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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.
Thinking About Our Real Opponents . . .
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.