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."

  • Denying Personal Responsibility and A Word To My Evangelical Brethren

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 10:23 pm, October 27th 2010     &mdash      2 Comments »

    The World Turned Upside Down

    An AP story out of Salt Lake City Monday tried to make the case that, and I emphasize “tried” to make the case, that recent suicides of people self-identifying as gay are the responsibility of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   There have been a couple of good face-value take-downs of the piece by Maggie Gallagher and Bobby at GetReligion.  I don’t see a need to revisit the contention on that level.

    What I am forced to reflect upon, however, is how utterly bizarre the contention is on a philosophical level:  Suicide is nothing if not the ultimate personal choice.  If this “argument” gets any traction then it can lead to only one conclusion – no one is ever responsible for anything they have ever done or ever will do.

    What is almost beyond me is that people who would deny that there is an Almighty, in large part because they do not want to think their life “controlled” by some supernatural force or deity, or who claim a deity so full of “grace” that standards of behavior simply do not exist, would so readily claim that they are so easily bandied about to such extraordinary behavioral extremes  by mere emotional manipulation and social pressure.  Somehow believing themselves free of the forces of God, they believe themselves subject to forces with far less power or authority.

    Yet, such oxymoronic contentions seem commonplace and widely accepted in our world today.  How have we come to the point that simple commonsense seems so uncommon?

    At least part of the answer, I believe, lies with Evangelicals such as myself and our obsession with establishing TRUTH as if it were an object instead of a destination.

    Let me set this up for you just a bit.  In recent months as POTUS ’12 talk has begun to become the stuff of dinner table conversation, at least among the politically observant, I have heard uttered at more dinners than not, “I wish we had someone as captivating and good as Ronald Reagan this time.”  But at this point in his political development, two years before he actually won the presidency, we had no idea that Reagan would be what he eventually became.

    Reagan became REAGAN in no small degree because he was presented with a unique set of circumstances that permitted him to act in ways that were not available to others.  Others faced Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, not Gorbachev.   I have heard it argued, and it makes sense, that information about Chernobyl, being the overwhelming event that it was, could not be contained by the Soviet mechanisms and that flow of information severely weakened its control.  Reagan had the strongest, most determined, and most capable allies in Thatcher and John Paul II that any POTUS enjoyed during the Cold War.

    I have been reflecting on that a great deal as I have enjoyed these several dinner time conversations and it has set me to thinking about the question I asked a few paragraphs ago.

    You see, there was something of a spiritual awakening in the nation in the 1970′s – counter to, but also part of, the more liberal youth movements of the late 60′s and early 70′s.  Many of us with religious roots and commitments to Christ rose up and decried the “weak” Christianity of our parents.  The nightly cocktails and other minor “sins” of our parents (*SHUTTER* most of their generation — smoked cigarettes) seemed to say they did not take their faith seriously.  Worst of all was the tepid, non-theological, only vaguely Christ-mentioning civil religion that was bandied about in the Pledge of Allegiance and other civic settings like prayer at the beginning of the school day.

    We demanded a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and faces that glowed like Moses descending from Sinai.  And with this movement we did not rise to the defense of the civil religion because in our youthful enthusiasm and “wisdom” we did not think it worthy of defense for it was not “the gospel.”

    We were idiots.

    A Word to My Evangelical Brethren

    People do not come to something like the TRUTH of Jesus Christ all at once – it is a process.  Jesus told a parable of planting seed in good and bad soilC.S. Lewis believed his work was as a “pre-evangelist” that is to say someone who established the ground in a person in such a way that the gospel could take hold.

    I would argue that the civil religion of the United States was a large part of the “good soil” that has allowed Christianity to flourish in America for the last 200 or so years. In our efforts to rush to the TRUTH of the gospel, while counting as unworthy of defense the pre-evangelism provided by the civil religion we have turned fertile ground into weedy rocky soil.  Just as the liberalism of the late 60′s and early 70′ ignored the base principles on which decent liberal thought, like that of Jack Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., laid and has turned into something bizarre;  so the Christianity we have today has fractured into a 1000 little pieces fighting for turf on a field that should define what unites them.

    Christianity is waning in our nation and much of the blame belongs to us.  Our efforts to set down TRUTH, rather than reason for it, have resulted mostly in the loss of reason, and hence very oxymoronic claims like what this post opened with can capture public attention instead of the ridicule it deserves.

    Which brings me back to Ronald Reagan.  I am convinced that history may put him in the pantheon of greats with Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson.  But only if his legacy lasts.  The fracturing within the coalition that he built, either along religious lines, or lines over who most resembles Ronaldus Maximus (to borrow a phrase from Rush Limbaugh) is what will prevent his legacy from lasting.

    Now is the moment to return to basics and unite around them.  In doing so we will save the nation politically and renew the pre-evangelistic playing field which has allowed our faith to flourish.  That’s the ultimate win-win.

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    Job Qualifications, Religion Shots, more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:44 am, October 25th 2010     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Who Gets The Job?

    Apparently, Mormons do not get to lead Scout packs at creedal churches and when one is concerned about a religion that has done actual violence, you get fired.  Do you hate it as much as I do when the world seems simply arbitrary?

    Christ Covenant Church in Charlotte, NC has decided they do not want a Mormon couple leading their resident Cub Scout pack, and their reasoning is theological.  This is a lot like the GZM – the church has a right to do this, but its not smart.  The Scouts are one of the sharp points in the legal battles regarding homosexual “rights.”  Moves like this can go a long way towards getting the Scouts identified as a “religious organization.”   The Scouts have always been an organization that upheld the civic religion, but they have also always been decidedly non-sectarian and atheological.  To impose a theological imperative on such an organization is to erode one of the most important institutions upholding the civic religion is our nation.  The loss of the civic religion will not be the growth of one specific religion, but the wane of religion overall in the nation.

    On the other hand, Juan Williams firing from NPR is one of the most stunning pieces of news in a while.  He got fired because he said he got “nervous” when he saw someone wearing “Muslim garb” on an airplane.

    So, when someone goes out of their way to identify themselves as a part of a group that ATTACKED the United States, political correctness rules the day, but when someone suffers only from believing some theological “oddities,” none of which are violent in nature, they get to be slapped around no problem – whether it’s the Scout leaders in North Carolina or Mitt Romney in 2008?  That appears to be the only reasonable conclusion of the week just finished.

    What we see is religion reduced to label, the meaning of which is defined by what can get the desired political result.  Such definition of the religious label undermines its real meaning and utility.  Religion ceases to be a force for good in the nation.  Our nation is based strongly on having a force independent of government that makes its people good.  When we undermine that force we make the nation a much worse place.

    We used to be smarter than this.

    Shooting At Religion

    This stuff is getting old.  Compassion does not consist of letting people do whatever they want.  It is more compassionate to keep a child from burning their fingers on the stove than let them do it – even though a curious child is likely to throw a fit at having their will negated.  I have a great deal of compassion for people that are tempted by homosexual behavior – I truly pray for them and their healing, as I do for all of us and our own sins.  Bullying is ugly and should likewise be confronted, but the problems do not end there.

    I have not read the Gerson/Wehner book yet.  But I know it has to be a bit more sophisticated than this blog post on it leads one to believe.  One of the problems that arises when theology types try to do politics is that they fail to see the political ramifications of what they are doing until they are done with the theology.  In this case, simply stating the “death” of the “religious right” is going to invite all sorts of mischief from those who are opposed to it.

    I found this article on some polygamy trials in Canada fascinating.  It is also dangerous – implying that a separate community somehow threatens democracy.  It is especially troubling when people keep trying to put the Mormon card in play in the Nevada Senate race.  Angle, smartly, has not gone near it as best as I can tell, though a few opportunistic pastors have.  But the press wants it so desperately that they cannot hep but try.  And yet, we keep seeing signs of inter-religious political activity and hope that it can extend to Mormons and Evangelicals too.

    Romney News

    Noted leftie David Corn thinks Romney has a shot – even though he is no fan.  First of all, Corn shines his leftie credentials by stating that the pundits discount Romney.  Only the lefties do and that’s because they think those of us on the right are mouth breathing neanderthals incapable of the deft intellectual insight that only the left can produce.  (Not to mention they are wishful thinking since Romney will tan the hide of just about anybody they can put up in ’12)  What we are instead is people capable of knowing when we have over-thought something.  There is a time for action – and that time is now.  Therefore, Corn’s basic premise – the economy uber alles, and Mitt is the master thereof – is absolutely right on.

    The political analyst at CBS MarketWatch thinks Romney is looking good too.  Interestingly both Corn and Delamaide see the Mormon thing remaining a factor.  Of course, but it will only be a significant one if the press chooses to make it so.  It’ll play big in Iowa – count on it – but after that not so much.  What we need to do is make sure the base understands that the press’ fascination with Iowa, is theirs alone.

    Remember the whole push-polling fiasco in New Hampshire last time around?  Calls were made intimating that Romney avoided Vietnam by virtue of his mission.  Ugly stuff and accusation were hurled in every direction.  Huckabee, who had played the Mormon card quite successfully in Iowa seemed a likely candidate, but no evidence surfaced.  The polling company was in Utah which caused many of the Huckabee faithful to accuse Romney in what would have been the most convoluted, likely to backfire, political maneuvers in American history.  Mother Jones reports that the polling firms involved are back at it and makes this quite intersting assertion:

    But Western Wats really made news in 2008, when it was identified as the firm behind calls to voters in New Hampshire suggesting that Mitt Romney had dodged the Vietnam draft by serving as a Mormon missionary in France. The campaign behind those calls was never identified, though Rudy Giuliani was the leading suspect.

    That is the very first time I have ever heard the accusation thrown at the Giuliani camp.  That said, it makes some sense.  Rudy had bet the farm on Florida and when the Huckster took Iowa he knew the game had changed and he needed something in Iowa.  This is the sort of move that would give him impact with virtually no time or ground game in the area.  Hmmmm.

    The Others

    Calling Mitch Daniels pragmatic, but discarding Mitt Romney makes no sense to me at all.  And as to Ryan vs Daniels on VAT, there is a big difference in Ryan’s proposal and Daniels off-handed comment.  To date, Mitch is letting fly with little tidbits that are designed to either test his viability, or make sure he has not got a shot.  If Daniels is discussing a VAT in the same manner as Ryan, he needs to be plain about it.

    Salon introduces a piece on Huckabee’s unelectablility, based on his prisoner clemency policies by discussing the Obama team comments that they expect to face Huckabee.  Now that in and of itself should tell you a lot, dear friends, about why Team Obama wants to face Huckabee and why they said what they said to begin with.

    John Thune sounds pretty smart.

    Tim Pawlenty gets a hand up from George Will.

    Odd Mormon Characterizations..

    Some items appeared this week that characterized Mormons in odd ways.  Apparently people used to think the were vampiric.  Now, I follow this stuff pretty closely and that is one I never heard.  While some great scholarship went into debunking such associations, I wondering if bringing it up now is beating a dead horse – even with the “Twilight” phenomena.

    Some think Glenn Beck defines all Mormons (Indeed! – and I define all creedal Christian – wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and he is stupid.  The good news is that he is “stupid” for all the same reasons the rest of us that actually believe in an Almighty are so considered.  That is very worthy of note.

    Some think they are masochists.  Well, sort of.  “Religion Dispatches” is quickly defining itself as an outlet with a single agenda – to render homosexual behavior religiously acceptable.  In this case the author likens anti-Mormon prejudice to anti-GLBT “prejudice.”  OK, one is a religion and one is a behavior – big difference just for starters.  This is not the place for this debate, but this is one of the more odd assertions I have seen in a long time.  And speaking of odd, just a reminder that when you redefine something, it is not truly redefined but rendered meaningless.

    Interesting Reading

    So politics keep kids out of church?  Generation after generation something does – they seem to come back though.

    This study will be partially quoted and misrepresented by all sorts of people in all sorts of discussions.  America has a secular government, but its people have a definite Christian cultural bent.

    We’ll see.

    How the political concerns of the religious get warped.

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    Meddling in The Other Party’s Primary, Gays Think They Are God, Romney’s “Strategy,” and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:28 am, October 18th 2010     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Trying to Muck Up The Works…

    The NYTimes magazine did a big story on Obama containing this tidbit (HT: Taegan Goddard):

    “Obama advisers expect to incorporate the reelection campaign around March and think the Tea Party ultimately will reelect him by pulling Republican nominee to the right. They doubt Sarah Palin will run, figure Mitt Romney can’t get nomination because of his Massachusetts health care program and guess that Obama may end up running against Mike Huckabee.”

    My first reaction is that they still are not listening to the American people, nor do they have any comprehension of the other side of the aisle.  In fact, I find some of what the president is saying about me and the general populace downright insulting.  My second reaction is what a stunning admission they are making that Romney cannot succeed because of how unpopular their signature initiative is.  (I disagree about Romney, of course, but that they are conceding that is incredible.)

    But here is the bottom line – they are using their willing accomplices at the Old Grey Mare, er, Lady,  to attempt to define the 2012 Republican narrative.  It’s just that simple.  I mean if you were Obama who would you want to run against?  I’m thinking Huckabee.  Narrative matters.  Romney’s faith would not have mattered nearly so much in 2008 had the press not beat the drum to death.  It became the narrative on Romney.  Here is the Obama camp attempting to send a signal to the MSM:  Tell this story and tell it often.

    Remember, elections are not decided by the faithful, they are decided by the uncommitted, “unwashed” masses that pay attention just a few weeks before the voting, and they are still very prone to buying the MSM narrative.

    Those politics done, I must make one side comment on religion.  The president’s comments in the link to Powerline not quoted above represent the ultimate in narcissism.  His presumptions of his wisdom and everyone else’s lack thereof are, sadly, indicative of this narcissistic age.  It also helps focus us on the ultimate role of religion in public life.  In this era it is less about issues and more about building people that understand there is something beyond and above themselves.  Deity and humility are the important lessons of the day and those are close to universal religious values.  In such an age can we really afford to fight over doctrine?

    I visited Mt. Vernon when in Washington last week and was reminded of the tone for the presidency set by George Washington – a tone of service and sacrifice, certainly not the kind of grandstanding and puffery we see here.  The last time I heard power grabs and politics this naked I was in the Soviet Union, the ultimate secular state.  Only a solid belief in the Almighty can teach us about service instead of self-aggrandizement.   George Washington was a nominal Anglican whose personal faith is little documented, but likely quite different from mine.  Nonetheless, he managed to set a tone for the office that has served this nation extraordinarily well.  I doubt it is mere coincidence that as the civic religion slips from general public discourse, so does that tone.

    Added to the insult, the president’s comments visited upon me a deep sadness.  The damage being wrought transcends the awful realities of overwhelming debt and crushing regulation; it’s on a level that strikes at the very soul of the nation.

    Gays and God…

    Maggie Gallagher says social issues still matter.  Yes they do.  Nicole Neroulias points out how much news there was regarding Mormons, homosexuals and so  forth.  And there was.  Packer’s statement continues to reverberate, despite the church having declared cruelty and violence as wrong.  As I read all this, I cannot help but see the forces that support the homosexual agenda trying to create a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” trap for those of us that disagree with their program.  Mormon and protestant alike.

    We try really hard not to preach here, but I cannot help but reflect that Jesus said:

    “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

    It seems like the GLBT community is trying to make the same claim for themselves.  And therein lies the problem.  Jesus can get away with such rhetoric – He was after all the Son of God.  We, on the other hand are not – we are all sinners and to make such claims without the proper status is about as wrong as one can get.

    Supporters of the homosexual agenda are working very hard to create a situation where the only way to oppose them is to be ugly.  Here is a classic example of such.  Opposition is not ipso facto ugly or violent.  And yet, by refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the opposition, the opposition is often forced to resort to less than savory tactics to be heard.

    This is going to get very interesting.

    The Romney Strategy

    Is NOT about selling books.  This story about institutional buys of Romney’s book as been all over the left-leaning blogosphere.  This is standard practice for most political books, on the left and the right.  It’s just not news.  But since when has that ever stopped the left from trying scoring points?

    He is raising a lot of money.

    Allahpundit looks at the real issue.

    “That means that winning the Republican nomination next time might require a long, Clinton-versus-Obama-style slog. Under those circumstances, Republicans say, those Maryland or Kansas primary voters could end up being important. It might mean that Romney has to bank on winning states like Georgia and Virginia, where he could be competitive in an otherwise inhospitable region…

    As Politico puts it:

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is grinding through the 2010 campaign state by state and district by district, adhering to a go-everywhere, never-say-no campaign schedule that will have recorded visits to 30 states before Election Day.

    In the current environment, that sounds smart – thoroughness matters.  The potential fly in the ointment lies with the so-called independent money, as described by Howard Fineman (HT: Ben Smith)

    “I could see a Mormon-Harvard-Bain Capital coalition getting out there to defend Mitt Romney even before he is attacked,” said [Evan] Tracey. It’s a potential gold mine for an enterprising “independent” consultant. (I wouldn’t be surprised if some guy with a Power Point isn’t on his way to Boston even as I write.)

    Before he is attacked!?  Can you say “2008?”  There was a lot of such “secret” money floating around in 2008 and much of it fueled the anti-Mormon stuff that did happen.  It was whisper campaign material but it was there.  I, for one, wish I knew there was such a defensive coalition forming right now.  I know for a fact there will never be a Mormon one – I don’t think the Quorum or the First Presidency would like it.

    Romney is known for playing hardball, but it is also straightforward ball.  He will out-work anyone else out there, but I do not see a lot of “secret” anything happening.

    What About The Rest Of The Field?

    Well, Tim Pawlenty is raising money and doing some evangelical press.  Good stuff but he just is not getting significant traction.  He is a serious player, not a press hound like most of the more commonly mentioned names, but I just don’t see this coming together at the moment.

    Mitch Daniels on the other hand continues to garner coverage and favor.  Michael Barone gave him a little coverage saying:

    He’s got strong, mostly conservative convictions; he doesn’t suffer fools (and elected politicians) gladly; he doesn’t care if others don’t like him.

    His public statements continue to prove Barone’s point.  This keep up, Daniels is likely to have very significant appeal to the Tea Party crowd.  He really is something completely different.  But the Tea Party is not an American majority.  The American majority wants change, but not that much change – that’s the lesson of the current administration.

    Sarah Palin seems to be walking the same ground.

    Rick Santorum stakes out the Huckabee territory.

    Finally, That “And More…” Part

    The left is not nearly so religiously neutral as they let on.  And are definitely playing religious favorites on even the small political scale.  This is all about Muslim appeasement.  Why does such a bad idea, like appeasing the bully, hang on so tightly after the lesson of the school yard, not to mention Chamberlain and Hitler?  I can only think of one reason – cowardice – such fear of the fight that we would rather be bullied.  (Hmmmm – there’s another lesson religion can teach.)

    “First Thoughts” does a marvelous job of illustrating how extraordinarily diverse traditional Christianity is.  Such differences are why, despite some thinking the “religious right” is a leviathan, we may never be a truly cohesive political force.  Even the Mormons cannot hold it completely together and they are a lot more cohesive than traditional Christian expressions.  If we are ugly on the blogs, then when it really matters, what do we expect?

    Lowell adds . . .

    Dear readers:

    As with Mark Twain, Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.  I have been buried in  administrative hearings (a type of legal trial) and am just now able to rejoin the fray.  I am delighted to be back.

    On the subject of gay marriage, I’ll simply add that the debate has become severely warped.  I commented on that here and don’t have much more to say.  At least not right now.

    John and I have talked a few times about why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have the equivalent of an Anti-Defamation League.  All I can say is, that’s not the way the Church  approaches news media relations, at least not in the last 100 years or so.  It’s pretty much “get the facts out and turn the other cheek.”  There are private groups like FAIR, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, a self-described “non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS (Mormon) doctrine, belief and practice.”   As good as FAIR is, however, it’s not about politics and it is not an activist “attack” type group.

    That Idaho Statesmen article John cites, about Romney’s endorsement of a Catholic Republican over a Mormon Democrat, is simply wonderful on several levels.  One is the sheer ordinariness of the story.  I’ve been watching Mormon politicians do battle that way all my life.  They want to win elections, not win one for the “Mormon team.”  It’s as simple as that.  Another more important level is that newcomers to Intermountain West politics — especially the coastal news media — don’t get that at all.  To them Mormons are just one big clan.  I am here to tell you, it ain’t so.

    AND FINALLY:  I’ve been trying to get to this On Faith piece for a week now.  I found it fascinating.  Why?  Because it strongly denounces the use of the term “cultist” when that term is used to describe … Harry Reid:

    Now, about that term “cult.” There is no more incendiary four-letter word that one can toss around religious circles. It amounts to a total rejection of the spiritual values of a particular organization. To call a group a “cult” is the pretty much the equivalent of calling an individual an “infidel.”

    “Cult” might possibly work as a description of an isolated, fenced, armed compound in which people were being held against their wills. Jonestown, circa 1978, comes to mind. But outside this very limited context, it amounts to little more than a fighting word.

    Well. Wouldn’t it be nice to see that kind of outrage expressed in the Washington Post when the same term is used to describe Mitt Romney?

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    All The News That’s Fit To Spend Electrons Upon, Early…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 02:13 pm, October 8th 2010     &mdash      5 Comments »

    I am out of pocket next week traveling for both business and pleasure, so here is your regular serving of stuff.  I’ll be in Washington D.C. and I will do my best not to get any on me.

    Oh Calm Down…

    Paul Krugman in the NYTimes:

    A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in “The Birth of a Nation,” but you’re actually just extras in a remake of “Citizen Kane.”

    I mean that literally. As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News.

    Good commentary round up on this here.

    Sound the straw man alert!  Here’s the list of names:

    • Sarah Palin
    • Newt Gingrich
    • Mike Huckabee
    • Rick Santorum

    Who’s missing?  Well, Tim Pawlenty…Mitch Daniels…John Thune amongst the players known to have the goods right now, and then there is Mike Pence, who seems to be pulling the goods together in a big hurry.  It must be remembered that people often run for president for reasons other than wanting to be president.  If you are looking for a way to tell the serious possibilities from the not-so-serious possibilities, I might suggest you compare these two lists and draw your own conclusions.

    What’s really happening here is one of the left’s leading mouthpieces trying to demonize a right-leaning mouthpiece.  As the monopoly crumbles, you can count on the monopolistic to cry foul.  Said Jonah Goldberg:

    The clear meaning of this sentence, and the column,  is “Har, har you stupid mouth-breathing Republican dupes, you thought you were mounting a racial revival for the white man but instead you’re simply pawns of the ruling class.”

    The Battle Over “Romneycare”

    First of all, it’s not “Romneycare.”  What Romney proposed and what was passed are VERY different.  Nonetheless it figures to be a huge issue in the months to come.  Ramesh Ponnuru, no Romney fan, comments on Jonathon Chait’s piece on it and says:

    I never liked his Massachusetts health-care plan and said so at the time, but it didn’t render him unacceptable to me. He wasn’t running on a federal version of that plan, which would have rendered him unacceptable in my eyes.

    He still isn’t.  So what’s changed? Only the political context, which is to say: everything.

    Long time readers will remember that I am was no fan of Mass. healthcare.  It is the single issue that kept me from declaring full strength for Romney for a very long time though I never had Ponnuru’s level of distaste for Romney.  I do agree with Ramesh on this though – it’s going to be a hot potato for Romney.  Allahpundit defends against similar charges from Politico:

    Conservatives are forever vigilant for shows of weakness among presidents (or would-be presidents)…

    Which we pointed out before.  Romney needs to find a way to “make this right,” but apologize?   Never.

    The LDS and Homosexuality

    I’m betting in order to make sure that the “apology” of a few days ago is not misunderstood, LDS Elder Boyd Packer made a statement on homosexuality.  Apparently his sentiments are “hateful”not attached to realitypossibly responsible for some suicides.

    Needless to say, some want to make it a hot potato for Mitt Romney:

    Potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney sidestepped the question of whether people were born gay, on the heels of strong statements by a leader of his LDS faith that same-sex attraction is “impure and unnatural.”

    “I still consider myself in the public arena, and as such I just don’t delve into matters of faith and my religion and doctrines of my church, whether it’s to try to explain it to other people or ascribe my own personal beliefs,” Romney said Tuesday during a visit to Salt Lake City in which he expressed his support for Gov. Gary Herbert.

    OK, here’s a classic gotcha.  Had Romney agreed with Packer, he would have been smeared with his faith.  By choosing not to comment he will be accused of being “wishy-washy” or “flip-flopping” or some other less than genuine insinuation.  In fact, all the man is doing is trying to maintain the public good in an era when we base policy on the will of the nation, not the pronouncements of any one, or coalition of religious groups.   Now if that coalition can convince enough of the American people to agree with them….

    Speaking of Mormon “Gotchas”…

    So, Romney endorsed a candidate in “jello belt” Idaho and it’s about his faith?!  Even when Mormons run the political spectrum?  Even when the very left-leaning Mormon is willing to play “Mormon victim?“  (Ok – all lefties like to play victim.)

    This is starting to get silly, but it is also why religion does not play well politically.  It is a different animal and in America it is diverse enough not to be a useful demographic category.  But it does not end there…

    …Glenn Beck and The White Horse Prophecy!?

    Yeeeeep – the lefties are batting that idea around.  But then any “journalism” containing the f-word as a part of normal discourse cannot be taken seriously.   Here is a more reasonable tell of the story.   Lowell and several of our more astute commenters have done the specious nature of the White Horse prophecy here before so we will not belabor that one.

    Rather we will point out what can come of this story line.  For one, lefties presume it will make Mormons look silly – just like they think creedal Christians that believe in the Second Coming are silly.  We’ll see what they think next time Jesus shows up.  Secondly, by emphasizing this they hope to make Beck’s efforts sectarian rather than about the civil religion – that will divide the “religious right” and could derail the effort.

    I have no idea what Beck is up to, other than trying to get ratings, and I am not particularly a fan.  But I am really tired of the left finding a religious bogeyman under ever action by a person that claims faith of some sort.  (Except, of course for Muslims that want to build monuments, er…community centers, on the site of their greatest “victory.”)

    The Field…

    David Brody seems to like Mike Pence.  Sometime though I thnk we need to quit looking for someone better and just make what we have the best.

    Sarah Palin makes an important point.  Just remember, lower priorities do not indicate lower importance, just differences in urgency.

    Pawlenty acts serious.  See the first section above and take note.

    Conservative bloggers DO NOT like Mike Huckabee.  (HT: Instapundit)

    Everybody on the left was talking about Romney changing his url shortner as if it were a silly move or something.  Made sense to me – I don’t want to put any money in Libya’s pocket.

    The Tea Party and Religon

    They are saying that there is big overlap between the two.  I think the polling results are just proof that the Tea Party is an enormously fired up conservative base.  These are not new faces, but old ones with renewed energy.

    Interesting Stuff on Religion and Poltics

    If we are going to defend marriage, we probably should go all in.  I’ve had this argument in church personally.

    In Canada, apparently, religion is the enemy of multiculturalism instead of the other way around.  I think the northern border may represent the entrace to the Twilight Zone.

    Stealing thought from Mark Steyn.

    Wait!   This sounds vaguely familiar.

    Have we completely forgotten that sex is a behavior, not an identity?

    Another book for the pile.

    And another that I am looking forward to reading.  More on same.

    OK.  Off to see the wizard.

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    Apologies!?, The Battle Of Flyover Country, Obama Talks Religion, and more….

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:44 am, October 4th 2010     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Apologies…

    I have no idea how this will play out, and as the non-Mormon on this blog to some extent it is none of my business, but last week one of the Mormon elders “apologized” to some pro-gays in Oakland:

    There was sobbing. There were tears. Elder Jensen also shed tears as he listened and took notes to share with other General Authorities back in Salt Lake City. At the conclusion of the hour, he apologized for the pain he was witnessing.

    According to attendee Carol Lynn Pearson, a Mormon author and long-time advocate of LGBT concerns, Elder Jensen said, “To the full extent of my capacity, I say that I am sorry . . . I know that many very good people have been deeply hurt, and I know that the Lord expects better of us.”

    It is made clear by every one I have read on this that it is NOT and apology for Prop 8 or for Mormon doctrine on homosexuality, but rather an apology for the pain felt.  Said Mark Silk, with whom I rarely agree:

    Since February 2008, when Thomas Monson assumed the presidency of the church after the death of Gordon Hinckley, maladroitness has pretty much been the norm for Mormonism in the public square. Besides Prop. 8, Mitt Romney’s presidential run, the senatorial fortunes of Harry Reid and Bob Bennett, the Glenn Beck phenomenon, anti-immigrant legislation–all these have presented the church with challenges it has not seemed to know how to handle. Hinckley was a master religious politician; Monson, not so much–and indeed, barely a public presence at all.
    I do not know if I would make such a generalization about Monson, but I will say this was a huge political gaffe for the CJCLDS.  There is an old phrase, “Never apologize, it makes you look weak.”  It’s not the most Christian of phrases as confession lies at the heart of who we are, but it sure applies to politics.  If mistakes were made, you find a way to correct them, but politically you have to do so from a position of strength.
    And while we are discussing Mormon news, I found this and this somewhat interesting.  But also interesting is that the seemingly arbitrary Mormon hits are starting to show up again – it’s showing up at sports sites?! and National Journal, usually wrong but usually above such rhetoric, is tying it to right-leaning conspiracy theorists.  This later link contains a paragraph that absolutely must be addressed, even if not really related to this site:
    If the Cold War era is any guide, at some point the Radical Right will bring forth a Radical Left — a reaction to a reaction.
    Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute – the rise of what they call a “radical right” in the last two years is precisely a response to the radical leftism we have seen from this administration and its lapdog Congress.  Give me a break.

    The Battle of The ‘Flyover” States

    OK – So this headline from the Sioux City Journal struck me as the most silly statement of the obvious I have read in a while:

    Well of course he could, he is from right next door!  But it set me to thinking.  There are going to be some regional battles this time.  You will have Thune and Pawlenty scrapping over Iowa since both are neighbors there.  Thune has been making a lot of news lately doing big time interviews that have everybody talking.  Then there is the battle for the Hoosier state between Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels.   David Brooks talked about the later in a throw away comment this week that drew all sorts of reaction.  First see the link on Daniels name and then see this ‘First Thoughts’ take down.

    All four of these men – Thune, Pawlenty, Daniels and Pence have made significant contributions on the national scene, but they are primarily regional figures.  Everyone I know in the old home state of Indiana is talking about Daniels and Pence.  But the same myopathy that we often accuse coastal folks of having when it comes to the so-called flyover states applies to midwesterners as well.  They often just cannot see that what plays in Indiana or Iowa or Minnesota or South Dakota simply will not play in California or New York or Florida.

    But what is really going on here is the press wanting to set up social issues as the driver for an election that must be run on first economic issues and secondly national security.  The buzz on these guys is largely on social issues which will begin and end in Iowa this cycle.  Daniels handling of the Indiana budget gives him some fiscal edge and Thune’s unseating of Daschle makes him a shrewd political operator.  But only time will tell if they have what it takes to break out of the midwest and make real national impact here. In the meantime just remember that everything you are reading and hearing in the MSM wants to create the appearance of a knockdown drag out in the Republican party – a gap through which Obama can run.  Not very likely given the shambles to which he has driven this nation in two short years.

    The President’s Faith…

    Obama says he is a “Christian by choice.”  Some question his sincerity, some the politics.  The latter wonders at his religious literacy given that the nation as a whole, while Christian is pretty religiously illiterate.

    The whole thing, which happened in an “innocent” Q&A, strikes me as having been set-up to allow his majesty, er…President Obama, to respond to the “he’s a Muslim” rumors.

    I pray for the man daily, but I would remind all of us that Christianity is not merely a set of ideas to which we grant ascent – it is a relationship with the living God, who seeks to place us back into His image in which we were originally created but from which we have fallen.

    Romney News…

    He went to New Hampshire.  That’s where things get serious.  He is taking flack though.  This hurts a little.  This is just silly – sometimes lefties really need a life.

    And old Bush hand said this this week in an interesting piece on religion in the 2010 midterms:

    Today, we find evangelical Protestants as the core religious group supporting the Republican Party, joined by their Mormon allies, while a heterogeneous coalition of highly religious blacks and Hispanics, Jews, and an increasingly vocal group of seculars make up the Democrat camp.

    There’s an alliance I would like to see strengthened!  The problem last time was we were allied against the enemy, but not internally – we battled for power inside the party.  This time we really need to set that aside and get the job done – there is too much at risk.

    Parting Words…

    from R.R. Reno:

    Both Christianity and Islam are animated by the conviction that their truths are universal. Both want to realize this universality in and through evangelization, which involves the transformation of culture. Both face the temptation to conscript the power of the modern state to achieve this goal. A commitment to religious freedom blocks this temptation. It redirects the ambitions of the evangelist toward their proper object: the heart and mind of the human person, and fittingly so, for it is the place where culture percolates.

    I’d say that applies to Evangelicals and Mormons as well.

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