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."

  • The Field Is Coalescing, A Brief Book “Review” and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:33 am, March 10th 2011     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Article Of The Week, So Far

    Depending on your viewpoint there are three candidate for that less than coveted title.  Based on our commenters and emailers, last week’s Economist hit piece on Mormons is the leading candidate.  As we said the article suffers from adding absolutely nothing to the discussion that has not already been said a thousand times before.  Not to mention only like six or seven really geeky people bother to read the Economist.  I can understand how my Mormon friends would be incensed by this cheap shot, but it hardly rises to a level to earn the title bestowed by this section of the post.

    That honor, in my book, goes to George Will’s excoriation of Huckabee and Gingrich as “spotlight-chasing candidates.” Remember when we divided the field into Media Candidates and Serious Players?  I think George Will owes us a dinner.  There is little question about Huckabee here – Gingrich is trying to position himself seriously, but I have my doubts he’ll succeed.  More on him in a bit.

    Story Of The Week, So Far

    Some might try to argue that it was Obama’s toxic embrace of Mitt Romney and Massachusett’s health care – with some help from his friends.  Something they can tie in with the resignation of Obama’s Ambassador to China to make the Mormon connection.  But this is so transparent as to not be effective.

    Some might say that it is the unraveling of the “first” GOP debate, but this has been coming for a long time so the impact does not rise to the level to make it important.

    For my money it’s how flat the “Faith & Freedom” forum in Iowa fell.  Even devoutly Evangelical sources note there is work to be done.  The country simply has its mind elsewhere this cycle.

    The Candidates

    Remember Monday when I said Newt Gingrich‘s serial infidelities would be a problem for him?  I love being ahead of the curve.

    Jon Huntsman continues to draw press, but as best as I can tell, little else.

    I grow very weary of the fact that Mike Huckabee always has an excuse, but never an “I was wrong.”  When it comes to illegitimate religious shots at Romney or cultural shots at Natalie Portman it’s distasteful.  However, this week I heard him, on Michael Medved‘s show,  do it with regards to his commutation of the prison sentence of people that then went out and killed police officers.  He did so on the show when a current officer that served with one of the dead officers in the same police force in Washington called.  That is just wrong.

    Tim Pawlenty is playing nice, and has some leftie friends, but he may be making a misstep.

    Haley Barbour is looking increasingly serious.

    Donald Trump and evangelical commentary.  The fact that there is serious commentary of Trump points to the fact that the Evangelical commenting is not serious.

    The far left LATimes took a very hard shot at Mitt Romney.  As did Michael Kinsley.  Such vituperation at this stage is proof the left is afraid of him.  But even David Corn noted that he is doing a good job of staying above the fray.

    Religious Reading

    Evangelical and LDS leaders meeting in Utah.  Very Interesting – even being analyzed politically.

    This is so backwards as to be astonishing.  The Church out of the marriage business?  Where in the world do they think the idea came from to begin with?

    Just so my Mormon friends know they are not alone.

    About That Book “Review”…

    A true book review requires that one read the book in question.  I cannot say that for the book I am going to comment upon here.  The book in question is The Religious Test by our old friend Damon Linker.  I read the first two chapters of the book and grew very annoyed.  Checked the index for references to Mormons looked at the first one and set the book aside never to be opened again, I hope.  When we reviewed his important article from the last cycle in our review of the last campaign we said:

    The piece suffered from two enormous problems.  One was it ignored the political realities of the United States, and two it confused religious adherence with religious fanaticism.  The piece assumed that a president could somehow run roughshod over all action of the US government, as if we had no checks and balances.  The fact of the matter is, if the nation did mess up tremendously and elect a president with a nutcase agenda, there is Congress to balance the scales.  Further, while the president of the CJCLDS is considered a prophet, adherents to that faith are very different than fanatical Muslims following the edicts of a crazy Imam.  And even Imams generally only have a few fanatic followers.  There are fanatical Mormons, as there are fanatics of every faith, but then Romney had an established record as governor of Massachusetts.  I doubt we were in for any surprises.

    The book is the same mistakes writ long and large.  The book opens discussing Amish and Jewish sects that are “apart,” moves to  radical, violent Islam and then attempts to draw parallels to the Christian Reconstructionist movement as described by R.J. Rushdoony, as affiliated with The Presbyterian Church in America.  I am no fan of Christian Reconstructionism or Rushdoony for that matter but as weird as they are, they do not propose violence and have no history of violent action – a HUGE difference between themselves and radical Islam.  And to tie them with the PCA is about the same as saying that because I read this far in Linker’s book, I agree with him.

    When I turned to the first mention of Mormonism as gleaned from the index, what appeared before my eyes immediately?  Why the Mountain Meadows Massacre, of course.  Again, attempting to paint the whole by the actions of the radical few – a long, long time ago.  In his defense, Linker seems to bear no animus for any particular religion, apparently they are all places where violence is lurking just under the surface waiting to break out and stain us all.

    As far as I got, which is as far as I could stand, the book is simply anti-religious screed based on the thinnest of arguments, and with a presumption that the scientific method is the only means of determining truth, never addressing the fact that the scientific method has proven wholly inadequate to fully explaining human behavior and other non-mechanistic phenomena.  In other words the book is nonsense written in academic parlance to give it a sheen of respectability.

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    Short, But Sweet – Huck Melts Down, Gingrich Confuses, Daniels Plays Passive-Aggressive, and Romney and Pawlenty Just keep Rolling Along

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:44 am, March 7th 2011     &mdash      3 Comments »

    Lowell continues to drown in employment, an issue he hopes soon to resolve, and I have had a number of personal issues arise in the last week that will continue to threaten blogging for the next couple of weeks.  We beg the indulgence of our loyal readership if we lack the regularity, depth and analysis of our best work.  We will return to normal as soon as feasible.  So here it is short and sweet.

    Mike Huckabee, not satisfied with being completely wrong but extensively and analytically wrong about the president’s upbringing, decided to go after single mothers last week too.  Right idea – wrong target.  If that is not enough to make you shout, “Put a fork in him!”  There is news that should be.  FOXNews has suspended Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum because of their impending presidential campaigns.  What’s missing from this picture?  Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.  Things can change, particularly in the Palin case, but I’m reaching for the fork.

    Besides, it’s early.  A lot could still happen.

    Newt Gingrich announced he was going to make big news and then really didn’t.  One can recover from such stumbles, but when you have as hard a slog ahead of you as Gingrich does, such stumbles can be disastrous.  BTW, his courting of Evangelicals is just not going to fly.  We know he is smart, we know he is valuable – but if “authenticity” is the thing, we certainly like people that know how to be faithful in marriage.  And when they slip, which happens frequently, we expect enough contrition from the “slipper” to know their limits.

    Mitch Daniels keeps excusing himself from the race, but not saying, “no.” Folks, I could tell you a thing or two about Hoosier passive-aggression.  It’s a skewed version of “Minnesota nice.”  There are going to be a lot of heart-broken people out there.

    I don’t know whether Haley Barbour is a racist or not, but I do know that the media will never let him prove otherwiseno matter what he does.

    Meanwhile, the serious players just keep chugging along.  Even NPR is figuring out that Romney and Pawlenty are the serious players at the moment.

    Mitt Romney is making good hires, and talking plain in New Hampshirebeating back the naysayers.

    They do, however, keep finding excuses to bring up Romney’s faith.  The latest is BYU basketball.  The world seems to find it weird that a religious school asks their players to remain chaste.  And so they end up discussing Romney and Mormonism on sports talk radio?!  And then there is the whole Huntsman thing.  (Has Fox suspended Huntsman?  Oh wait, that’s wrong, he just left the OBAMA administration.)  Even the Brits are getting in on the Huntsman angle.  (Boy is that story a yawner – even for the Economist.  You’d think they’d find something new to print.)

    The good news is this is silliness when it comes to Romney’s faith.  It’s not being discussed in the serious punditry, or frankly amongst serious religious leaders – it seems to be at the moment just a press play thing.

    Religion News…

    Ugly and terrifying:

    A Christian couple opposed to homosexuality have lost a battle over their right to become foster carers.

    Eunice and Owen Johns, 62 and 65, from Derby, said the city council did not want them to look after children because of their traditional views.

    The pair, who are Pentecostal Christians, say they were “doomed not to be approved”.

    The High Court ruled that laws protecting people from sexual discrimination should take precedence.

    “Religious tests” will soon have us agreeing with our British cousins in such matters.

    Not awful ideas, but we have to find a better way to put them.

    Please put a sock in discussions like this.

    How we poll.

    Lowell adds . . .

    I can’t let David Brooks’ comments go unmolested.  Brooks is a respected pundit but is well-known as a deeply moderate Republican.  Here’s what he said:

    BROOKS: I wish Mitch Daniels would run. I think it’s an extremely weak field without Daniels in it.

    I don’t think Newt Gingrich. Do not let that man near a management job. Very interesting to listen to. Don’t let him run anything.

    I really think it’s down to Pawlenty and Romney in terms of the people in front of us. It’s so sad to be so narrowed down so fast. I don’t think Huckabee’s going to run. And so it’s really down to these two sort of establishment figures around which, so far, there’s not much definition or excitement. Maybe they can generate it. But so far, I’d say a lot of Republicans are feeling some letdown.

    It seems to me that even though David Brooks doesn’t find Romney exciting, that may not be a big problem for the Governor. The Republican voters who pay attention to what David Brooks thinks are not the ones whose votes Romney needs to get nominated.

    Finally, a Romney quip:

    You may have noticed that the president and his people spend more time talking about me and Massachusetts health care than ‘Entertainment Tonight’ spends talking about Charlie Sheen.”

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    Capping Off ‘Huck Week’…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 10:11 pm, March 1st 2011     &mdash      1 Comment »

    (Well, that’s what we called it)

    …Mike Huckabee decided to take whatever credibility he might have had, and PUNT IT into the nearest body of water.  He’s trying to spin his way out of this.  Eerily familiar this.

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