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."

  • Religious Division – Religously Motivated Crimes? – Romney, Palin, Pawlenty – and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:37 am, October 30th 2009     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Did you know that if you were following us on Twitter, you would have already seen a link to most of what we will be discussing here?  That would make you so much better prepared to discuss it with other “fans” of this blog on Facebook.  Why not give it a try?

    The religion of the left…

    Sting isn’t a religious man, but he says President Barack Obama might be a divine answer to the world’s problems.

    “In many ways, he’s sent from God,” he joked in an interview, “because the world’s a mess.”

    Now, if anyone that actually practiced a religion said anything remotely like that about say, George W. Bush, they would have been absolutely pilloried in the press.  Yet the AP reports this story fawning on both Sting and Obama.  I guess you are only allowed to mention God if you do not really believe in Him.

    How long before…

    something like this happens to us?

    The German domestic intelligence service keeps the Church of Scientology under surveillance as a potential threat to democracy. Belgian prosecutors have been building a blackmail case against it for 11 years.

    Now the French have taken a more forceful step.

    In a decision that could reverberate across Europe, a court in Paris Tuesday convicted the French branch of the church of “organized fraud” and said it had systematically tricked recruits out of their savings.

    I do believe Scientology to be fraudulent as a religion, but then I think many of my Christian brethren practice a bit of fraud in their ministries too – yet I must defend their right to be a free religion because in doing so I defend my own.  Now, of course, European church/state laws are quite different than here, but this crosses a pretty serious line – worth watching.

    or then there is something like this shooting at a synagogue.  I honestly fear for some of my Mormon friends that worked hard on Prop 8.  Consider this.

    The Invisible Primary…

    How will “targeting” be used in it?  Here’s an interesting look at how politics is done.  Lists and lists of lists.  And NY-23 continues as a sort of conservative litmus test, but you know, no one will remember by the time the real primary roles around in early 2012.

    Pawlenty. Unsurprisingly, it seems like no one really seems to know who he is.   But, he is working very hard to change that fact.

    Palin. K-Lo thinks she is not serious about going to Iowa.  Polling shows that she is loved, but most people do not think her “qualified” for higher office.

    Romney. Apparently, he’s a “star” and he is behaving exactly like we said he would on NY-23.

    While in the background…

    Mormons are not the only ones that find themselves “on the outside looking in” when it comes to working with other varieties of Christian faith.  This is an Evangelical/Catholic thing inside a para-church ministry, so there is not necessarily the mandate for cross-theological cooperation like there is in politics, but the attitude here is instructive.  I’ll try not to get too preachy here, but something is very wrong inside Christianity when these doctrinal issues become this important.  Somewhere we are losing focus on why we follow our faith to begin with.  It is not about being “right,” it’s about being better.  On Faith is wondering if that is possible without religion.

    This article is incredibly politically instructive.

    WATERTOWN, Mass.

    It’s hard to tell in the quiet of a color-splashed autumn morning, but Redeemer Fellowship Church is trying to set its roots in a rough neighborhood. For churches, anyway. Until this new church opened last month, the 19th-century Congregational Church building in suburban Watertown was empty for nearly two years. Across the street, a closed Baptist church is filled with condos. So is a former Catholic church half a mile away.

    Dead churches are a familiar story in New England, which recent surveys indicate is now the least religious region in the country. But some see opportunity in a place where America’s Christian faith laid its roots.

    That says volumes about why New Hampshire is so very different than Iowa in how it votes in the primaries.  It explains why last time guys that would not appeal to religious types (McCain, Giuliani) would kick off in NH and not Iowa.  It also says why Romney would be smart to do the same in ’12.

    Finally, discussion of the Founders and their faith are usually petty and pointless, but I found this blog post more or less on target.

    If there is an incompatibility between orthodox Christianity and the American Founding Presidential political theology, it’s that the latter is too ecumenical. Orthodox Christianity is not eccumenical; it believes Christ the only way to God. Evangelicals and Roman Catholics can gather together over their shared belief in Nicene orthodoxy; but the America’s Founding political theology went further.

    [...]

    The irony is — and I’m all about playing up delicious philosophic irony — those who most loudly and popularly defend the “Christian Nation” idea have a tight definition of “Christianity” and are likeliest to term such a theology as “not Christian.” In other words, they evaluate what is a “Christian” as it relates to “their beliefs on doctrines of salvation.” Gregg Frazer doesn’t even do this when he constructs a definition of late 18th Century “Christianity” that excludes what the first four Presidents believed. Gregg forms a 10 point lowest common denominator among the creeds of the largest “Christian” sects in 18th Century America. And this includes Roman Catholics and Anglicans who would not pass the “born again”/salvation standard of evangelicals.

    All of which makes me wonder when I read this:

    …the term Moralistic Therapeutic Deism to describe the emerging faith among American teenagers,…

    if these emerging teenagers are any closer to genuine religion than there deeply divisive parents, but I do think they might be easier to live with.

    But then, if you were following us on Twitter, you would know all this already and be ready to discuss it at our Facebook fan page.

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    Harry Reid and His Faith, Soul-Searching and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:38 am, October 28th 2009     &mdash      2 Comments »

    If you have not already, be sure and follow Article VI Blog throughout the new media universe.  You can be notified whenever we post, which shall become more and more frequent as time moves forward, and read what we are reading in real time on Twitter.  You can commune with others that appreciate this blog on our work-in-progress Facebook page.

    Defending Harry Reid!?!?!?…

    Monday’s SLCTrib featured a story about how liberal Democrat Harry Reid reconciles his LDS faith with his political postures.  The piece was fairly reasonable, but it got a lot of comment from the usual circles including GetReligion, whose reduction/summary thereof made it sound entirely like the discussion you often here in Evangelical circles about the genuineness of so-and-so’s faith.

    I am no fan of Harry Reid’s politics, but I will defend him to the point of saying that no one should have their politics and religion balled up in this fashion – not Harry Reid, Not Mitt Romney, not George W. Bush – no one.  While politics and religion influence each other one is never determinative of another.  Religious belief can be incredibly complex.  When I express my opinion that I think nearly everything Jimmy Carter did in office was wrong, I often get the response, “So, you don’t think he is a very good Christian?”  What utter nonsense!  I do not know Jimmy Carter personally and would never dare make a judgment on the state of his faith under such circumstances.  And even if I did know him personally, such a judgment would be between him and I and not subject to publication.  I just disagree with his politics.

    A Romney aide recently commented to the press something about how they can no more blame Evangelicals in Iowa for voting for Huckabee than they can Mormons in Nevada and Utah for voting for Romney.  Maybe not, but we should not vote for either one of them because they share our religion.   Shame on the press for writing this sort of nonsense.  If the leadership of the LDS church has problems with Harry Reid, I am sure they are dealing with it.  Everything else is malicious gossip.

    Campaign Stuff . . .

    The NY-23 congressional race is turning into some sort of litmus test on conservative credentials.  Palin broke ranks with the GOP early Monday and Pawlenty followed suit later in the day.  Instructively mum on the question are both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.  Endorsing outside the party is an incredibly tough call.  When Palin did it, I took it as proof that she was shifting her career from elected office to pundit/speaker for the conservative movement.  In other words, once again, proof that she is not running.

    When Pawlenty did it, I had to rethink that a bit, but I will stand on it.  Pawlenty, who is definitely running, has a different issue.  Mostly moderate, he was a McCain guy last time, and now needs to burnish his conservative credentials, somewhat analogously to Romney last cycle.  This provides him with an opportunity.

    Romney will undoubtedly remain quiet.  Ponneru’s analysis , that Romney should run this time as “the establishment guy” is pretty right on, and such would mandate that he remain mute.  Huckabee, well, Huckabee never has been a conservative save for on social issues.

    Oh yeah, Newt might run.  Nope, Newt needs a headline, which also accounts for him staying with the party on NY-23, even when going conservative appears to be a winner.

    Thinking About Our Real Opponents . . .

    Consider this paragraph from a liberal blogger:

    So our leading candidates for the GOP are Huckabee, a nutball prosperity gospel preacher who wants to make the Constitution into an explicitly Christian document; Sarah Palin, a nutball Pentecostal who believes in faith healing and credits her political success to an utterly crazy African pastor who spends his time chasing witches out of villages; and Mitt Romney.  A Mormon.

    Folks, we religious people have got to pull together in the face of stuff like that.  When we bicker internally, we lose this bigger more important fight.

    Evangelical Stuff . . .

    There was this meeting at a seminary last week.  The basic theme was that if political stance and activity becomes too closely associated with religious faithfulness, that political activity and activity becomes an obstacle to genuine spirituality and renewal.  I cannot disagree with that as a general thesis.  But as many have taken political activity too far, so there is a danger in that thesis of absenting political activity altogether.

    There is a book that is generally odious making the rounds right now, called Republican Gomorrah which tries to set the religiously motivated and politically active at the center of the recent set backs for the Republicans.  It does so using examples of deep religious extremism, which is not entirely fair, but that fact does not necessarily counter the thesis.

    The fact of the matter is tying religion and politics too tightly together hurts both.  If you have to be “Christian” to be Republican then the Republican party can never achieve a sufficient majority to prevail.  If you have to be Republican to be considered “Christian,” then you are confusing politics and spirituality.

    Speaking of which, our old friend Joe Carter put a question to his evangelical panel at the new Evangel blog that contained an interesting assertion:

    Assuming that Blamires and Overton are correct and that a certain level of social order is necessary for the spread of the Gospel . . . .

    The ramifications there are incredible.  If that is true, one cannot worry about electing an official of another religion if they will preserve the social order since such is a necessary condition of the evangelism that is an Evangelical’s primary goal.

    Prop 8 . . .

    Most proponents of same-sex marriage consider opposition to it to be definitionally “anti-gay bias.”  So I found this little tid-bit fascinating:

    The SF Chronicle offers this very interesting report, which begins: “A federal judge said sponsors of California’s ban on same-sex marriage may not delay in handing over campaign strategy documents to gay-rights groups that are looking for evidence of anti gay bias as they try to overturn the measure.”

    Do you sense a continuation of the witch hunt that has followed in the wake of the propositions passage?

    Lowell tags along . . .

    Mormons are only the most recent religious group to take flak for their actions in the public square.  Catholics have been in that crossfire for some time, and today’s Political Diary (a subscription-only Wall Street Journal bulletin) has an account that is right in this blog’s wheelhouse.

    It seems that Cardinal Francis George, the Catholic archbishop of Mr. Obama’s Chicago hometown and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Journal’s editorial board that  “every one of the health-care reform bills passed by congressional committees allow for taxpayer funding of abortion — and therefore are ‘unacceptable’ to Catholics.”  Noting that Cardinal George’s “voice carries great weight in Catholic policy discussions” because of his leadership position with the Conference of Bishops, the Journal reports this tidbit:

    The cardinal, in a visit with the Journal’s editorial board, described his top priority for health-care reform: “Nobody should be deliberately killed.” He added that his understanding is that President Obama has promised federal funding will not go to any health plans that cover abortion. “The President has made promises and the Democrats should keep them,” said the cardinal.

    If his non-negotiables are met, would the cardinal support health care reform? He says that many in his flock lack insurance, and the church wants health care to be available to all people. But as for endorsing a particular legislative remedy, the cardinal said, “That would be a big mistake.”

    What a concept.  A church remains politically neutral, but speaks out on moral issues that it sees affected by legislation or other public policy initiatives.

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    Iowa, Issues, Identity; Problems in the GOP, and . . . “The Mormon Ethic of Civility”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:32 am, October 26th 2009     &mdash      2 Comments »

    The GOP . . .

    . . . is losing touch with its base?  Is that because it is too conservative, or not?  “Compassionate Conservatism” was theoretically socially conservative, fiscally moderate to left-moderate, and conservative on national defense.  Yet social issues remain largely unchanged.  Fiscal policy under the new administration has moved so far left that economic collapse is visible, albeit unlikely since some in Congress still have a brain.  We changed parties as a nation this last time largely because the nation was unwilling to face the cost of defending itself.  I don’t think anybody really knows what’s up here.

    The extraordinarily rapid collapse of the current administration’s approval ratings shows a fickle and ideologically inconsistent nation.  We seem to vote in the moment, and increasingly we vote in opposition to, not support of something.  (Bush Derangement Syndrome.)  That makes it pretty hard for a party to stick a stake in the ground.  And yet, at some point, too much fluidity is simply chaos.

    This is the real problem with the media age, with identity politics, and with the increasing secularization of our society.  Media shortens our attention span, so we never examine things at a level where we might come up with a guiding philosophy.  Identity politics makes it about who, not about the issues.   That is truly a formula for eventual civil war since there is no clear majority “who.”  And finally, religion, the traditional source for a person who is building a guiding philosophy, is waning in our society at the moment, even within the boundaries of religion as it too, particularly amongst Evangelicals, becomes increasing media- and sound bite-driven.

    As if to make my point for me, a great post went up over the weekend at that new blog “Evangel” that I brought up last week.  Consider:

    Though there are undoubtedly individual exceptions to this, social conservatives are generally unable to comprehend the place of government beyond the life issues to which they properly draw our attention. Yet what if we were to succeed in enacting legal protections for the unborn? What if governments were to come to recognize that the legal redefinition of marriage and family lies outside their sphere of competence? What if even the thought of ending prematurely the lives of the frail and elderly were to be excluded from the realm of civilized discourse? What, in short, if every issue dear to the hearts of social conservatives were to be resolved in their favour? One suspects that many of today’s political activists would declare victory and go home.

    Yet the political process is always animated by a genuine spiritual vision with profound ramifications for the doing of public justice. For that reason Christians cannot afford to abandon the realm of government, even if their pet issues were to be settled.

    [...]

    What does the social conservative believe?  It’s not clear that she possesses, as such, the resources to answer this question.  She may indeed have an opinion on the matter and she may express it publicly, but not as a social conservative.  This is a principal reason why social conservatism is incapable of carrying the day over the long term: it fundamentally lacks the cohesiveness necessary to serve as a genuinely political philosophy.  At most it can add up only to an ad hoc movement based on co-belligerency on concrete issues.  If we seek a theory of justice based on a solid, spiritually discerning understanding of God’s world, of human society and of the place of the state within it, we shall have to go elsewhere.

    Where elsewhere to go?  Quite the conundrum . . . .

    Speaking of Identity Politics . . .

    This is where it gets us.

    Voter doldrums – especially among blacks far less energized than they were for Barack Obama’s historic presidential bid last year – pose problems for Democrats struggling in the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey.

    Think about it.

    Candidates . . .

    Pawlenty. Big “rolling out” in D.C. – the take from Politico and Talking Points Memo.

    Romney . . .  continues to garner big discussion from his speech and op-ed in support of Israel last week.  They liked in in Jerusalem, while Jennifer Rubin points out that his op-ed following the AIPAC speech was targeted at New Hampshire – not accidentally.  Which brings us to . . .

    Iowa . . .

    Will Romney go?  (John’s personal take: Oh &^%$ NO!)  And Marc Ambinder is wondering about Pawlenty as well.  I can remember a time when the Iowa caucuses were considered a warm-up act to New Hampshire, but the press in the last few cycles has made it a main event.  That needs to be broken.  Caucuses are not elections and Iowa is just too quirky to really serve as the trendsetter it has become.   If we cannot change the scheduling to move it away from lead-off, we need to make it less important some other way.

    Issues . . .

    We talked about “guiding philosophy” in the first section.  Without one, I agree with this on same-sex marriage.  One of the reasons religion has to stop playing politics and start being religion.   That, and we have to be smart enough to formulate our arguments without “commandments.”

    Gonna agree with John McCain on this one.

    Hmmm.

    Finally, deep thoughts . . .

    This post from LDS & Evangelical Conversations is interesting and pretty much right on.  I will say this – I think my evangelical brethren have stretched the whole critique thing too far – often it is attack instead of critique.

    Where’s the outrage?  Evangelicals were relentless in their examination of Romney’s Mormonism.  And yet the Mormon Reids really are aiming at a genuine political dynasty and no one says a word.  The anti-Mormon types out there should have double the ammo for the Reids – liberal and Mormon.

    That says something very interesting about how Romney did and will play out.  It is far less about Mormon or creedal theology and far more about identity:  “I won’t be lead by one of them!”  If that’s not bigotry, I don’t know what is.

    Lowell Expounds and Adds:

    Iowa is about to become the poster boy for John’s theory that Evangelicals who focus too much on identity are going to marginalize themselves.  I think  Romney and Pawlenty, and perhaps any GOP candidate who can’t command a strong Evangelical vote, will skip the Iowa caucuses in 2010.  Maybe Iowa will become a Huckabee vs. Palin contest; if so, it may well end up being the Evangelical Sweepstakes.  Rather than being more important than it should be, Iowa may well become less important than it should be.

    LDS & Evangelical Conversations: I liked this bit from the post John links to:

    This difference [in approach to giving and receiving critique of own's own faith] can mean that Mormon and Evangelical interactions can at times resemble something like a Southern gentleman meeting a New Yorker.  The Evangelical is offering what to him is a normal give-and-take of critique and feedback while the Mormon has never heard anyone talk this way, much less about the doctrines and leaders of the LDS church.  The Mormon reaction is “why are you criticizing us” and the Evangelical response is “because that’s what we’re all supposed to be doing”.

    As we Mormons and Evangelicals try to figure out how to talk intelligently with each other, I think little nuggets like that are invaluable.

    The Mormon Ethic of Civility: We noticed the appearance of this interesting statement on the Newsroom section of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ official web site.  Its appearance there only a few days after the Dallin Oaks speech on threats to religious freedom is surely no coincidence.  The entire statement is a must-read, but these two ’graphs jumped out at us:

    The need for civility is perhaps most relevant in the realm of partisan politics. As the Church operates in countries around the world, it embraces the richness of pluralism. Thus, the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement. It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies.

    Furthermore, the Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible. As the Church begins to rise in prominence and its members achieve a higher public profile, a diversity of voices and opinions naturally follows. Some may even mistake these voices as being authoritative or representative of the Church. However, individual members think and speak for themselves. Only the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles speak for the whole Church.

    (Emphasis added.)  Among many other things, I think what we should hear in these words is, “Harry Reid, Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney and others may be Mormons but they don’t represent the Church and the Church does not endorse their views.”  I have a hunch that as 2012 draws nearer, we and others will be referring back to the above statement a number of times.

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    Romney Defends Israel

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:54 am, October 23rd 2009     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Just this morning, an op-ed by Mitt Romney started making the rounds.  It’s about standing firm with our allies, especially Israel.  It is a marvelous piece and very much speaks for itself.  There is just one brief comment I want to make.  Consider these pull quotes:

    Keeping our word to our allies is a matter of honor, but it is also a matter of self-interest. The United States needs allies for economic, political and national security reasons. Good allies and strong alliances allow us to share the burdens we carry, complement and supplement our efforts and present a united front against those who wish us harm.

    [...]

    Whenever or wherever America steps away from one of its friends and allies, or shrinks in the face of belligerent tyrants, those who are allied with us may understandably or inevitably step closer to our foes. The advance of human rights and the defense of liberty demand that America stands firm with its allies — all of them.

    Note that Romney stands in defense of the promise of our nation as matter of honor.

    I am currently hip deep in writing the next installment of our Telling the Story series on the narrative of religion and Romney in Campaign ’08.  In that forthcoming piece we will be looking at the “Mormons lie” meme, and how it transmogrified into the whole flip-flop thing, which one study showed was simply code for religious bias.  When a man stands behind the word of our nation in this fashion, how can we accuse him of being disingenuous?

    Unlike the current administration for which there is no intellectual/philosophical bedrock, and therefore no meter by which to measure such honor – Romney clearly understands the importance of one’s “yes” being “yes” and “no” meaning “no.”

    So much for “Mormons lie,” “flip-flop,” or any other formulation of that apparent mistrust.  If you have a problem with Romney’s faith, face and deal with it – but do not hide it behind things that are simply untrue.

    BTW, be sure and read the whole thing.  It is vitally important for reasons far beyond the point I have made here.

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    Who’s Running For What – Evangelical News – and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:51 am, October 22nd 2009     &mdash      3 Comments »

    The stack of stuff has grown, once again, quite deep.  I apologize that I have not been able to link to all of it on Twitter as we compiled it, but we did get the meatiest of it up over the last few days.  So if you want to stay as up-to-the-minute as your humble bloggers, be sure and follow us on Twitter.  We also find a nice little community building on Facebook.  Join us there where there is opportunity for extended discussion.  Who knows, you might even get a little insight into the personal lives of your humble bloggers – we’re still trying to figure out how best to use this stuff.  Your insights there are welcome.

    Shot At Mormons?

    Oh yeahSlate has named President Monson the nation’s most influential octogenarianSlate’s anti-Mormon bias is well known to regular readers of this blog as their editor Jacob Weisberg penned the most bigoted single line of all of Campaign ’08 – “the founding whoppers of Mormonism.”  In declaring President Monson “powerful,” they are purposefully evoking the image of Mormons as entranced followers of a “cult.”  It would be pathetic if so many Evangelicals were not willing to buy into it.  And the left is far from done with its Mormon bashing.

    So, Who’s Running and Why?

    Romney

    Prevaricates?  Well, not really – no one actually decides this early, but this quote does point out something I know from personal exposure to the man:

    “Clearly, if President Obama happened to be doing a great job, as I had hoped he would do when he got elected, why, that would influence my thoughts,”

    Mitt Romney is in this not because he wants to be president, but because he wants to serve the best interests of the nation.  That is an important distinction and one many candidates over look.  There was a local TV spot looking at his future, showing Romney doing what his real concentration is right now – helping Republicans win.  Does that make him the party’s “head” while Palin is its “heart”?  Which brings us to…

    Palin

    Some think there is more to her than just “heart.  Some think, and I tend to agree, she will not run.  Her communication strategy is more audience building that constituency building.  Facebook, by its nature, has “edges to the tent” useful as a tool for the very committed, but exclusive as a primary means of communication.

    Leaving for our discussion…

    Pawlenty

    Is he the man to challenge Huckabee in Iowa?  Some say yes.  Some, rightly in this blog’s opinion, wonder about the future of Iowa in general.  Barring a major shake-up in the primary scheduling, Pawlenty needs Iowa, as Romney did last time.  Huckabee’s likely candidacy will once again serve a “spoiler” role, but it may not be Romney that gets spoiled this time around.

    Speaking Of Communication Strategy…

    There is a certain hubris born of a complicit press that is hard to be believed.  Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director, and admiring quoter of Mao,  talks about how she is able to control the press.  I am sure she thinks that, but she forgets that no one controls the press unless they want to be controlled – and the press never wants to think it is being controlled.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

    Finally…

    Evangelicals

    Some of the smarter ones pull a very funny joke out of the archives.

    Are Evangelicals turning left?  Some say yes. Some note the Roman Catholic church is not.

    Marvin Olasky has been one of the more perplexing leaders of Evangelicalism we have encountered here.  There was an interesting blog-based interview with him that appeared this week in two parts.  One of the more interesting questions was that he was asked to define “evangelical.”

    Which brings me to a new blog – “Evangel” – a blog of the very Roman Catholic First Things magazine.  It’s a group blog of leading evangelical bloggers, put together by former Huckabee staffer Joe Carter, now leader of the First Things blogging effort.  It began with that same question, “What is evangelical.”  This blog will be interesting to watch, but I must comment on something I have discussed before -the term “evangelical” is rapidly becoming, if it has not already become, useless.  If there is that much discussion in the question and their discussion did not include many of the more secular views on it, then the word means pretty much whatever the user wants it to mean.

    And one of the participants there struck right at what is to this observe, the heart of the matter.

    OK, that’s enough for today.  Be sure to follow on Twitter and join us on Facebook.

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    America, Israel and Romney Speak

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:44 am, October 20th 2009     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Yesterday, Mitt Romney spoke at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2009 summit in San Diego.  Race-4-2012 carries the text of the speech and a bit of commentary.  The speech has gotten a great deal of press because of its broad condemnation of Iran and strong disagreement with the current administration’s handling of that rogue nation – the now widely quoted “unalloyed evil” comments.  What I found most interesting were these comment

    America and Israel are bound together by common commitments and shared values. We believe in representative democracy and human rights. We believe in the rule of law–in learning, scholarship, and free inquiry. We believe in the dignity of the human soul and in its God-given right to ascend above government domination . . . with freedom to speak, worship, associate and think as one desires.

    And because we share the same values, we also share many of the same adversaries. We reject oppression, terrorism, authoritarianism. Violent Jihadists have referred to America as the “great Satan” and to Israel as the “little Satan.” Of course, they don’t recognize the irony, committed as they are to the imposition of power over others, to violence, to brutality, to the subjugation of women and girls and to bigotry and racism.

    Israel has been fighting all of these things from the moment it was born. As the United States carries on that fight in countries scattered across the globe, we know that Israel is America’s most ardent ally in the Middle East.

    Those words are not that remarkable.  Until recently they were heard over and over and over again as the bulwark of American policy towards Israel and the Middle East in general.  The “values” portions of those statements were words heard in pulpits, especially evangelical pulpits, throughout the nation.

    What fascinates me is that so many in the last presidential election cycle were willing to talk about how different Mormons were than the rest of us.  Yet, on this matter I cannot find a hair’s breadth of difference.  Yes, the evangelical mood concerning war has moderated slightly in recent years, but a nuclear Iran should be, if it has not already, returning that mood back to the harsh reality that some people and nations simply are not nice.

    The statement, particularly when compared with statements by other presumed Republican hopefuls in recent months on the same region,  sounds decidedly presidential.  Our nation seems to have lost the big picture.  Mitt Romney is working very hard to give it back to us.  We should listen.

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