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."

  • New Year’s Eve Quick Links

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:44 am, December 31st 2008     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Another Retrospective…

    This time, USAToday:

    Romney, a Mormon, gave a speech on why his faith mattered to him personally but should not matter politically.

    Well, at least it acknowledges the story, which so many of these have not, and it would be too much to expect a detailed analysis of the story in a overview piece like this, but that is an oversimplificatin of Romney;s speec if ever I heard one.   If you are really interested, check out our “Straight From the Source”box where you can see and hear Romney;s retake on the speech when he got the awardafter the election, or lower inthe box you will find the speech itself.

    And then…

    There is more Warren praying at the Inauguration story.   *SIGH*

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    Following The Stories We Have Been Following

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:45 am, December 30th 2008     &mdash      2 Comments »

    On the rewrite of history . . .

    Finally someone has acknowledged the role Romney’s faith played in the election just past, something sorely missing from political wrap-ups so far.  Sadly, it’s American United For Separation of Church and State.  There is something very wrong with that.  This is not an issue of a”hard” separation, but of a proper balance.

    On Beck/Dobson . . .

    glennbeck.jpgThe coverage continues to grow, after we broke it Christmas Eve.  (Glenn Beck’s photo is at right.)  Now the SLTrib and Colorado Springs Gazette (Dobson HQ location) are in on it, and they managed some comment form a Dobson PR person.  Turns out my prediction of Sunday night was half right:

    Now, here is what I anticipate will happen.  The story will reappear at CitizenLink after the holidays with the appropriate corrections – and an explanation that it was merely withdrawn pending those corrections and the holidays, with the resulting lack of available personnel, are the reasons for its extended absence.  No mention will be made of McConkey or his press release, and if pressed, FotF personnel will deny it having any influence on their editorial decisions.

    The story is not going to reappear (quoting from the CS Gazette):

    Focus’ political arm, Focus Action, recently removed an article from its Web site about conservative talk show host Glenn Beck – a Mormon – because it offended some of its evangelical followers.

    Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said Monday that the story was put online through an “oversight.”

    but:

    Schneeberger said Focus Action’s decision to pull the story was not driven by McConkey’s news release.

    This is a mistake.  I have not read Beck’s book, but as I understand it it tells a basic Christmas story and then uses it in an analogous fashion to describe atonement – a theological concept common to both traditional Christians and Mormons, though somewhat differently understood by each. Of course there are radical fundamentalists out there that berate even “secular” Christmas interpretations, but I do not see Dobson joining in those protests.   Lots of people think a lot of things about Christmas, and we can take the best of each – particularly when it is coming form a political ally in a political setting.

    Again, quoting from the Gazette piece, the Dobson organization is trying to put a politically cooperative face on this:

    On Monday Schneeberger had kind words for Beck.

    “We intended no insult,” he said. “We merely miscalculated on how best to feature Glenn, whom we greatly appreciate.”

    But Beck pointed out the real issue:

    “The concept of religious tolerance is too important to be sacrificed in response to pressure from special interest groups, especially when it means bowing to censorship,” wrote Beck, who could not be reached for additional comment.

    Once again, Dobson and his organization are just ham-fisted in handling this stuff.  They simply cannot make up their mind between leading and following.  They try to lead and then get a little criticism and pull back.  But then he is a radio host, not a pastor or a politician.  That is one of the bigger problems in the Evangelical movement, we turn to the wrong people for our political leadership.

    Lowell comments:  Beck’s statement is both depressing and powerful.  Depressing, because it is such a sad commentary on the current state of Mormon-Evangelical relations; powerful, because it is so true– and so embarrassing to Dr. Dobson and his organization.  I do not believe that Steve McConkey or others of his ilk are representative Evangelicals, but we saw during the 2008 presidential election cycle that they have great influence as spoilers.  In other words, they cannot make someone president, but they can stop a candidate – but only in the Republican primaries, not in the general election.  I wonder if conservative values voters are going to be content with that limited level of influence?  It does not seem to have worked out very well for them this time around, having produced John McCain as the Republican nominee and Barack Obama as president.

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    History Being Rewritten Before Our Eyes

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:58 am, December 29th 2008     &mdash      3 Comments »

    Politco has put out a story just now:

    Top 10 political upsets of 2008

    What’s the first story they open with?:

    Mike Huckabee (Iowa Republican caucus): By the time Iowans went to their caucus locations in January, it was clear that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was surging. After a series of strong debate performances and some offbeat advertising featuring martial arts expert Chuck Norris, buzz was building around the GOP longshot’s candidacy. 

    Huckabee wasn’t supposed to be able to compete with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s money and organization, yet he trounced Romney by nine points, changing the course of the Republican nominating contest and establishing the former preacher as a national player.

    Look, there is little question that Huckabee’s breakout in the primaries constitutes one of the top political stories of the year, and it was an upset.  However, to cover it in this fashion without acknowledging the “how” – especially when that “how” was tainted to say the least, and when there is a knife fight going on for the chairmanship of the RNC and some of that fight centers on the very questionable tactics Huckabee used in his upset (see our comments on Chip Saltsman from yesterday) – is to grant that upset a legitimacy it simply does not deserve.

    Huckabee’s upset is an amazing political story, but in accomplishing it, Huckabee grossly coarsened American political debate.  Prior to the elections the name “Mitt Romney” could not appear in the press anywhere without the word “Mormon” appearing somewhere in the same sentence.  Yet now people seem to be able to write about the whole thing without ever mentioning it?

    Mike Huckabee’s victory in Iowa was based almost purely on religious bias. Mitt Romney achieved exactly the turnout he wanted there.  What Huckabee did was bring a whole new group of voters to the table.  They were heavily regionalized, the were heavily “evangelical” and they were religiously discriminatory.  It is that plainly simple.  The Iowa results robbed Romney of the momentum he needed going forward.  Huckabee barely tried afterIowa, and what he did completely abandoned the bigoted tactics that were used there – only illustrating the illegitimate nature of those tactics.

    The Huckabee victory in Iowa is the lead to one of the top political upset stories of 2008, but the real story is that in an election cycle that saw the final crashing of one of the biggest discriminatory barriers in our nation’s history, one thought long down was erected anew.  In the rush to congratulate ourselves for electing an African-American president, we would do well to remember that discrimnation is not dead in this nation.

    And I, for one, am not at all convinced that swapping discriminations represents any genuine progress.

    Later in the day addition:

    The Washington Post piles on with a story:

    Religion’s Big and Unprecedented Role in ’08 Politics

    and nowhere, absolutely nowhere, in the story is there a mention of Mitt Romney, and the word “Mormon” only in reference to the FLDS arrests -it does not evencome up in relationship to Prop8 – which isn’t mentioned at all.

    I am truly aghast.  The political story of the primary, from its primordial infancy right up to Super Tuesday was “Can Mitt Romney, the Mormon, get elected.?”   And now, in retrospect, nothing?  Give me a break!

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    Bigotry Abounds!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:32 am, December 28th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    More traditional journalistic outlets than this one, both Mormon and traditional Christian have picked up on the story we broke on Christmas Eve about the Glenn Beck/Focus on the Family dust up.  I’d like to thank these hard working reporters for following up!  Apparently the FotF people have admitted to pulling the story:

    When contacted Friday, a Focus on the Family worker at the ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo. confirmed that the article had been pulled and read a prepared statement for callers who had called about the Beck article:

    “You are correct to note that Mr. Beck is a member of the Mormon church, and that we did not make mention of this fact in our interview with him. We do recognize the deep theological difference between evangelical theology and Mormon theology, and it would have been prudent for us at least to have pointed out these differences. Because of the confusion, we have removed the interview from Citizenlink.”

    It would be fair to recognize the differences, but why not simply correct the piece instead of pull it?  Well, those questions have been deferred until after the holidays.  Now please remember this thing happened, apparently, becasue of a press release that went out Monday. The author of that release was contacted in the follow-up efforts:

    Underground Apologetics president Steve McConkey said in an interview that he had not read Beck’s book, but understood its message. He felt that the work was suspect based on what he understands about Beck’s faith. McConkey said he had not asked Dobson’s ministry to remove the article from its site.

    Hasn’t read the book!!  Lowell put it to me this way in an email, “Can we find a better example of bigotry, or ad hominem reasoning?”  My answer? – “Ahhh, no, we really can’t.”

    So let’s just put this all together.  Focus on the Family puts up an interview with a prominent Mormon.   Some durn fool of a Christian apologist objects, very publicly, without having read the book the interview surrounded, simply because it was an interview with a Mormon – and Focus on the Family caves!?  Yep – that pretty well defines bigotry.

    Now, here is what I anticipate will happen.  The story will reappear at CitizenLink after the holidays with the appropriate corrections – and an explanation that it was merely withdrawn pending those corrections and the holidays, with the resulting lack of available personnel, are the reason for its extended absence.  No mention will be made of McConkey or his press release, and if pressed, FotF personnel will deny it having any influence on their editorial decisions.

    My opinion is that the bell has rung here and the damage has been done and the Dobson organization better get a lot more adept at handling this sort of thing.

    I would ask one thing of my Mormon friends here.   I recently had to add a comment to the comment stream on one of our posts. Please, do not be guilty of the same crime some of my Evangelical brethren are, your ignorance of us is as damaging as our ignorance of you.  I chastise my brethren routinely, as I have here, for speaking from such ignorance – I ask only that you do the same.

    And speaking of bigotry . . .

    Has anybody noticed the dust-up with Chip Saltsman including a copy of the Rush Limbaugh parody “Obama The Magic Negro” in his Christmas gift to RNC members, such gifts a part of Saltsman’s efforts to seek the RNC chairmanship? Apparently this makes Mr. Saltsman a bigot, or at least guilty of plausibly deniable poor taste.  Hardly news to this blog.  After all, the Chipster was Mike Huckabee’s campaign manager.   Tendencies in this direction were revealed long ago.

    The Republican party really does need to rid itself of this sort of tactic.  Better late than never.

    Lowell adds:  When I heard Saltsman interviewed on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, I was struck by how much he sounded like . . . Mike Huckabee.  Glib, funny, and unwilling to answer a tough question about Huck’s playing of the anti-Mormon card, including a deft parry of Hugh’s question along those lines:

    HH: All right. Now Chip, why did you let the anti-Mormon stuff get out of hand on your website? 

    CS: (laughing) You know, it’s amazing. I did not know I could do all these things. If I would have had all this power back then, I wish I would have known it.  

    HH: But on your website, the haters came out, and the put some nasty stuff up there. You’ve got to have seen it. 

    CS: On the presidential campaign? 

    HH: Yeah. 

    CS: Now we may have been looking at different ones, but on our website, we were pretty diligent about making sure that none of the anti-Mormon, anti-anything was making it through.  

    HH: All right, well let’s move on from that, too. 

    Long-time readers of this blog know that is nonsense, of course.  Anyway, I am now hoping that anyone but Saltsman becomes RNC Chair.

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    ARRGH!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:27 am, December 24th 2008     &mdash      6 Comments »

    We interrupt this otherwise joyous holiday season to note that in the Focus on the Family/Glenn Beck dust-up we discussed Monday, the Dobson organization has caved:

    This article is no longer available.

    I truly do not understand this – it is the “CitizenLink” website of FotF – it is about social action and politics – who cares if the source of good information is Mormon, Hindu, or Martian?

    The absolute worst part is that in California we have just witnessed what is possible if Mormons and Evangelicals and Catholics unite politically – so how does the leading Evangelical public figure (although Dobson is rapidly being supplanted in that role by Pastor Warren – more momentarily) respond?  By caving to the slighest pressure from a few grossly over-zealous types.  Which does what?  It weakens an already very weak and formative bridge between.

    Shame on the Dobson organization.

    Since we’re posting…

    I was planning on taking the holidays off here, but since the bone headed nonsense above forced my hand I might as well point out that the “Warren praying at the inaugural” discussion continues at an amazing pace.  I said my piece the other day, but apparently everybody wants to talk about it anyway.  So, without comment, here is a sampling of this vast discussion:

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    Embarrassed By My Brethren…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:02 am, December 22nd 2008     &mdash      5 Comments »

    . . . At Christmas time no less!  A press release went out early this morning:

    Focus on the Family has a story on Glenn Beck, a Mormon, on their CitizenLink Website. Glenn Beck was a CNN host and will move to Fox News in January. Beck is currently promoting his book, “The Christmas Sweater.” The CitizenLink story focuses on Beck’s faith and why he wrote “The Christmas Sweater.”

    While Glenn’s social views are compatible with many Christian views, his beliefs in Mormonism are not. Clearly, Mormonism is a cult. The CitizenLink story does not mention Beck’s Mormon faith, however, the story makes it look as if Beck is a Christian who believes in the essential doctrines of the faith.

    Through the years, Focus on the Family has done great things to help the family and has brought attention to the many social ills that are attacking the family.

    Moreover, to promote a Mormon as a Christian is not helpful to the cause of Jesus Christ. For Christians to influence society, Christians should be promoting the central issues of the faith properly without opening the door to false religions.

    Give me a break – PLEASE!  First of all, it was Lowell’s and my pleasure to meet Glenn Beck at Mitt Romney’s “Faith in America” speech last December.  Incredibly nice guy – one of the good ones.

    This move by the Dobson organization should be applauded loudly and long.  Nobody can swing more evangelical votes than James Dobson – NOBODY.  During the primaries, Dobson’s fence sitting on Romney, presumably becasue of a fear of criticism like this, when combined with the Huckabee plasibly-deniable-bigoted-insult campaign, likely cost Romney the election.  Imagine the campaign just past with a Dobson saying things like those denounced in this press release, and in turn denouncing the bigoted Huckabee-backers of the world (I’ll bet even money that Steve McConkey, who put out this release, was one of them) for putting their theology ahead of, oh I don’t know - winning the election for our viewpoint if not our theology.  Such a primary would have had a very different result indeed.  Conservatives might now be talking about what we can accomplish instead of playing hard defense.

    Lowell interjects:  I have little empirical data on which to base my view, but after the last 30 months or so I am convinced that people like Mr. McConkey are a fringe minority within the Evangelical movement.  Still, as we have learned, they wield considerable influence.  My greatest disappointment through all of this has been the absence of high-profile denunciation of the religious bigotry that the Romney campaign exposed.  I am confident that will come in time.

    Back to John . . . .

    Of course, if we are lucky, this blog will be the only outlet in the world to pay attention to this press release.

    You want to know what I really think!?

    Merry Christmas Glenn Beck!  Merry Christmas Lowell, Sonja and family! Merry Christmas Mitt Romney, family and team!  Merry Christmas to all my Mormon friends and acquaintances!  Heck, Merry Christmas Steve McConkey!

    I am celebrating the birth of my Savior.  Let’s do it together – we can iron out the details later.

    Lowell adds:  Amen!

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