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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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With Evidence Comes Discussion

Posted by: John Schroeder at 10:16 am, November 17th 2012     —    1 Comment »

We noted yesterday that there seems to be some evidence of a Mormon problem in the results of the election just past.  Others seem to think it is conclusive.  Franklin Graham went at it obtusely yesterday on CBN:

David Brody: What is your message to folks who are wondering what just happened, and it looks like they feel a semi hit them?

Rev. Franklin Graham: We know that from of the statistics that I’ve heard that the majority of Christians in this country just did not vote for whatever reason. The vast majority of evangelicals did not go to the polls.

Graham: God is in control, and if Christians are upset, they need to be upset at themselves. We need to do a better job of getting our people – the Church – to vote. Now, I’m not trying to tell you how to vote, you can vote, but vote, my goodness, and vote for candidates that stand for Biblical values.

Now, statistically, Graham is talking about something different than we are.  We are looking at anti-Mormon bias in those that did turn out, while Graham is looking at a lack of turn out by Christians generally.  Both Brody, and MSNBC, point out that self-identified Christian turnout was higher this time than in 2008.  That does not mean Graham does not have a point.  Given the issues that confronted the electorate (HHS mandate) it should have been a record turn out.  It is only guess work as to why it was not such a record, but there is one factor I can think of in addition to anti-Mormon bias.

Opposition to Obama has pretty routinely been denounced as rooted in racism for a while now.  I am sure people are just tired of it and did not want to have to cast a vote that could get them labelled as racist.  In other words, the charge even if baseless, has an effect.  Some might accuse us of doing the same vis-a-vis Mormonism.  I hope not, we have tried pretty hard to limit ourselves to cases where there was actual bias.  This is why we are pursuing the path we looked at yesterday – there is some evidence and not just speculation.

When it comes to speculation, one could easily speculate about the role anti-Mormon bias may have played in the sentiments described in articles like this one:

By the time Election Day had come, I was very enthusiastic about voting for Romney, not merely about voting against Obama.  I had stopped recalling how unenthusiastic about Romney we conservatives had been until the October 3 first debate.

How desperate we had been a year ago to find someone, anyone but Romney.

There was, until the first debate a tepid support of Romney for reasons that will likely remain unexplained, but which could be attributable in part to anti-Mormon bias.  Ahh, speculation.

And while we are blaming Romney, I found this piece, and the one it links to troubling.  Romney’s not perfect, no candidate ever has been – even the now near deified Reagan.  The man fought hard, performed well and came up just a bit short.  That does not make him a bad candidate.  Perhaps if Potemra and Podhoretz had written one more piece, or a more convincing piece, or been more enthusiastically on board earlier, the results would have been different.  Let’s face it, WE lost – not just Romney.  Blaming him is a way of misdirecting from our mistakes.

And on the subject of blame, I am hearing undercurrents from a lot of places of “Obama cheated.”  I hate to break it to you, but there is cheating in every election.  Given the superior performance of Obama’s IT system, it is very possible that there was significant cheating, as such a system would serve to both mask and aid such efforts.  That does not mean we cheat to win, that would be going against the principles that define us as conservatives, especially Christian conservatives.  But it does mean that we have to be smart enough to beat the cheaters, and if we are not, that is our fault.

The election ended when Romney conceded – most graciously.  I think we are far better off concentrating on 1) thanking Governor Romney for his extraordinary effort and energy and his wonderful representation of our party and ideals, and 2) working on where we go from here.

Speaking of which, I said at a presentation I did Thursday that I thought the Religious Right was spent as a political force.  By that, I mean Evangelicals.  They are still numerous and the votes matter very significantly.  But this election showed that they just cannot organize themselves.  As this WaPo piece points out:

Some pundits have declared the death of the Christian Right, and there is evidence to back up their analyses. The once-dominant Christian Coalition is essentially bankrupt, Focus on the Family is now focusing on the family ministry, not politics, and the Rev. Pat Robertson, once the biggest voice of the movement, has recently called for legalization of marijuana and excused Gen. David Petraeus’s affair. Once leading figures as the former Rev. Jerry Falwell have passed away, and James Dobson is off the air. The movement lacks a powerful organizational structure and it has no leading spokesperson.

The piece goes on to claim that they will “resurrect” themselves in a (surprise, surprise) more liberal form.  Resurrection is possible, but not in a more liberal form.  Consider this piece from Christianity Today.  It is by Andy Crouch and discusses ways for Christians to re-engage.  Interestingly, and not surprisingly to this observer, it is based on Roman Catholic thought.  The long history of Catholicism and its myriad political involvements over the millenia (a period to which no other Christian organization can lay claim) give it the strong intellectual base for such engagement.  When you couple that with the hierarchical structural advantages it has, and shares with the LDS – that is where I see the future.  As we sai a while ago, Evangelicals need to take the backseat.  We are much better followers than we are leaders.


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