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."

  • Consistency Matters

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 10:44 am, January 22nd 2015     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    In ’05-’06 when the name Mitt Romney first emerged in the presidential lists, it was almost immediately slammed with the descriptor “Mormon.”  He never did escape it in the ’08 primaries and in ’12 it hung around like a bad penny though not so ever present.  Ben Carson has been circulating his own name in the ’16 cycle for quite a while now.  Granted, Carson is on the fringes of the contest, but he has been out there and ever present.  He is a darling within certain circles in conservatism.  And yet just today I learned he is a Seventh-Day Adventist.

    And don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against an Adventist running for, or even being, president.  It is just a matter of what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  Seventh-Day Adventism grew out of the same “burned over district” in western and central New York that Mormonism did.  But why is Romney’s Mormonism so well known and Carson’s Adventism so little known,=?

    Much of it, of course, has to do with the seriousness of that candidacies.  Romney was a major player from the outset, Carson will have to work very, very hard to get to the point where he is in the game as much as Romney was out of the starting blocks. Much of it, also, has to do with the fact that this blog and many other places have worked very hard to remove religious bias from the voting public.  But we have also been of limited success.  We have quelled the voices, but the results of the last election would indicate not so much the bias.

    But what is really amazing is that Carson’s popularity seems to be, at least in part, amongst people that found Romney’s Mormonism off putting.  Or did they?  Perhaps religion was an easy stick to grab for when the opposition was really more political in nature, but a losing argument?  If so, then deep shame is to be assigned.

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    The Long Knives Are Out – And Some Of Them Say “Mormon”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:05 am, January 16th 2015     &mdash      1 Comment »

    They seem to be lining up in opposition to Romney running again.

    Check out this MSM story or Allahpundit’s round-up of negative comments from Wednesday night for a taste.  Peggy Noonan, who was not exactly supportive of Romney in 2012, at least has a couple of reasonably novel arguments.

    And then there are those arguments based on faith.  Some of them are indirect.  It is hardly coincidence that this story on John Dehlin makes the NYTimes right now.  Our Mormon readers will know Dehlin.  For the benefit of our non-Mormon readers he is a very liberal individual that has been working very hard for many years to change the Mormon view on a variety of subjects.  He has come close to ex-communication several times in the past, the fact that he is there again is hardly newsy.  It has never made as prodigious an outlet as the NYTimes before.  One has to ask, “Why now?”  The story, of course, tries to paint the CJCLDS as “intolerant,” yada, yada, yada.  Smart people know what is up with this one.

    Then check out these political blogs – Bloomberg and Nate Cohn at the NYTimes:

    But a successful challenge to Mr. Bush from the right would have to involve winning a lot of these voters, even though they have been Mr. Romney’s biggest weakness. There is no viable anti-establishment coalition that does not include large percentages of evangelical Christians. Mr. Romney — a Northern Mormon with a history of moderate politics — has not been very effective at winning them over.

    We are not going to spend any time this morning analyzing this stuff.  Our rumor mill is percolating with babble of bigger Mormon arguments brewing on the very immediate horizon, but it certainly seems like “game on.”

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    The Only Candidate Ever To Overtly Play The Mormon Card

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:06 am, January 4th 2015     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    So, on his TV show yesterday, Mike Huckabee more or less announces his presidential bid.  As Jeb Bush before him, technically this is an exploratory move not and actual announcement, but seriously?  The guy just gave up his major income source – That’s a commitment.  His announcement made a lot more press than Santorum, but not so much as Jeb Bush.  That’s about right.  Look for Huckabee to make a big splash, but to little effect.

    Huckabee was one of the key elements that cost Romney the nomination in 2008.  He did so by overtly playing the Mormon card in a NYTimes interview in the run up to Iowa; therefore won Iowa, and robbed Romney of momentum he counted on to carry himself through.  When I reviewed our in-the-moment coverage of the interview, I found I had written this little gem about the Huckabee candidacy:

    It’s the non-substantive campaign. Elect a rock star.  I thought the Democrats were the only ones that did this….

    I cannot see anything, eight years later to change my analysis.  I find Huckabee’s timing interesting.  He sat out 2012 (After 2008 I am sure he did not want to compete with Romney again.), and now intends to be the GOP rock star in the tail of the ultimate rock star presidential comet on the Democratic side. He will be a media star.  Why?

    Well, for one he is willing to do things like play the Mormon card.  In other words he’ll give the press what they want.  Heck, he is almost by definition the pastiche of a GOP candidate that the media thinks a GOP candidate actually is – a little nutty religiously, demonstrably somewhat bigoted, Southern, white, and currently overweight. In places like MSNBC land (assuming they hang on through 2016) he will be THE GOP candidate – just not so much with actual GOP primary voters.  He might win a few, but the nomination?  Not likely.

    I believe in sacred callings, I really do, but this is how Huckabee announced he was leaving his show yesterday, “But I also realize that God hasn’t put me on Earth just to have a good time or to make a good living but rather God’s put me on Earth to try to make a good life.”  Invoking the Almighty as a reason to run for president is simply asking to be ridiculed by the left and portrayed as a religious nut bar.  Romney never said anything remotely like that, and he was the one that was, supposedly, from the religion that bred such religious nutcases.  George W. Bush, a man of deep personal religious devotion often discussed his faith but never claimed divine calling to the White House.  Is the presidency even necessary to “make a good life”?

    Make no mistake, Huckabee has considerable political gifts; that is why he will win a few.  But with voters truly fed-up with a president of seemingly enormous political skill and no substance, I find it hard to believe they will bite on this bit of bait.  He should have more resources than he had in 2008.  For one thing he personally has much more personal wealth, TV will do that.  TV should also give him a more deeply committed campaign core of volunteers than he enjoyed in 2008.  I expect him to perform better than he did in 2008, but that is still not winning, despite his much ballyhooed “second place.”

    In the end, this saddens me.  This is part of politics as circus.  Our nation is in deep, deep trouble.  We need serious candidates with serious solutions to serious issues.  We need a candidate that will elevate the voting public, not cater to their bias and thirst for infotainment.  There will be candidates, Santorum for example, that are there to represent a certain point-of-view.  They really are not there to win, but to make sure that a given constituency in the party has a voice.  That’s an act of generosity and sacrifice.  But then there are those that are there to boost their speaking fees, or because they have an over-inflated view of their own importance.  It is plain before our eyes what happens when the public takes seriously such candidates.

    Huckabee will be part of shaping this race. 2008 proved he has that capability.  The question is will he use that capability to the betterment of the nation?  He did not in 2008.  He handed us John McCain – a weak candidate.  Could Romney have beaten Obama in 2008?  Probably not, if he could not beat him in 2012, it is unlikely that he could have beaten in in ’08 when Obama was an entirely unknown quantity.  But I do believe Romney would have left Republicans in a stronger position after the ’08 election than McCain did.

    I will conclude this post by asking a simple question about the Megan Keely clip below.  Faux Pas or Freudian Slip?

     

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    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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    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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    Very Confused Thinking In Opposition to Traditional Marriage

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:25 am, November 19th 2014     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Religion Dispatches is a web site we have monitored regularly at this web site since its inception.  It has a very liberal agenda and indiscriminately attacks religion in pursuit of that agenda.  It arose after Prop 8 in California.  While it rarely attacked Romney directly, it has been after Mormonism tooth and toenail since its founding.

    A piece appeared there today, that has echoed a bit, that I find stunning.  Using the recent admission by the CJCLDS that Joseph Smith did practice polygamy as a springboard for the discussion, the gang at RD “reveals” that polygamy is still an active part of Mormon theology through the doctrine of celestial marriage.  Therefore, of course, Mormons should be excluded from any serious discussion on marriage – especially the conference that is happening at the Vatican this week, which has featured the likes of Rick Warren and Russell Moore.

    That the Mormon concept of celestial marriage allows for polygamy in the hereafter is not news.  Anybody that takes more than a minute or two to learn about Mormon teaching will know this.  And what, exactly, does what a particular religion believes happens to marriage in the hereafter have to do with a discussion of marriage in the here-and-now?  Many of the  Christian expressions that are participating in the conference do not believe marriage exists at all in the hereafter.  Does that disqualify them from discussing marriage in the here-and-now as well?  The discussion simply is not about eternity, it is about this life and this place and the marriages that are present in it.

    There is one interesting tidbit from the discussion.  It seems clear that they intend to avoid the slippery slope of same-sex marriage leading to polygamy and bestiality and other aberrant forms of marriage by relying on the old tried and true “polygamy hurts women while same-sex marriage produces no harm.”  That is so ignorant of history as to not even be funny.  It must be remembered that historically, marriage was a woman’s means of obtaining property, wealth, standing and security in a society.  Even in our egalitarian age there is no doubt that a successful marriage produces greater economic stability than the alternatives.  Polygamy arose in the Old Testament as a means of providing security to women that otherwise were without prospects.  Polygamy as traditionally practiced in the Old Testament was far from an act of oppression and was instead an act of grace and mercy.

    But then if ones concept of marriage would permit same-sex marriage, this glaring misunderstanding  of historical polygamy is not surprising.  Theirs is a view of marriage based solely on the legitimization of sexual activity, not in the concepts of bonding, covenant, reproduction, or economic activity.

    So let me sum up their argument.  A church that used to, but no longer, practice polygamy (which includes them all by the way) has no standing to discuss same-sex marriage because they still think plural marriage exists in heaven.   That’s not an argument, that’s attempting to play “peek-a-boo” with a ten-year-old.  It’s just not working.  As the aforementioned peek-a-boo game reveals only how little the adult understands of a ten-year-old, this discussion reveals how little these particular proponents of same-sex marriage understand about serious, committed traditional marriage.

    Don’t you think you should fully understand something before you attempt to change it completely?

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