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."

Monday Odds and Ends

Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:57 am, August 9th 2010     —    9 Comments »

Fortune Telling…

The new site on religion, Patheos, ran a series last week on the future of Evangelicalism.  Included therein was a sub-series on the political divides inside Evangelicalism.  Again confirming the wisdom of the strategy recently floated by the nascent Team Romney – you can’t court something as non-cohesive as Evangelicals, you can just let those that are on your side join the party.

The Mormon organization FAIR held a conference recently.  One presented looked at what would happen if a Mormon were elected president:

If the scenario were true, Watkins said, members of the media would scrutinize his tax returns and wonder why 10 percent went directly to his church. Devoting three or more hours to church meetings and other duties, home teaching and national coverage of Sister Johnson’s sacrament meeting talk might turn some heads. General conference would be a major media event. Attending the temple would become complicated.

And think of the possible political satire. “Saturday Night Live” would have a field day.

Dear friends, if that is all that happens – consider it a blessing.  Any person of faith is considered an “oddity” in this age and EVERYONE is made fun of on Saturday Night Live, usually distastefully.  I am far more concerned about mining Mormonism for political ammunition.

But this is the 2012 meme that I am seeing and hearing more and more of and find disturbing:

Our fear must be that through the 2012 primaries and caucuses, the winnowing process will bring the GOP back to its boring, staid old self – and thus turn off the Tea Party fervor which is the hottest political movement in decades.

What we should be looking for in our 2012 candidate is a conservative who can sell conservatism – and also attract middle-of-the-road independents – all the while being pleasantly on the attack against the liberals, using humor and a light touch to harness the underlying fear and anxiety we are all feeling about our country’s future.

The current administration is evidence of what happens when a party goes for pizazz over substance.  Ronald Reagan was an extraordinary human being in his capability to both sell conservatism AND administer the nation, but he would have been an abject failure if all he could do was sell conservatism.  The first qualification to run for president is not the ability to “sell conservatism” – it’s the ability to actually run the executive branch of government.  2012 is going to be the “get serious” election and we have some candidates that are very good at getting serious.

Sitting around an pining for something better is a sure path to losing.  Just look at the last election.

The Field…

The Christian Science Monitor surveys the field.  They seem to be thinking star power more than serious capability.  That’s a mistake.

But this New York magazine article just cracked me up:

It’s not exactly groundbreaking news, but according to an MIT study, a candidate’s aesthetic appeal holds a lot of sway with voters. In short, respondents from the United States, Mexico, and India pretty much agreed with each other about which candidates “would make a better elected official” just by looking at photos of them. And the candidates they picked were often the ones that actually got elected.

[S]imply knowing which candidate the participants judged to have a superior appearance allowed the researchers to correctly predict the winner in 68 percent of Mexican elections and 75 percent of some Brazilian elections.

Luckily for John Thune and his chiseled face, he will probably have the “superior appearance” in whatever race he runs in.

Wait?! – I thought Romney was the one with the “chiseled good looks?”  Has our nation really turned so superficial that we will vote for the “it” president?  Are we so superficial that handsome today is “old and ugly” tomorrow, not just in our Hollywood starlets, but our presidential candidate?  Well, on the left maybe…

The Meme To Watch For…

Remember that story we ran into a few weeks ago about Mormons in financial institutions?  Well, if this piece out of the UK is any indication, a meme is forming:

They are nicknamed The mormon mafia. Its followers are taking over the corridors of power on Wall street, heading companies in the Forbes 500 and have already made a bid for the White House. “You’ll find mormons in many board-rooms wielding influence and shaping society,” says one leading  mormon businessman. “We’re trained for success.”

Last cycles antics have made the “cult” charge unusable this go around so it look like they are going to use “conspiracy theory” this time.  Watch this space.

…Or not

Chris Cillizza this social issues will make a comeback, particularly in light of last week’s judicial ruling on Prop 8.  First of all, they never have been quite as dead as some would like to think, but that said, he’s wrong.  This stuff does not hit national until the Supremes rule.

Finally, ugliness…

Here and here.  It takes smart serious people to do religion and politics.  These are not them.

Lowell adds . . .

I am sorry to have been so absent from the blog lately. Vacation plans called, followed by a severe and unexpected attack of employment.

The FAIR conference speaker’s comments on the impact of a Mormon president reminded me of a concern raised on Al Mohler’s radio program back in the 2008 presidential cycle.  Mohler had two guests on his show and one of them expressed a fear about Romney (or any Mormon) winning the White House:  That a Mormon president would “mainstream” Mormonism.  That fear creates what Mohler called a issue of “Christian discipleship” for him:  Could he vote for a Mormon if he knew that the religion may consequently become more attractive to possible converts, causing them to be deceived and to lose their salvation?

I am not raising this to make fun of Mohler.  I do not doubt his sincerity or that of his guest, although I think they are both terribly wrong-headed about the matter.  If the FAIR speaker is right (and he probably is, largely), then people will indeed learn a lot about Mormonism if Romney is even nominated, much less elected.  I recall the 1976 election, when Jimmy Carter’s nomination led to a great deal of news media coverage of what were then called “born-again Christians” (now known more precisely as Evangelicals).  I don’t know what direction the Evangelical response will take if there is similar attention paid to Mormonism, but it will be important, both in the GOP primaries and in the general election.  As John said, watch this space!


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