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."

  • Note To The Politically Faithful

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:45 am, February 28th 2009     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Things are looking good at CPAC.

    Romney – who has himself re-emerged as a key national leader for his party — denied he has anyone in particular in mind to be that spokesman.

    “I’m happy to have a role, [and will] aggressively seek the opportunity to have my viewpoint known,” he said.

    But the former one-term governor and presidential candidate, a man of independent means and boundless energy, has undeniably thrown himself into the vacuum atop the Republican Party. One of a handful of Republicans who – people close to him say — can be expected to consider a bid for president, he has the particular advantage of focus.

    Other possible presidential candidates are wrestling with home state budget deficits, President Barack Obama’s popularity, and their own local political options. Romney is, he says, on the national stage full time, writing a book of policy and ideas, and spending the balance of his days campaigning and fundraising for congressional Republicans.

    The Republican Party has a tradition of returning to defeated primary candidates, from Ronald Reagan to John McCain, and Romney is putting himself in a strong position to continue it.

    The best thing about this piece and the numerous others that have appeared in the wake of Romney’s speech yesterday is they lack any mention of the “M” word.  The press seems to have played its game with that particular toy and has moved on – at least for now.

    Should Romney elect to run again, will it be back?  Only time will tell, but some prognostigation could be worthwhile.  The left leaning press will, of course, bring it up.  They will use any arrow in the quiver, effective or ineffective.  Even if the economy has improved by then (and I believe it will at least to some extent) the memory will still be strong.  This will place fiscal conservatism foremost in the minds of Republicans.  Look for rightward leaning pundits to keep their mouths shut – until…

    …Mike Huckabee tries to slyly, and deniably, force the issue.  He will fail.  And when he does, he will no longer matter in the contest.  Romney’s economic credentials are so unassailable that anyone that attempts to throw a monkey wrench in the works, and particularly this one, will be rightly pilloried into insignificance.

    Evangelicals are not falling for this stuff twice.  Did you see the really big news yesterday?  Dobson is on the way out.   Dr. Dobson is a good man, and he is not an evil Mormon hater in the fashion of a Keller, but he grossly misplayed this last election, and his comments on Romney’s faith were front and center in that misplay.

    Conditions that play to Romney’s strengths (That is ia bit of an undertatement) – Evangelicals rethinking and reorganizing, losing the ineffective – the religion card has been played, and the results have been disastorous.   Suddenly, a light at the end of the tunnel appeared!


    Posted in Candidate Qualifications | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    The Trend Continues…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 01:56 pm, February 23rd 2009     &mdash      2 Comments »

    More articles are appearing about Mormons gaining ground politically with other social conservatives.  Consider this from The American Thinker (responding to Sean Penn’s unreasonable and inappropriate sound-off at last night’s Oscars) and this from Rod Dreher:

    Just as Catholics and Evangelicals found they had a lot in common as they met and got to know each other in the trenches of the pro-life movement, I hope that Mormons and more mainstream Christians will now discover the same in the fight for religious liberty, which is just beginning.

    The Catholic analogy may be imperfect, but the trend may still be real.

    One thing seems certain, Mormons and Evangelicals are right now presented with the first of what this Evangelical hopes will be many “moments” to come.  We cannot let past hurts and slights allow this moment to slip.  If we have the opportunity to step forward, we should, even if it is a set-up to get hit – at least we are getting hit one step closer to the target.

    And we need to remember how we got that step – it was by playing the game in a far more civil fashion than our hoped-for allies.

    Quick hit from Lowell:  I think, as the saying goes, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  If there’s a candidate or a ballot proposition or other objective that religious conservatives want to see succeed, and we can best accomplish success by working together with those of other faiths, let’s just do that.  Let’s not be deterred or distracted by the foolishness that pops up along the way.  So:

    • If someone starts a blog about whether a candidate is religiously acceptable, ignore the blog and move on.
    • If someone writes an unfriendly book about Mormonism, remember, he’s trying to sell books, just move on.
    • If someone wants to raise the claim that a Mormon candidate is not a Christian, give that claim all the time and attention it deserves — which is about 5% of the time and attention we Mormons tend to give such claims — and move on.
    • Evangelical leaders and others of influence:  If any of the above happens, state your position and why you are disregarding the chattering by the side of the road, and move on.

    That’s my two cents.   Or maybe four cents.


    Posted in Political Strategy, Religious Bigotry, Understanding Religion | 2 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Signs Of Hope? – For Weekend Discussion

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:42 am, February 20th 2009     &mdash      22 Comments »

    Michael Brendan Dougherty from the upcoming Feb 23 issue of the American Conservative:

    Romney’s campaign was derailed when Evangelicals turned to Baptist preacher-turned-politician, Mike Huckabee. His enthusiastic reception at the Values Voters conference prevented Dobson and other Religious Right leaders from endorsing Romney. Huckabee poked at Romney’s faith, asking a New York Times reporter, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” His strong showing among evangelical voters in the South doomed Romney’s bid.

    But evangelical hostilities don’t last forever. When John F. Kennedy ran for president, many conservative evangelicals believed the Pope was the antichrist. The president of the National Association of Evangelicals warned, “Public opinion is changing in favor of the church of Rome. We dare not sit idly by—voiceless and voteless.” But two decades later, as Catholics took the lead in protesting abortion, evangelicals gradually traded theological rivalry for political co-operation. The alliance has become so natural that evangelicals were willing to reject co-religionist Harriet Miers as a nominee for the Supreme Court in favor of the more qualified Catholic Samuel Alito.

    The same process of assimilation into the social conservative movement may be taking place for Mormons. Soon after the California Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage constitutional, Catholic Bishop of San Francisco George Niederauer asked the LDS church to join a multifaith coalition against gay marriage. By June, Elder Lance Wickman, a top LDS official, called Prop 8 “The Gettysburg of the culture war.” Church members fell in line, ready for a fight.

    Do you think he’s right? What factors, as we move forward, will make this true or not true?  There are big differences between the Evangelical/Roman Catholic divide and the Evangelical/Mormon divide – what are they and how will they affect this process?

    Call this an open thread post for the weekend.  Comment moderation will be off until Monday morning – have at it.

    Lowell adds:

    This is just a quick thought; I hope to have more to say over the weekend. John’s right that the Catholic analogy is imperfect. One reason for that (and only one of many) is religious competition. We Mormons are vigorous and aggresive proselytizers. It’s central to our faith, as evidenced by those 50,000 young, clean-scrubbed missionaries all over the world. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said that more Baptists leave that faith to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than any other – by a large factor. To me, that means that many Evangelical pastors will always view the Mormons with suspicion and hostility, and not just for theological reasons. Their messages to their flocks will reflect that hostility.

    There’s no parallel for that issue in the Catholic/Evangelical divide. Catholics aren’t trying to convert Evangelicals and are no competitive threat to Evangelical pastors. I’m not saying this is an insurmountable problem, but I do think it’s an issue.

    I am eager to see what our readers think.


    Posted in News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Proposition 8, Reading List | 22 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Some Light Reading

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:36 am, February 19th 2009     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    First of all, Instapundit makes a funny.  Sad commentary at the same time.

    Then I do not know what to make of this little gem.   The “article” tries to define a religon.  It’s at someplace called “Digital Journal” which is trying to be some sort of Daily Kos/journalism thing, and the writer is listed as a “top digital journalist.”  If this is an example of her work, they have problems.  I’ve seen deeper puddles.  There are some pretty deep objections, like in the end it is a subjective cop-out, but I don’t think it deserves that much analysis.


    Posted in Reading List | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Are We Reasonable?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:24 am, February 17th 2009     &mdash      9 Comments »

    Rod Dreher had an interesting op-ed yesterday.

    The source of our culture war is conflicting visions of what it means to be free and what it means to be an American – and even what it means to be fully human. More concretely, as Princeton’s Robert George has written, they have to do mainly “with sexuality, the transmitting and taking of human life, and the place of religion and religiously informed moral judgment in public life.”


    Culture war is inevitable, because it’s in the nature of democratic, pluralistic society. It only ends when one side wins, by force or force of reason. As all drill sergeants know, you prepare your troops to move in for the kill by first dehumanizing the enemy.

    If we keep the humanity of our opponents squarely in front of us – as Obama, to his great credit, seems determined to do – we can keep the culture-war casualty count low. That’s about the best we can hope for.

    Dreher is right about the inevitability of the so-called culture wars in a pluralistic society.   What makes American unique is that it has endeavored, really for the first time in history, to find a way to co-exist with such pluralism.  What is most fascinating about the American experiment is that effort to co-exist, religion has flourished unlike anywhere else on the planet in history.

    There are two very key ideas that have made that fact.  One is the separation of political and religious authority, with a subsequent limitation of both.   Dreher says:

    What irritates conservatives is the liberals’ groundless conceit that they fight from a values-neutral position, while the right seeks to impose its norms on others.

    The assertion is irritating, but it is not the problem.  What irritates this conservative is that liberals choose to insert government authority into the area traditional reserved for religious (or lack the thereof) authority.  Much as Roe v Wade is less about the moral question and more about the balance of power between the three branches, not to mention federal and local government – so the culture war is about the “balance of authority” between government and religion, or other morality systems.  While the moral questions are the battle ground, the essential battle is for the American understanding and experiment.

    Which is why conservatives above all have to maintain civil discourse, which as Dreher observes, is about rendering as few casualties as possible – it is the essence of what we are fighting for.

    Which makes the latest Pew Religious Landscape Survey troubling.  One must wade through the typical anti-religious snarkiness in Andrew Sullivan’s blogged reaction to the survey, but he does find the primary take-away from the survey – Evangelicals and Mormons lead the religious (by clear majorities of those self-defining) as relying solely on religious teaching for determining right and wrong.  In so doing, they bring to the culture wars moral stances based on the “God said so” argument.

    Such argument suffers from defying the authority boundaries and civil discourse rules of the American experiment – just as much as has been done by the liberal arguments.  It is responding in kind when it is the kind that we oppose at the heart of matters.  Rather than seek to restore the balance  of authority between religion and government, this argument seek to assert purely religous authority.  Who can blame government for then pushing back?

    What is worse is that such argument is ultimately self-defeating.  I am currently working on an extended writing, to be presented in a form yet to be determined, on the writings of the 20th century’s greatest Christian apologist – C.S. Lewis.  In his most read non-fiction work, Mere Christianity, Lewis argues that there is such a thing as “pre-evangelism.”  A certain set of intellectual ideas necessary for argument for Christianity to be effective.  That pre-evangelistic idea is that there is right and wrong in the universe – independent of whether God has defined it or not.  In perhaps his most powerful essay, The Abolition of Man, Lewis calls this religiously shared, but divinely independent idea of right and wrong, “the Tao.”  In Lewis’ view, without this pre-evangelistic idea there is no reasonable evangelistic argument.

    And so, when we assert right and wrong in our nation by pure reliance on religious authority we turn the pre-evangelistic into the evangelistic, and thus we give up the basis for the argument we most seek to make.  This idea of an independent code of what is right and wrong is the second great idea that makes the American religously pluralistic experiement work so well.  If Evangelicals and Mormons really do reject it, then they reject the very thing that has allowed them to flourish.

    I for one have no desire to be self-defeating.


    Posted in Doctrinal Obedience, Religious Bigotry, Understanding Religion | 9 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Just for the sake of reference . . . LDS Church policy on proxy baptisms for celebrities and Holocaust victims

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 10:51 pm, February 15th 2009     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    The subject is peripheral to this blog’s focus, but it does come up sometimes.  Here’s the official word: LDS 1st Presidency on Proxy Baptisms 1995


    Posted in Understanding Religion | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

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