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."

  • It Is No Longer About Same Sex Marriage

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:05 am, June 29th 2013     &mdash      1 Comment »

    On Thursday we noted that the Prop 8 ruling by SCOTUS was a “baby splitter” and that its effectiveness relied on both sides having mutual respect for each other and the law.  As same sex marriage resumed in California yesterday, it is clear such is not the case.  News about the legal problems are hard to find.  From the article just linked:

    John Eastman, a professor of law at Chapman University and the director of the Center of Constitutional Jurisprudence, told KPCC’s Nick Roman that the appeals court jumped the gun Friday. Under Supreme Court rules, a 25-day period is normally required to allow the losing party to petition for a rehearing.

    “I’ve had a number of people asking me about legal recourse and quite frankly I’ve been telling them it’s hard to recommend legal recourse when what’s happening here is just such utter lawlessness,” Eastman said.

    “There’s a reason we have a petition for rehearing. Sometimes courts get decisions wrong, and a petition for rehearing can point out errors in the court’s decision,” Eastman said.

    And from CNN:

    But there is legal uncertainty whether the high court’s ruling could be enforced statewide, or limited to only a few jurisdictions.

    A bit of explanation may be in order.  Firstly, what cleared the way for the marriages to occur yesterday was that the appeals court lifted the order stopping same-sex marriage, that it issued in the wake of the controversial district court ruling.  This is what Eastman is talking about.  The second point is a bit more complex.  A federal district court has limited jurisdiction, over only part of the state – it has no authority to make a ruling over all of California.  This means that when Jerry Brown ordered the resumption of same sex marriage statewide, those portions of the state not under the jurisdiction of the district court that issued the ruling are technically in violation of the California State constitution.

    What’s going on, effectively, is exactly what Eastman said – lawlessness.  No one is respecting the law right now.  It simply does not matter.

    The closest analogy that I can come up with to where we are right now is Prohibition.  But even then government officials who very well may have had a drink in a speakeasy the night before went through the motions of enforcing and respecting the law – they did not openly defy it.  They may have personally and clandestinely disobeyed it, but their public and office actions DID NOT hold the law in disregard.  What is happening in California right now does just that – it holds the law and legal procedure in utter and complete disregard.

    And bear in mind, the law that has been summarily dismissed here is not mere legislative action, something of which one could reasonably assert the actions of an out-of-touch ruling class.  Rather this is foundational, constitutional law passed by a direct vote of the citizenry.  The proposition process has resulted in all sorts of nonsense over the decades – the legalization of marijuana being the latest.  But ask yourself this question – suppose the sheriff in county x in Colorado decided he disagreed with the proposition as passed and continued to bust dopers with much public fanfare and energy.  Would the state police arrest the sheriff?  What if the governor agreed with the sheriff and ordered no action on the part of state officialdom.  Would the dopers go to war with the sobers in the county?

    The question now is what other law shall we decide, without process, may be disposed of?  Given the parties and issues immediately involved, one fears deeply about the laws regarding religious freedom.

    The nation faces a deep and fundamental crisis.

    I have been reflecting of late on how we got here.  We got here in no small part because conservatives deeply respect reason and the law while our opponents are willing to push the boundaries of those things beyond recognition.  To respond in kind is, on our part, to cease to be conservative.  Meeting our opponents on their own terms, tempting though it is, means they win.  We cannot go there.  And yet, as Eastman points out, legal recourse seems to evade us.  Can we allow mob rule?

    Of course not, but we may very well have to let the energy of this particular mob dissipate of its own accord.  Patience is a virtue, and there may yet be method to the Supreme Court’s seeming madness.  It may be that California will serve, as it has so often in the past, as exemplar for the rest of the nation – even if this time it is in the wrong direction.

    In the book “World War Z” (the movie was nothing like the book), it is eventually decided that the only way to save the world is to withdraw to defensible positions, and that they cannot try to take everyone with them.  If people can make it to the safe zones they are welcome, but they get no help in getting there. – all energy must be poured into establishing and maintaining the safe lines.   It is only after years of reorganizing, of re-establishing law in what had become a lawless world, behind the lines that the world can return to the offensive.  One must wonder if SCOTUS has not just drawn such a defensible line at the California border.  (Before everyone abandons California, there were smaller safe zones in the abandoned parts of each nation – outposts that proved invaluable when the world returned to the offensive.)

    This much I do know.  If Justice Roberts is playing a “long game” with the Supreme Court, God’s game is much, much longer.

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    Posted in Culture Wars, News Media Bias, Proposition 8, Same-sex marriage, Social/Religious Trends | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    We Are Not The Bad Guys

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:00 am, January 12th 2013     &mdash      1 Comment »

    When enough people tell you you are wrong, or you are told often enough by a few people, or you are told at extreme volume, it is a natural response to begin to wonder if you are, in fact, wrong.  The malaise the surrounds religiously motivated politically active sorts reflects in part this natural response – particularly in light of the propositions that passed on same -sex marriage.  In true Alinskite fashion, the pro same–sex marriage forces are taking advantage of these victories to press their message, at louder volumes, with greater frequency, and with considerably more force.

    The onslaught for those of us that disagree is burdensome to say the least.  We’re right, we have thousands of years of history  and hundreds of moral authorities to prove our point and yet we find ourselves being attacked for our very correctness.  Have we sinned in defense of our correctness, oh yes.  We have demonized and ostracized the weak and hurting which are decidedly unchristian responses.  (Think about that Alinskites.)  But the penance for those sins is NOT to fundamentally alter the organization of society.  Nor is it appropriate to deny the truth of the sinful nature of homosexual practice to purge ourselves of our own sinful tendencies.

    And yet that seems to be happening:

    A November 2012 survey of adults in the United States found 37 percent affirm a belief that homosexual behavior is a sin – a statistically significant change from a September 2011 LifeWay Research survey asking the same question. At that time, 44 percent answered, “Yes.”

    The article blames this shift on Obama’s “evolution” on the matter.  Leadership matters.

    However, for Obama’s leadership to matter this much on this issue is a very damning conclusion on the leadership of religion on matters moral.  Which is why I found this bit of advice troubling:

    …John S. Dickerson. Dickerson’s new book The Great Evangelical Recession identifies six factors of decline in the American Church and offers six solutions for leaders.

    [...]

    1. Take God’s good deeds directly to the homosexual tribe in your life and community. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

    2. Refuse to classify the homosexual tribe as some worse class of people. This is unbiblical and showcases poor theology.

    3. As with any tribe, don’t focus on changing behavior. Focus on changing relationship to God through Christ.

    4. Don’t be surprised when you are hated and misunderstood about this issue. You will be.

    5. When you are hated or misunderstood, don’t defend yourself or other evangelicals with words. Instead, let your quiet good actions eclipse any accusations (1 Peter 2:12).

    6. Keep on demonstrating God’s good-ness and unconditional love—to the homosexuals closest to you.

    Most of that is pretty good advice, but that number 5 is a sure loser.  In the modern media era, not to defend yourself “with words” is to admit defeat.

    Now, it is most true that it is deeds that lend the ring of truth to the words.  If love of the sinner is not evident in life of those that declare a sin, then the declaration has no authority.  But it must also be remembered that love is not permissive and it is not demonstrated by granting its object that object’s “deepest desire.”  A loving parent does not allow a child to stick their hand in a fire, no matter how much the child wants to.  When the child becomes an adult, the parent may no longer be able to stop the child from doing so, but if they stop reminding that adult child that such action will have disastrous consequences then they prove that they need the child’s love more than they love the child.

    I think that is where we are in our public discourse.  The world is beating on us – hard.  We just want peace, and we do not want to be the bad guys.  Well, we are not the bad guys.   But peace we cannot have because those that disagree with us have chosen rhetorical war – it cannot be avoided.   Let’s face it, in war the enemy is always the bad guy – we may not be the bad guy but we cannot escape the label in the heat of battle.  If we remain quiet we lose.

    Religious folk of all stripes need to reassert their leadership position on matters moral, and we must do so now before an offensive is no longer possible and any effort would be an invasion.  We are not yet strangers in our own land, but it is close, and those that disagree with us wish to make us think we are.  Do not let the attacks force you into cover.

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    Posted in Analyzing 2012, Proposition 8, Same-sex marriage | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    No More Time To Lick Our Wounds

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:30 am, January 11th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    OF COURSE, it has not made the mainstream media, but there was enormous news yesterday:

    Rev Louie Giglio had been tapped to give the benediction at the president’s swearing in ceremony but announced he was withdrawing on Thursday after a growing wave of criticism from gay rights groups.

    During a 1990s sermon entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality”, Rev Giglio called on Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community”.

    That the president disagrees with Giglio’s stance is not surprising – he has said so, everyone knows it.  That he would censor someone with that opinion, in a setting where the opinion really will not come up, is stunning.  Note that again, the opinion is not being censored – the person with the opinion is.  I’m not a big fan of censorship at all, but couldn’t a simple directive of “Let’s not discuss the whole gay thing in the benediction,” have covered it?  The culture war has been stepped up a notch.  Yes, Christians of many stripes have complained about the prevalent presence of homosexuality in media, but complaining is one thing – this sort of exclusion is another altogether.

    It is a critical time.  K-Lo recently conducted an interview on marriage with M. Bradford Wilcox.  Said Wilcox:

    Almost 60 percent of Americans have a high-school degree but not a college degree. We call this group “Middle Americans,” which includes those with some college or an associate’s degree, and it is this group that is driving the key trends in marriage today.

    [...]

    …we’re at a tipping point with Middle America, insofar as Middle Americans are on the verge of losing their connection to marriage. But they haven’t gotten there yet. If the nation takes the right cultural and policy steps, we can renew marriage in Middle America.

    In other words, the cancer is spreading, and as it becomes more pervasive it is shutting down the systems that are designed to fight it.

    There is a lethargy amongst conservatives and especially religious conservatives.  I cannot help but sense that we are giving ground at a rapid pace in large part because all we want is peace.  We fought hard into last November, and we lost, but the war is not over and if we sit around too long and lick our wounds we are in serious trouble.  This move with regards to the inauguration is harbinger.  If the president is this determined to pursue the homosexual agenda, I am not entirely certain Christianity will survive the next four years in a recognizable form.

    Now I want to be quite plain here.  Homosexuals are no better or worse people than the rest of us.  Theologically we are all sinners.  And as such we are called upon to renounce and fight against our sin, as well as be loving and accepting of other sinners.  But love and acceptance do not mean failing to call sin – sin.  Love and acceptance to not mean abandoning the ideal.  I would argue that upholding the ideal is in fact the most loving thing we can do.

    And yet, I am hearing ever increasing cries inside Christianity to drop our opposition to the homosexual agenda.  The marriage debate is not about homosexuality, it is about what marriage is, what is is not, and what it means to society and culture.  Christianity is intended to shape society and culture, not bend to it.  I read this morning in my devotional:

    …we sense that the church plays an essential role in God’s work in the cosmos.

    I am not calling for theocracy here, but it is clear there is a place for the church to act – and in our current inaction, we are losing.  We lost and that has consequences, but the consequences of giving up the fight are too enormous to contemplate.  It is time to re-engage.  What are we to do?

    Some worry about branding.  But note they want to become more “accepting.”  First of all, faith is much more than a brand, and if we reduce it to branding we lose.  Secondly, I think if you ask the homosexuals I know personally, accepting is not the issue.  I accept people just fine, and their personal behavior, even if wrong, is tolerated – but when accepting means changing social mores and changing standards that have stood for millennium, then we have an issue.

    Some note that religion is making a comeback on campus.  Maybe, but note it is more about identity than conviction and more about diversity than behavior.  I just take this as evidence that we are losing.

    Some are noting, as we did on Tuesday, that lack of organization and infighting are severe impediments to Evangelical action:

    And particularly as evangelicals, we ought to worry a little about whether our weak ecclesiastical ties and the rise of even more sub-ecclesiastical associations will stunt our discourse by diminishing our sense of the need for unity, a sense which is primarily shaped by our experience of the local church.

    But the thing most of note is this from Eric Metaxis:

    This is why conservative Christians need to be wary of engaging in cultural efforts just to push a message. As Wainer reminds us, “Jon Stewart knows comedy in his bones; he happens to be liberal . . . but he mainly wants to make people laugh. When conservatives start telling stories to express their ideology, they have missed the motive that will sustain them through the years of … setbacks common to anyone in the entertainment industry.” And audiences will know the difference—and stay away.

    Christians produced great art and culture for centuries, and we can do it again. But there are no shortcuts. The church needs to teach its members a strong and consistent Christian worldview, and then support and encourage those with artistic gifts to pursue their calling.

    Let me be more blunt.  Our engagement with culture tends to be to try and rebrand stuff that is already popular.  Hummels sell, so we make knock-offs of little German kids in lederhosen holding up scripture cards.  Give me a break.  Part of this comes; however, because we do not have a good idea of what a worldview is – because we have tried to reduce Christianity to theology, to merely a set of intellectual precepts.  A true worldview has an intellectual basis, but it invades our very being on all levels.  It is more than ideas, it is who we are at the deepest possible levels.

    In this fashion it becomes easy to be “accepting” while maintaining mores and standards, because our intellectual certainty is matched with a character that demonstrates the love of God.

    But before this becomes a full fledged sermon, let me conclude where I started.  It is time to get busy.  Otherwise we will not be permitted to sit here and talk about this stuff.

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    Posted in Analyzing 2012, Proposition 8, The Way Forward | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    The Forming Of A Narrative – From “Weird” to MEAN!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 03:16 pm, May 10th 2012     &mdash      5 Comments »

    It started late last week when a homosexual adviser to Romney resigned – perhaps in a set-up.  Obama turned up the volume on the gay agenda when he endorsed same sex marriage yesterday.  The narrative came to fruition this morning with the “in-depth expose’” concerning Romney’s high school years in the Washington Post.  The WaPo story tell a couple of interesting tales.  The lede:

    Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

    “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber’s look, Friedemann recalled.

    A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

    and a few pages later:

    But Friedemann and several people closest to Romney in those formative years say there was a sharp edge to him. In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.

    And there you have it – Romney painted as bully, and specifically a bully that aims himself at homosexuals.

    “Anti-bullying” campaigns have been springing up all over the nation in the last few years, and I have wondered if they weren’t just a new cover for the homosexual agenda.  This seems to make it transparently so.  Make no mistake, behind the development of this “Romney as bully” narrative is anti-Mormon fervor – a grudge that has been nursed and coddled and matured to incredibly vile levels within the LGBT community since the passage, with significant help from the Mormon community, of Prop 8 in California.

    I personally think it is a huge mistake for Obama to dance this dance with this constituency - the man has plenty of skeletons in his youthful closet; one’s that involve actually illegalities and self-admission.  Reports of the Romney events are however, hearsay at best.  (“While the Post reports White as having “long been bothered” by the haircutting incident,” he told ABC News he was not present for the prank,….)  Daniel Foster said at the Corner:

    It reminded me that I spent my youth first getting incessantly picked on — mostly fatso stuff, but also some nerd stuff and poor kid stuff — and then, as soon as I got physically strong and clever enough, returning the favor with gusto. (I recall middle school in rural Florida mostly as a series of fistfights of mixed result.) It wasn’t until sometime later in high school that the question of how to be a Man, much less a Good Man, even occurred to me, and I’m still trying to sort out the answer.

    The point is that kids — especially teenage boys — are %#&!s. If we’re to be judged by the people we were at 14, then I’m doomed. I don’t suspect I’m alone, either.

    My point would be that is Obama is to be forgiven his rather extensive drug use, then what is the big deal here.

    But let’s examine this for what it really is.  For Team Obama this is a much needed distraction.  For the LGBT community this is an opportunity to paint religion, and especially the Mormon faith, not just as wrong, but evil.

    As I said this morning:

    Obama cannot talk about the economy, national security or foreign policy.  In those places he is a known loser – there is his entire administration to date to prove it.  Social issues are all he has, and he knows they are Romney’s weak point.

    Obama welcomes any opportunity to talk about anything other than his record.  The more he can make this election about anything besides those big three, the economy, national security, and foreign policy, the better off he will be.  That’s just politics, but what is truly said is that he is willing to sacrifice religion to that effect.  Such reminds me the the separation of church and state was devised more to save religion from the state than vice versa.  Obama seems more than willing to throw church under the bus; not for his agenda (given how fast and complete his turn has been on this issue how can he be represented as having an agenda at all?) but for his mere reelection.

    Because I do not tread such places readily, I do not know what the left-wing blogosphere is saying, but I am fairly certain that they are saying Romney was prone to such things because  of the teachings of his faith, and if they are not, they will soon enough.  It has long been a meme of the left that religion, being so “intractable” inevitably leads to conflict.  And yet, in the wake of the passage of Prop 8, it was the LGBT incarnation of the left that took to violence in the form of vandalism committed on Mormon houses of worship, the ruination of businesses via boycott, and threats upon the life and safety of leaders of the pro-Prop 8 forces.

    It appears these stories concerning Romney’s youth are true, if suspiciously and conveniently timed, but they are due to the misjudgement of youth, not the workings of his faith.  We all made mistakes in our youth, some worse than others, but we share this in common.  Religion does not cause such mistakes, but rather helps us overcome them.  Hence the pro-Prop 8 forces used civil argument and the ballot box to win the day and those in opposition took to the streets.

    Religion is a force for good in our society.

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, Electability, News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Proposition 8, Religious Bigotry | 5 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    The Mormon Question and tonight’s presidential debate

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 08:43 am, October 11th 2011     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Tonight at 8:00 EDT we’ll see the Bloomberg/Washington Post Republican Presidential Debate.  This will be a “pure MSM” event, with the estimable Charlie Rose as moderator.  Washington Post political correspondent Karen Tumulty and Bloomberg TV White House correspondent Julianna Goldman will also be asking the candidates questions.

    Can anyone doubt that this MSM panel will ask  The Question in some form, of either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney?  In anticipation of that likelihood, the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn has written The Cult of Anti-Mormonism in today’s edition.  He begins with advice that we could have written:

    Here’s some advice for Republican candidates appearing at Tuesday’s presidential debate at Dartmouth College. When you are asked, as you will be asked, what you make of the Christian pastor who called the Mormon faith a “cult,” there’s only one appropriate answer.

    It comes from the last sentence of Article VI of the Constitution, and it reads as follows: “[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

    McGurn goes on to point out the Pew survey showing that Romney’s faith is more of a problem for liberals than conservatives.

    [O]verall, more Democrats than Republicans are hostile to a Mormon candidacy (31% to 23%). More interesting still is Pew’s finding that when it comes to this particular animus, “liberal Democrats stand out, with 41% saying they would be less likely to support a Mormon candidate.”

    One has to wonder if this tendency might help explain the MSM’s fascination with the Mormon issue.

    So how will Charlie Rose and his colleagues approach the religion issue tonight?  Will they simply try to start a bonfire and create headlines?  Or will they try to enlighten the audience?  McGurn concludes by raising Proposition 8 in this context, a subject that we haven’t addressed much lately on this blog:

    [I]t’s good to see Republican feet now being held to the fire on an issue the Founders resolved in 1787. Even more encouraging would be a press willing to give attention to very real concern among politically active Mormons: whether a Romney nomination would mean LDS members staying on the sidelines out of fear of the kind of attacks on their property and their livelihoods that their co-religionists experienced with California’s Proposition 8 and its aftermath.

    Grab some popcorn and watch with us.

    Okay, John’s Turn

    It is going to be an interesting show, and most interesting from my perspective will be how much Kool-Aid Charlie Rose et. al. will have consumed.   The Mormon talk continues at a feverish pitch throughout media old and new.  I was going to pass on, as usual, all the links, but at this point they are too grossly numerous, too repetitive, and too beside the point.  They are one prong of what is now emerging as a clearly coordinated political attack on Romney as the front-runner.

    Consider: The weekend opened with Jeffress/religion affair, about the only topic hot enough to consume media for an entire weekend.  It was followed on Monday by Perry hitting Romney, once again, on flip-flop.  And this morning a story breaks about some of Romney’s Massachusetts advisers being consulted on the development of Obamacare.  That is three hard punches at Romney’s three biggest perceived weaknesses in, essentially, the three days leading up to the debate.  And so, I repeat the question: Will Charlie Rose and company take this all in and turn the debate into “hammer Romney time” or will they attempt to conduct an actual debate between candidates?  Will they allow their debate agenda to be set by what is clearly a media campaign being waged by one of the candidates, or by the “not Romney” forces generally?

    Let me give you just one example.  Romney’s religion – Romney’s religion – Romney’s religion – we have heard and are hearing it until my ears are bleeding.  But will anyone talk about the fact that Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain all claim to have been “called by” or “told by” God to seek office? All this concern about Mormonism and whether electing a Mormon will put Salt Lake City in charge of the nation, and yet I hear no claim of divine imprimatur by the Mormon’s campaign – only the Protestants are making such claims.  Will our moderators question these three candidates on their claims?  Will the moderators wonder how God could call three different people to one job?  Will they examine in exquisite detail the differences between Cain’s National Baptist church, Perry’s Methodist church and Bachmann’s Lutheran cum Evangelical churches?  Will they ask which one of those denominations is the “true” Christian denomination?  Will they examine the Christological differences among these denominations?

    If the moderators are smart they will not ask any of those questions, nor will they ask about Romney’s faith; but sadly I think buzz trumps smart and so we are going to be treated to what will doubtlessly be a sordid debate.  I agree with McGurn, all the candidates should answer religion questions with, essentially, “What’s that got to do with what we are here to talk about?”  But I am not sure they will.  Some, of course, did on the Sunday shows already and here’s hoping they will stick to their guns.  But if one of them tries to prevaricate, dodge, or otherwise let the religion point stand without wholly buying into it, you can bet that one is somewhere in the background of the three-pronged attack that we are seeing emerge.

    Which brings me to one related issue.   I got an email from Tony Perkins yesterday.  Tony is the guy that runs the Family Research Council, which is the organization behind the VVS.  Interestingly, that widely broadcast email is supposed to be replicated on the FRCAction website, but the link is non-functional.  Here’s the pertinent portion of the email:

    Bringing together 3,400 conservative activists, leaders, and speakers with reporters from almost every news outlet is not without some risk. And although thousands of social conservatives came to Washington to talk about restoring America’s moral foundation, it didn’t fit the media’s storyline. Having been a reporter for a short while I know what journalists are looking for. Controversy. And it didn’t take long for them to find it when the Texas pastor who introduced Gov. Perry was asked by reporters if Mormonism is a cult. When he said yes — even though it was in a sidebar conversation with the media — his answer became a dominant story from VVS.

    Since the firestorm erupted on Friday, I’ve been on most of the news networks responding to the questions of the press. This is what I’ve said: America is a country where religious freedom is constitutionally protected and where we respect the right for people to practice their faith publicly and peacefully in a free nation. President George Washington replied to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island: “[H]appily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

    We clearly recognize the fact that Mormon theology includes doctrines that are distinct from Evangelical theology and Catholic theology. At the same time, the goal of the values voter movement is not to build a ” National Church .” Our goal is to build a national coalition based on the shared values of respecting human life, strengthening natural marriage, defending religious liberty, promoting personal and fiscal responsibility, and maintaining our national security. When we successfully work together with those who share our values, we are preserving and strengthening our religious liberty, so that we can freely share the truth of the gospel with everyone.

    What’s missing?  Perkins does not accept the responsibility for Jeffress’ presence on the dais.  Nor does he repudiate Jeffress’ claims, in that particular context, for the distractions they are.  He acts as if he was caught as unawares as the Perry campaign claims, yet the Perry campaign claims that it was Perkins’ organization that made the call to put Jeffress in that spot.  As we have amply demonstrated, Jeffress was a well-known quantity.

    Point being, people are running away from Jeffress as fast as they know how.  This prong of the attack has clearly backfired.  Will Charlies Rose and friends be smart enough to run away too?

    As to Lowell’s popcorn invitation, I think we are going to need seat belts.

    &nbsp

    John Mark here:

    As a former Anglican I was going to propose a fifth (where every two or three Anglicans gather, there is a fifth), but in the interest of dialog and fraternity, I will accept a large milkshake for tonight’s debate.

    If asked, I would reply: “With millions of Americans unemployed, with the unborn having no Constitutional protections, and with the American family under assault with the Obama economy, I think we have better things to discuss than imposing an unconstitutional religious test on a GOP candidate.”

    If they pressed Perry should say, “Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist. Dwight Eisenhower was not even baptized when he took office. I would attend Carter’s church and like Ike’s success.”

    If Romney is pressed, he should roll his eyes and say: “Ask the unemployed in Detroit if they care about where I go to church or about jobs . . . if anything other than jobs comes up it will be the Lions and Tigers. Next question, please.”

    With Romney leading in Iowa according to some polls where he is putting in little effort and with the Christie endorsement, isn’t it obvious that most conservatives are willing to vote for Romney?

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    Posted in News Media Bias, Prejudice, Proposition 8, Religious Bigotry, Religious Freedom, Same-sex marriage | 2 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    The Problem with “The Book of Mormon”

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 09:17 am, June 16th 2011     &mdash      4 Comments »

    No, I’m not talking about the book of scripture from which the nickname for my church is derived. I’m talking about the Broadway musical that won so many Tony awards last Sunday night.

    I’ve admitted here to some ambivalence about “The Book of Mormon.” On balance the musical seems to be harmless nonsense that, I hope, signals a recognition of my faith as sufficiently established and familiar in the USA to mock. In other words, the musical might be seen as a back-handed compliment to Mormonism.

    And yet….

    Part of me is uneasy about the notion that is is acceptable — even praiseworthy — to mock a religious minority that has a history of persecution. As much as “The Book of Mormon” may be a sign of mainstreaming Mormon culture, if not its beliefs, it may also foreshadow the acceptance of intellectual persecution and ridicule of a distinctive religious tradition. We Mormons are a little sensitive about that.

    But it has taken an Orthodox Christian professor at Biola University, John Mark Reynolds, to make the point for us. In a must-read op-ed at The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog, Professor Reynolds (a favorite of this blog) writes of Amos and Andy and The Book of Mormon:

    If we assume the play a brilliant satire with PR unfortunate enough to release only the cruel and facile bits, then we are still left with two unfortunate truths about this play. First, the writers are cowards. They inflict pain and mockery on those already despised while going soft on the tired assumptions of their rich and powerful patrons. Second, in a pluralistic society they have targeted a group already misunderstood and discriminated against.

    I am no Mormon, but I have witnessed bigotry and ignorance directed against this American community. The LDS Church is placed in the difficult position of seeing their most sacred beliefs mocked in a nation that murdered their prophet in a shameful lynching. Broadway has given aid and comfort to the mob of ignorant folk who know nothing of modern Mormonism outside of their prejudices.

    No wonder Mormon politicians like Jon Huntsman, bob and weave when asked by bigots if they are part of the LDS church. Few of us have the Mitt Romney courage to stand by our people when the cost is high. For his steadfastness, Romney was linked to the play in a Newsweek parody cover that left only his profile, but a profile in religious courage.

    Please read the whole thing.

    In the end, I, and other Mormons like me, find the musical disturbing and somewhat worrisome. In the aftermath of California’s Proposition 8 we felt the sting of public attacks on individual members of our church who acted on a matter of conscience. Yes, that makes us nervous about the extent to which we might have to steel ourselves for further such attacks in the future. We do not like the idea that ridiculing and marginalizing our most sacred and fundamental beliefs is not only acceptable, but hilarious. What person of faith would?

    Two days ago Susan Brooks Thislethwaite, a Professor at the Chicago Theological Seminary, writes of “Mocking Mormons.” Professor Thislethwaite takes a slightly more benign view of “The Book of Mormon,” and tells Mormons “welcome to the American mainstream. Now, in order to join this fraternity, you need to go through the hazing.”

    Other reviewers disagree, of course, that attacking faith or Mormonism is the goal of this musical. Mark Kennedy writes for Associated Press that the “Book of Mormon” is “a pro-religion show at heart.” Why? Because it has an uplifting moral at the end. “Far from being nihilistic,” Kennedy writes, “the moral seems to endorse any belief system — no matter how crazy it sounds — if it helps do good. Amen to that. Consider us converted.” That’s about as watered-down a version of religion as you can get; but after all, Kennedy writes for the Associated Press, not Beliefnet, so what does he know? (That was a joke, Mark.)

    ….

    But that doesn’t mean that the “Book of Mormon” isn’t funny, especially if you like silly, sophomoric humor of the “South Park” variety…. What is offensive to some can be funny to others, but often precisely because it is offensive. Humor isn’t always kind; humor is routinely used to put minorities in their place. In the case of “The Book of Mormon,” the offensiveness seems to be the point, not the ‘doing good.’

    Can Mormons ‘take a joke’? Like women in the workplace having to suffer through sexist jokes, I see this musical as a sign both that Mormons are moving into the mainstream of religion and culture, and that there is resistance to that.

    I hope Thislethwaite is right, I really do. But John Mark Reynolds convinces me that we ought to watch the progress of this phenomenon closely, and with more than a little concern.

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