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."

Emerging Memes, Understanding Hardcore Baptists, The Same Old Same Old

Posted by: John Schroeder at 03:00 am, October 31st 2011     —    Comment on this post »

The entire Mormon discussion is starting to get a little old already.  But there are, coming out of the din, obviously plowing the rows for the general election, some…

…Emerging Memes

Weird.  Hey the president’s people said they were going this way and the press is right there laying the groundwork.  Unsurprisingly, it is mostly from the newspaper that has drunk most deeply of the Obama Kool-Aid – the NYTimes.  The first was on The Caucus blog about Romney’s “fondness for rules:”

On a ferry ride over to a Republican conference on Mackinac Island, Mich., last month, Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, found themselves on board with a small group of reporters. Mackinac was where Mr. Romney had taken Ann, then his high school sweetheart, to celebrate her 16th birthday, and the two began fondly reminiscing about their date.

“Separate bedrooms!” Mrs. Romney explained.

“It goes without saying,” Mr. Romney added. “We’re from the 1960s.”

Secretly bunking up, of course, would have been breaking the rules.

It is a strange world indeed where decency and order can be portrayed as a deficit.  Of course, this president was unafraid to break every standard in the book to achieve his agenda (think Obamacare) so I guess it should not be surprising that his supporters (there is no other word for the NYTimes at this point) would find rules and order somehow disdainful.  Note that by taking on the religious imperative of sex inside the bounds of marriage, the Times is taking a shot a religion as well.

Then there is the piece about “young, hip Mormons.“  As GetReligion points out, it is not really about religion at all.  The article is about those inside Mormonism struggling to be “cool” when there is, apparently a tradition of “uncoolness” in the faith.  Of course, the whole thing just implies that Mormon candidates are not cool, while Obama is the epitome of cool.   It’s like these people want to live 1968 all over again.  Despite the impressions of the youthful, there are many of us around that were around in 1968 – it wasn’t good and it should not be revisited.

Ethnicity. So, the BBC asks how Hispanic Mormons will vote and NPR does the same about black Mormons.  This stuff scares me a bit.  Not satisfied with ripping up the country along religious lines, some are apparently ready to inflame racial divides that we have worked for decades to heal.  But then it must be remembered that this president is essentially a thug.

The Mormon past with race is no more troubled than any other faith’s past with race.  They were, however, about a decade later than most (but certainly not all!) in coming to terms with the issue.  That is really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is exploitable by an opposition candidate of color.  That’s tragic.

The one good thing this president is still capable of doing is healing whatever racial rifts may remain in the nation.  Yet he, and his MSM allies, seem bound and determined to exploit race for their own political gain.  I wonder how far they will go.  With the Occupy Movement and the 1968 vibe floating about one begins to wonder about rioting and other less seemly forms of civil unrest.  I lived in LA for the Rodney King riots – not something I want to experience again.

Understanding Hardcore Baptists

Just remember Robert Jeffress is a Baptist.

So, the “Are Mormons Christians” discussion continued this week.  It got kicked up a notch when televangelist and leader of the largest congregation in North America, Joel Osteen, declared that Mormons are in fact Christians.  Well this caused our old acquaintance Al Mohler (Baptist), who is on many other fronts defending faith admirably, to have a bit of an apoplectic seizure.

Then we learn that the Baptists are also fighting hard against the intrusion of – GASP – Calvinism! It would take an extensive lesson in systematic theology to explain what Calvinism is, and its theological opponent (Armenianism), but suffice it to say that I am a Calvinist.  Calvinism is pretty mainstream Protestant stuff.

And then we learn that in history Baptists sided with atheists when their religious liberty was at stake.

So I think we have learned what we really need to learn about Baptists – THEY LIKE A FIGHT.  I am not sure it has to be any more complex than that – they seem to be a church that runs around looking for fights to pick.  Speaking of which, I could not find this guy’s specific denominational affiliation, but if it’s not Baptist, it ought to be.

The Same Old Same Old

Mormon this, religion that – when you consume as much of this stuff as I do, you begin to wonder how much originality there really is in journalists.  For every piece I link here, there are probably a dozen from the “Town Too Small To Be On The Map Weekly,” but in the internet age, they all circulate.  Anyway…

Romney’s not the first Mormon to run. (Duh!)  Not to mention, Mormons are not the only “odd man out” faith in American politics.  And remember, no matter how “far out” you think Romney is religiously, there are those that go farther.  (A story clearly written to establish guilt by association.)

Shockingly, Evangelicals are a big deal in Iowa and that presents Romney with some problems.  (The people writing these stories clearly did not read any news about the 2008 primary!)

And then there are polls.  Turns out most Americans do not know Romney is Mormon.  (Despite appearances, that links to a Perry watching blog of the Houston Chronicle – NOT a Perry campaign blog, but then….)  However, Evangelicals are more aware than the average citizen.  This should emphasize that religion generally has a problem in the nation, but doggone it, there’s a election to win.

And then there is yet more attempts, amongst endless attempts, to figure out how being Mormon affect a politician’s stances. That first link is kind of interesting, but should be discussed by a Mormon, not me.  I hope Lowell has a few minutes on his hands to address this.  The second one, well… this pullquote says it all:

“What makes no sense to me is how you continue to push forward in writing about Gov. Romney’s faith journey when we’ve made it clear in every way possible that this is not a story we want to participate in,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email.

You know, it is hard to write about stuff like this without the focus of the piece joining the discussion.  Funny though how Hugh Hewitt was able to get him to talk about it.  Of course, Hewitt likes religion  and does not attempt to use it as a cudgel – could be a hint there for you, CNN.

Politics and Religion News

Romney’s New Hampshire numbers look insurmountable.  Not to mention he is the clear insider favorite (well except for George Will).  Shockingly, the Wall Street Journal had something nice to say about Romney.  But most amazingly, particularly for those that think Romney has a Southern problem, he leads in donations in Alabama!

But in the middle of all this comes a piece, “Do science and politics mix?” concerning Romney and climate change.  For those that doubt science has gained religious significance among some in the nation – do you really need more evidence?  There is no way you can say science is religion neutral when you see stuff like that.

And yet, hiding behind science and religious neutrality assaults on faith continue.

Turns out Catholics matter a lot.  Yeah, they are a bit better organized than Evangelicals.

And finally, everybody is trying to cash in on all this talk, which goes a long way to explaining all this talk.

Lowell adds . . .

The Atlantic post to which John links, “How Mormonism Has Moderated Romney’s and Huntsman’s Politics,” actually seems like an attempt at fairness.  The author’s slip-ups are not huge howlers and are mainly mistakes of proportion that reflect a lack of insight.  For example, to say that Non-Mormons are “banned” from weddings in the church’s temples simply strikes a false note.

In the end the writer seems to get it mostly right:

Acknowledging the complexities of Mormon cultural life, we should also be more careful about projecting our own images of Mormonism upon Romney and Huntsman. Their loyalty to the faith community they grew up in doesn’t necessarily translate into strict observance of its rules. That’s one more reason why the attacks on Romney’s faith are so distasteful. They imply that a man can’t be loyal to his Church while also being thoughtful and progressive. That’s not how faith works in modern America.

How Mormonism Has Moderated Romney’s and Huntsman’s Politics

First, it is specious to suggest that “thoughtful” and “progressive” are inseparable virtues. I know lots of thoughtful non-progressives (keeping in mind that “progressive” is another perfectly fine word that the left has appropriated to described liberalism – but I digress).   Second, I don’t know how strictly Mitt Romney observes Mormonism’s “rules” (we tend to think of them as commandments from God), but I suspect he’s pretty orthodox about the central tenets: paying tithing, not drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco, and chastity, to name a few.

But how much does that really matter, in light of the personal behavior of recent presidents? And how much detail do voters need about such minutiae? Some Mormons drink Coca-Cola and some do not. Do we need to know into which group Romney falls? Some Orthodox Jews are Glatt Kosher and some are not, but I have no idea which approach Joe Lieberman has adopted.

And I don’t care.  Neither should you.

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