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."

  • Legality, Religiousity, Post-Prop 8 Ugliness and the Case Against Huckabee

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:10 am, November 26th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Yesterday we began to “fisk” Mike Huckabee’s slippery-eel responses to his interview with Hugh Hewitt.  With a book in release we are going to be hearing a lot of the Huckster in the next few weeks.  I found the New Yorker’s review of his book most fascinating:

    In “Do the Right Thing,” he takes a poke at Mitt Romney. “I never felt that he was leveling with the people,” Huckabee said.  [emphasis added]

    As we saw in the Hewitt interview the anti-Mormon case against Huckabee is not an easy one to make, he has done his job in a cloud of code, plausible deniability, and the Clinton-perfected technique of “if you tell people something other than what happened long enough it becomes what happened.”   But, if we take that single quote from his book and examine it through the concluding sentence of Joel Belz ugly, bigoted excuse for a column at World Magazine:

    More than anything, I want a president who tells the truth. And I worry deeply when people are overly ready to believe a man whose religious upbringing, of all things, suggests that the truth is a negotiable commodity.

    We have a straight line from Mike Huckabee to anti-Mormon rhetoric, and sentiment.

    The Republican party cannot tolerate such prejudice against Mormons or anyone else.  Mike Huckabee can have his TV show, but he should never, ever have a shot at candidacy for anything with a (R) after his name.

    And Still We Have To Defend Mormonism…

    At Townhall, K-Lo delineates the problems and presents a conclusion to which I can only add “AMEN!“:

    Surely we don’t have to be Mormon to be outraged. I make no statement about their recruitment strategies when I say, watching California, “We’re all Mormons now.” Next time the violent backlash may be in response to a brave Catholic bishop teaching responsibility at the voting booth. Next time it could be an online evangelical dating service hauled into court by a state “civil rights” office for not providing same-sex matchmaking. Oh wait, that already happened in New Jersey.

    Now I know why Mormons were so nervous. They were warning the rest of us. Our freedom to believe is at hazard, and it’s time we all had the Mormons’ backs.

    Speaking of Prop 8…

    Yesterday, Lowell commented on the legal challenges and trends and potential changes in the church/state line.   Well, the legal challenges are mounting:

    California officials are planning to investigate whether the Mormon church gave an accurate accounting of its role in the campaign that succeeded in getting a same-sex marriage ban approved in the state. The action by the California Fair Political Practices Commission came in response to a complaint filed two weeks ago by a gay rights activist. Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of failing to report the value of the work it did to support Proposition 8.

    Somehow I am getting the impression that when we increased the role of government in our lives for the good reasons of dealing with civil rights in the ’60′s we neglected the Law of Unintended Consequences.  Funny things deep principles.  Generally best to adhere to them, even in the face of the something like segregation – find a different way to overcome it.

    Not to mention, Prop 8 has cost another man his job.   Now I am a firm believer that people ought to be able to hire and fire who ever they want on all sorts of criteria.  If an Evangelical only wants to hire Evangelicals for his business, he may not be real bright, but its his right.  But this kind of “politically correct” pressure is something else altogether.   It’s oppressive, discriminatory, intolerant, and perhaps even hateful.  How can such things come from the side of “tolerance?”

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    Posted in Proposition 8, Reading List, Religious Bigotry | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Prop 8 and religion: A moral or political issue, or both?

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 01:31 pm, November 25th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Getting to the Nub of the Matter

    I don’t always agree with National Review’s editors, but they hit a home run with their  editorial, Legislating Immorality:

    To date, 30 states have voted on initiatives addressing same-sex marriage, and in every state traditional marriage has come out on top. But somehow the fact that Mormons got involved during the latest statewide referendum constitutes a bridge too far? In truth, Mormons are a target of convenience in the opening salvo of what is sure to be a full-scale assault on much of America’s religious infrastructure, which gay activists perceive as a barrier to their aspirations. Among religious groups, Mormons are not the biggest obstacle to same-sex marriage — not by a long shot. But they are an easy target. Anti-Mormon bigotry is unfortunately common, and gay-rights activists are cynically exploiting that fact.

    There are no websites dedicated to “outing” Catholics who supported Proposition 8, even though Catholic voters heavily outnumber Mormons. And the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not remarkably strident in its beliefs on the subject. So far, no gay-rights activist has had the brass to burn a Qu’ran on the doorstep of a militant mosque where — forget marriage! — imams advocate the stoning of homosexuals.

    (Emphasis added.)  Then this:

    Where do they go from here? Gay activists are already using the legal system to try to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church. If you believe that churches and synagogues, priests and rabbis won’t eventually be sued for their statements on sexuality, you’re kidding yourself. Chai Feldblum, a Georgetown University law professor and gay activist who helps draft federal legislation related to sexual orientation, says that, when religious liberty conflicts with gay rights, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” A National Public Radio report on the conflict noted that if previous cases are any guide, “the outlook is grim for religious groups.”

    (Emphasis added.)  This is the core of the debate, and it is not mere speculation.  The court decisions are trending Cahi Feldblun’s way.  For an example of the legal reasoning Feldblun advocates, see Benitez v. North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, in which the California Supreme Court held, in a 7-0 decision, that it was a violation of a lesbian woman’s civil rights under California’s Unruh Act for a physician to decline, on religious grounds, to artificially inseminate her.  The physician did refer the plaintiff  to another fertility specialist who provided the service; the woman now has three children.  The Supreme Court held that the physician’s religious liberty must give way to the Unruh Act’s requirements.

    The Courts and Morality

    There is more than one facet to to Prop 8, of course; that’s why it’s such a fascinating, consuming issue.  Writing in the Wall Street Journal, William McGurn masterfully summarizes the political-judicial aspect of the ongoing battle, and the role of the courts:  “What we have in America is less a culture war than a constitutional war. And if we could just straighten out the latter, we’d go a long way toward diffusing the former.”

    The great achievement of our system was to create a political order where . . . great moral disputes, as a matter of policy, are left to the people — with allowance for differences according to region and locale. Moral agents have a role to play, generally by shaping the larger culture in which these decisions are framed and debated. But the outcome is left to the people acting through their elected representatives, a process that inevitably involves compromise, trade-offs and messy accommodations. . . .

    What people hold as a moral ideal, however, and what they will accept as a workable compromise are two different things. Left to their own devices, most Americans can work these differences out in politics much as they do in their everyday lives, as untidy as these solutions may be.

    The combination of an aggressive gay rights agenda (pressed by what I believe is a small minority of gay people), very gay-favorable laws like the Unruh Act,  and compliant courts bodes ill for religious freedom.  That may also be true if these matters are left to the ballot box, not the courts.  But at least then, after the political process is completed, we’d all feel like we had our say in the matter.

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    RED MEAT! Hewitt, Huckabee and Anti-Mormonism

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:17 am, November 25th 2008     &mdash      4 Comments »

    Hugh Hewitt finally got his interviewing claws into Mike Huckabee yesterday.  Here is the transcript.   I was suffering from a serious case of employment during the interview and did not get to hear it.  Continue to be so.  So this post is going to begin briefly.  As both of us can find a minute today, maybe even over the next few days, we will try and add our additional thoughts and commentary.  I will begin with two exchanges:

    HH: Now Governor, about a year ago, actually next month, you were quoted in the New York Times Sunday Magazine as saying, “Don’t Mormons Believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?” Now I know you’ve explained that before, but it’s not in the book, which is a memoir of the campaign. Why would you leave out that major issue?

    MH: Well, because it was a completely misrepresented issue. It was a conversation with a reporter. It was an 11,000 word story, or 10,000 word story, and there were 11 words in it that really was a question that came in the context of the conversation because he was explaining to me specific doctrines of the Mormon Church. He was quite familiar with it. I wasn’t. And I asked him if that were in fact the doctrine of the Church. And the next thing is it ended up in the article as a part of it. The Associated Press lifted that out as if that was main focus of the conversation. I personally went to Mitt Romney in Des Moines, on a stage, looked at him in the face, told him I was sorry, that I would never had intended to have done something that would have been disparaging, and that it absolutely was not my intention to disparage any doctrine of his faith. And that’s just the long and the short of it.  

    HH: Where did you get that idea? 

    MH: Well, frankly, I’ve been told by people who had been Mormons that they did believe that Jesus and the Devil came out of the same stock. One went wrong, one went right. That’s why I asked it. 

    Now anybody that has watched a courtroom TV show of any sort should knows this trick.   Lawyer says “X” – Other Lawyer objects – Judge sustains the objection – First lawyer “withdraws the question.”  The key concept in such an exchange is “the bell has rung.”  The jury heard “X” and despite being told to disregard it, it just lies there, in the mind of the jurors and influences the thinking of those inclined to agree with the lawyer who said it.  Mike Huckabee may have apologized to Mitt Romney, but the bell had rung. He had sent a signal to the anti-Mormon crowd in Iowa.  They heard it and they responded.  Too little, too late, Governor, the bell had rung.  Personal apologies were insufficient.  What was called for was returned donations, and asking, publicly, certain groups not to work on your behalf.

    Second exchange:

    HH: Governor, the e-mails are coming in. Here’s one from a Mormon listener [Lowell!]. “Why didn’t the Governor ever denounce the scurrilous anti-Mormon attacks against Mitt Romney by Huckabee supporters? They were even left on the Huckabee website, e.g. Romney referred to as ‘Mormon garbage.’ Governor Huckabee always denied that he ever said anything playing on Governor Romney’s religion, but he never once denounced such attacks, and he benefited from them.” Governor? 

    MH: That is not true, and I consistently denounced attacks against the Mormon Church. And as I have said, if you watch my show, if you’ve read my publications and what I’ve written, I have often defended people of the Mormon faith, because I have great respect for them. They’re people who have great convictions, they hold to them, they are an example of charity, taking care of the members of their own Church. I think it’s, you know, something that is irrelevant to a person’s being elected. And I have said repeatedly that in no way would it affect my vote for or against somebody depending on what Church they belonged to or didn’t belong to.

    “Watch your show?!” WOW – he’s good, a plug and a denial in one useless sentence.   Way too little, way too late – the primary is over, Governor, what is said on your show now is irrelevant, it is what happened in the campaign that matters.  See, Mr. Huckabee, this is not about you, it is about the people that followed you.  You did make statements about attacks on another’s faith being inappropriate, but they were generic and they were made only around Super Tuesday and later when the heat on you for the Iowa crack became unbearable.

    What’s more, your web site was never edited.  Those comments were never deleted.  A comment policy forbidding then was never published.  You never sought out the numerous backers you had that were indeed nasty, ugly, bigoted anti-Mormon types and directly and by name repudiated them.  Then there are the uncountable bulletin boards and other web sites run by those officially unaffiliated with the campaign – Where were your campaign workers posting on those sites, denying such as having anything to do with the campaign?

    Mike Huckabee can claim his personal innocence all he wants, but the fact remains he provided political cover for anti-Mormon bigotry to operate.  He let anti-Mormonism fester like a boil.  His campaign was indeed bigoted and anti-Mormon.   He had no control over his campaign, which gives one no confidence in his ability to govern the nation. But then he never wanted to – “Watch his show” indeed – I think that just about says it all.

    More to come as time and employment allows.

    Lowell finally shows up:  What a stroke of luck.  I was driving home a little early and, as I always do on those occasions, I turned on Hugh’s show.  Lo and behold, he had Mike Huckabee on for the entire final hour.  For months now I had wanted to see someone ask Huck why he never denounced the anti-Mormon bile that came out of his supporters.  Since Huck wasn’t taking calls, I pulled off the road and sent my e-mail question.

    Huck gave almost exactly the response I expected:  Religion “is irrelevant to a person’s being elected. And I have said repeatedly that in no way would it affect my vote for or against somebody depending on what Church they belonged to or didn’t belong to.”

    How utterly gutless and lame.  That’s all he ever said during the campaign as well.  Well, Mike, let’s play my favorite game:  Replace “Mormon” with another candidate and faith.

    When your website refers to Joe Lieberman as “Jewish garbage,” would you simply say in response,”Religion is irrelevant to a person’s being elected?”

    When your website refers to Rudy Giuliani as “papist garbage,” would you simply say in response,”Religion is irrelevant to a person’s being elected?”

    Yes, it is hard to imagine letting those statements go with such a limp and general response, isn’t it?  But you knew that a large part of your base would be offended if you said anything more to denounce their naked, unapologetic and unabashed bigotry.

    I beleive Mike Huckabee is a serious danger now facing the Republican Party.  He is silver-tongued and he has a loyal base.  He has a mean and nasty streak and obviously loves to nurse a grudge.  (Witness the many pages of his book devoted to Mitt Romney, who had the temerity to be handsome, rich, have a beautiful family, and beat up on Huck politically everywhere they competed other than Iowa.)  Worst of all, his aiding and abetting of the dark bigotry of his supporters proves that he lacks the courage to do the right thing. Not a good combination in a would-be national leader.

    All that, combined with the man’s ego and charming narcissism, make for a very negative influence on the party.   Just imagine what Huck would do to Sarah Palin, once she started making him look bad.  (And she will, if Huck takes her on.)

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    Posted in Doctrinal Obedience, Electability, Political Strategy, Religious Bigotry, Understanding Religion | 4 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Say What?!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:21 am, November 24th 2008     &mdash      3 Comments »

    Some of the stuff coming from the other side in the post-Prop 8 “discussion,” is just kind of unbelievable.  Consider this reprint from the New Yorker on MSNBC:

    You might think that an organization that for most of the first of its not yet two centuries of existence was the world’s most notorious proponent of startlingly unconventional forms of wedded bliss would be a little reticent about issuing orders to the rest of humanity specifying exactly who should be legally entitled to marry whom. But no. The Mormon Church—as anyone can attest who has ever answered the doorbell to find a pair of polite, persistent, adolescent “elders” standing on the stoop, tracts in hand—does not count reticence among the cardinal virtues.

    That’s the opening sentence!  It completely ignores two very plain facts.  One, the LDS – rightly – jettisoned their adherence to “unconvential forms of marriage.”  Something the gay community just might want to consider.  Some of us learn from our mistakes.  Secondly, no one “issued orders” to anyone – THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS FUNCTIONED PROPERLY.  The only coercion I have seen in this entire thing has been from the left as they used disturbance of the peace, vandalism, threats of violence,  and harassment to attempt to force their minority desire on the rest of society.

    The second piece is out of the Boston Globe:

    This year’s headline is that, with the encouragement of their religious leaders, Mormons gave loads of money and man-hours to pass Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. Indeed, they were probably the most organized and consequential force behind the measure’s passage. But in the face of post-election protests outside its temples, the church doesn’t seem to want to take much credit. 

    Not really.  I have never heard a Mormon shrink from their role in all this, rather I have heard people who 1) exercise the wonderful religious virtue of humility in its proper context and fashion; 2) wish to act in unity with others of somewhat different religious persuasions; and 3)  recognize that their contribution, while significant, was not determinative.

    I can only conclude thot those that lost in this election need someone to blame that is not themselves and so they are lashing out at Mormons as the most readily available and vulnerable target.  But when matched up against the facts – simply that 52% of the people of California voted for Propsition 8 – that targeting simply does not hold up.  6, 582,471 votes were cast for Prop 8 – that is a number roughly equivalent to all the Mormons in the United States, and most of them live somewhere besides California.

    Frankly, in light of such factually inaccurate claims as these, this whole “blame the Mormons” schtick on the part of the left is starting to look ridiculous.   It would be humorous if people were not losing their jobs, being vandalized, and beig threatened.

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    In The Wake Of Prop 8

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 11:23 am, November 22nd 2008     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Certainly the people that started this blog, Lowell and I, and to some extent Hugh Hewitt, thought that Mitt Romney’s candidacy would be the great show down between Mormons and the nation.  I certainly thought it offered and opportunity for the once refugee community to finally heal all wounds with the nation.  As things have turned out Romney’s run was derailed by a petulant little fit by a group of Evangelicals just a little too enamored with wanting the role of “kingmaker,”  more likely to hurt Evangelical political influence than finally welcome Mormons completely into the national fold.

    But that does not mean there has not been a national showdown on Mormonism this cycle just past – it just came in the form of California’s Proposition 8.  Consider all the letters that have discussed the matter in the NYTimes.  Here is one example, and consider especially the second letter in this bunch.

    To the Editor:

    The Mormons seem shocked by the angry reaction by the gay community to the huge support for Proposition 8 in California by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They call for “respect” and “civility.”

    Such protestations fall flat since the complainers exercised considerable muscle to use the California legislative process to oppress gay people. This battle is not simply political. It is an act of aggression against a minority that has been too long oppressed.

    We are fighting to reverse hundreds of years of legal homophobia. The marriage victory in California was a sign of social progress. Fighting to take away marriage protections from our elderly and our children is an act of hatred deserving retribution.

    The gay community and our allies must respond appropriately. If Mormons and other sowers of hate want civility from us, they must stop trampling upon our civil rights.

    Marc Levine
    Brooklyn, Nov. 15, 2008

    Now for starters, let us consider that running a campaign and winning a vote is BY DEFINITION “civil” whilst riots, vandalism, forcing people out of jobs, and  threats of physical harm, are all, likewise BY DEFINITION NOT CIVIL!  If we accept for the sake of argument that this is a civil rights issue (which I DO NOT – how can something that we issue a license for be a right?)  these people forget the essential lesson of Martin Luther King’s non-violent civil disobedience campaign.  It was in the non-threatening, non-destructive nature of the King lead protests, and the violent ugly response of the governmental and non-governmental oppressors, that the nation learned the lesson of the wrong of segregation.  All we are learning from the activities of the so-called LGBT community after Prop 8 is that they are a bunch of self-involved, petulant, violent miscreants more obsessed with their own desire than the simple peace of the community.

    But what remains most fascinating on all this is the singling out of the CJCLDS for the particular ire of the protests and disagreement.  As has been clear since the beginning, and is increasingly true as evangelical voices and a Jewish voice in an Anglican outlet, make plain we are all in this together.  Says Rabbi Shifren:

    People have perhaps wondered: why the Mormons? Answer: they are a small, yet vocal Christian minority. They have been selected by the mobs as vulnerable, a group that might not have such massive support among America’s Christians.

    Indeed!   There should be no doubt that what is truly at stake here is a fight for simple decency.  And when they are done with the Mormons, we will be next.

    And, as things turn out, we apparently have to fight not only the radical LGBT community, but many inside Mormonism as well.

    Just 10 months after the death of LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley, who spent nearly 70 years burnishing his church’s public image, goodwill toward Mormonism that culminated during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games seems to have faded in a haze of misunderstanding and outright hostility.

    Mean-spirited critiques of Mormonism during Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential campaign were followed by persistent news-media reports linking Latter-day Saints  to the FLDS polygamous sect raided by Texas authorities. Now, angry opponents of Proposition 8 are demonstrating at Mormon temples, accusing the church of being anti-gay.

    This analysis seems precisely wrong.   Is there opposition to Mormonism?  Of course there is!  Just as there is opposition to Evangelicalism, Catholicism, Orthodox, and the rest  that claim morality and a supernatural authority to support it.  This is, in this Evangelical’s opinion, indeed a “Mormon moment.”  They have gained so much.

    In the Romney candidacy, even though a losing effort, the bigotry that does reside, sadly, inside Evangelicalism has been revealed.   And as he who fronted for that bigotry continues to misstep, we see that minority of Evangelicals increasingly marginalized.  The FLDS has served to illustrate the difference between that, dare I say – CULT, and the mainstream of Mormonism.  And Prop 8 has and is building political unity between Mormons, Catholics, Jews and Evangelicals.

    Now is no time for Mormons, or any other engaged believer, to withdraw into their shell.  Much work remains to be done, and we are here presented with a golden opportunity to do it.

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    A Catholic Defense of Mormon Support (and other religions’ support) for Prop 8

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 03:10 pm, November 17th 2008     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Michael Barber is Professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego.  He posted this video on his blog, Singing in the Reign:

      

    The video speaks for itself.  Professor Barber gives the background on his blog.  And he links to another article on the same subject.

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