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."

  • From Preparing The Battlefield To A Reconnaissance In Force

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:37 am, November 17th 2011     &mdash      3 Comments »

    To date we have been predicting and seeing signs from the Obama lovers in the press (NYTimes) that come the general,  the Mormon card would be used to play the race card and things would get really ugly.  It’s been lightweight stuff, but one could see the signs.   Well, today we discover that The New Republic has made the first overt thrust in this particular direction.  The piece by Max Perry Mueller attempts, pitifully, to make the strike appear indirect, but come on.  The headline appears a slight feint:

    Has the Mormon Church Truly Left Its Race Problems Behind?

    “See,” TNR tries to say, “this is not about Romney – this is about the Mormon church.”  But then we turn to Mueller’s lede:

    It’s looking more and more likely that Barack Obama will be facing Mitt Romney next November. According to recent polls, Romney’s much-debated “Mormon Problem”—considered by some to be a main roadblock to the Republican nomination in 2008—has decreased in salience among the white evangelicals on whom he’ll probably depend in both the primary and general elections. But one element of the Mormon problem that’s yet to be vetted will come into stark relief should this match-up take place: the Mormon Church’s troubling history of racial exclusion.

    Guess again folks – It IS about Romney!  But that is not what cracks me up, really, it’s this bit mid-way through the piece:

    But if Romney himself doesn’t have a “black” problem, does his church?

    “NO,” says Mueller, “I’m not calling Mitt Romney a racist (despite the scare quotes), but his church….”  That’s almost more double-talk than I can bear.  It’s guilt by association and implication, an old political game.  It’s the denials, more than the ugly charge itself, that make this particular piece so distasteful.

    But that said, two important points.  One is the piece reveals nothing not already well-known and well vetted.  The facts about the CJCLDS and race have been discussed and discussed and discussed again.  There might be a reason for this piece, other than attack, if it actually reported something – ANYTHING?! – that was not already well known.  But, of course, there are no such facts, just a trumped up excuse to try and weaken the presumptive Republican nominee.

    The second point is one I fear we will be making over and over in the months to come.  Every American church, had a race problem.  The identifiably African-American denominations did not really spring forth until after the Civil War.  Even then, Jim Crow-like policies and practices were evident in the white churches well into the 60′s and in some cases the 70′s.  Many denominations, mine included, suffered splits in the years after the Civil War into “northern” and “southern” branches.  In most cases the rift was healed, and the churches reunited during, or in the wake of, the civil rights movement.  My own denomination did not officially reunite until 1982.  Please note it is still a Southern Baptist Convention, though racism left that room decades ago as well.

    But our intrepid reporter Mueller could not be troubled to investigate the history of race and religion generally – no he had a political opponent to attack and could not be dissuaded by facts or history.

    While the CJCLDS racial policies were more overt than most churches, they are far from unique.  As with most attacks the LDS have suffered in the Romney runs, if  this one is allowed to stand, the same attack will be aimed at the rest of us of faith at the next opportunity.

    You know, it might me interesting to dig into Mueller’s family tree and see if there were slaveholders.  I wonder if TNR, which has been around since 1914, has always been so vocally opposed to segregation?  After all, segregation was the conventional wisdom in 1914.

    That’s it – if you published a magazine in a racist America – you were racist, and if you were racist, you are racist.  Ok, now we do not have to pay attention to TNR or its “reporters,” they’re racists.

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    A New Line of Attack in the Works?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:53 am, November 16th 2011     &mdash      1 Comment »

    As the Supercommittee trial balloons caps on the charitable donation tax deduction, this morning’s reading finds a new NYTimes piece setting the stage for the battle between their guy, Obama, and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  They are going through Romney and Romney-related tax returns:

    Mr. Romney’s campaign aides have said that the Romneys have $190 million to $250 million in personal assets, mostly in blind trusts. They also have set up trusts holding about $100 million for their five sons. But they have yet to detail much about their finances, and the tax return filed Tuesday offers a rare glimpse into one element of their financial doings.

    The foundation handed out $647,500 in donations last year, bringing its total to $7.1 million since 1999. The largest donation in 2010, $145,000, went to the Mormon Church, to which Mr. Romney and his wife belong.

    Over the years, the foundation has given about $4.8 million to the Mormon Church and at least $525,000 to Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution where Mr. Romney earned his bachelor’s degree.

    The foundation gave $100,000 to a library for former President George W. Bush and $5,000 to $65,000 each to health organizations, children’s groups and schools.

    Now this piece passes on any analysis, but don’t you think that the left-leaning anti-religious commentariat is going to go bonkers noting the “disparity” in digits between the Romney’s giving to their church and related institutions and their giving to non-religious charities?  Don’t you think the too-far-right fundamentalists are going to use this data to try and make the case that the Romney’s are “thralls for the ‘cult?’”

    I wonder if the proponents of the “Toomey-Hensarling Tax Hike” know they are providing fuel to this particular fire?

    Now, of course, in America people should be free to do with their money as they see fit, and they should be especially free to give to the religious institutions of their choice – institutions that serve important purposes in our society.  (Hence the deduction in the tax code, an incentive for people to give money to help uplift the nation.)

    But watch this space, with Republicans proposing limits to the charitable deduction the left is not only likely to use this line of attack, they are likely to do so with renewed vigor and vitriol.  And thus there is we find another shovel load of dirt thrown into the grave of those of us of faith and political interest.

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    The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same – Romney Continues to Appear Inevitable

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:00 pm, November 14th 2011     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Romney’s In Trouble Now!

    PUH-LEEZE – it’s just getting old.  Alternatives keep rising and falling – kind of like dominoes, and yet Romney keeps leading or near leading in just about every poll.  As Herman Cain sinks into a legal morass that gratefully looks very tame compared to Penn State, Newt Gingrich is on the rise.  And yet Romney is the “most electable.”  Frankly, one could get whiplash trying to read all the polls.  The whole Gingrich thing is a reflection of the fact that while Cain is sinking, Perry is sunk, [Oh and...uh...Rick? - It's a presidential primary, not a schoolyard - having your parents defend you is not helpful.]  So – there has to be someone to be the anti-Mitt.  Doesn’t there?  (Of course, when television can turn anything into a competition. [Cupcake wars!?])

    And yet when it comes to press watching, it’s very funny to see them move quickly when some poll tells them their favorite meme still has some life to it.  See Pew came out with new polling data:

    42% of all voters indicated that they were “somewhat uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” with the idea of a Mormon President. By way of comparison, 67% say they would be somewhat or very uncomfortable with an atheist in the White House, 64% register the same skepticism about a Muslim, and 28% about an Evangelical.

    50% of Democrats said they would be uncomfortable with a Mormon in the White House but it is impossible to know if this is mere religious bigotry or if it is the result of the assumption that Mormons tend to be very conservative. This latter interpretation gains probability when you look at the attitudes of Millennials, those voters aged 18-29. A majority of Millennials, 54%, indicate they would be uncomfortable with a Mormon President compared to only 39$ of seniors, those aged 65 and older. Younger voters not only tend to be less conservative and have demonstrated much greater sympathy with efforts to advance gay rights. The Mormon Church took a lead role in the effort to defeat gay marriage in California.

    Now that is from the National Catholic Reporter which look at the data in comparisons with other concerns and it is obvious that the concerns about Mormons are not nearly as pronounce as all the headlines would have you believe:

    But our friends also point out some unusual methodology:

    The most interesting finding, in my eyes, had to do with “hidden concerns.” It has been well demonstrated that voters are reluctant to tell a pollster that they are not going to vote for, say, a black man, but once in the voting booth, a certain percentage of the electorate won’t vote for a black man. Ask Harvey Gantt, the black mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, who was tied twice in the polls with Sen. Jesse Helms, in both 1990 and 1996, but lost by eight points. So, the researchers at PRRI devised a “List Experiment” in which a randomly selected group was asked three questions about things that bother them, but not asked to identify which of the three items bothered them, only to list the number of items. One of the items was “A family member marrying a born-again Christian” and another was “A mosque being built near your house.” The other half of the sample was given a fourth item – “A Mormon becoming president of the United States.” By comparing the two groups, they could identify “hidden concerns” about Mormonism. What is curious is that among all voters, as we saw above, 42% openly expressed concern about a Mormon in the White House and the number was unchanged among those expressing a hidden concern via the List Experiment. Similarly, Catholics and White Evangelicals, Democrats, Independents and Republicans, all showed a similar consistency between publicly expressed concerns and hidden concerns. But, one group, White Mainline Protestants, saw a big difference. Only 30% of White Mainline Protestants publicly expressed a concern about a Mormon in the White House but the List Experiment revealed that 57%, almost double, harbored hidden concerns. That number could prove very worrisome to Mitt Romney’s campaign.

    Now, let’s break this down for what it really says.  One – there is a “generic Mormon” issue, but I would bet that data moves a lot when it’s about Romney – he’s been around too long.  As our friend Mark DeMoss has always said, “It’s not about voting for a Mormon, it’s about voting for this Mormon.”  Not to mention how the data supports a consistent thesis of this blog – primary animus towards Mormons is from the left who view them as the uber-religious.  Which brings me to my second point.  White Mainline Protestants (that’s me btw) are an extraordinarily liberal group (that’s why the mainlines are dying) so I think it is fair to conclude that lefties like to hide their prejudices.  So-called Millenials are, as are most young people also pretty liberal too.  Wish I could say I was shocked.

    But what this poll really served to do, was unleash the next wave of…

    Gee, “Mitt Romney Is A Mormon” Stories and Other Assorted Mormon Stuff

    Did you know Romney served his mission in France?!  (MSNBC reprinted the Reuters piece – with pictures!)  As commentary, it is most worthy of note that the piece closes way below the fold with the fact that Romney recovered from an auto accident while on his mission in which he was declared dead at the scene – a truly amazing story – and devotes its real attention to pointing out that Mormons, shockingly work hard and hold to social principles. In other words, it plays the “weird” meme gently.  And yet while this piece goes out of its way to portray Romney as totally boring, there is a new book coming that won’t be?  It’s coming out of two Boston Globe reporters so I am betting it will be a hit piece.  Look for it to try and take “weird” from a note to a symphony.

    While we’re talking Mormon, I must note that Politico has gotten downright snarky.

    The Mormon issue is turning really, really ugly in Texas.  Coming from Perry country are we surprised?  Not really, but what is surprising is how utterly banal so much of it is.  Consider the last link of those three:

    A man who claims to be a Mormon in China, Steve, contends that the first Mormon principle of faith entails that all Mormons are compelled to store a one year’s supply of food as they await a nuclear Armageddon that they believe will soon occur.

    Perhaps, former Gov. Mitt Romney is not a follower of these so-called “guidelines,” but it leads one to wonder why some Mormons insist on storing food for one year. One can wonder if Romney follows these guidelines as well.

    [...]

    Romney is campaigning on a campaign pledge to reduce government spending and regulations, but would he ask American citizens to store food? Does this conflict with a separation of church and state?

    Why is this guy citing a source in China?  Mormons make no bones about this practice.  This gentile has been taken on a tour of the canning facilities in Salt Lake City that they offer to their members for precisely this purpose.  It’s no secret.  (I actually worked with the Deseret cannery in LA years ago on a project to put peach pits to good use, but that is a story for another time.)  And frankly, living in earthquake country, storing food strikes me as a pretty good idea, nuclear war or no.

    I guess once you’ve made up your mind to hate something, anything is fuel for the fire.

    And Christian outlets keep ringing the cult bell.  Sure, they are trying to sound smart, but come on.  But then some are shooting their own and others are overstating things a bit.

    Michael Medved is trying to soft-sell the bigotry, but I am unconvinced (particularly when I read stuff like this), because…

    The Real Mormon Nastiness Awaits The General…

    …And attempts to turn the Mormon Card in to the race card.  That poll we opened with is being used to make the case that the vote for a Mormon is based on racial considerationsDefenses are being mounted already, but, its gonna get a lot uglier than this.

    In Closing…

    WaPo manages to make religion and this campaign completely boring.

    But, Tony Blair had some interesting things to say.

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    Harold Bloom foreshadows the future

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 11:27 pm, November 13th 2011     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Harold Bloom, Yale English professor and long-standing commenter on Mormonism, has written a Sunday op-ed in the New York Times, “Will This Election Be the Mormon Breakthrough?“  Bloom is the author of “The American Religion,” in which he examines several faiths founded in America: Pentecostalism, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Southern Baptism and Fundamentalism, as well as African American spirituality.

    I’d like tell you exactly what Bloom’s op-ed is about, or is trying to say; but I can’t find a paragraph in it containing the piece’s essence — it is that diffuse, rambling, inaccurate and internally inconsistent. Even so, Bloom gives us yet another taste of what we can expect from left-of-center writers if Romney becomes the GOP nominee.

    He begins by noting that President Obama’s “likely opponent, the Mormon Mitt Romney, will be a pioneer figure whatever the outcome,” and that whether or not Romney wins, “a crucial precedent will have been established,” in that a Mormon will actually have been nominated by a major political party to be President of the United States.  What follows seems generally like a liberal academic’s rant against American religions with devout followers.  You have to read the whole thing to even hope to grasp Bloom’s point.

    But he does present some ideas that may presage what we will see from the pro-Obama intelligentsia in the 2012 general election, should Romney get the nomination. First, we get some dark references to alleged Mormon secrecy:

    There are other secrets also, not tellable by the Mormon Church to those it calls “Gentiles,” oddly including Jews. That aspects of the religion of a devout president of the United States should be concealed from all but 2 percent of us may be a legitimate question that merits pondering. When I wandered about the South and Southwest from 1989 to 1991, researching American religion, I was heartened by the warmth that greeted me in Pentecostal and Baptist churches, some of them independent indeed. But Gentiles are not allowed in Mormon temples…..

    (Emphasis added.)  Okay, nothing new there.  Like everyone else raising the secrecy claim, Professor Bloom doesn’t seem to realize that everything that goes on in the temples of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long since been revealed by the Church’s critics, who gained access to the information by deception, and is widely available.  Mormons don’t talk about those things because we consider them sacred.

    Nor is there anything too startling in the notion that Romney will be controlled by the Mormon heirarchy while he is in office:

    Though the powers of the presidency are at this moment somewhat diminished by the Republican House and the atavistic Supreme Court, they remain latent. A Mormon presidency is not quite the same as an ostensibly Catholic or Protestant one, since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints insists on a religious sanction for its moralistic platitudes….

    (Emphasis added again.)  It’s opaquely stated, but it’s there:  Mormons carry dark secrets and won’t share them, and Romney will call Salt Lake City before making important decisions.  (I confess: In that latter one I’m exaggerating.  A little.)  What interests me most is Bloom’s belief that Obama won’t make anything of these “issues:”

    We can be certain that President Obama will not care to address these arcane matters in his debates with Mr. Romney. Doubtless Mr. Obama’s Christianity is sincere, but happily it is irrelevant to his governing style and aspirations.

    Well, maybe we can be certain that Obama himself won’t raise these matters, but we already know he doesn’t really need to.  He’s got Bloom and others of the same ilk to do that for him.

    John makes a brief addition

    Lowell’s description of this piece as “diffuse, rambling, inaccurate and internally inconsistent,” is in my opinion kind.  Nonsensical is what came to mind for me.  Lowell is also correct that an essence is difficult to pin down.  But let me tell you what my take-away is.  It comes early in the piece:

    However, should Mr. Romney be elected president, Smith’s dream of a Mormon Kingdom of God in America would not be fulfilled, since the 21st-century Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has little resemblance to its 19th-century precursor.

    [...]

    The Salt Lake City empire of corporate greed has little enough in common with the visions of Joseph Smith. The oligarchs of Salt Lake City, who sponsor Mr. Romney, betray what ought to have been their own religious heritage.

    [...]

    Persuasively redefining Christianity has been a pastime through the ages, yet the American difference is brazen. What I call the American Religion, and by that I mean nearly all religions in this country, socially manifests itself as the Emancipation of Selfishness. Our Great Emancipator of Selfishness, President Ronald Reagan, refreshingly evaded the rhetoric of religion, but has been appropriated anyway as the archangel of American spiritualized greed.

    In the opening paragraphs Bloom attempts to discredit all of American religion – ALL OF IT!  Yes, he picks on Mormons because the likely nominee is Mormon, but he is really picking on right leaning religious folk of all stripes by reasoning, if in fact reason applies anywhere in this piece, that because we are not left-wing we are not genuine.

    Now make no mistake, speaking for Evangelicalism, and only that since I am unqualified to speak for others, I do think there is a streak of self-absorption in our modern religious expression, but it is true on both the left and right of the political spectrum and a mistake in emphasis is insufficient to discredit an entire religious movement.  Charity to “feel better about oneself” is no less selfish than he who sits and counts his money all day long.

    But that point is not Bloom’s real game here, his real game is twofold.  One, he wishes to delegitimize any candidate of right-leaning faith and particularly the likely Republican candidate for this cycle.  Secondly, he wishes to cash in on the current rash of books my atheists that are printing money for authors and publishers.  He even cites Christopher Hitchens in the article who wrote one of the two biggest sellers of the genre – Richard Dawkins wrote the other.

    This, folks, is a hit piece, pure and simple.  Poorly written, disorganized, and almost unreadable, but a hit piece nonetheless.  It is also the latest in a series of pieces by the NYTimes to lay the groundwork for the general and their ordained candidate Barack Obama.  It is despicable that those supporting a president whose greatest achievement to date was to be the first person of color elected to the highest office in the land would chose to express support by appealing to bigotry on a different basis.

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    An Ironic Moment from the Michigan GOP Debate

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 09:44 pm, November 10th 2011     &mdash      3 Comments »

    John’s post earlier this week about the role of humility, juxtaposed with the ongoing theme of tension between the Romney and Perry camps over religious issues, makes this Kathleen Parker column all the more interesting:

    As Perry was free-falling into the abyss of lost thoughts Wednesday night, he turned to his fellow contestants as if to say, “Please, someone, can’t you tell me what I think?”

    Unhelpfully, Ron Paul suggested there were really five agencies he should cut. And then someone did try to help him, and this to me was the most memorable moment of the evening. From somewhere on the panel, a voice reached out to the struggling Texan, a suggestion that might help Perry gather himself and emerge from this utter humiliation.

    The voice belonged to Mitt Romney. As Perry’s brain was hardening into arctic pack ice, Romney suggested that maybe the third agency he wanted to eliminate was the EPA. Yeah, that’s it! But no, it wasn’t. Pressed by Harwood, Perry said it wasn’t the EPA, but blast if he could remember what it was. (Later he said it was Energy.)

    Romney’s suggestion when most of the others were squirmingly silent was an act of pure kindness and self-sacrificing generosity. It was not especially noticeable. But if you were Rick Perry in that moment, you were well aware that Romney was the one who tried to save you. When Perry finally said, “Oops,” it was Romney toward whom he looked.

    Small, but not insignificant, this gesture of active empathy tells much about the man who extended it. He’s a nice guy in a season of nastiness, a trait that may also be his greatest political failing.

    Read the whole thing.

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    Reflections On The Penn State Scandal – Character, Leadership and the Religionless Society

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:43 am, November 10th 2011     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    The Grand Jury Report that has lead to the firing of a college football icon is horrific reading.  I have yet to read it all the way through, but have dipped back in and farther several times as events have developed; it is just too ugly to read through in a single sitting.  It’s just monstrous.  That there are monsters among us should not be surprising to anyone.  What makes the incidents at Penn State so utterly contemptible is the failure of the system to deal with its monster.

    Yet, as I read the report, I found the actions of an unnamed 28 year old graduate assistant very wrong, but sympathetic.  Further, I found the actions of head coach Joe Paterno grossly wrong, but somehow reasonable.  Both men, and many others, deserve whatever ramifications come their way from job actions already taken to civil litigation to possible criminal charges.  But that fact notwithstanding what does it say about a system where such actions have a hint of reason and sympathy about them?

    Both men relied on the system to handle an issue that was fundamentally and basically human.  When confronted with deep evil they did not turn to their own revulsion, but instead to a bureaucracy.  As someone who spent one year of his college years in a major football program, you are taught to guard the program.  The fact that the graduate assistant turned to his father instead of to Paterno is a sign that he knew he was staring at something that broke the system.  He lacked any understanding about what to do once the system was broken, so he turned to his life-long moral compass.  That his father sent him back to the system may make his father the most culpable actor in the entire episode.

    My point here; however, is not to lay blame, but instead begin to ask questions about a system that seeks to protect itself and others not against true evil, but owns that evil and seeks to protect itself from the ramifications of the evil.  People kept turning back to the system because the system had inculcated them in a fashion that put the system ahead of all other considerations, including considerations of deep and pure evil.

    In my lifetime, sports have moved from a character-building extra-curricular activity to an end of itself.  That in a nutshell describes why I got out of major college football.  I was looking to continue a wonderful and character-building extra-curricular I had enjoyed in high school.  But in high school I had been under one of the best men and football coaches I have ever met.  Coach Bishop, a deeply committed Christian, understood the right role and uses of sports.  When I entered the world of major college athletics, I found something quite different.  My experiences were 30 years ago; I am certain the situation has only worsened.

    No small amount of blame for the “protect the program” mentality that has grown in college sports lays at the feet of the NCAA.  There is no better analog for Big Government than the NCAA.  Obsessed with its own rules on recruiting and amateur status, and eager to enforce even the most trivial,  bureaucratic and least substantive of those rules with vigor as a means of increasing both its power and revenues, the NCAA has contributed mightily to a culture in college sports where one must not first consider right and wrong, but the potential ramifications of making even a simple mistake.

    And now we come to where religion fits into the picture.  The founders knew of this tendency for bureaucracies to put themselves  ahead of decency and in the end commit or allow evil as a means of guarding and promoting the bureaucracy.  Therefore, they put checks and balances into the constitution.  But more they excluded religion from the constitution.  In doing so, they set religion free from the tendency of the government bureaucracy to corrupt.   This left religion free to do what it does best – build people that understand good and evil, people of character – people that when they come face-to-face with true and deep evil, as the graduate assistant did, will have an independent means of judging that evil and the morality to act accordingly.

    Of course, the church has also at times corrupted along similar lines.  One need look no further than the very analogous child abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic church in recent years.  However, it is also worthy of note that the Roman Catholic scandals were worsened by the perceived need of the church to protect itself from the big brotherish tendencies of an all too powerful government.  But consider for a moment a nation where the church and the government are deeply entwined.  And where, by virtue of that entanglement, people had no alternative to the very broken church.  These already heinous crimes would probably under such circumstances been hidden far more deeply than they were and serve; therefore, only to deeply corrupt both the church and the government.

    Therein lies another beauty of the American system, by separating church and government, church competition flourishes and serves as a further check on corruption inside religion.  But with such competition comes a potential problem.  If those churches stop competing for souls and start competing governmental power, then they get caught in the kind of traps that have so damaged the Roman Catholic church of late.  And when caught in such a trap, a church sacrifices much of its moral authority to do that which we alluded to a couple of paragraphs ago.

    In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis distinguishes between “pre-evangelistic” argument and evangelistic argument.  The distinction I make above between competing for souls and competing for government power parallels the distinction Lewis makes.  When churches compete for souls they conduct evangelistic arguments.  However, when they start competing for governmental power, in the heat of competition, they start hurling accusations on a pre-evangelistic level.  We have seen this vividly in the discussions concerning a Mormon for the presidency.  The argument about the very legitimacy of the CJCLDS as a church and “Mormons lie” meme are pre-evangelistic arguments.  And in advancing those arguments we undermine the ability of religion to serve as a moral agent and check-and-balance on a government bureaucracy that will seek its own end rather than simply seek good.  We rob the individual of that which the Penn State graduate assistant needed so badly – what our society needs so badly – an independent means of judging evil and the morality to act accordingly.

    In the end, only one thing can protect against the kind of evil discussed here – good people of good character.  That is the starting point of real leadership.  People that hold good value above the power and promotion of the bureaucracy.  Religion is the best thing, in fact the only that can really develop such people.  Yes, there are good moral decent people without religion.  But I will bet you they have a healthy respect for and understanding of religion and its role in our society.  Otherwise their good moral decency would be swallowed by the avarice of the bureaucratic state.  Such respect and understanding was certainly true of the areligious amongst the founders.

    As this presidential election cycle continues to heat up, we would do well to remember some of the lessons of Penn State.  Religion must be kept in its proper place, both as a check-and-balance to run away governmental authority, and as a developer of people with the kind of character necessary to see evil and act against it.

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