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."

  • Emerging Memes, Understanding Hardcore Baptists, The Same Old Same Old

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 03:00 am, October 31st 2011     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    The entire Mormon discussion is starting to get a little old already.  But there are, coming out of the din, obviously plowing the rows for the general election, some…

    …Emerging Memes

    Weird.  Hey the president’s people said they were going this way and the press is right there laying the groundwork.  Unsurprisingly, it is mostly from the newspaper that has drunk most deeply of the Obama Kool-Aid – the NYTimes.  The first was on The Caucus blog about Romney’s “fondness for rules:”

    On a ferry ride over to a Republican conference on Mackinac Island, Mich., last month, Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, found themselves on board with a small group of reporters. Mackinac was where Mr. Romney had taken Ann, then his high school sweetheart, to celebrate her 16th birthday, and the two began fondly reminiscing about their date.

    “Separate bedrooms!” Mrs. Romney explained.

    “It goes without saying,” Mr. Romney added. “We’re from the 1960s.”

    Secretly bunking up, of course, would have been breaking the rules.

    It is a strange world indeed where decency and order can be portrayed as a deficit.  Of course, this president was unafraid to break every standard in the book to achieve his agenda (think Obamacare) so I guess it should not be surprising that his supporters (there is no other word for the NYTimes at this point) would find rules and order somehow disdainful.  Note that by taking on the religious imperative of sex inside the bounds of marriage, the Times is taking a shot a religion as well.

    Then there is the piece about “young, hip Mormons.“  As GetReligion points out, it is not really about religion at all.  The article is about those inside Mormonism struggling to be “cool” when there is, apparently a tradition of “uncoolness” in the faith.  Of course, the whole thing just implies that Mormon candidates are not cool, while Obama is the epitome of cool.   It’s like these people want to live 1968 all over again.  Despite the impressions of the youthful, there are many of us around that were around in 1968 – it wasn’t good and it should not be revisited.

    Ethnicity. So, the BBC asks how Hispanic Mormons will vote and NPR does the same about black Mormons.  This stuff scares me a bit.  Not satisfied with ripping up the country along religious lines, some are apparently ready to inflame racial divides that we have worked for decades to heal.  But then it must be remembered that this president is essentially a thug.

    The Mormon past with race is no more troubled than any other faith’s past with race.  They were, however, about a decade later than most (but certainly not all!) in coming to terms with the issue.  That is really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is exploitable by an opposition candidate of color.  That’s tragic.

    The one good thing this president is still capable of doing is healing whatever racial rifts may remain in the nation.  Yet he, and his MSM allies, seem bound and determined to exploit race for their own political gain.  I wonder how far they will go.  With the Occupy Movement and the 1968 vibe floating about one begins to wonder about rioting and other less seemly forms of civil unrest.  I lived in LA for the Rodney King riots – not something I want to experience again.

    Understanding Hardcore Baptists

    Just remember Robert Jeffress is a Baptist.

    So, the “Are Mormons Christians” discussion continued this week.  It got kicked up a notch when televangelist and leader of the largest congregation in North America, Joel Osteen, declared that Mormons are in fact Christians.  Well this caused our old acquaintance Al Mohler (Baptist), who is on many other fronts defending faith admirably, to have a bit of an apoplectic seizure.

    Then we learn that the Baptists are also fighting hard against the intrusion of – GASP – Calvinism! It would take an extensive lesson in systematic theology to explain what Calvinism is, and its theological opponent (Armenianism), but suffice it to say that I am a Calvinist.  Calvinism is pretty mainstream Protestant stuff.

    And then we learn that in history Baptists sided with atheists when their religious liberty was at stake.

    So I think we have learned what we really need to learn about Baptists – THEY LIKE A FIGHT.  I am not sure it has to be any more complex than that – they seem to be a church that runs around looking for fights to pick.  Speaking of which, I could not find this guy’s specific denominational affiliation, but if it’s not Baptist, it ought to be.

    The Same Old Same Old

    Mormon this, religion that – when you consume as much of this stuff as I do, you begin to wonder how much originality there really is in journalists.  For every piece I link here, there are probably a dozen from the “Town Too Small To Be On The Map Weekly,” but in the internet age, they all circulate.  Anyway…

    Romney’s not the first Mormon to run. (Duh!)  Not to mention, Mormons are not the only “odd man out” faith in American politics.  And remember, no matter how “far out” you think Romney is religiously, there are those that go farther.  (A story clearly written to establish guilt by association.)

    Shockingly, Evangelicals are a big deal in Iowa and that presents Romney with some problems.  (The people writing these stories clearly did not read any news about the 2008 primary!)

    And then there are polls.  Turns out most Americans do not know Romney is Mormon.  (Despite appearances, that links to a Perry watching blog of the Houston Chronicle – NOT a Perry campaign blog, but then….)  However, Evangelicals are more aware than the average citizen.  This should emphasize that religion generally has a problem in the nation, but doggone it, there’s a election to win.

    And then there is yet more attempts, amongst endless attempts, to figure out how being Mormon affect a politician’s stances. That first link is kind of interesting, but should be discussed by a Mormon, not me.  I hope Lowell has a few minutes on his hands to address this.  The second one, well… this pullquote says it all:

    “What makes no sense to me is how you continue to push forward in writing about Gov. Romney’s faith journey when we’ve made it clear in every way possible that this is not a story we want to participate in,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email.

    You know, it is hard to write about stuff like this without the focus of the piece joining the discussion.  Funny though how Hugh Hewitt was able to get him to talk about it.  Of course, Hewitt likes religion  and does not attempt to use it as a cudgel – could be a hint there for you, CNN.

    Politics and Religion News

    Romney’s New Hampshire numbers look insurmountable.  Not to mention he is the clear insider favorite (well except for George Will).  Shockingly, the Wall Street Journal had something nice to say about Romney.  But most amazingly, particularly for those that think Romney has a Southern problem, he leads in donations in Alabama!

    But in the middle of all this comes a piece, “Do science and politics mix?” concerning Romney and climate change.  For those that doubt science has gained religious significance among some in the nation – do you really need more evidence?  There is no way you can say science is religion neutral when you see stuff like that.

    And yet, hiding behind science and religious neutrality assaults on faith continue.

    Turns out Catholics matter a lot.  Yeah, they are a bit better organized than Evangelicals.

    And finally, everybody is trying to cash in on all this talk, which goes a long way to explaining all this talk.

    Lowell adds . . .

    The Atlantic post to which John links, “How Mormonism Has Moderated Romney’s and Huntsman’s Politics,” actually seems like an attempt at fairness.  The author’s slip-ups are not huge howlers and are mainly mistakes of proportion that reflect a lack of insight.  For example, to say that Non-Mormons are “banned” from weddings in the church’s temples simply strikes a false note.

    In the end the writer seems to get it mostly right:

    Acknowledging the complexities of Mormon cultural life, we should also be more careful about projecting our own images of Mormonism upon Romney and Huntsman. Their loyalty to the faith community they grew up in doesn’t necessarily translate into strict observance of its rules. That’s one more reason why the attacks on Romney’s faith are so distasteful. They imply that a man can’t be loyal to his Church while also being thoughtful and progressive. That’s not how faith works in modern America.

    How Mormonism Has Moderated Romney’s and Huntsman’s Politics

    First, it is specious to suggest that “thoughtful” and “progressive” are inseparable virtues. I know lots of thoughtful non-progressives (keeping in mind that “progressive” is another perfectly fine word that the left has appropriated to described liberalism – but I digress).   Second, I don’t know how strictly Mitt Romney observes Mormonism’s “rules” (we tend to think of them as commandments from God), but I suspect he’s pretty orthodox about the central tenets: paying tithing, not drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco, and chastity, to name a few.

    But how much does that really matter, in light of the personal behavior of recent presidents? And how much detail do voters need about such minutiae? Some Mormons drink Coca-Cola and some do not. Do we need to know into which group Romney falls? Some Orthodox Jews are Glatt Kosher and some are not, but I have no idea which approach Joe Lieberman has adopted.

    And I don’t care.  Neither should you.

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    Post Las Vegas Debate Analysis w/o The Hangover

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 03:00 pm, October 19th 2011     &mdash      1 Comment »

    I seem to be very out-of-step with most people because I find little humor in the movie The Hangover.  It’s the story of the day after a Vegas bachelor party in which things have gone horribly wrong.  I’ve done stupid things in my life, much like the film’s protagonists, and I do not find them a source for humor, I find them embarrassing.  One takes the hard won lessons from such a mistake, but does not celebrate or enjoy what lead to those lessons.

    That would be good advice for Rick Perry, but he seems to want it both ways.  He seems to want to appear to have learned his lesson, but he still wants to enjoy some fruit from the mistake.

    Most of the post-debate analysis and discussion has focused on this particular debate’s feistiness, and particularly the “showdown” between Romney and Perry on immigration.  That showdown looked to me like the hay-maker that missed.  It was apparent from the cheesy opening CNN made for this thing and all the after-talk that the media and presumably the public, since that is who the media tries to please, would prefer professional wrestling and it’s unending trash talk to reasoned discussion on important issues of the day.  *SIGH*

    Needless to say, our focus is a bit different.  The heart of the debate for this trio of blogger was the much dreaded “religion question.”  Before it got to Perry and Romney is was pretty uneventful, but then Romney took Perry to religion/politics/governance school and Perry did not much like what he heard.  But before we get there, let’s look at how much the question should not have been asked.

    There is little doubt that the religion smack from Jeffress was approved of by the Perry campaign, they seem to want it.  Despite serious criticism, Perry allies continue to push the button.  It seems to me that if the point of a debate is to explore serious issues with the candidates, the moderator would not hand the candidates questions that are clearly designed to push buttons created by or candidate or the other.  But then this entire debate seemed to want more heat than light.

    Then there is the legitimacy of the issue itself.  Uber-atheist Christopher Hitchens seems to be the only one interested in it.  Luminaries as bright as Chuck Colson are decrying the entire discussion.  The NYTimes is getting nailed for bringing it up in a reasonably nice way.  Even seeming natural allies of Perry and his sillier supporters are crying foul.  This kind of stuff, shouldn’t happen at all, and when it does it has traditionally been left for the water cooler – in the new media age, we can even fight the water cooler talk.  However instead, the old media seems to want to sink us deeper in the mire.

    So it came up, after things had turned testy and Perry had gone personalSantorum and Gingrich acquitted themselves well and Perry reitereated his disagreement with Jeffress.  Then Romney got brilliant.  Thanks to Nancy at EFM for transcribing:

    “With regard to the disparaging comments about my faith, I’ve heard worse.  So I’m not going to lose sleep over that.  Actually, what I found most troubling about the Reverend’s introduction was when he said, ‘In choosing our nominee, we should inspect his religion.  And someone who is a good, moral person is not whom we should select.  Rather, we should select someone based on their religious beliefs.’

    “That idea–that we should choose them based on their religion for public office–is what I find most troubling. The founders of this country went to great length to make sure–even put it in the Constitution–that we shouldn’t choose people to lead this country based on their religion, that this would be a country that would respect other faiths, where there’s plurality of faith, where there’s tolerance for people of other faiths.  That’s a bedrock principle and it was that principle, Governor, that I wanted you to say, It’s wrong.  Rather than say, ‘Reverend Jeffress, you knocked that out of the park,’ I wanted you to say, ‘Reverend Jeffress, you got that wrong.  We should select people not based on their faith.’

    “And I don’t expect you to distance yourself from your faith any more than I would.  But the concept that we select people based on the church or the synagogue they go to, I think, is a very dangerous and enormous departure from the principles of our Constitution.”

    But it was Perry’s response to that that tells the tale.  For that you’ll have to go to the video in our left hand widget, but essentially Perry said “I have nothing to add.”  So, Perry “disagrees” with Jeffress, but refuses to repudiate, or even correct along the lines Romney outlined, him.  The LATimes said Perry defended Jeffress.  So what do we learn from this – other than the fact that Perry does not quite “get it” on this issue.

    Well, it seems Perry’s base has pretty deep pockets but is very narrow.  Simply put Perry has to hold on to that base very tightly.  If he repudiates them he’s got nothing.  You’ll note in the statistics just linked why Perry’s jobs plan seems to rotate so fully around domestic energy production.  We seem to have a two-trick pony on our hands.  Takes a bit more to be president.

    But back to the debate proper.  What we had here was an attempt by the moderator to spark a fight.  Romney refused to give it to them and Perry was unarmed.  The real sadness here is that Perry does Evangelicalism, already taking heavy fire, no good.  The NYTimes op-ed just linked is really beneath refutation, (it contends essentially that Evangelicals are not stupid becasue of their religious convictions, but because they are conservative) but it is a sign that we are under attack.

    All I can say is, if this trend in debate positioning and moderation continues, they will soon be moderated by Jerry Springer, and feature John Cena as the special guest referee – and this will matter.

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    Live-blogging the Las Vegas debate

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 05:11 pm, October 18th 2011     &mdash      4 Comments »

    I had a last-minute opportunity to attend the CNN debate at the Venetian in Las Vegas. So here I am, in the Romney campaign room, watching on a big screen. We had a pre-debate briefing from the campaign staff. Watch for Romney to focus on jobs (Nevada’s unemployment rate is 13.2%). They also expect the faith issue to come up, probably from the news media questions.

    More comments to come! Watch this space.

    1. The campaign expected a lot of talk tonight about 9-9-9. That’s certainly happening.

    2. Perry announces yet another policy plan that is yet to be unveiled. “At the end of the week.”

    3. Herman Cain’s going to have a fruit salad made by the end of this debate. It needs more than apples and oranges, though. Romney’s “bushel basket” comeback will be one of the oft-quoted clips from the debate.

    4. Perry refuses to address the specific question about Romney’s 59-
    point plan and starts talking about jobs, obviously a scripted response. Does this guy have any nimbleness in him at all?

    5. Santorum tries to filibuster so Romney can’t answer.

    6. 5:40 p.m. – Ron Paul comments on libertarian principles that apply to health care. Not much new there. It’s clear everyone on the stage hates Obamacare.

    7. 5:41 p.m. – Perry turns the health care discussion into one about illegal aliens and Romney’s gardener in 2006 or so. He also tries to filibuster Romney. Where have basic manners gone? “A tough couple of debates for Rick.” Ouch, that will leave a mark. (By the way, it was Romney’s gardner who hired illegals, not Romney.) Perry looks incredibly petty on this one.

    8. 5:45 p.m. – “If you want to be president of the United States,” you have to let people talk.” Another mark left.

    9. 5:56 p.m. – Perry wants to talk about what he wants to talk about. I.e., “Stop asking me questions!”

    10. 6:07 p.m. – Before tonight I’m not sure we have seen this bunch so feisty.

    11. 6:10 p.m. – So far faith hasn’t come up. Will we make it to the end without The Question arising?

    12. 6:20 p.m. – The Question comes up, courtesy of Anderson Cooper!

    13. 6:21 p.m. – Santorum handles it well, focuses on what’s relevant about a candidate’s faith. Good.

    14. 6:22 p.m. – Gingrich also gives a nuanced answer – your religion is between you and God. But you should have a God.

    Perry is asked about Pastor Jeffress. All Perry is willing to say is that he did not agree with Jeffress, but that Jeffress has the right to his opinion. Then Perry wanders off into some nonsense about how the real “faith” issue is that we’ve lost faith in the government. What?

    Romney steps up. He was clearly ready for this. He explains what Gov. Perry should have repudiated, and pretty much hits it out of the park.

    Perry is given a chance to repudiate bigotry (now that it’s been explained to him how he can do that). He repeats his statement that he disagrees with Jeffress and says he doesn’t know what else to say, or how else to apologize.

    Really? Wow, at least Huckabee was skillful in his handling of the issue.

    15. 6:37 p.m. – I wish Ron Paul would go away. He takes time in these debates away from candidates who actually have a chance to win.

    16. Tweet of the night: “Rick Perry is hoping that this debate stays in Vegas.”

    And it’s over!

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    And now we pause for a brief commercial message….

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 03:05 pm, October 11th 2011     &mdash      1 Comment »

    John, John Mark and I will all be guests on the Hugh Hewitt show today, beginning at the top of the show, 3:06 p.m. Pacific time.  You can listen online here.

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    An Example of News Media Silliness: Politico and “Huntsman v. Romney”

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 07:55 am, February 4th 2011     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Over the last 5 years or so we have documented more than once the inherently distracting silliness that usually results when the news media focus on any presidential candidate’s religion.  Molly Ball and Jonathan Martin at Politico have written a piece that (unintentionally, of course) illustrates that problem.

    Martin, who is a good if occasionally left-leaning reporter, usually tries hard to get it right.  I think he whiffed badly in this one, which you can read in its entirety at The Mormon primary: Mitt Romney vs. Jon Huntsman.  Here are a few samples:

    Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. are both Mormons, both wealthy scions of old Utah families, both ex-governors with chiseled features and terrific hair.

    Strike one.  Here we have reporters pushing a story line much too hard.  Romney is the scion of an old Michigan family. I am not sure Romney’s ancestors were even in Utah for more than a few years back in the 1800s, before being sent off to colonize other parts of the Great Basin.  One might as well say Steve Young is the scion of an old Utah family because he’s a descendant of Brigham Young, even though he’s never lived in the state except while going to school there.

    The presence of a second Mormon in the race could help Romney by making the church seem less unusual to those who are unfamiliar with it. But it seems just as likely that Huntsman, with his strikingly similar profile, would erode Romney’s base of support, reordering the GOP field.

    Strike two.  It amazes me (maybe it shouldn’t) that writers who should know better keep making statements like this. Please indulge me as I quote myself from a few days ago:

    There are just over 6 million Mormons in the USA, about the same number as the Jewish population in America.  Of those 6 million Latter-day Saints, about half claim active affiliation with the church.  So we have 3 million individuals scattered across the country who claim to take their Mormon faith seriously, and perhaps half of those are voters, most of whom are concentrated in the Western USA.  And Romney and Huntsman are going to fight over those votes?  And the outcome of that battle is going to make a difference?  And it’s going to be a serious fight, even though Huntsman has no organization, no fund-raising network, and no experience in a national campaign, while Romney has all those things in spades?  If you believe all that, I want to talk to you about a great deal on shares in a bridge spanning the Great Salt Lake.

    I understand the idea that dividing the Mormon base might have some fund-raising implications and might affect the outcome of some smaller state primaries (think Utah, Idaho and Nevada) , but I remain to be convinced that “the Mormon vote” is going to be signficant at the presidential level.

    One Utahn put it this way: Romney is Brigham Young University, Huntsman is the University of Utah.

    Ball one.  The authors get some credit for diligence and cleverness on this one.  Huntsman is much more centrist than Romney, whose positions make him a standard mainstream conservative.  To a Utah graduate like me, with family members who went to BYU, this analogy makes immediate sense.  I guess it’s a bit of inside baseball for Mormons.

    A competition for Mormon bona fides between the two men would end in a draw. Romney’s great-great-grandfather was a 19th-century church leader who moved to the Utah Territory before statehood. Huntsman’s father and namesake is still a top official in the church who lends his Gulfstream jet to other LDS leaders, while his wife’s grandfather was in the church’s Quorom of the 12 Apostles, top figures in the hierarchy.

    Ball two (just missed the corner).  Not to pick too many nits, but it is Jon Huntsman Jr.’s grandfather, David Haight, who was a member of the Council of Twelve.  I don’t know what position Huntsman’s father, Jon Huntsman, Sr., now holds – he was once an LDS mission president in Washington, D.C. – but such vague references like ”a top official in the church” don’t tell us anything and look like mere filler.

    Huntsman, too, went on a two-year mission, to Taiwan. It was there that he became fluent in Chinese. But his family — wife Mary Kaye and their seven children, two of them adopted from Asia — are not strict Mormons, and he has never served in church leadership. More than a few eyebrows were raised in the church when Huntsman’s eldest daughter, Abigail, was married last year not in a Mormon temple, but at the National Cathedral by an Episcopal priest.

    Strike three.  Where to begin with this one?  It is hard enough for members of a faith to judge one another’s devoutness; now we thave the news media doing it?  What does “never served in church leadership” mean?  And if a Mormon’s child chooses not to follow his or her parents’ faith, are we supposed to draw conclusions about the parents’ own religious commitment?  Like those of all faiths, Mormon children do depart from the faith of their fathers.  This is not interesting or worthy of comment in the news media.

    In Utah, the hope is that two Mormons running at a time when the Democratic Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate is also LDS would make the church seem less exotic—something that is undoubtedly beneficial to Romney.

    Now Martin and Ball are in danger of being ejected from the ballpark.  ”In Utah, the hope is….”  Whose hope?  Are these two journalists able to divine the views of an entire state?

    I’ll close with some wisdom from none other than Karl Rove, who happened to be in Utah yesterday to speak at a political dinner:

    Rove, an Anglican who attended high school in Utah, believes the Mormon issue was overblown in 2008 and doesn’t think it will be much of a factor in 2012.

    “This makes me queasy,” he said of the close scrutiny the LDS religion got during Romney’s candidacy.

    “I think people do want to know what motivates any candidate for president, so they want to know what their faith is. But there’s a difference between wanting to identify someone’s faith and come to some sense about their authenticity and what happened to Romney, which was look at his faith and ‘let’s examine its tenets and hold them up for public scrutiny,’ ” he said. “It just makes me queasy.”

    (Emphasis added.)  Ball and Martin should pay attention to Rove.  Focusing on the religious tenets and commitment of presidential aspirants is problematic, to say the least.  Rather than delve into such distracting material, Politico should tell us something helpful about the candidates.

    John adds his two cents…

    Lord please save us from “make news” news.  When I read this piece I had one reaction – How come we have not read the same sort of article about, say, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee.  Both come with extraordinarily strong mainstream Christian credentials.  Professions of faith figure very strongly in both possibles bios.  Huckabee is well known and Pawlenty’s recent book at points reads like a spiritual autobiography, not a political one.

    Or consider Mitch Daniels and John Thune.  Both are professed Christians, men of deep and abiding faith.

    Do I have to go on?  This piece, and many like it (yes there is more than we have linked to this week – watch for Monday’s post) are, by their very existence in the absence of similar articles about others of differing faiths, religiously biased.

    Let’s return to the question we ask so often here – Suppose Al Sharpton entered the Democratic primary process for 2012.  Would be be treated to piece after piece about he and Obama and the black vote?  Would that not be considered somehow racist?  In fact, we do not have to suppose anymore.  Is not virtually any opposition offered against the president now charged with being racist? Articles about the role race may or may not have played in the election of Barack Obama as president seem to be verboten – I have not read one, have you?   The occassional passing reference, perhaps – but where is the polling?  The investigation?

    Certainly if the “Romney v Huntsman” question is legitimate for such an esteemed outlet as Politico to examine, so then should be the role of race in Obama’s last campaign.

    And let’s not even go to the place about the MSM doing whatever it can to damage the presupposed Republican frontrunner (Romney) as early as possible.  I mean there is just no way the MSM is politically biased, is there?  (Smirk, guffaw…)

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    Palin’s Big Week, Religious Attacks “Broaden,” and more…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:05 am, June 21st 2010     &mdash      3 Comments »

    The Canadians Think …

    the time is ripe.  And so, we should dive right in to the possibles.

    Palin Ascendant?

    Well, she did get herself a Newsweek cover.  GetReligion did not think much of the piece.  I have to agree, it was one of those MSM pieces that looks at religious people kind of like they are lined up at the sideshow on the midway at a state fair, you know – freaks.  But there are three things apparent from the coverage.

    For one, the sharp knives are out when it comes to evangelicals in general.  Frankly, the Newsweek piece is tame by comparison.  But there is a reason the knives are out.  Palin is an effective leader of a certain segment of people.  Identifying too closely with  that bunch pretty well concedes an actually POTUS candidacy, but it does make her an important political force, and ally.  Which is the second point.  Palin is simply not playing the game to run – but she may become the de facto voice of the religious right, which will prove very interesting as misogynist tendencies of our most fundamentalist religious relatives will become all too apparent.  I would not be at all surprised to see the Huckster play the gender card.  (BTW, the Huckster’s follower’s seem to have moved themselves into a very strange place.  Huckabee as fiscal conservative? I don’t think so.)  Since Huckabee seems to covet the that spokesperson role, and has shown a tendency to get nasty when things get tough, it would not surprise me.

    But the final point supports the second.  All POTUS roads on the Republican side keep leading to Romney.  The extensive comment stream on this Allahpundit post on Palin’s stance on legalization of pot leads to a discussion of Mormonism and, or course, Romney.  Amazing, but let’s follow the lead.

    Romney and His Faith

    I find it fascinating that as Romney works very hard for Nikki Haley in South Carolina, she is getting attacked on religion, not unlike he did last time around.  What’s fascinating is that Haley is conventionally Christian – but ethnically of Hindu extraction, which is what is cited when the rumors fly.  This makes it clear.  In South Carolina at least, you can save the arguments about genuine religious differences and worldviews and all the rest.  It’s just old fashioned bigotry.

    Here’s what I don’t get:  Why, if you are trying to say good things about Romney do you have to bring up ‘Twilight’ and Mormons?  Of course, sarcasm is a distinct possibility in this piece, but if it really is designed to be supportive, then it is like handing ammo to the enemy.  Romney’s credentials speak for themselves – LOUDLY.  He does not need comparisons to superhero romantic vampires, loosely based on Mormon community, to make the point.  Give it a rest.

    Apparently the CJCLDS’ Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) is playing the role of the Mormon anti-defamation league.  They are, in my opinion, a great information source and their work to dispel misconception and misunderstanding is excellent – but politics is a bare-knuckle game.  Their effort is perfect for a church based effort.  But there needs to be something extra-ecclesiastical that can play hardball.

    The Others

    Pawlenty keeps working hard, but just is not attracting attention save from the political geek crowd.

    The Daniels boomlet continues here and here, while dying here.  Like we said last week – he has blown the audition.

    I do not know whether to laugh or be outraged.

    Religious/Political Philosophy

    Noted Godblogger Scot McKnight notes that the average Evangelical is not as political as the press would have us think.  I disagree, the average Evangelical is politically fickle, but they are engaged.  They are chasing after something unattainable.  Which is what makes this Ross Douthat piece on “political romanticism” really interesting.  Douthat is using the term “political romantic,” the definition of which he borrows from David Runciman:

    What he most resembles, to an almost uncanny degree, is a particular kind of political romantic, as described by Carl Schmitt in his 1919 book Political Romanticism.

    For Schmitt, political romantics are driven not by the quest for pseudo-religious certainty, but by the search for excitement, for the romance of what he calls ‘the occasion’. They want something, anything, to happen, so that they can feel themselves to be at the heart of things. As a result, political romantics often lead complicated double lives, moving between different versions of themselves, experimenting with alternative personae. ‘Reversing one’s position between several realities and playing them off against one another belongs to the nature of the romantic situation,’ Schmitt writes. Political romantics are ostensibly self-sufficient yet also have a desperate need for human comradeship…

    They are both using this term to describe and argue with Christopher Hitchens and the ardent atheist crowd, but I have to tell you, when I read it so many Evangelicals came to my mind.  They are, after all, tearing Iowa apart.  Based largely on idealistic romanticism, not political practicality.  Look for the 2012 effects of the religious battles in Iowa to be that serious contenders sit it out.  Iowa is proving once again to be an outlier, not a trendsetter.

    Which is why, in part, the standard “attack the religious person” formula David Brody as delineated, is effective even inside Evangelicalism.  Being serious about things, including politics, matters.  Its not a search for the next romantic high.  Fortunately, even a leftie like Marc Ambinder wonders if we are not turning more rational.

    General Religious/Political Headlines

    Lowell adds . . .

    Describing Twilight as loosely based on Mormon community is a new one to me. And I am qualified to comment: I’m a Mormon and the father of a 13 year-old girl who has seen all the movies and read all the books. (I’ve only done so once; she’s read and seen them multiple times.) Folks, there is nothing in those stories that is even distantly reminiscent of Mormonism, except for the young couple’s sexual abstinence (something that the reviewers regularly mock). Mr. Quigley’s admitted speculation in that regard is just laughable.

    John, I think you should laugh about this one. Mr. Karger’s effort is simply offbeat (but brilliant) marketing. After this is all over the only difference he will have made is in the size of his client roster.

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