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."

“Open Season”

Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:50 am, April 18th 2012     —    5 Comments »

In yesterday’s post, we noted the “Mormon rumbles,” and that McKay Coppins piece on the role of Mormonism in the Mommy wars was once again ringing the Mormon bell. It seems Jennifer Rubin agrees:

So what is the point then of the piece, which goes on to paint Mormons as condescending and backward thinking when it comes to gender? (“These doctrinally-defined gender roles aren’t entirely unique — they’ve been preached by various sects for centuries — but Mormons have proven uniquely unwilling to bend them to fit modern times.”)

Does Mitt Romney believe in all that stuff ? Well that would be the only real relevance to the voters and the predominate conclusion of many readers I fear, namely to suggest that Mormon religious views (and in turn Romney’s) on gender are unacceptable in modern society. (This is after all a political blog, not a Web site on comparative religion.) Again, did the reporter try to interview Romney or ask the campaign about his views? The reporter sure doesn’t indicate that he did. Is there anything in Romney’s record to suggest he believes this? The reporter identifies none. And if there is no connection with Romney’s views or records, why should it be a problem? Or even the subject of political punditry?

Rubin does a masterful job of dismantling Coppins.  Her main argument is that without talking to the Romneys such a piece is a rather blatant form of religion bashing and perhaps bigotry.  It is, after all about the religion, not the Romneys’.  She wonders if is is “open season on Mormonism?”

“Oh, of course not,” claim people like Weigel @ Slate and Alec MacGills  @ TNR, but such denials in the end serve the real purpose – to associate Romney and Mormonism, all the while discussing how Mormonism is “different.”  The denials are a form of dog whistle in and of themselves.  What is truly shameful about this tendency, as it has been of much of religion reporting in the past for other faiths and other issues, is that it reduces to the faith to a pastiche, unreflective of what the faith really is and means to the lives of its adherents.  Religion is misrepresented, often defamed, and increasingly opposed for the sake of electing a specific politician or achieving a specific policy goal.

Speaking of Mormon dog whistles, Jack Cafferty, who has an old history of saying stupid things aabout Romney and his faith, is at it again, echoing the “secrecy” thing.  Cafferty on CNN – is anybody paying attention?…Hello?…Bueller?…Bueller?

Not surprisingly, a poll out of Virginia shows Evangelicals heavily favoring Romney over Obama.  And yet, in the darker, rarely visited, corners of the internet (Hat Tip) we read:

Many naive Americans believe that Mormonism is merely another branch of protestant Christianity. Well that’s not what the founders and leaders of Mormonism believed.

According to its founder, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young, Smith’s successor, Mormons are the only true people of God on the earth. All non-Mormons and their religions are “wrong, an abomination, blind, damned, of the devil, whores, not Christians, groveling in darkness, heathens, ignorant, devoid of fact, pagan and hatched in Hell.”

The author here describes Mormonism as “anti-Christian.”  Mormons want little more than to be recognized AS Christian – this is just asinine.  Which could explain why it is the dark, little visited corner of the internet.

Deep Background

From the IRD:

At a recent convocation of about 700 mostly young evangelicals in Washington, D.C., speakers politely debated how Christians can best address culture and politics. Urging some political detachment was Jonathan Merritt, a Southern Baptist critic of conservative Christian activism and author of the just published book “A Faith of Our Own.” He accused “culture war” Christians of being “partisan, narrow, and divisive.”

Many young evangelicals are disillusioned with politics and how Christians have engaged it, many speakers insisted at the April 2012 “Q Ideas” conference in the nation’s capital. Only 25% of the 700 attendees reported approval of the tone of Christian political engagement over the past 30 years. A full 61% of attendees identified as “unaffiliated” with any political party or ideology.

Young, politically unaffiliated Evangelicals dissatisfied with the state of faith based political engagement – there are 2 ways to view this.  One is “liberals in the making.”  The other is young people that we need to engage and perhaps modify our approach to some extent

Relatedly, from that same organization:

The debate over religious freedom is shifting from a “cultural war” to a “conscience war,” Messner explained. Christians are increasingly inhibited from attempting to state a case for a society built on commonly shared religious values. In extreme cases religious believers could lose economic opportunities, such as firing Christian doctors for not performing abortions. More benignly, the new coercive framework advocates for reduced moral standards as religion is sidelined.

The shift noted is a shift from community focus to individual focus.  That shift has been pushed in part by the Evangelical focus on personal salvation, often at the expense of other equally important aspects of faith.  Is it any wonder that young Evangelicals are dissatisfied with cultural engagement.  When there is no community being built political discussion is simply naked aggression.

Deep Ironies

From David Hill @ The Hill:

First, a lot of Americans have probably figured out this prejudice against Mormons and feel badly about it. Despite notions that we’re a mean-spirited, bigoted society, we’re not. In fact, there are undoubtedly far more open hearts than haters and the former will work hard to prove that the American public isn’t prejudiced, just as many worked diligently four years ago to sweep the first African-American into office. It must be a sweet irony for Republicans to soak in that we’ll finally have the affirmative action candidate for the presidency. Barack Obama may have been the first African-American president, but Mitt Romney will be the first Latter-day Saint president, by the numbers a bigger achievement.

I am more than a bit certain that the last thing Mitt Romney wants is to be elected on am affirmative action basis.  Romney should be elected becasue his is capable, competent and unquestionable the the best qualified candidate for the job.  However, there is a very rich irony in the fact that supporters of the current president, elected in part in rejection of prejudice, would use prejudice against a political opponent.

But the deepest irony come from Jim Treacher @ The Daily Caller:

Hey, if we’re going to talk about how presidential candidates treated dogs decades ago, let’s talk about how presidential candidates treated dogs decades ago.

Can you name the author of this quote?

“With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.”

Yep, that’s Barack Obama, writing about his childhood with his stepfather Lolo Soetoro in Indonesia, from Chapter Two of his bestseller Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.

That’s going to leave a smile on my face all day long!

Lowell adds . . .

Monday Politico’s Mike Allen began his Playbook update, which is e-mailed to subscribers nationwide, with this (emphasis is in the original):

COMING ATTRACTIONS – David Axelrod tells us the Obama campaign will make a major umbrella issue of what he calls “Romney’s penchant for secrecy”: “George Bush felt it was appropriate to release the names of his bundlers. John McCain did. But not Mitt Romney. Why did George Bush and John McCain release multiple years of tax returns, but not Mitt Romney? Why did Mitt Romney leave Massachusetts government with the hard drives from his computers, and why did his senior aides leave with the hard drives from their computers? Why won’t he be more forthcoming about some of these offshore investments?

Harkening back to my youth, which extends far beyond yours, there was a show called, ‘I’ve Got A Secret.’ Increasingly, I think that would be the appropriate title for the Romney campaign. There are central issues, but this is a disturbing one and it goes to that question of, like, ‘Who is this guy? What does he stand for? What does he believe? What do we know about him?’”

Keep in mind, this is right off the top — the very first thing Allen published on Monday morning.

One one level, it’s funny. Mike Allen appears regularly on the Hugh Hewitt Show and does seem to be open-minded and good-natured. But to start off Monday morning pretty much announcing the Obama campaign’s theme of the week does make Allen seem like a megaphone for David Axelrod. Of course, the MSM and the left side of the digital punditocracy — which is nothing if not reliable and predictable — dutifully picked up on the prescribed meme. Jack Cafferty, as John notes above, was one of them. I must say, Axelrod’s effort is a brilliantly cynical way to prepare fertile ground for discussions of Mormon “secrecy.”

Just thought I’d mention that.

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