Updated November 5, 2012
Hard to believe, but this blog started over six years ago. we were interested in the effect Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith would have on his presidential aspirations. We wrote of our beginning this way:
It started innocently enough. A fellow Southern California blogger and I decided to attend a lecture by Hugh Hewitt and a live remote of his radio show. We have both been blogging for a while – me here and my new partner here. Hugh was familiar with our blogs and the next thing we knew he was waving us up to go on the air with him. (You can listen to the interview here.) [’09 comment: link now dead] Among the topics of discussion we had with Hugh was this article by Robert Novak, originally published that day, April 27, 2006. In this piece Novak contends:
Mitt Romney, in his last nine months as governor of Massachusetts, was in Washington Tuesday to address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in an early stage of his 2008 presidential campaign. To a growing number of Republican activists, he looks like the party’s best bet. But any conversation among Republicans about Romney invariably touches on concerns of whether his Mormon faith disqualifies him for the presidency. The U.S. Constitution prohibits a religious test for public office, but that is precisely what is being posed now. Prominent, respectable Evangelical Christians have told me, not for quotation, that millions of their co-religionists cannot and will not vote for Romney for president solely because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
You can imagine how my blogging partner here, Lowell, himself a member of that church, would react to such a report. As a mainstream evangelical Christian, I have heard some of the same rumblings Novak has, and I find them problematic. Amy Sullivan started writing about this in the September ’05 issue of Washington Monthly. Interestingly, the day after Lowell and I’s appearance on Hugh, Andrew Sullivan started wondering about the ‘legitimacy’ of religious affiliation debate for candidates. This blog is dedicated to the issue of religious “qualification” for elected office in this country – something pretty well prohibited in Article 6 of the constitution.
And so began a journey that to both our our amazement, we are still on. We are/have (depending on when you read this page) summarizing camapign ’08 in a series of posts. Based on the events of that campaign, the answer to what we have come to call The Question, is “no.” Mitt Romney’s faith definitely had an affect on Campaign ’08 and largely to the negative, at least in terms of final result.
Romney did indeed try again in ’12, and has become the Republican nominee. Tomorrow he may be elected President of the United States. We intended to be part of the process, and we have been . The political and religious climate of the nation have changed drastically since campaign ’08 and will undoubtedly change more by the time it is all over tomorrow. But many of the issues and people we covered in ’08 have remained in in play until now, though the state of that play has been different.
Our journey to date has taken us a bit farther afield than we imagined when we began. We do not intend to limit our horizons here, we will follow the issue where ever we can. We are amateurs. Read our profiles in other pages – we are both very busy professionals with families to provide for and careers to maintain – this blog is our extensive, sometimes overwhelming hobby – but we try to be good at it nonetheless.
Lowell has been an ardent Romney supporter virtually from the beginning of this blog. I learned to be so in the course of Campaign ’08, but did not start that way. While we are both rooting for Romney, both making donations to Romney’s efforts, and when and if a campaign actually forms we will likely be volunteering for it, we do not intend to let that stand in the way of our calling things like we see them here. This is not a Romney campaign blog. This is a blog designed to examine an issue as in depth as time and resources allow.
We hope you like it. Email us, or leave a comment, we enjoy your feedback.
Lowell C. Brown was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was raised and educated there. His interest in politics first surfaced during high school, when he worked in several Republican campaigns (some won, some lost). After high school Lowell took two years off from his education to serve as a full-time missionary in Guatemala and El Salvador for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”). In addition to being one of the great formative experiences of his life, Lowell’s mission left him with a distaste for wearing white shirts and eating bananas (a staple in that part of the world) that did not subside for at least a decade. He also became fluent in Spanish, a language he loves.
Lowell graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Political Science in 1980. Along the way he devoted a year to serving as the student body president at Utah, which he insists will be his only foray into electoral politics as a candidate. He went on to Law School at Utah, graduating in 1982 and then heading to Los Angeles, where he has practiced law ever since.
Lowell is a partner in Arent Fox LLP, and since 1985 has practiced corporate health law for institutional health care providers. Explaining exactly what “corporate health law” means has always been a challenge for Lowell, partly because most people have little understanding of the inside workings of hospitals and similar institutions. You can find more details about Lowell’s professional life on his law firm’s web site.
Lowell enjoys community service. He’s a member of the Board of Directors of the Venice Family Clinic, the largest free health clinic in the United States, and of the Executive Board of the Western Los Angeles County Council, Boy Scouts of America. Lowell is passionate about Scouting, and has been honored with the Silver Beaver Award.
Religiously, Lowell likes to describe himself as an active, committed, convinced “Mormon” (a nickname for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). He has served in a number of capacities as a lay minister in that Church, and also loves to spend time with his friends of other faiths.
Lowell has been married for thirty-one years to Sonja Eddings Brown. Sonja is a former on-air television news reporter and now a media consultant and community activist. Among many other service activities, Sonja has served as a news media specialist for the Church in Southern California and has served as a spokesperson for the Church on occasion. Since 2009 Sonja has been the president and founder of The Kitchen Cabinet, a national grass-roots organization supporting conservative candidates. Lowell has nothing to do with Sonja’s spokesperson activities and is decidedly not an official spokesman for the Church or anyone else. He’s just a member of the Church with lots of opinions. In other words, the views expressed here are Lowell’s own.
Together Lowell and Sonja have three children, two sons and a daughter, ages 26, 22, and 15. Like his blogging partner John Schroeder, Lowell is an experienced blogger, if having been one since June 2004 counts as “experienced.” The Hedgehog Blog is his first blog. Someday he’d like to write a book. Lowell also loves intercollegiate athletics, and closely follows the fortunes of his beloved University of Utah Utes. He’s always happy when reading one of the works of Charles Dickens or watching the Boston Red Sox play.
August 17, 2006 update: When this blog began, Lowell was not committed to any presidential candidate, In mid-August 2006, he decided to support Mitt Romney. Even so, the views expressed here are still Lowell’s own; he has no position with, and receives no compensation, from any government office-holder, political figure, or organization, including Mitt Romney, any political action committee, or the Romney for President campaign. It remains Lowell’s goal, in posting here, to shed light on the issue of religion in presidential politics, particularly as that issue plays out in the 2008 election cycle.
ABOUT JOHN MARK
John Mark Reynolds (Ph.D., University of Rochester) is founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, a great books program, and professor of philosophy at Biola University. Dr. Reynolds is a Founder and Distinguished Speaker of Wheatstone Ministries. Dr. Reynolds lectures frequently on ancient philosophy, philosophy of science, home schooling and cultural trends. He regularly appears on radio talk shows, such as the Hugh Hewitt Show, and actively blogs on cultural issues at ScriptoriumDaily.com and the Washington Post’s “On Faith” column. His books include “When Athens Met Jerusalem: An Introduction to Classical and Christian Thought” (IVP), “What’s Right and Wrong About the New Atheism” (with Phillip E. Johnson, IVP), and he is the editor of the forthcoming “Great Books Reader: Excerpts and Essays on the Most Influential Books in Western Civilization” (Bethany House).
John Schroeder was born in Oxford, Mississippi in 1957 where his father was attending the University of Mississippi Law School. He has lived throughout the country as a child and an adult, living in Mississippi, the Chicago area, Houston and Amarillo, Texas, the Cleveland area, Indianapolis, Indiana; Nashville, Tennessee; South Bend, Indiana, and for the last 20 or so years has resided in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.
As an undergraduate John first attended Vanderbilt University where is primary field of study was football – not really, but as one of the scholarshipped athletic trainers to the football team, it seemed like there was time for little else. John transferred to Butler University where he completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1979, with multiple and highest honors.
Immediately after college John joined the staff of Young Life, a non-denominational Christian youth outreach organization and during his tenure with Young Life he was also a student at Fuller Theological Seminary, studying for a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in youth ministries. John left Young Life and seminary before completing his degree.
Upon embarking on his career in his chosen field of study, John also studied again at Butler University and in 1984 received the Master’s of Science degree in Analytical Chemistry.
In 1989, John started Salmon and Schroeder Consultants, which is an Environmental, Health and safety Consulting firm. The firm provides operational consulting, plans and programs, conducts investigations and remediations and does litigation related expert testimony work. John is an ordained Elder and Deacon in the PC(USA) – that’s the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US.
John is an experienced blogger. John comes to this blog primarily to be a voice of a moderate ‘evangelical’ Christian and a center-right political person. The word ‘evangelical’ is in quotes as used here indicating it is used in the sense it is used by political observers – John does not necessarily agree with all of mainstream evangelical theology.