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."

  • One Certain Thing – MSM Meme Of The Week – GOP Divided (Relax, we are not), and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:31 am, January 31st 2011     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Some say, the old rules will not apply.  (I really hate to argue with Michael Barone, he is smarter than I am, but we thought that last time and we still ended up with McCain.)  Some say the field is forming too slowly.  Others agree.  Some say, not so fast.  Some say it’s “confusing.”  Some say, the base has no stomach for it right now.  Some note it is about money right now.  (They are keeping track.)  Some are applying litmus tests (bad, bad idea – not to mention people really can change their minds) and others are pointing out what makes sense.  The debate nonsense certainly continues.

    All I know is, Mike Pence is out, for sure.  There you go, that’s it for hard news – everything else is posturing, speculation, and a good deal of trying to spoil the brew before it is even made.  Which brings me to…

    Wishful Thinking On The Part Of The Left/Dem/MSM Complex

    You would think we are a party so divided that winning would be impossible.  You would think we are about to explode with division.  You would think the GOP “establishment” has an open revolt on its hands.  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  What we have is the natural process that has to occur when a party is selecting a candidate from a field.  That is a competition by its very nature, but it is not by definition divisive.  This is one of the advantages an incumbent enjoys – the lack of competition on his/her side allows that candidate, particularly when aided by a zealous and willing press, to play all sorts of mischief with the other side.

    There were two story lines this week past that attempted to pull on this string.  We will consider each in turn.

    The first was Michelle Bachmann and her “alternative” response to the SOTU and forays to Iowa.  Bachmann tried to spin that it was not a competition, and she really did not say anything much different than Paul Ryan’s official Republican response.  Had it stayed on the internet, it might not have been so bad – but CNN decided to carry it live – thus providing the left with much opportunity to strike.  (CNN helping the left – imagine that?!)

    Everyone on the right side of the spectrum embraced her efforts, they did not seek to divide.  Some even put a really good spin on the buzz (e.g., this whole thing will really give her a leg up in a Senate campaign).  But that did not stop the left from proclaiming her has having “gone rogue,”  and touting her Iowa visits.

    The fact of the matter is there is no division here.  There is a party in the midst of recalibrating itself – and given the results of the election just past, doing so quite successfully.  Various factions inside the party are jockeying for position – that is to be expected in this instance.

    The same can be said of the second story line that was bandied about this week – Mitt Romney‘s apparent erosion of support from people that backed him in 2008 – and continued efforts to drive a wedge between him and Evangelicals.  Signaling their continued movement left, Politico announced, “A big warning sign for Mitt Romney.”  The “sign” they see is that some that supported him last time have not yet committed to doing so.  Says Alana Goodman at Contentions:

    But it also seems a bit early to read so much into this situation. Romney hasn’t even officially announced his candidacy — and neither have most of the other potential GOP candidates — so it’s understandable that his former supporters aren’t eagerly revealing their endorsements to Politico reporters at the moment.

    You betcha – there is nothing to “commit” to at the moment.  Not to mention the fact that one of the names named in the piece – Jim DeMint – is floating trial balloons about running himself.  This all comes on the heels of Romney’s overwhelming New Hampshire straw poll victory of a couple of weeks ago, which people are also trying to discredit.   And all this comes in spite of some old Romney friends making very strong cases for him, and he is making some new and very worthy friends.

    Then there is the Marriott Board, from which Romney recently resigned, decision to drop porn from its hotel TV system.  Come on, last time Romney resigned the board as his campaign started up and no one talked about porn at all.  This is so naked an effort to make social conservatives dislike Romney as to be almost be beneath comment.  As EFM points out, making an issue of this forces the left to sound pro-porn.

    Clearly it is in the best interest of our genuine competition to make the natural and normal process that a party has to go through in a situation like this look far more chaotic and divisive than it really is.  In this instance it will not succeed because their guy is so naturally chaotic and divisive that we have a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.  When you contrast the governing by fiat style we have seen from this administration in the last two years with the admittedly democratic process we are undergoing now one cannot help but be very happy to be in the GOP since it clearly demonstrates that we believe in actual freedom.

    And so with that let’s move on to candidate news.  At this point there appears to be three very serious players – Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and John Thune.  Then there are the two media candidates that are still in the mix but looking less and less serious – Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.  Finally there are any number pf people still “thinking about it,” but not yet showing any serious signs of doing something about it.  Let’s look at things in that order.

    Mitt Romney – The Serious News

    Officially there is no decision to run yet, but things are edging closer.  In the meantime, he is remaining a Republican leader by praising Ronald Reagan and the pro-life march last week and slamming Obama’s SOTU.

    But the serious discussion last week was how Romney would strategize in Iowa.  Reid Wilson reported last Thursday:

    …his strategists have spoken with potential consultants about the prospect of skipping Iowa altogether this time and launching a campaign from New Hampshire.

    That strategy first came up last summer in conversations with several possible advisers. But it’s not clear how far along the planning has gotten, and sources emphasize that no final decisions have been made.

    There is no question, however, that Romney is signaling he will make New Hampshire his top priority in 2012.

    Then Wilson flogged in on his blog.  There is also talk of same among Iowa insiders.  The leftie outfits had to report on it too.  What’s interesting is no one is really discussing the religion angle in all this.  Of course, it is in Romney’s best interest not to bring it up, but you would think the lefties would be all over it like white on rice.  Watch this space.

    The Boston Globe tried a tale-of-the-tape on Romney and Pawlenty.  The Boston Globe is no friend of the GOP, but the piece does serve as a good segue to discussing…

    Tim Pawlenty

    T-Paw introduced himself to the voters of New Hampshire with a video clearly designed to combat his “nice” image.  David Brody referred to it as a “Die Hard moment.  It is a bit over the top.  (As is this bit of braggadocio – Last guy that talked like this turned out to have a glass jaw – Think Arnold.)  Pawlenty is playing hardball right out of the chute.  He is also looking at some difficult policy alternatives.

    The most interesting development of the week was an interview he did with Christianity Today.  He is being very smart about this – note the advertising as you go through the interview – selling his book.  He seems to want to establish his evangelical credentials without being too closely identified as one, something that makes both Palin and Huckabee very divisive.  He’s walking a tightrope on this one.  It will be interesting to see if he stays on it.

    John Thune…

    …is finally gettting serious.  He is staffing.  He is getting some serious backing from colleagues in the Senate.  He is getting profiled.  He is giving some interviews that are dropping serious hints, and he has announced a date when he will decide.  But note that a lot of this reporting is coming from places like “Roll Call” – serious insider stuff.  He is not getting much in the way of play from the MSM.  Of course, he is not playing to them like Romney or Pawlenty but my sense is that the Senate is happy because Obama is the first legislator to make the leap to executive, without an intervening step in a governor’s office of the VP slot, since Kennedy; and if they can make the Senate appear to be a road to the White House, that’s in the best interests of all of them.

    Thune is a smart politician and a serious player, but this thing is shaping up very differently than one might expect.  At least it has finally gotten interesting.

    In Media World…

    Sarah Palin really only got coverage for her PAC financials.  Mike Huckabee continues to poll reasonably well (which at this stage means that he has a TV show so everyone knows his name) and is taking his time.  He keeps gaining weight too – I thought he licked that last time around?

    The Professor and Mary Ann…

    Tell me – is that an obscure reference?  For the uninitiated, the theme song from Gilligan’s Island, when it was in black and white, did not refer to those characters by name, simply saying “and the rest” – it was not until it was in color that they were named.  But I digress….

    Mitch Daniels continues to be draftedNewt Gingrich has friends, likes to blow his own horn and is being soundly chastised by the WSJRudy Giuliani continues to elbow his way into the discussionHaley Barbour is still thinking and dealing with a past that will prove very sticky against an African-American incumbent.  Jon Huntsman has a circle.  He’s a Mormon isn’t he? Oh, wait….

    And finally there is Sharron Angle?!  I just can’t go there – I’m thinking that if I went to Iowa some reporter would ask me if I were running.

    Religious Reading

    Wallis calling for civility!?  I hope he is listening to himself.

    This is very interesting:  An Evangelical Graduates from the Mormon Institute Program.

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    About Obama’s SOTU…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:06 am, January 26th 2011     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Res Ipsa Loquitur – All the more reason to focus on selecting the best possible the best possible Republican nominee.  That way we only have to sit through one more of these things.

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    The Petulant Press

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:49 am, January 25th 2011     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    GetReligion is a blog by religion writers about religion writing, edited by Terry Mattingly.  This morning Mr. Mattingly takes to the blog to excoriate the Time magazine piece on Romney that we praised yesterday.  Whereas we liked the fact that the story did not mention Romney’s faith, Mr. Mattingly seems to think the article seriously flawed by that same fact.

    I would put to Mr. Mattingly this question:   What are the religions of Tim Pawlenty, John Thune, Mitch Daniels, Rick Santorum, et. al.?  When Mitch Daniels was profiled by The Weekly Standard, while it did discuss “social conservative” reaction at length, it devoted but a sentence or two to Daniels’ actual personal faith.  How is that any different than:

    the closest it comes to even mentioning Romney’s sincere and vital Mormon faith is the brief aside about the family Christmas card.

    I can tell you, because I went to church with the man, that Daniels’ faith is both “sincere” and vital.”  So where was Mr. Mattingly on that?

    The fact of the matter is that the mention of Romney’s faith in the Time piece, or lack thereof, makes the piece just like virtually all the profiles written on all the candidates, both in the coming election and in elections past.  That’s what made it a good piece.  Why has Mr. Mattingly singled out the profile of the Mormon candidate for such scrutiny?  That’s the heart of the issue here.

    Secondly, the piece was about the challenges facing Romney in the upcoming election.  Sarcastically, Mr. Mattingly concedes, “I am sure that religious and cultural issues will not play a major role in the upcoming campaign.”  And yet, I am not at all sure the sarcasm is warranted.  The mood of the nation is quite different than it was in 2007-2008.  The Tea Party which has dominated the political talk of the last two years has gone out of its way to avoid precisely “religious and cultural issues.”  Those issues still matter to small group of very committed people, but to the general electorate, they are very much on the back burner.  So, is Time to cover the issues on people’s minds or the issues on Mr Mattingly’s mind?

    I, for one, do not want to see the day when all candidates are forced to suffer religious and doctrinal queries by the press – and such queries must be made of all candidates or none, else bigotry and bias raise their ugly and unwelcome heads.  America has a diverse religious landscape united by a common sense of an Almighty and a moral order created by that Almighty.  It is that commonality on which our body politic is built, and traditionally the media has reserved its questioning to that commonality.  Such has served us well in the past and it should serve us well in the future.

    Lowell adds a quick postscript:  Amen!

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    GOP POTUS 2012 Exploded Into View Last Week

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:31 am, January 24th 2011     &mdash      4 Comments »

    Everybody is saying they are going to start later than last time, but the pace of “groundwork,” the sheer numbers involved, not to mention the amazing amount of press that came out in the last week reminds us that there are starts and then there are starts.  Much of the news came out of announcements of retiring Senators this week.  It has the left a little worried about the POTUS race in ’12.  There is some wackiness in all this to be sure, and the usual “experts” are trying to tell us precisely what is going to happen,  But if 2008 made anything apparent, it’s that nothing past the next couple of hours is apparent.

    One pattern seems to have emerged most from all that we saw last week.  That is that the left and its press allies want to make it seem that the GOP is turning very hard right, thus leaving the middle open for Obama to claim.  It is fair to say that some amongst us are giving them a canvas upon which to paint such a picture, but as anyone that has ever been to the Grand Canyon knows – no picture can do it true justice.  The press is only focusing on some limited aspects to the entire GOP race.

    Some of it is a little lame.  There is nothing radically right about opposing Obamacare.  Some of it is silly.  The stories swirling around CPAC are just getting out of hand.  Both sides of the spectrum have their nut jobs and extremists.  If there is a difference between the two it is that we have never handed over the reins to ours – unlike the last two years where they ruled the roost on the other side of the aisle.  Some are a little troubling.  That our factions would start to show in the response to the the State of the Union address presents the left with a real opportunity.  Talk about telegraphing where to drive the wedge in!  Michelle Bachmann just took herself off my list of serious people with this one, and I really like her.  Crying shame.

    But the real focus of the efforts to shape the “far right turn” meme is Iowa.  There are some serious looks at it from Jennifer Rubin and Michael Barone.  The most telling statement was Barone’s:

    The Republican caucuses in Iowa are typically dominated by religious conservatives….

    That fact makes it both loathed by the left, and a place for mischief.  A religious voter will always have some divided allegiances and will therefore always be prone to a somewhat more radical view of things than the citizenry at large.  Iowa has always been hard right (think Pat Robertson), and it seems to relish that fact.  It certainly presents a problem to Mitt Romney.

    But what really got talk started was a Washington Post-ABC poll that showed Huckabee with a slight edge over Palin and Romney.  This coupled with Huckabee’s impending book tour send all the tongues wagging – including David Brody and Allahpundit.  That being the case, it seems like a good place to start looking at the possibles news.

    Mike Huckabee

    We generated a little attention with our discussion of Huckabee last week.  But the usual suspects were in there too.  Chris Cillizza seems confused by Huckabee’s behavior.  What’s not to be confused about?  He is launching a book tour, like most good presidential possibles do, while saying he will not decide until summer.  Think holding out the possibility of a run might boost those book sales a little? – Maybe the TV ratings?  Just sayin’.

    Some of the coverage is shameful.  Time’s “Swampland” said in a piece analyzing Huck’s possibilities:

    As for the “Jesus Primary,” it seems very plausible that social conservatives would be interested in an option other than the Mormon, once-upon-a-time “effectively pro-choice” Romney.

    Banging the Mormon drum while writing about Huckabee.  Hmmmm.

    Sarah Palin

    Last week, we wondered if she was played out.  She had some polling issues, and Powerline was completely dismissive.  She even got some “Christian” pushback.  She is certainly not always helped by her friends.  Nonetheless, Roger Simon says, and I agree, it’s too early to count her outThe media need her.  She has finally decided to do something about actually running instead of just pursuing her media career.

    Both she and Huckabee need to be perceived to be potential candidates at the moment.  Such grants them both influence and attention.  So appearances are going to continue to be mixed – decision time is not yet upon them.  At the moment, I read the tea leaves to think Pslin will ultimately not run and Huckabee ultimately will.  But I have been wrong before.

    Mitt Romney

    “Time” did a story on his campaign prep and plugged it in their own blog.  The most interesting fact from the entire piece is that the word “Mormon” does not appear.  That was, four short years ago, virtually unimaginable.  Much has changed since last time around.  But some things have not – like the fact that the Boston Globe abhors Romney and will dip to almost any level to hurt him.  (Some do not think it will hurt him, and they have a point to a point, but the tone of the story is clearly designed to drive a wedge.)  The Globe story is instructive in how things might play out this time.

    “Mormon” shots are discredited, but they survive today in the form of identity politics and most apparently in the perceived divide between the populist and the elites.  Mormonism is a “high demand” religion; it asks a lot of its adherents.  Evangelicalism not so much – in fact some branches of Evangelicalism can barely be differentiated from a form of religious entertainment.  This would roughly align with elitists and populists.  Much like “Mormons lie” translated into “flip-flop,” we may see a similar sub-conscious association along these lines this time.

    Not sure this is a problem, the nation knows it needs leadership in the aftermath of the debacle that is the Obama administration, but you can bet your bottom dollar the left is going to try its best.  Not to mention the fact that the weekend’s New Hampshire straw poll shows Romney and the Tea Party as quite compatible.

    Nonsense like this simply will never matter.  It saddens me when people are that unserious about things that really matter.

    Back to the Time piece for a minute, it is especially instructive that the Mormon shot was not taken when the take-away from the piece was this quote from an “aide:”

    “Last time, Mitt’s campaign was like IBM. This time, if he runs, he wants to be like JetBlue,”

    JetBlue was founded by a friend of Romney’s, and a Mormon, Dave Neeleman.  In the last campaign, such a quote would have been an unforced error as the Mormon conspiracists would have been all over it.  Treating us to notions that the Romney candidacy was really a front to promote Mormonism to the nation.  What a difference four years makes.

    From The Upper Midwest…

    Tim Pawlenty is deadly serious about running, and has his eyes on the prize, but is still having some trouble getting tractionJohn Thune is well liked and set to make a decision in the next couple of months (just like everyone else) but still seems below the radar to me.  You know, in this media saturated age this may be a smart approach.  The less written, the less opportunity for problems.

    The Hoosiers

    Mitch Daniels, like Tim Pawlenty, is talking about education and receiving interest from some good places.   Although – Politico compared him to Ross Perot – it’s a wonk factor thing – and Daniels would never go third party.  He and Mike Pence are meeting and both are enjoying “draft” campaigns.  Lots of people are talking about Pence.  Look for one, but not both to get in.

    The Rest

    Newt Gingrich is looking for office space and telling supporters he is in.  There are a lot of things to like about Newt Gingrich, but he brings more baggage than the QEII.

    Ruby Giuliani is keeping hope alive in all the right places, but I have my doubts.  That first link says, “That plan didn’t work, and Giuliani’s national-focused candidacy became a textbook example of how not to run a presidential campaign.” ‘Nuff said.

    Rick Santorum is gonna run, but he is doing so to make a point, not to win.  However logical his point may be, if you communicate it wrongly you lose.

    I have said all along that Haley Barbour has some skeletons that would keep him from being a serious contender.  I think this gives us a clue where they might rest.

    Jon Huntsman is not running for President, but he might run for the Senate.

    Rick Perry?  Nope – trial balloon, already fell.

    Herman Cain may be “hopeful,” but he is not serious.

    Religion News

    Brody is right - Obama has lost this one.

    There are some unique Mormon perspectives out there.

    All I can say about this is that some fundamentalist that did not think his arguments were strong enough on their own decided to lump Mormonism in with other traditional Christian bug-a-boos to score points.  Beck’s weird – leave it at that.

    There are some things to like about this, even if I do not wholly endorse its view.

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    Huckabee’s “Tell”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:40 am, January 20th 2011     &mdash      7 Comments »

    There are increasing signs that Mike Huckabee is not going to run.  This is causing some to begin to opine that he absolutely will not run.  This despite that fact he is polling very well.  Some are finally beginning to notice the similarities that we have drawn between him and Palin, as “media” candidates all along.

    They are both making a lot of media money, but their is one vital difference – Palin does not need to run to keep her “Q” high – Huckabee does.  So I think the odds are tipping that he will mount a campaign, but that is a bit different than “running.”  He will run, but with an agenda other than actually winning the nomination.  That is not news on this blog – we have discussed it all along – he won’t be the only one with an agenda other than the nomination in the race either.

    But there is an open question from the last campaign that can be answered by this one.  Huckabee’s bizarre behavior in the last primary cycle has always been hard to explain – was it ego? – Q building? – delusion? – or was “Stop the Mormon” in there somewhere?  I think this go around we may be able to answer that question.

    It is well known that Huckabee and Romney do not care for each other very much, but with Romney as the presumptive “frontrunner” it would be in Huckabee’s best interest, if he gets in the race, to suck up to Romney – that would match his pattern of sucking up to McCain last time.  If Huckabee can do so, we will know him to be a reasonable politician able to overcome personal dislike.  But if he distances and actively opposes Romney at every turn – then we will know him to be the spiteful jerk many suspect him to be – leaving open only the question of whether the spite is rooted in religious bias or not.

    But I think there will be a tell for that too.  Last night’s Hugh Hewitt show featured interesting conversations with Dick Morris and Karl Rove.  Both offered that health care was Romney’s “Achilles Heel” this time.  Not new, but when Karl Rove says it, you HAVE to take it very seriously.  Which brings us back to Huckabee.

    If Huckbee plays dirty with Romney on the health care issue, as he did on the Mormon issue last time, you will know that “Stop the Mormon” lies somewhere in the heart of the Huckster.  Now bear in mind, unlike faith, this is a legitimate issue – it will have to be discussed – the question is how will it be discussed?  If Huck approaches the issue directly and straightforwardly, then we do not have a problem, but if he uses it to hurl accusations of disingenuous on Romney’s part, if he uses the snide comment instead of open debate – then we will know.

    The same could be said if Huckabee does not run, but does get vindictive on his various media outlets.  Watch this space.

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    Stupid Statements and Long Knives

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:16 am, January 19th 2011     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Sometimes we are our own worst enemies – I certainly felt that way as I did my morning reading this AM.  It started with very conspiratorial rumors surrounding CPAC.  (“Well, it was a full moon last night,” I thought to myself and moved on.)  Then I got a fund-raising email from the normally reasonable  Family Research Council:

    But these conservatives face three kinds of politicians who threaten to continue Washington’s attack on the family:

    [...]

    Group #2: “Moderate” or “establishment” lawmakers who too easily compromise rather than stand unapologetically on conservative principle.

    Now I am a little miffed.  There is no more bedrock conservative principle than the fact that our government is designed to create compromise based on healthy debate.  If we “stand unapologetically on conservative principle,” as that phrase is used here, there are only two possible results.  One would be that we simply lose – that’s not smart.  The other would be that we are as guilty as our opposition in cramming our agenda down the throat of the American public.  Do I like the direction of the nation in the last two years? – No, of course not.  However, more problematic than the policies themselves has been the brutal force with which it has been foisted on the citizenry.

    There is no doubt that some Republicans have become a bit too “beltway” – so we vote them out of office – problem solved.  But we will not do ourselves any favors by ratcheting up our rhetoric to the point where we appear to be the radicals.

    Then I read this MSNBC piece:

    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told a church crowd just moments into his new administration that those who have not accepted Jesus as their savior are not his brothers and sisters, shocking some critics who questioned whether he can be fair to non-Christians.

    “Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother,” Bentley said Monday, his inauguration day, according to The Birmingham News.

    This, dear friends, is what is called an “unforced error.”  Anybody that reads this in context knows what the governor was saying, he was not implying an inequality of governmental treatment in any fashion.  But of course, the AP and MSNBC being who they are are going to be all over it.  Which is why the governor should have never given them the opportunity to begin with.

    The very left MSM stands poised to attack us at any given opportunity, which is why we have to be a step ahead and a whole lot smarter.  Want proof? – Consider this diatribe masquerading as a op-ed my Michael Kinsley:

    JP2′s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, waived the traditional requirement of a five-year waiting period before the process can even begin. But he could not waive the main requirement — those pesky miracles.

    Some might consider bringing down the Soviet Union something of a miracle. Or maybe running the best school systems in America. But that’s not what the church means. It demands an old-fashioned, abracadabra type of miracle, such as appearing as a vision before a Catholic businessman as he is about to perform an act of illegal insider trading, or ridding an entire major sports team of athlete’s foot.

    In this case, JP2 wasted no time. Once he got to heaven, he immediately got to work. He hadn’t been dead long when he answered the prayers of a French nun, curing her of Parkinson’s disease. You thought Parkinson’s was incurable? So did I. And I have it, as did JP2 in his last years. But apparently not — if you know whom to pray to. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards requested JP2′s intercession, and lo and behold she woke up one morning, two months after the pope had died, to discover that all of her symptoms were gone. According to the Associated Press story, she remains symptom-free today — no more trembling hands, no stumbling walk.

    Of course, there is another possibility besides a miracle: Maybe she never had Parkinson’s in the first place. There is no way to diagnose Parkinson’s for sure; you just eliminate other possibilities — such as a brain tumor — until Parkinson’s is the last malady standing, and often a welcome one, considering the alternatives.

    The sheer snark shows so little respect for faith, religious institutions or religiosity in general as to demonstrate unequivocally the fact that the left does not view us as political opposition, but enemy to be destroyed.

    There is an old adage – “When arguing with a fool, make sure he is not similarly occupied.“  As conservatives of faith that would be an adage we would do very well to keep in mind.

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