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."

  • “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:51 am, December 25th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    …Thus quote Santa at the end of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

    At last night’s Christmas Eve services I was reminded of the story of the shepherds near Bethlehem.  When the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people….”

    Early though it is, there are already two “announced” candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush.  As such, I have been researching the archives of this blog getting warmed up for the extended election season  that is upon us – and it is deeply depressing.  While the GOP is the party that promotes religion in the nation, the extent to which religion divides us is truly astonishing.

    Hence I simply wish to point out that the good news of Christmas is intended for everyone.

    May that be the start of the religious discussion of the 2016 presidential election cycle.

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    Why Do People Want To Change Religion Rather Than Change Religions?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:51 am, December 13th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Last Wednesday I ranted about Ben Carson’s pet newspaper, the Washington Times, carrying a disingenuous Mormon cheap shot that had to be motivated by fear of substance to the Romney 3rd run rumors.  (Note the sourcing on the latest round of rumors – Romney backers.  The vast majority of these stories are placed by people trying to put pressure on Romney to run again; they are not based on anything Romney is saying.  So how informative are they really?)

    Another story line has appeared, this one emerging on the left, that has the same feel to it.  A left wing Mormon blogger noted from Dianne Feinstein’s attempt to total disrupt national security that some of the key people that engaged in the enhanced interrogation program were Mormon.  It has echoed elsewhere in the Mormon blogosphere.  It even made the big time press a bit.  But really I think this story is not about ginning up “Mormon” to dissuade Romney at all – this is about the rather large battle of left v right inside the CJCLDS.

    The Latter Day Saints are hardly the first church to see this battle.  It is over in the Episcopal Church and the liberals have won.  The Presbyterian Church in The United States of America, PC(USA), is in the mop up phase as the right wing congregations are fleeing the denomination as fast that the convoluted bureaucratic process will allow them.  The Methodists seem next up to bat for the final showdown.  Pope Francis seems to have opened the door for the beginning salvos inside Roman Catholicism.  It is interesting to see it in the CJCLDS; however, because the process is seriously compressed.  The protestant churches previously mentioned have been through a liberalization lasting many decades.  If it proceeds in the Roman Catholic church, it’ll last centuries.  This liberalizing process typically begins with a growing acceptance of divorce, moves through the ordination of women to ruling office in the church then to various expressions of “peacemaking” agendas, and advances to the LGBT agenda (with many small steps in between)  which seems to be the final battleground.  The liberal Latter Day Saints seem to want to address all these issues in a very short period of time.

    But unlike in, say, the 1950′s, when moving from Baptist to Methodist to Presbyterian was more like changing decor than moving to a new city, nowadays there is a huge diversity of stands on all these issues spread throughout churches across the land.  Are you gay and feel unwelcome in Church X?  Well, Church Y down the street would certainly welcome you with open arms.  So why do people seem so he%$bent on changing  Church X instead of just going to Church Y?

    There are probably as many motivations as there are people involved in the process, but there is one thing about which you can be certain.  It is testament to the power the church has in forming culture.  If the church were as irrelevant as the atheistic left would have us think this would all be silly little tiffs that we would never read about in the papers.  But this is big news with ramifications for presidential elections.  People are interested in changing Church X becasue they want to change the nation as a whole and as long as Church X is holding out they have failed in their mission.

    It is irritating that so many churches seem to cower under the assault.  The assault is testament to the power the church has to shape things and yet rather than try to shape things, the church usually tries “not to offend.”  (Can anyone say “peacemaking agenda?”)  The church is a potent force in society, which ripples out into everything from music videos to presidential elections.  It is time we acted like it.

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    Posted in Culture Wars, Religious Freedom, Social/Religious Trends, The Way Forward, Uncategorized, Understanding Religion | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    When Rumors Create Stupidity

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:38 am, December 10th 2014     &mdash      1 Comment »

    So, rumor has it that a lot of Republican money is holding back hoping that a single center-right (think Romney or Jeb Bush) candidate will appear.  Goodness knows they should have been writing checks the day after the mid-terms.

    That’s the stuff of politics.  Every serious source this blog has still says the chances of Romney running are practically non-existent, but that there is a great deal of pressure being applied in an effort to get him to change his mind, so most if this is speculative reporting at best.  But apparently the speculation is really scaring the people that worked so hard to help Romney lose last time – you know, the hardcore “Christian” types that would rather have the nation-rending, America weakening, violence tolerant administration we currently enjoy over having a *shudder* Mormon in the White House.

    I can tell because of this piece in the conservative Washington Times featuring at top a picture of the Salt Lake City LDS temple at sunset:

    A Utah high-schooler who wanted to volunteer at a local Salt Lake City charity was told to go home — that she wasn’t allowed to wear pants

    Oh wait, not really, they clarify a couple of paragraphs later:

    She said officials asked her to change into a skirt — but instead, she left.

    Ah – so she was not told to go home, she elected to go home.  Fascinating, particularly when the headline, featuring the word “booted,” and the lede tell a very different story.  Then they carry on about sexism and close the piece with this little snippet:

    The Salt Lake City Tribune reported that Ms. Partridge’s group was formerly called the Women’s Endowment Committee, an affiliation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    God save us from ourselves.  We’re going to, at a minimum, pick on an important and loyal party demographic over requiring ladies to wear skirts at a charity function!?  I wish I had the time to do an inventory of all the messes Obama has and will make before he is out of office and all the messes that Hillary Clinton will make messier, not to mention the new ones she will create.  This nation faces major issues and we’re worried about ladies skirts at a charity event?!

    One can only assume this cheap shot, coming from the right, is coming because someone fears the Romney rumors.

    Look, oppose Romney.  His performance record in presidential runs is all the argument you need.  Really, honestly, we need to get past this religion based stuff.  It’s playing Obama’s game and it is unbecoming of decent Republicans and conservatives.

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    Posted in News Media Bias, Religious Bigotry, The Way Forward | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Ignorance and Privilege, Privilege and Ignorance

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:52 am, December 4th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Here we go again – “protests” over a grand jury decision involving a police officer and an arrest.  One wonders about the spontaneity of these demonstrations, and their true purpose; particularly when one reviews the source materials.  That is to say if you look at the evidence related to the Michael Brown incident or the Eric Garner incident. you can understand why there are questions.  However, given that a grand jury is designed precisely to answer such questions, you are forced to conclude there is something else at play when people are so distrustful of the results of that process.

    This is culture war.  It is not the culture war we usually think of, about abortion and marriage and religious identity, this is a culture war based on different identities.  But more, it is a culture war based on ignorance.  It is clear that the general public, and apparently a good deal of the media, is ignorant of the grand jury process.  Many seem to think it some sort of pro forma butt covering for a prosecutor, when in reality it is a fact finding panel just like a jury in a trial.   People seem to think it is easy to “fix” a grand jury – the whole “indict a ham sandwich” thing.  The burden of proof for a prosecutor is much lower in a grand jury than in a criminal trial, but that also means that when a grand jury fails to return an indictment, there is practically no evidence of a crime.  People seem to be ignorant of the fact that a tragedy is not always a crime.

    It seems clear to me that at least within a large swath of our population there is a general ignorance, despite seemingly 100′s of TV “procedurals” called “Law and Order,” of the role of police officers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.  Police officers collect evidence and keep the peace.  Police officers are not the people you argue with when you are accused of something – you argue with prosecutors and hopefully you have a defense attorney to help you do so.  Both Brown and Garner were arguing with police officers.  As a part of their peace keeping function police have to control such situations and argumentation can and often does escalate into a less than peaceful confrontation.  One should always cooperate with the police.  If that cooperation, but generally the lack of it, results in a detention it is highly inconvenient, but you will have opportunity to argue with someone who can respond reasonably to your argument.  However, such response is not a police job.

    This is also a culture war based on a presumption of privilege.  I have had the “honor” of serving on a condominium Board of Directors.  One year a small group of disgruntled owners used a technique called “cumulative voting” to put one of their own on the Board.  It was a problem from the get-go.  When the confrontations reached their zenith, the individual finally revealed the heart of the issue.  This person was under the assumption that Board members were skimming and that was why the Board seemed to be perpetually short of funds to address situations that the cabal thought were of dire and immediate importance.  This person finally agreed to stop being obstructionist if granted “a cut.”  Needless to say, the rest of the Board was flabbergasted.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I do not think it coincidental that these incidents, always involving race, are occurring in the last days of the Obama administration.  It has long been the source of race-based comedy that white people shared some sort of “code” so that when  police confronted whites over minor infractions they allowed them to go on unscathed, while people of color were arrested, or otherwise abused – the so-called “white privilege.”  While video of the Brown confrontation does not exist, watching video of the Garner confrontation it seems clear to me that Garner expected some sort of privileged treatment.   Anyone that has ever watched “COPS” knows that if you argue with police in that fashion you will get detained, regardless of color. But Garner seemed to expect that because a man of color was now in the White House, he could expect to walk away like he assumed white people always had.  And when he was detained, his protestations escalated the force police used to enforce the detention – with most unfortunate outcome.  All of this based, like my HOA Board experience, on an assumption of privilege that does not really exist.

    There is no question that historically there has been identity group discrimination in our nation.  Being born at the University of Mississippi in 1957 and returning to that state annually for most of my life, I have seen first hand what has gone on.  But negative discrimination is not the same thing as privilege.  The same Southern bigots I knew so well as  a youth were as quick to dismiss “white trash” as they were people of color.  There was no privilege of color.  There may have been privilege based on membership in the Klan or other fraternal organizations, often shared with police, and that of course involved race, but it was not based on race proper.  And even then privilege was limited to Klan interests only.  In the day, your Klan brother cop may look the other way about a cross burning, but not about a robbery or assault.  But that is also history and that is also the South.  That privilege just does not exist today and certainly not in New York City.

    Culture war is corrosive enough in this nation.  It becomes intolerable when based on ignorance and presumption.  Some in our political class have chosen to play upon the cultural divides discussed here for their own political, and in some cases financial, benefit.  As we have seen it seriously, and in some incidences fatally, threatens the peace.  Moreover, it threatens the very cultural glue of our nation.  Generating and amplifying such divisiveness may be the most heinous acts of all these sad episodes – particularly when doing so enhances, not cures, ignorance and presumption.  I wonder what the nation would look like if the media shamed such acts instead of broadcast them?

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