So, Pew did a poll and the results say, essentially, no one really cares about religion in the general election. The spin is; however, kind of fun to watch. Consider:
- USA Today – Poll: Voters unconcerned with Romney’s Mormon faith
- Politico – Poll: More know Romney’s religion than Obama’s
- Washington Post – Poll: Qualms about Mormonism widespread, but may not impact Romney’s run for the presidency
- Christianity Today – Poll of Americans: Better a Mormon than a Muslim in White House
Fascinating, is it not? Same poll, same results, but everybody still has an axe to grind. David Sessions did a really interesting analysis at The Daily Beast contending that the results are unsurprising (more in a moment) and yet some Evangelicals are still grinding the their old axes. For example, the increasingly silly David Brody:
Mitt Romney has sure been talking a lot about God recently. He did so in Irwin Pennsylvania and then the next day in Bowling Green Ohio. Then he really cranked it up a notch during his remarks about the horrendous murders in Aurora Colorado.
I couldn’t help but think that when Romney started referring to God over and over again during those specific remarks we were finally seeing the authentic Romney.
Brody does reflect a large swath of Evangelicals and I don’t get it. It’s like you have to talk about God to make His effects on your life real. That strikes me as nonsensical – “Talk is cheap,” as they say. Then there is Daniel Allott at The American Spectator:
One was the divorced son of an alcoholic shoe salesman; another, the stepson of an alcoholic car salesman; still another, the self-proclaimed “black sheep” of his family.
The history of the American presidency is a history of men who have suffered — and largely overcome — humble beginnings, immense family hardships, profound personal tragedies, and humiliating public failures.
To put it another way, when considering whom they want to lead them, Americans naturally gravitate toward flawed characters – people whose success is rooted in failure, and whose lives contain the familiar arc of a redemption narrative.
But Mitt Romney doesn’t fit this mold. In fact, he may be the least flawed presidential candidate in recent American history. His main flaw, it seems, is that he doesn’t really have one.
WOW! Let’s put these things together. “Authenticity” is portrayed in speech, not action, and the “ideal” is to fail.
OK, I have to resist the temptation to get all scripture-quotey, preachy on this one – but that is so theologically misaligned from any understanding of Christianity that I have run across, Mormonism included, that I am a bit dumbfounded. Maybe that is why Evangelicals make so much noise in the primaries, but just don’t matter in the general, if this latest poll is to be believed. Which brings me back to the Sessions analysis. He makes four points:
- They don’t pay attention, period. Voters, evangelical and otherwise, pay a fraction of the attention to the minutiae of the campaign trail as political reporters.[...]
- They don’t vote based on religion. Not only do voters have huge information gaps when it comes to candidates’ religions, but they are not interested in learning more.[...]
- The GOP base is united more by ideology than theology. After much speculation during the rise of the Tea Party, its libertarian façade gradually wore off and everyone realized that it was driven by committed Republicans and moneyed organizations with deep ties to the party.[...]
- The religious are joining forces. Beck’s pastoral role in the Tea Party might have been the closest evangelicals and Mormons ever came to each other, but it wasn’t their first joint effort. California’s Proposition 8, the now-overturned amendment that banned same-sex marriage, was a darling evangelical cause that leaned heavily on Mormon money and votes to be enacted. Prominent evangelicals may still be calling Mormonism a “cult,” but the fight against same-sex marriage proved more powerful than labels.
There are a couple of interesting take-aways form that analysis. The second point illustrates how minority Evangelicals really are in the nation, at least the ones that fit the “won’t vote for a Mormon” mold. In point of fact they are a minority of Republicans, despite the left-leaning press’ desire to portray Republicans as otherwise – which is really what the third point is about.
Being more religiously inclined, I would describe this a bit differently. If, in fact, “‘Authenticity’ is portrayed in speech, not action, and the ‘ideal’ is to fail,” then it seems like the Evangelicals opposed to Romney on religious grounds are behaving in exact accordance with that assertion. They talk a big game and then vote far more practically, and the fail pretty routinely at political action. That’s harsh, I know, but it seems a transparent conclusion.
The problem is not political behavior; however, it is depth of religious commitment and understanding, and I should stop there.
“I feel we’re all Catholic today,” Mitt Romney said at a campaign event last week in Bowling Green, Ohio. He was talking about religious freedom and the narrow exceptions the White House has carved out for religious organizations in the wake of the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception.
Much of the reporting and policy debate surrounding the mandate has focused on the religious institutions that have conscience objections to the paying for this coverage. But Romney emphasized an aspect of the mandate that is still underappreciated: The mandate will also affect business owners who have not offered and do not want to offer coverage that is an affront to their consciences.
WE are winding up to a big fight here. This election has more than the usual dire consequences attached.