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."

  • When It Is The Only Weapon You Have….

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:00 am, November 5th 2012     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Forgive me an extended metaphor that indulges my personal enthusiasms.

    As a near lifelong fan of the superhero comic, one of the more amazing aspects of comicdom has been the military’s continued efforts to try and beat the Hulk.  They, in the form of “Hulkbuster” General Ross, never quite get the message.  Particularly in the early days.  When I was a kid, month-after-month, Ross would send tanks (the mightiest weapons in the Army’s cache, save nukes and well nukes made the Hulk to begin with, so bad idea.)  out to try and get a handle on the nation’s “Hulk problem.”  Month-after-month, the Hulk would tear through the tanks like a hot knife through butter.  All the tanks would ever end up doing is that their fight would serve to distract the Hulk, momentarily, from the really ginormous super-baddie he was fighting, unbeknownst to the myopic Ross, and thus give that ginormous super-baddie enough of an edge that it would look like he had a shot at beating the unbeatable Hulk.

    Not to mention the fact that watching the Hulk tear through a squad of tanks like they were children’s playthings was just flat out entertaining.  That is the biggest of the reasons why writers and artists put such scenes in the comics month-after-month-after-month.  Despite the fact he was a dullard by even dullard standards, the sub-lingual green-and-purple monster would find the most creative ways to “smash” the tanks.  The Hulk raised tank wreckage to an art form.

    The first modern-era Hulk movie, directed by Ang Lee, was quite a disappointment.  For most it was because it had few echoes of the Bill Bixby starring TV show of the ’70′s, which was how most people knew the character.  I did not think it was a great, even good really, superhero movie, but I was not nearly so disappointed as the average movie goer,  That film contained homage to the old, old comics that fanboys like me just loved – It had a scene where the Hulk did his tank thing.  It was a truly lovely thing to behold – and the lack of such a scene was the biggest weakness in the otherwise much improved Ed Norton-led reboot.  Having gone on for three paragraphs now, I find I must relive that tank smashing scene – it is just too much fun.

    Why, Oh Why Am I Carrying On So About The Hulk?

    Well, I could not help but think about it as I read through things over the weekend.  As it is becoming increasingly apparent that Mitt Romney will be elected president on Tuesday, his opponents are coming at him with the same weapons that have failed repeatedly throughout the campaign.  While a Romney victory is nowhere near as sure as the Hulk against tanks, tank busting images filled my mind as we saw the Mormon issue roll out one more time.  The Mormon “attacks” came in all sorts of forms.

    There was the slightly subtle, as this from CNN:

    Should Mitt Romney win the presidency next Tuesday, it will mark an historic first: a Mormon couple moving into the White House.

    What would this mean and look like?

    Would there be “dry” state dinners, since faithful Mormons don’t do alcohol? Would Secret Service tag along to sacred ceremonies only open to worthy church members? What book would a President Mitt Romney use to take his oath of office?

    We can’t be absolutely sure about all the answers. But if the practices and homes of devout Mormons like the Romneys – not to mention his history as governor of Massachusetts – are any indication, we can begin to paint a picture of what a Romney-inhabited White House might look like.

    This piece is simply inane.  It asks questions about whether the Romney’s will put pictures of Jesus on the walls in the White House, and whether coffee will be served.  That’s just childish – and at this point in the campaign irritating – like such questions have not be asked and answered about a billion and one times.  And the mention of alcohol at state dinners – let me make this very clear.  I have been to Romney events where I have personally handed my scotch to a guy while I went up and had my picture taken with the Governor.  It’s not an issue.

    There are also the less that subtle, but still appearing to be reasonable attacks.  In this case the NYTimes:

    On radio and on his Internet network, the influential conservative pundit Glenn Beck frequently invokes God, religious freedom and the founding fathers, but he does not regularly discuss his own Mormon faith.

    [...]

    But as perhaps the best-known Mormon after the Republican presidential candidate and a major influence on evangelical Christians, Mr. Beck has emerged as an unlikely theological bridge between the first Mormon presidential nominee and a critical electorate.

    This piece is actually nothing short of an effort to undo what Romney has worked so hard to accomplish – to define himself fully – not simply as “a Mormon.”  It is not the kind of sophomoric garbage that CNN engaged in, but it really is too little too late.  The genie is out of the bottle, and they are not going to get to stuff him back in it.  In the end the piece is an attempt to explain the enormous support Romney is getting from the Evangelical community which is something we will return to in a minute.

    WaPo is trying to make very old news new again – discussing a Romney radio interview from last cycle.

    Many of those spreading the video were liberals, such as Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, who retweeted the link twice and called it “MUST SEE TV.”

    ‘Nuff Said.

    From England we get the not-subtle-in-any-way, maybe even offensive, attack:

    US Elections: How Mormon Mitt Romney overcame the curse of magic underpants

    The piece is yet another attempt to explain Romney’s evangelical support, but with a headline like that, give me a break here.

    Which brings us to the divisive attack.  National Journal attempts to paint the evangelical support as tepid:

    Even some religious conservative leaders came to Romney’s defense, pointing to the stark contrast between him and a Democratic president who champions abortion rights, wants health insurance plans to cover birth control, and backs same-sex marriage. Still, among rank-and-file Christian voters, the default level of enthusiasm and grassroots activity may not be enough to tip the Nov. 6 election. “Social conservatives will vote for him, but I don’t think the passion is there for Mitt Romney,” says Republican strategist Patrick Davis, who lives here. “I’m not seeing as much fervor to make phone calls and knock on doors. He wasn’t their first choice.” The Romney campaign’s challenge is to boost excitement on the Christian Right as much as possible without alienating undecided, more-moderate voters.

    Last Thursday we looked at the differences between who the press likes to call “Evangelicals” in the primary and who are “Evangelicals” in the general.  It seems to me that this piece is written with the primary definition in mind, not the general.  Of course there are Evangelicals that are tepid on Romney, but are they the majority? – Not even close, even if feared whisper campaigns take off.

    One of the things we mentioned briefly last week was the Evangelicalism is a movement inside Christianity, it is not a religion or even a denomination unto itself.  That movement is alive and well inside Catholicism, and as we have said several time, the Catholics have taken the lead in this election cycle over the Focus on the Families of the world.  We see this in little ways like the Conference of Bishops launching a religious freedom website and in bigger ways as Andrew Malcolm documents:

    As a result of what Catholic church leaders regard as some blatant double-dealing by the Democrat president on his ObamaCare regulations, the church has quietly launched a massive national information campaign among millions of church faithful.

    Catholics are famously independent when it comes to their votes. Even if they were voting simply by religion, both vice presidential nominees are Roman Catholics, the first such time in U.S. history.

    However, in such an apparently close contest, the switch of even a few hundred thousand votes in the right states could well suck sufficient ballots away from Obama to swing next Tuesday’s election toward the Republican ticket.

    One of the nice things about having a cross-denominational movement is that such things radiate through the movement and not through more traditional labels the press would have us think about.  The very minority “tepid” Evangelicals have a hard time sharing their movement with Catholics, just like they do with Mormons.  But the vast majority of Evangelicals share a bond with the Catholics through the movement and that is a potent and mighty force indeed.  But Obama, his supporters and his willing allies in the press just do not get this.

    And so, like General Ross, they roll out the tanks one more time and expect them to work because they just do not understand what they are up against.  The Mormon weapon lost its potency once the primaries were over – that is a simple numerical and demographic reality.  Once the primaries were over the vast majority of Evangelicals who are center-right and not the fire-breathing, hell-and-damnation spouting radicals of the imaginations of the fevered left, came into play.   Evangelical energy from this moderate majority, Catholic, Protestant and independent coalesced in light of two enormous strategic mistakes by the Obama administration  – the HHS ruling and support of same-sex marriage.

    But to change tactics and try new and different weapons would mean they would have to admit they were wrong to begin with.  What is Proverbs 16:18 again?  Oh yeah:

    Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

    That was ALWAYS General Ross’ issue.

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Prejudice, Religious Bigotry, Understanding Religion | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Tell Me Again Who Has A Problem With Religious Tolerance!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 03:16 pm, November 1st 2012     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Fox News:

    The reverend and civil rights advocate who gave the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration suggested at a recent Obama re-election rally that he thinks white people are going to hell — though he later said it was just a joke.

    The Rev. Joseph Lowery spoke at a rally Saturday in Georgia. According to an account in the Monroe County Reporter, “Lowery said that when he was a young militant, he used to say all white folks were going to hell. Then he mellowed and just said most of them were.

    “Now, he said, he is back to where he was,” according to the newspaper.

    A joke?  Really?  Last time I looked it was not funny to suggest people would spend eternity in condemnation.  And just to show the total embrace Obama has given this “gentleman”:

    Lowery was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama.

    There you go.  You want awards from the President, just condemn an entire race to hell.  Suddenly Mike Huckabee looks really smart and tolerant.

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    Posted in Prejudice, Religion and Race, Understanding Religion | 2 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    The Mormon Card – A New Theory; and Doonesbury Joins In

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:20 am, October 8th 2012     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Last week’s anti-Mormon push polling scandal seems to have died quite rapidly.  This is not surprising – such reporting is always anecdotal in nature and absent evidence of a bigger picture, it just has nowhere to go.  It is the opinion of some in the punditry community that the Mormon issue has been sufficiently delegitimized that we are not going to see it – though we have been insisting here that we will see it simply out of desperation and a lack of other ammunition on the part of Mitt Romney’s opponents.

    There are three reasons we continue to hold to that theory right now.

    (1) There remains within the conservative movement a number of reluctant Romney voters whose reluctance is religiously based.  There are too many pieces like this and this dealing with that reluctance that portray Romney as a less than ideal candidate, but the best alternative.  That is a tempting opening for a political opponent to exploit.

    (2) Among the far left, in the wake of Prop 8 animus towards Mormons is extraordinary.  Just because the public demonstrations and vandalism and violence have died down it does not mean the sentiment has.  One need only haunt the sites in the LGBT community or hardcore left like the Democratic Underground to know this.

    (3) Inside the liberal bubble, religion generally is considered an acceptable place for mockery and derision.  The distinctives within the Mormon faith make it a particularly easy target for such mockery.  Witness Newsbusters description of a Stephen Colbert interview on NPR.

    That said, however, everyday we grow closer to the election and the Mormon card is not played is a day that proves us, gratefully, wrong.  With the election now officially less than a month away I find myself wondering what if I am wrong and they are right?  What if the card does not get played in the election?

    Well, with regards to the issues inside conservatism nothing will make them go away completely like a Romney victory and successful governance on his part.  Conservatives are going to respect it if it works.  If Romney loses, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a great deal of Mormon backlash, albeit civil, inside the conservative movement and the Republican party  But the post-debate polling trends are making that look increasingly unlikely.  (Not to mention the absolutely feckless governance by the current occupant of the White House.)

    What I am far more worried about in terms of ugly anti-Mormonism is a Romney win.  There is so much ugliness inside the left-bubble, particularly on this issue, that once they lose their chosen one their reactions will be less than kind.  Once action starts to occur inside the government with which they disagree, and without the constraints of trying to re-elect their chosen one, the Mormon Card may become an oft-wielded weapon in their opposition.  I would expect every conservative action on the part of a Romney administration to be met with shouts of “Watch Salt Lake City,” and “theocracy.”  We saw a goodly amount of the latter with George W. Bush and I think it could only get worse with Romney.

    Is it too early to worry about what is going to happen after the election? Probably, and it is certainly too early to be distracted for an all out effort to elect Mitt Romney.  Just thought it was time to point that if we get to the election without the Mormon card being played, it does not mean it is not still in the deck.

    Lowell adds: Doonesbury joins in the faith-mocking

    My guess is that John is right and that neither candidate’s faith will be a significant visible factor in the campaign. In a very close election, we may never know whether diehard orthodox Christians stayed home on election day, or whether independent voters paid any attention at all to Obama’s relationship with Jeremiah Wright. In other words, faith probably won’t be a decisive factor.

    That doesn’t mean faith won’t be discussed among people who are of the same mind. People on the left will still talk to and agree with each other about Romney’s Mormonism, something they love to do.

    For example, in today’s Doonesbury cartoon Garry Trudeau mocks Romney’s service as a full-time missionary in France, over 40 years ago.  This raises the usual questions:

    • Would Trudeau ever mock Joe Lieberman’s Jewishness, or (heaven forbid!) any Muslim’s faith?  I doubt it, but I hope readers will correct me if I am wrong.
    • Same question about Obama’s association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  Can you imagine it?
    • And by the way, I wonder if Trudeau sees anything worthy of mockery in Obama’s activities at the age of 19 or 20?

    Of course, this Doonesbury bit appears in Slate, which is an online echo chamber for the left.  I doubt Trudeau or his work has influenced many voters in the last 30 years, but he does provide an interesting window into the double standard liberals apply to religion and politics.

    Meanwhile, thanks to reader Prof. Dan Peterson, we have this brief commentary from Robert George about the Catholic push poll John writes about above.  Maybe it was push-back like George’s that caused the push-pollers to slither back into the swamp they came from.

    AFTERNOON UPDATE: Stay classy, Obama fans!

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    The Dirtiest Of Dirty Tricks…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:19 am, October 2nd 2012     &mdash      4 Comments »

    The Push Poll.

    A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll. Push polls may rely on innuendo or knowledge gleaned from opposition research on an opponent. They are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning.[1]. This tactic is commonly considered to undermine the democratic process as false or misleading information is provided about candidates.

    By pretending to take data, the “pollster” can pass on all sorts of nastiness to “test” the interviewee’s reaction.  We saw this tactic last cycle in the primary to play the Mormon card, though we were never able to pin down who was behind it.   I still suspect it was a Huckabee supporting group of some sort, but the Huckabee camp insists to this day that Romney was behind it precisely so he could use it to cast aspersions Huckabee’s way.  This latter charge is just way too Machiavellian for me to even get my head around really.  The tactic, based on deception, is bad enough all by itself, but in a situation like the one that developed in the ’08 primary it becomes a definite two-edged sword, its use can backfire severely.

    And so now we come to this cycle and this report from USNews:

    Catholics are a key demographic in the upcoming election. In fact, they may be the key demographic.

    In most every presidential contest since the end of World War II, the candidate who carried the Catholic vote won the election.

    [...]

    With most of the national polls showing the race to be one or two points either way, the fight over the Catholic vote is heating up.

    OK, let’s stop there for a minute.  The piece now breaks down into a long discussion about the legitimacy of some action by a Catholic pro-life groups, and whether the church is becoming too politicized and too partisan.  Such stories have been springing up for a while now which is, given the Obama administrations assault on the Catholic Church in the form of the HHS rule, unsurprising.  The rule is so audacious in its violation of the first amendment that the only possible defense for it is to try and denounce the legitimacy of the church.

    But after that lengthy attempt to delegitimize the Catholic opposition to Obama, we run into this:

    On Wednesday Hudson also revealed that a group calling itself Catholics for Obama had been making push poll phone calls in support of the president’s re-election bid. Among the questions being asked, he said, was “How can you support a ‘Mormon’ who does not believe in Jesus Christ?”

    The phone banker making the call, which in this case went to a woman Hudson identifies as “the head of a pro-life committee at a parish I know” reportedly also asserted that “President Obama did not support abortion” and that Planned Parenthood “helps children get healthcare and prenatal care and does not promote abortion.” In fact, the group is one of the nation’s largest abortion providers.

    Ahhh, now things get interesting.  Like most reports on push polling, this is anecdotal.  We have no idea how widespread the practice is or if it is just an incident of a single phone banker going off script, but the USNews reporting is telling.  They spend most of the article questioning the legitimacy of pro-Romney Catholics based on church claims of political neutrality, reserving reports of genuine and utterly disreputable politicking on Obama’s behalf until very near the end of the story.

    I mean, come on – push polling is disreputable on its face and playing the Mormon card while using such a disreputable tactic undermines a good deal of what makes this nation great -  and they want to talk about the debatable boundaries of reputable political actions in the name of the church?!?!?!  This is what passes for “balanced” reporting?

    Why is it that this scene from the Wizard of Oz keeps coming to mind?  But in reality things are much worse than they may seem.  With stories like this the misdirection, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” is no longer being used to divert us simply from the awful foreign policy of this administration, or the fiscal policy that has the nation on the verge of another recession.  Nope, now they are trying to misdirect us from unethical and disreputable campaigning.

    We said the Mormon card was going to be played and played ugly.  Well, here it is about as ugly as it gets.  Of course, Obama is covered in all sorts of plausible deniability, but the key question is will he provide corrective to his supporters.  Will we get a statement from Obama saying that push-polling is not to be used and the Mormon card is not to be played?

    I don’t think so, that would require more character than this guy has.

    Addendum a few moments later

    They want to argue about how partisan the Catholic church is?

    It’s not just the collection plate that’s getting passed around this fall at hundreds of mainly African-American and Latino churches in presidential battleground states and across the nation.

    Exhorting congregations to register to vote, church leaders are distributing registration cards in the middle of services, and many are pledging caravans of “souls to the polls” to deliver the vote.

    Like I said, misdirection.

    Good to know addendum a few hours later

    From First Things:

    The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights has condemned the anti-Mormon bigotry of these calls in the strongest possible terms. All Catholics should join in the condemnation. I don’t know who is behind these calls, but the Obama campaign should, in all decency, immediately try to figure it out and shut them down.

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    Posted in News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Prejudice, Religious Bigotry, Religious Freedom | 4 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Meanwhile, In The Background, Reason To Not Lose Heart

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:24 am, September 15th 2012     &mdash      3 Comments »

    I suppose it could be argued that the MSM efforts to suppress what is happening in the Middle East and the fecklessness of the current administration in face of it all, that the Middle East issue is, in fact, “the background.”  But I just don’t believe that the American people are that blind.   They see what is happening and they see how the administration is responding, er, NOT responding and they are deeply troubled.  I cannot tell you how many people have said to me in the last two days, “The press doesn’t get it!  Don’t they see what is happening?”  I have heard that so much that I cannot lose heart as so many seem to want to do.  When that many people see the truth and are that adamant about it, those hiding in delusion are on the brink of disaster.

    As Lee Smith said at the Weekly Standard:

    It was bad enough, two years ago, that Defense Secretary Robert Gates called fringe Florida pastor Terry Jones to ask him not to burn copies of the Koran, or last week, that chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey took his turn to call Jones to ask him to stop publicizing a YouTube video, The Innocence of Muslims. But then on Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told the world that the violent protests in Cairo and Ben­ghazi and elsewhere were a “response not to United States policy, and not obviously the administration or the American people,” but were “in response to a video, a film we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.” Carney repeated the point for emphasis: “This is not a case of protests directed at the United States at large or at U.S. policy, but in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.”

    Carney’s comments lie outside the range of plausible spin, even by Obama administration standards, and if his bosses believe them—as we fear they do—are simply delusional.

    Steven Hayward at Powerline tells us that by all account the State Department is in chaos.  (You know, I have always thought we would be better off with Hillary Clinton as president rather than Obama, but these reports make me wonder.  Or is it simply a matter that Obama does not give his Cabinet members sufficient autonomy to run a good department in the face of his total inability to do the job?  It is going to be fascinating to read the history on this one.)  The country and presidency will survive this, though a great deal of rebuilding will be necessary, but I said the other day that I wondered if the Democrat party would survive Barack Obama and I find myself now wondering if the MSM will survive.

    I simply cannot believe what Mark Halperin posted on his Friday appearance on Morning Joe.   The conversation starts with Scarborough, nominally a conservative, saying:

    Conservative intelligentsia is — has turned on him and there are some things that they will not say publicly, there are some things that they will not write publicly, but behind the scene, they’re all talking Dole ’96, George H.W. Bush ’92. This past week they’ve really, privately written this guy off despite the fear and loathing that they have about a second Obama term.

    Come on Joe!  – Name some names here.  Those “conservative intelligentsia” are probably about as conservative as you are.  Give me a break here.  Who in their right mind could write off Mitt Romney when the Obama administration is falling apart before our very eyes.  There is an election in less than two months and unlike Nero, whose resemblance the president is gaining moment by moment, Obama can, and will, be removed.

    This is not time to lose heart.  Stop listening to the press and stop reading polls that are clearly intended to alter opinion rather than measure it.  If they continue down this path of turning a blind eye to the utter failings of the current administration they will only hasten their already rapid demise.  Why buck the tide?  Let’s speed things up and simply stop consuming, even for a moment, the crap they are spewing.   If the Los Angeles Times, which I stopped reading in 200o because all pretense of journalistic integrity disappeared in the Bush v Gore cycle,  survives this election cycle as anything other than a distributor of supermarket inserts, I will be shocked.  The way things are going right now the protective bubble around the west side liberals that has kept the rag barely afloat to date is going to have to burst.  Reality has a way of breaking through our delusions and it is happening right now.

    Besides, on what is supposed to be Romney’s weakest flank, religion, things are looking pretty good.  Paul Ryan gave a great speech at the VVS yesterday and Romney did pretty well tooStephen Mansfield had a great op-ed in USAToday this past week:

    Even so, with these concerns laid aside, many voters might not recognize an often undervalued feature of the faith: How it might help a Mormon lead in the Oval Office. This possibility arises from the emphasis the faith places upon patriotism, civic duty and morality in government — American government in particular.

    These civic virtues spring from the fact that Mormonism is more a religion of America and about America than any other religion. In fact, some scholars, such as the late UCLA historian Fawn Brodie, see Mormonism as little more than the values and symbols of America spun into a religion. This, they say, is what has made the saints of recent decades such super patriots, and it could also be what could make a Mormon candidate for president an attractive choice.

    I would phrase that a bit differently – Mormons are today what mainline Protestants were a few decades ago – the keepers of the American dream.  That makes them the perfect group to lead us all as we try to rebuild this nation from the disaster that has been wrought by the current administration.

    Noted theologians, especially of the Baptist variety, are pointing out important things:

    “The Kingdom is not riding on whatever happens on election day and the church’s mission isn’t going to change regardless of what happens … on Election Day,” said Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Tuesday.

    Yes, folks that Al Mohler – he made our “bad guys” list, at least provisionally, last cycle.  Oh there is news even more delicious than that!  World Magazine – founded and published by the biggest anti-Mormon bigot on the right Joel Belz, had this to say this week:

    Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is shaping up to be more of an oddity than an obstacle in the minds of 2012 American voters, even among evangelicals.

    The piece is not exactly a ringing endorsement of Romney, but it does indicate the bursting of a protective bubble on the far right.  If that bubble can burst, so can the one on the left, which I believe we are witnessing at this very moment.  And the final bit of news is the most ironic of all:

    It seems that returned Mormon missionaries make good U.S. ambassadors.

    President Barack Obama this week nominated Robert S. Beecroft, a Brigham Young University graduate who served a two-year LDS Church mission to Argentina, as the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq. From 2008 to 2011, Beecroft was the ambassador to Jordan.

    The article goes on to point out that ambassador to Kuwait is Mormon, and leave us not forget former Obama ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Mormon.  Go ahead Mr. Obama, play the Mormon card, I triple dog dare you – it’ll just make you look more foolish than you look at this moment, and that is pretty doggone foolish.

    Nope, now is not the time to be disheartened.  We’re winning, the press, often the last to the party, just have not figured it out yet becasue they do not want to.  That’s their problem, not ours.  Ours is to ignore their delusion and press the case.  Yesterday I advised an acquaintance that was very upset at the coverage of the foreign policy meltdown to go to MittRomney.com, hit the “Get Involved” tab and get busy.  Stop talking and listening to people inside the bubble and start engaging people outside of it.  There are certainly enough of us that live in the real world to win this election.  Who cares if the press and the pollsters come along kicking and screaming, we will still carry the day and return the nation to where it is supposed to be.

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    Posted in News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Prejudice, Reading List, Religious Bigotry, Religious Freedom | 3 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Mormon friends: time to explain to us.

    Posted by: JMReynolds at 11:04 am, September 11th 2012     &mdash      19 Comments »

    Glenn Beck did a show the other day explaining Mormonism.

    That was a helpful start, but more is needed.

    Since Mr. Romney is being attacked by know-nothings like Richard Dawkins for his Mormon faith, this is a good time for my Mormon friends to explain and defend their distinctive doctrines. This is not the role for a candidate, but it should be job for his co-religionists and friends.

    This is not because a President should have to do so, but because it is a good that can come from the bigoted bad. Education cannot harm us. Dawkins must be answered, but in a thoughtful way. He excludes Mormons from a free man’s consideration using a simple argument that will persuade a few.

    Dawkins lives in a simple world where all religion is a hoax. His attacks on Joseph Smith’s revelation are no different than his attacks on the Christian apostles. The only thing that exists for Mr. Dawkins are those things he can dream of doing. He knows no power, diabolic or divine, apart from matter and energy. Mr. Dawkins claim is that anyone who “swallows” Mormonism is too irrational to be President.

    Any other religious believer tempted to agree should remember Mr. Dawkins says the same of them. Of course, more than a few philosophers have found Dawkins’ idea that mind can be reduced to meat absurd. Intuitions of the absurdity of an opponent’s views are not hard to generate and untrustworthy!

    I am not a Mormon, nor do I play one on television, but if I were called on to explain Mormonism and what makes it different I would begin with Joseph Smith, because to this outsider the claims of Mormonism begin with him. What are we to make of Joseph Smith?

    For too long, Americans have accepted the ludicrous judgment of Mark Twain and others about Joseph Smith as a simple huckster or conman. He was a complex figure and at the very least a literary genius. No American has written (or at the very least translated) a work read by more people on the planet. Most Americans I know know nothing of his life or what they “know” is false or contentious.

    If I understand LDS claims correctly, Joseph Smith is not viewed as “perfect.” He is not, after all, the Christ. He was (to paraphrase the description in my favorite biography of Joseph Smith) a rough stone. He died for his convictions, murdered by an American mob. That death, at least, should give pause to those who would merely shout down Mormonism.

    This is a good moment for Mormons to encourage a more responsible dialogue about their faith. My own judgment about Joseph Smith will not be agree with my Mormon neighbor, but it also rejects Dawkins’ prejudices0. My culture taught me that Mormonism did not pass the bar of minimum rationality required from our leaders in a Republic. I examined Mormonism and its history and found a community intent on building schools, doing apologetics, and practicing republican forms of government successfully.

    My conclusion:

    Mormonism may be wrong, but one need not be irrational to hold it. LDS scholars defend their beliefs ably using thoughtful arguments.

    As a result, being a Mormon should not disqualify a man or woman from consideration for the highest office in the land even if Mormon distinctive doctrines are wrong (even very wrong).

    John Chimes In…

    Sadly I must disagree, to an extent, with my co-blogger, and that is dangerous ground for he is both better educated and smarter than I am.  I certainly do not disagree that Mormons should be at the forefront of this campaign – wrote about that extensively on Saturday.  I certainly do not disagree that, “This is not the role for a candidate, but it should be job for his co-religionists and friends.”  I would remind my co-blogger that there are organizations out there devoted to that very effort.  Not to mention an entire institute at BYU.  Many are those devoted to the role JMR discusses and they have been at it since long before Mitt Romney thought about being president.

    Where I disagree is this phrase, “…this is a good time for my Mormon friends to explain and defend their distinctive doctrines.”  JMR himself says, “Dawkins lives in a simple world where all religion is a hoax. His attacks on Joseph Smith’s revelation are no different than his attacks on the Christian apostles.” [empahsis added]  Dawkins arguments are against Mormonism because due to the presidential election, Mormonism is in the spotlight.  Dawkins does not seek to attack Mormonism any more than he does any other religion – what Dawkins seeks is first an audience and secondly to ridicule religion in all its guises.

    From Dawkins perspective, even as JMR describes it, the discussion of  Mormon distinctives is an INTRAreligious discussion, it is not really part of the discussion between those of faith and those without it.  It is the discussion between those of faith and those without it that is paramount at this point.  If I am Mormon, or Evangelical, or Orthodox, I respond to Dawkins attacks on Joseph Smith with, “Why Richard, that is no different than your attacks on Peter and Paul.  You just don’t like people that believe in a supernatural and change the world based on that belief.  Let’s talk about that.”  Thus we draw the debate to where it really needs to be at this juncture.

    JMR says it so well, “The only thing that exists for Mr. Dawkins are those things he can dream of doing. He knows no power, diabolic or divine, apart from matter and energy.”  That and that only is the essential debate of this time.  For if there is only matter and energy then government really is the ultimate authority and Obama is somewhat justified in being as I described him this morning, “a self-absorbed, egomaniacal, ingrate of a human being.”  But if there is in fact a supernatural, one that endows us with rights, the that is the ultimate authority, and the government exists to preserve the rights that are granted to us by that authority.  such is the fundamental question of America and it is the essential question on the table in this election cycle.  We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from it.

    Now is not the time for a Mormon or an Evangelical apologist – now is the time for a Mormon apologist and an Evangelical apologist and an Orthodox apologist and a Roman Catholic apologist to stand together and say to Richard Dawkins, “We will not take your detours into intrareligious argumentation.  We will stand together to protect the ideals under which the nation was founded.”

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