the movement.”  In politics, there is no leadership in emphasizing differences within your own alliance. 

    Besides, as John notes, Dreher is far too forgiving of his own group:  “religious conservatives rarely if ever stood up to any of this.”  Well, isn’t that a stinging indictment?  For a group that wants to have such power within the conservative movement, it simply will not do to blame everyone else for errors, when your group did nothing significant to stop those errors! 

    It seems Mr. Dreher wants to have it both ways: To remain “pure” and free from responsibility for a conservative/GOP debacle, but also to stand by and do nothing to prevent the debacle.  These are not people I want in my foxhole with me.

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    Telling The Story – Part I – The Words “Cult” and “Christian”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:32 am, October 18th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    INTRODUCTION

    They say that “journalism is the first draft of history.”  Well, if that is the case, then blogging is the zeroeth.   Certainly that is true of this blog which attempted in large part to simply chronicle all that was written and said about Mitt Romney, his religion, and his efforts to seek the office of President of the United States, and subsequent “campaign” for the vice presidential spot.  While we managed to collect quite a bit of information here, and present it in the moment, we have done little to fashion that information into any sort of a narrative.

    Now that it is all over, at least for this cycle, we are going to attempt a series of of very occasional (read “when we have some rare time on our hands”) posts we are calling “Telling The Story.”  These posts will be our effort to take all the information we have gathered and fashion them into some sort of narrative.

    So, without further ado…

    Ideas Underlying Issues

    There is no doubt in the minds of the authors of this blog that religious prejudice, even bigotry, was a significant factor in the lack of electoral success experienced by Mitt Romney in the 2008 campaign cycle.  This prejudice and bigotry came in two distinct forms.  The first was that typical of irreligious people towards persons of faith.  Such prejudice and bigotry generally does not make significant distinctions between kinds, brands, or expressions of faith; it pretty well lumps them altogether into a single category.  The other form is inter-religious prejudice and bigotry.

    Prejudice and bigotry, while irrational, nonetheless are rooted in ideas.  Some concept, some thought, catches on, regardless of its level of support in reason or fact, and becomes justification for the exclusion that expresses itself prejudicially.  This case is no exception.  The ideas that underlie the prejudice from the irreligious and numerous and actually exceptionally well documented in a variety of sources from a variety of religious perspectives.  There is no need for this blog to deal with those extensively.

    The inter-religious prejudice and bigotry that was seen is; however, born in a fairly short list of ideas that require some significant analysis.  This is required by the general lack of rigor with which the ideas were addressed, typical of prejudice, during the campaign.   The ideas were simply asserted, in an apparently rational, if not fully rigorously analyzed, fashion and arguments against were built upon them.

    What were those ideas?  They can be summarized in two simple, related statements:

    • Mormons are not Christians.
    • Mormonism is a cult.

    “Mormons Are Not Christians”

    They certainly are not traditional, orthodox Christians, but is that necessarily the end of the story?  The fact of the matter is there is no clear cut answer to what constitutes “Christian.” Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines it this way:

    An adherent or follower of Christ. The word occurs three times in the New Testament: “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” <Acts 11:26>; Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to be a Christian” <Acts 26:28>; Peter exhorted, “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed” <1 Pet. 4:16>. In each instance, the word Christian assumes that the person called by the name was a follower of Christ. Christians were loyal to Christ, just as the Herodians were loyal to Herod <Matt. 22:16; Mark 3:6; 12:13>.

    The designation of the early followers of Christ as Christians was initiated by the non-Christian population of Antioch. Originally it may have been a term of derision. Eventually, however, Christians used it of themselves as a name of honor, not of shame. Prior to their adoption of the name, the Christians called themselves believers <Acts 5:14>, brothers <Acts 6:3>, or saints <Acts 9:13>, names which also continued to be used.

    In modern times the name Christian has been somewhat emptied of its true meaning as a follower of Christ. To some today, Christian means little more than a European or American who is not Jewish, while others have sought to make its proper use the name of a particular denomination. However, its original meaning is a noble one, of which any follower of Christ can rightly be proud.

    Wikipedia and Answers.com provide very similar definitions. A web site devoted to “Religious Tolerance” has s similar, but perhaps even broader, understandably, definition.  Interestingly, even when traditional, orthodox Christians turn to devotional reflections on the meaning being a Christian, the definition they arrive at is one that would be inclusive of ther various heterodox groups like the Mormons.

    It is only when someone specifically asks the question “Are Mormons Christian?” that we seem to arrive at definitions of what it means to be a Christian that would exclude Mormons. The distinctions that do get made lie in the realm of theology and doctrine, not in any common understanding of a word.  This fact accounts for a great deal of the difference in attacks on Romney’s faith from the religious and irreligious.  The doctrinal differences that are so important to the religious are completely immaterial to the greater world at large.  The irreligious fail to see or understand the distinctions – to them such distinctions simply say “intolerance.”

    This blog, of course has adopted the idea that Mormons are Christians, though we use significant adjectives to distinguish Mormonism from the more traditional expressions of faith in Jesus Christ.   We purposefully use the term “adopted” in the prior  sentence because a definitive determination seems impossible.  Arguments  on both sides seem more derived from having arrived at a conclusion and seeking to justify it than from any sort of first principle derivation.  Certainly linguistically one MUST accept Mormons as Christians since they call on Christ, but a religion is so much more than a mere linguistic understanding.  There is a necessity for a distinction, the only question is whether one makes the distinction in the definition of the word or the adjectives applied to it.  Such strikes this writer as an arbitrary choice to be made on factors other than the immediate definitional needs.

    And so with that, we turn to the other issue:

    Mormonism Is A Cult

    I examined this issue in extensive detail on my “Godblog” early in the life of this blog.   It was a series in four parts and there is little to be added to it.  Please refer:

    But having examined these two questions, we really need to wonder:

    Why Does It Matter?

    For most people, it just mattered.  There was little effort to write to justify the concern, there simply was a concern and that was enough.  A few people did try to justify the concern, but their efforts we ugly and petty and rooted in bigotry.

    The argument, as I understand and have picked it up mostly from conversation and by reading in other, related areas, seems to be a variant of the argument that the irreligious use against religion in general.  The irreligious claim that religion is so irrational as to preclude the believer from the public forum.  “After all,” goes the mantra, “how can we allow people whose thought is so stunted to participate in reasonable public debate?”  And then, of course, the “wall of separation” comes up, completely neglecting the fact that the wall is between religious and government institutions, not between religious citizens and their government.

    The traditionally Christian use a variation of this argument, claiming that while their faith is certainly rational enough to allow them participation in the public forum, that Mormonism is so irrational that it must be excluded. For some reason such people are completely blinded to the similarities in their argument to their opposition’s argument that they fail to see the self-negating nature of using it.

    Perhaps the problem lies in the arguments so often used by traditional Christians to refute the argument from the irreligious.  In general, traditional Christians talk about worldviews in order to escape religio-speak in public debate.  Such is a reasonable and important distinction.  Worldview is essentially ones basic philosophical principles used to make decisions about things.  But after establishing this, they take things a step too far.  They equate, mistakenly, worldview and religion.  The mistake is made in a good faith effort to demonstrate that the left hold their worldview with as much fervor, and as little or less supporting evidence,  as the religious right.  In other words, the left worldview is a religion too.

    But once one does that, equates worldview and religion, it creates a means by which religious discrimination in the public forum becomes justified.  Rather than worldview as a philosophical viewpoint (shaped in part by religion) becoming a flag behind which people of similar viewpoints can rally – it becomes a basis for distinction and factionalizing.  It creates enemies rather than allies.

    And thus, despite the fact that Mormons are natural allies of the Evangelical and otherwise religious right in the political arena, there are excluded.  The result is inevitable political defeat.  Political success in out nation requires the building of coalitions, not tearing them apart over issues that are, at least in the political sense irrelevant.

    Why Shouldn’t It Matter

    Among the many genius’ of our founding fathers was that politics and governance was about expediency, not philosophy.  They were men of quite different philosophical and religious viewpoints.  There were the very religious (John Jay for example) and the nearly anti-religious (Thomas Jefferson).  They sought to find a way to govern ourselves without the impediment of religious parochialism bringing governance to a standstill, or worse, civil war.

    They arrived at a means of doing so by first separating ecclesiastical institutions and governmental ones.   They finished the task by equalizing the voice of religion in the public forum with all other voices.  Please note – they DID NOT exclude the religious voice, they simple gave it no more or no less significance than other voices.  The religious voice had greater influence only in that, and if, the majority of the populace shared in that voice.  But all voices were welcomed to the debate.

    Historically, the traditional Christian voice has constituted a majority of the nation, thus it was fair to describe this as a “Christian nation.”  While most citizens of this nation still claim to be “Christian” they do so from such a breadth of political and philosophical viewpoints that even that banner has been rendered virtually meaningless in any political sense.  I personally go to church with people every Sunday whose politics, and for that matter worldview, are almost directly opposed to my own.  Does this mean one of us is more of less “Christian” than the other?  Maybe, but under the American system it is not government’s job to make the distinction – it is government’s job to set aside such argument for the sake of doing the necessary work of governance.

    It is important to remember that the constitution starts by listing what is, and is not, the job of government.   If something is not the job of government, then government is supposed to leave it alone.  Religion is among the things government is supposed to leave alone.  But that also implies that we, as voters, should leave those concerns at the door of the voting booth, if we do not we embroil the government in areas the constitution specifically excludes it from.  Our voting booth decisions are to be made within the context of what government is specifically charged with doing.

    None of this minmizes inter-religious competition, or religious/irreligious competition, it simply moves the battleground to somewhere other than governnance.

    And So We Conclude…

    …a couple of things.

    The first conclusion is that those that sought to introduce the question of whether Mormons are Christians, or proclaimed Mormonism a cult, in the context of  of the elections did so solely for the purpose of labeling and using said label as a disqualifier.  Not relaizing that sucha  tactic would, i the end be self-defeating, for such tactics, once used and justified could be as easily turned aginst those that did it, as they did against others.

    The second conclusion is that by introducing such factors into the election debate, we bring governance into areas and arenas where it was not, in this nation at least, every intended to go.  This likewise, is a move that could create as many problems as it solves.

    From Here

    In our next few “Telling the Story” posts we will begin to chronicle the debates and attacks that happened along the philosophical lines that we have laid out in this post.

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    There Is Improperly Mixing Politics and Religion, And Then There Is The…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:53 pm, October 13th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Utterly Ridiculous

    Obama is my homeboy. And I’m not saying that because he’s black – I’m saying that in reference to those Urban Outfitters t-shirts from a couple years ago that said, “Jesus is my homeboy.” Yes, I just said it. Obama is my Jesus.

    HT: Newsbusters who attempts to analyze this piece.  But I say, “Why?”  Something that supremely disrespectful, not to mention incredibly silly, requires no analysis.  It is true self-parody.

    Res ipsa loquitor

    Lowell adds:  I fear that such folks will have a crisis of faith the first time a President Obama does something that shows him to be all too human.

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    Stuff That Has Been Hanging Around

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:46 am, October 11th 2008     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    WOW!  I checked the files and there was some stuff in there that we had neglected to pass on.  What can I say?  Here it is:

    From the semi-annual LDS conference:

    Mormons should never respond with arrogance or hostility to attacks on their faith, but be peacemakers among themselves and in the community of faith, said several speakers at the 178th Semiannual LDS General Conference on Sunday.

    “More regrettable than the [LDS] Church being accused of not being Christian is when church members react to such accusations in an un-Christlike way,” Apostle Robert D. Hales said on the second day of the two-day conference. “Surely our Heavenly Father is saddened – and the devil laughs – when we contentiously debate doctrinal differences with our Christian neighbors.”

    I think a few of my co-religionists need to hear some of that message.

    McCain and Evangelicals.  Not a pretty picture and it explains a lot about what is going on this cycle.

    This would probably tear a Protestant church in two, or three, or four.   (In fact it is, see the Episcopalians and my Presbyterians.)  Fortunately, Roman Catholics are a bit more robust than us.

    What can I say?  I grew up in Indianapolis and I’m a Colts fan, so this link is a must.

    Richard John Neuhaus reminds:

    To contend for the free exercise of religion is to contend for the perpetuation of a nation that is, in Lincoln’s words, “so conceived and so dedicated.” It is to contend for the hope “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Despite the perverse jurisprudence of recent decades, most Americans still say with the Founders, “We hold these truths.” And, with the Founders, they understand those truths to be inseparably tied to religion, both in their origin and in their continuing power to elicit assent.

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    Wrong-Headed Blogging

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:54 am, October 10th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Crosswalk is a pretty successful blog about “The Intersection of Faith and Life” and recently it reports on a divorce decree in which the father admitted that Mormonism was not Protestant.  The blogger then analyzes:

    Given the fact that it is not Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant, one can naturally extrapolate that Mormonism is not Christian. And that is something most apparent when one looks at the various doctrines advanced by Mormonism, which at almost every turn, conflict with the basic, foundational teachings of Christianity. This is a landmark decision that will have implications. 

    This is an ugly case of wishful thinking.   Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think Mormons want to be thought of as Protestant – after all, we Protestants have creeds too.  Not to mention that there already are categories of “Christian” outside of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.  The Moravian church, for example, predates the Protestant Reformation by about 100 years.  The Coptics of the Middle East, while resembling Orthodoxy, are a thing apart.  It could even be argued that Evangelicalism is both movement affecting those three more traditional groups and independent fourth group, particularly as the number of non-affiliated, free standing Evangelical congregations continues to grow in this nation and western Europe.

    The guy heads his post with “Mormonism LEGALLY Declared Not Christian.”  No such thing is the case here and the judge who made the ruling would be aghast as such an interpretation.   When you read the piece it is a very narrow decision on a VERY narrow question regarding the education and church attendance of the children of the marriage.

    It is precisely this kind of sloppy thinking that allowed people to  practice bias and bigotry towards Mitt Romney in the campaign.

     Lowell adds:  Mormons are not Protestants.  We make no bones about that.  In fact, we’ve pointed that out on this blog many times.  We have taken to calling our faith “restored Christianity.”  That, of course, invites a religious debate about what “restored” means, whether anything needed to be restored, and so forth.  But John’s point remains clear and indisputable:  “not Protestant” does not mean “not Christian.”

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