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."

  • Stuff Worth Reading…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:17 am, August 29th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Believe it or not, something worthwhile on HuffPo.

    Douglas Wilson writes about being “bad Americans.”  I think (hope actually) that he is being a bit pessimistic.

    Mark Tooley thinks things are not always what they seem.

    But then again, maybe Wilson is not so pessimistic.

    The Islamic political landscape.  I think there are lessons for a diverse Christian nation in there somewhere. Most notably, governing is much harder than complaining.

    If you’re Catholic, contraception is the root problem.  Fascinating view.  Contraception certainly separated sex from physical consequence, but the church had to fail somehow for there to be a separation in moral consequence.  Unless, of course, you believe we really are closer to animals than I like to think we are.

    Wilson again.  (He is the new Richard Land, btw.) He declares Mormonism a religion, not a cult.  Sure needed that a couple of election cycles ago.

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    Attitude and Theology

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:24 am, August 27th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Neil Munro @ Daily Caller:

    The White House’s deputy press secretary today downplayed Muslim attacks on Christians in Egypt, joking about the savagery  that has left at least six Christians dead.

    Press secretary Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News’ correspondent, Ed Henry, if President Barack Obama has a “red line” beyond which he would act against Muslim attacks on Egyptian Christians.

    “Well, I didn’t bring my red pen out with me today,” Earnest joked.

    After making his joke, Earnest said the administration is “outraged… and concerned” about the Muslim attacks on almost 100 churches, monasteries, orphanages and other marked Christian sites. Many Christians’ shops and homes have also been looted and burned by mobs.

    There were a couple of contentions that we held constantly during two election cycles.  One was that Mormon jokes, while not necessarily prejudiced of their own, contributed to prejudicial attitudes amongst the populace.  The other was that if the nation were allowed to be bigoted against the Mormon, more orthodox forms of Christianity would be next.  The persecution of Christians in Egypt is no laughing matter.  Do I really need to rant about this?  Is it not self-evident?

    And while we are dredging up old ideas.  Remember how often we contended here that anti-Mormon prejudice had become codified in the 2012 cycle, still active, but never directly mentioned?  Consider this story out of Turkey:

    For decades, religious minorities in Turkey, especially Christians, have complained that the state assigns them secret identity codes. Christians maintain that government officials use the codes to discriminate against them when it comes to jobs, licenses, building permits, and so on. Of course, such discrimination would be illegal under Turkish law, which has banned religious discrimination since the Kemalist revolution. And complaints about secret identity codes surely must seem a bit paranoid to outsiders, a kind of conspiracy theory–though, given the genocide of Armenians and other Christians in Turkey 100 years ago, one could forgive Christians for being anxious. The rumors turn out to be true, however.

    This month, for the first time,Turkey’s interior ministry acknowledged that the secret identity codes do, in fact, exist.

    Human nature is an amazingly corrupt and predictable thing.  Which brings me to theology.  Consider this from Victor Davis Hanson (HT: Instapundit):

    “The great lesson of the Obama administration is that the abuses of democratic plebiscites abroad are not contrasted, but amplified by the increasingly lawless American model, when it uses the IRS and the Justice Department to go after political opponents, allows senior officials to lie under oath to the Congress, and fails to execute faithfully those laws passed by the legislative branch. If we are to offer America as a model, then there must be some honesty and transparency about the Benghazi, Associated Press, IRS, and NSA scandals.”

    I reflected during my vacation just concluded on how awry so many Christian Americans are theologically.  The Christian message has been reduced to one of mere salvation.  Christ’s statement that He came, “Not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, ” has been misconstrued to the point of meaninglessness.  With denomination after denomination ordaining practicing homosexuals and engaging in same-sex marriage ceremonies, (not to mention the relaxation of views on things like divorce and co-habitation that now seem quaint)  it is almost as if the Law has disappeared.  I am sorely tempted to dive in the the theological and hermeneutical  deep end here, but shall resist.

    Instead, let me say this – if the church has no rules, or fails to lead society – society has no rules.  If society has no rules, democracy breaks down.  So, what is at root in Hanson’s observation?

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    Deep Insight from Peggy Noonan

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:56 am, August 9th 2013     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Peggy Noonan is one of those people that when she is wrong she can be spectacularly wrong.  As Dan Balz revealed on Hugh Hewitt this week, Noonan was hired to help Romney write speeches.  Romney chose not to use them.  Noonan went on to savage Romney in her column during the campaign.  Very bad form.

    But when she is right, she can also be spectacularly right.  In this morning’s WSJ, she looks at Balz’ campaign book and discusses some of the Obama strategy.  Discussing soem Obama campaign focus groups:

    The groups revealed that the American dream meant less to younger workers than to older ones. Here a departure from the book. There is pervasive confusion about what the American dream is. We seem to have redefined it to mean the acquisition of material things—a car, a house and a pool. That was not the meaning of the American dream a few generations ago. The definition then was that in this wonderful place called America, where you can start out from nothing and become anything. It was aspirational. The limits of class and background wouldn’t and couldn’t keep you from becoming a person worthy of respect, even renown. If you wanted to turn that into houses and a pool, fine. But you didn’t have to. You could have a modest job like teacher and be the most respected woman in town.

    When we turned the American dream into a dream about materialism, we disheartened our young, who now are forced to achieve what we’ve defined as success in a straitened economy. [emphasis added]

    I ask you, who is the “we” she refers to in that emphasized sentence?  Did the government change the perception of the American Dream?  I don’t think so, that is something that flows out of the populace.  From this I wish to reflect on two things.

    Firstly, astute politicians may notice trends and changes like those mentioned here – but good (morally, not politically) politicians will refuse to capitalize upon them.  It takes both a lot of cynicism and an amazing amount of narcissism to utilize a trend like this to get elected president.  National political leaders can, in reality, do very little to stem the tide of changes in perception and attitude like this, but to capitalize on them politically is to reinforce them.  To capitalize on such trends politically is to put one’s own election above the traditions and greatness of this nation.  In point of fact, a morally upstanding politician would seek to change the things that he/she can control in hopes that attitudes and perceptions would shift as conditions do.

    Which brings me to my second reflection.  Such changes have deeply religious roots.  There is something very wrong with religion in America that such an attitude can take such deep root.  Most Americans claim religious affiliation of some sort; it may be loose but it is there.  Religion is what can dramatically affect such perception and attitude.  Religion is what has traditionally taught Americans that the American Dream was far more than material.  And that answers my question about who Noonan’s “we” is.

    “We” is all the churches that have pursued this trend when they should have been fighting it.  “We” is all the churches that have shrugged their shoulders in response to the cultural shift and pursued answers in the things of culture instead of the things of God.

    All I know is WE better get our act together or the American Dream will be unalterably shifted in the wrong direction.

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    Posted in character, Culture Wars, Evangelical Shortcomings, Political Strategy, The Way Forward, Understanding Religion | 2 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Too Funny!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 02:09 pm, August 7th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

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    Haunting and Chilling

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:37 am, August 5th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Gay dads set to sue over church same-sex marriage opt-out

    Yes, It’s the UK, but think about it – an effort to have the state to dictate the church’s moral stance.

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    Is Protestantism Responsible For Its Own Death?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:27 am, August 4th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Stanley Hauerwas wrote a fascinating piece back in early July.  I do not agree with all of it, but I do think it is must reading.  It is really not reasonably excerptable, so please go read the whole thing – I’ll wait.

    OK, now that you are back.  My disagreement with him lies almost entirely in the concept of freedom that he thinks underlies the problems.  That concept has always been a part of the American landscape, but until it was picked up by the mainline denominations – something that happened only in the 20th century – it did not operate in such a destructive fashion.  It should be noted that the concept of freedom he complains about is not a Christian concept of freedom, it is a decidedly individualistic and secular one.

    To the question that titles this post – the answer is absolutely yes.  But I do think it is far more complicated than Hauerwas wants to make it.

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