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."

  • Open Thread Question to Our Readers!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:52 am, March 11th 2008     &mdash      8 Comments »

    The political news is rife, since Karl Rove suggested is last week, with talk of Mitt Romney as the Vice Presidential choice for the Republicans. Not a single article has appeared questioning whether his faith would hurt the ticket. What is the difference between the top spot and number two? Why so much ink when Romney was a presidential candidate and so little when he is discussed for Veep? Is the Evangelical vote already written off for McCain? If not, why would they vote for a Mormon Veep anymore than a Mormon POTUS?

    Lowell adds some provocative (he hopes) thoughts:  Some months ago I wrote here about Thomas Griffith, who had been general counsel to BYU and is now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is the second-most important federal appellate court after the Supreme Court.  Judge Griffith happens to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and had written a long article about the Church’s beliefs about Jesus Christ.   I asked readers to imagine that they were U.S. Senators an conservative Evangelical Christians who were considering Judge Griffith’s nomination, and then I asked these questions

    1.  Would you you take the [judge's] religious views . . . into account in deciding whether or not to support his nomination?  Presumably no, because the views are purely theological, and to take Griffith’s religion into account is flatly prohibited under Article VI to the Constitution.

    2.  Would your answer to Question 1 change if Griffith were before you as a nominee not to the D.C. Circuit, but as a sitting D.C. Circuit judge now proposed for elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court?

    3.  If your answer to Questions 1 or 2 is “no,” do you see any difference between excluding Griffith’s Mormonism from your consideration of him as a judicial nominee, on one hand, and excluding Romney’s religion from your consideration of him as a presidential candidate, on the other?

    I’m just wondering if this is a matter of psychology.  To some, it may just seem to be “too much” to put a Mormon on the Supreme Court, even though he or she might be acceptable on the Court of Appeals.  In the same manner, it seems tolerable to some that a Mormon be a U.S. Senator, but certainly not President of the United States. 

    Similary, is it acceptable to some (Al Mohler comes to mind) for a Mormon to be Vice President, but not President? The notion is illogical, of course, because the veep is “only a heartbeat away” from being President.  But Mohler is concered that the election of a Mormon president might “mainstream” Mormonism.  Presumably the election of a Mormon U.S. Senator, or the confirmation of a Mormon federal appeals court judge (but maybe not a Supreme Court justice) would not worry the Rev. Mohler quite so much.

    Food for thought, no?  Is the country ready for a Mormon veep, but not a Mormon president?

    Please use the comments to discuss, we have turned off comment moderation for the day.

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    Random Thoughts and Questions

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:32 am, February 20th 2008     &mdash      5 Comments »

    What Responsibility the MSM and Punditry?

    Since long before Mitt Romney was officially even a candidate, we were treated to articles “pondering” whether Evangelicals could possibly vote for a Mormon. We have been treated to dozens of articles, most of them wrong in some aspect or another, about what Mormons believe and what Evangelicals think about that. We have seen poll after poll after poll about whether Evangelicals were suspicious of some generic unnamed Mormon.

    I have not done the stats, but it is very obvious that there was a narrative established for Mitt Romney concerning his faith. While there has been attention paid to Obama’s race and Clinton’s gender, race has never been established as the narrative of the Obama campaign and Clinton has chosen to use her gender as a positive part of her narrative. The MSM has largely respected the narratives that these candidates chose for their campaigns and have followed the plan. Obama’s Muslim background notwithstanding, the amount of “ink” devoted to that topic pales in comparison to that devoted to Romney’s faith, and it has often been spun to appear as a positive appeal to “diversity.”

    How would this Republican primary season have been had the MSM and the punditry chosen to respect the narrative Romney wished to establish for his campaign? Suppose every time Romney said “Americans want a president of faith” it was allowed to stand as a positive statement, rather than challenged with a citation from some poll somewhere – What would have happened then?

    Yes there were a few evangelical leaders that said negative things, but largely they were silent. Suppose the press had allowed the Romney-defined narrative to stand in the face of the silence – might not Evangelicals have reacted very differently?

    Which Brings Me To . . .

    When it is all said and done this primary season, what do you think the over-arching narrative for the primary season is going to be, at least as written by the MSM? Well, let me suggest this – regardless of outcome on the Democratic side, they will have embraced, finally, the totality of diversity. While on the Republican side it will be that they are stuck in the old times, bigoted, short-sighted and close-minded.

    This narrative will harm John McCain in the general. This narrative will harm Republican chances in the legislature and in statehouses and governor’s mansions throughout the nation. Republicans have to get control of this narrative and they have to do so now. This is one of the many reasons Mike Huckabee needs to get out and get out now.

    John McCain is beginning to look at running against Barack Obama – that is smart given yesterday’s results. But he also need to begin to look at continuing to run against Mitt Romney, in the sense that this narrative is going to haunt him.

    There is much at stake for Evangelicals. We are making progress, and we are doing it in those state legislatures and we can still do it federally if we control the House and Senate. We will not be able to do so unless we stand up now and take action against this narrative. Mitt Romney is out. The time for silence is over. We cannot afford to give the MSM and punditry the ammunition they need through our silence.

    New media has, finally, given us the tools we need to control our own narrative. It is high time we put them to good use.

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    The Ideal and The Practical

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:15 pm, January 10th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Earlier Today, Lowell Quoted Jonathon Martin analyzing Michigan:

    Huck poses two problems for Romney. First, his vote share of the conservative base of the party — particularly in western Michigan — could come out of Romney’s hide. The conservative Catholics, evangelicals and Dutch Reformed members — some of whom first came to the party in ’88 when Robertson scored a second-place finish in the state — have somebody who speaks their language about faith and the sanctity of life. And then they have a Mormon. Do the math.

    A little later today he links to Rich Lowry on South Carolina, wondering if religion is the reason Romney is considering taking a “bye” there.

    The Examiner looks at the religion role and how it affects Huckabee.

    What marks all of this analysis and comment is a direct and simple acceptance of religious bias, perhaps even bigotry, and certainly an acceptance of identity politics. I keep coming back to what George Will said a few weeks ago:

    If Huckabee succeeds in derailing Romney’s campaign by raising a religious test for presidential eligibility, that will be clarifying: In one particular, America was more enlightened a century ago.

    I think Will is very correct in that analysis, and while there will never be precise metrics to check the supposition, the emerging conventional wisdom says it is true. And this presents the Republican party and Republicans in general with competitive goals. It is the classic clash of necessary leadership versus bowing to the will of the electorate in order to gain the power necessary to exercise leadership to begin with.

    On the one hand the party and each of us as Republicans should be decrying this fact from the highest point in town. It is a step backwards and it is not healthy for the nation in general. On the other hand doing so runs the risk of alienating a number of voters, voters needed to win elections. Are we forced to take a step backwards to win?

    Each voter and each pundit must make the decision for themselves as to how to respond in this circumstance. Personally, I think it is way too early to push the panic button. Things are way, way too much in the air. As we have seen time and time again the press has a path that things should take in mind and when things do not go that way, they become confused and try to argue for an analysis that is clearly not true. The only legitimate analysis possible in this primary is “we do not know what is going on or what is going to happen.

    That said, it is wrong for the punditry to simply accept what may in fact be a very real fact on the ground without condemnation. I caught all sorts of heat for quite a long time for calling Jim Geragthy an “accomplice to bigotry” when he did some analysis that accepted this kind of bias and bigotry as simple fact. The accomplice charge may have been a bit much, but we can ill afford to simply concede to it either. Frankly, Martin and Lowry both need to condemn what they are seeing while reporting on it. This blog does has and does.

    Of course, the MSM is attempting to argue the Romney is “done.” One thing I am absolutely certain about – Romney cannot drop out of this race before Mike Huckabee, under any circumstances. Such would be like Martin Luther King sitting down in the face of the hoses on the march. Mitt Romney may (big emphasis on may) lose, and religious bias may have a role in it, but as a leader first, he cannot give into that role. It should be remembered that his presence in the race hurts Huckabee as much as the other way around.

    Other candidates do not look good to me for a variety of reasons, but Huckabee is repulsive because of his appeals to bias and bigotry. That cannot be allowed to prevail. Romney should play to win and not merely beat Huckabee, but beat Huckabee he must at the bare minimum.

    The press and the pundits should join him….

    Additional:  “Is it a reporter’s job to condemn or support what they are reporting” is a likely response to my comments above.  Generally, the answer is no, but in this instance, I think things are somewhat different.  As I opened the piece, there are not metrics here to show bias and bigotry objectively.  There are bigoted institutions, but there is no institutional bigotry to point to.  Therefore, any reporting, other than anecdotal, or incident specific is either the reporters personal perception or presumption of bigotry.  The presumption should not be held and the perception would be an argument and as such it is completely acceptable to decry it in that context.

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    Mitt Romney, Meet the Press, And An Enduring Religious-Social Issue

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 05:08 pm, December 16th 2007     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Romney on Meet the Press 12-16-07

    Romney, Russert and Religion

    Today’s Meet The Press Interview is now part of the public record, and predictably, Tim Russert dove into religion first. (Here’s the video clip of that portion of the interview, and here’s the transcript.)

    One issue that got more attention than I think it has previously in the campaign was the former policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”) that denied the Church’s lay priesthood to African-American men. The exchange:

    (more…)

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    Posted in Doctrinal Obedience, Electability, Issues, Questions, Religious Bigotry, The Speech, Understanding Religion | 2 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Push Polling — The Latest

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:28 am, November 17th 2007     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    There is little new information on the anti-Mormon push polling story out of Iowa and New Hampshire.  But there has been much written, and much of it worth attention.  Because of how hot this story is we are going to present those writings here in simple link/bullet format.  We'll save the analysis and commentary for Monday.

    There is information missing from this pile.  Not information concerning the basic whodunnit question, but repudiations of these heinous actions.  McCain (other reporting of same) – ThompsonGuiliani have all been heard from repudiating these calls.  

    What is missing is similar repudiations from some of the more likely suspects, like any Democratic candidate, Mike Huckabee, the other also-rans, and leading Evangelical political organizations.

    Some further basic reporting…

    The investigation begins…

    Analysis and repudiation…

    Romney responds…

    • To Jonathan Martin
    • To Larry Kudlow  Romney hammers McCain-Feingold hard in both places, but stops short of trying to pin the push polls on McCain.  Kudlow later in the day on Hewitt, keeps pushing the McCain angle.  McCain has sideled uncomfortable up to The Question on several occasions, but I do not think he is this dumb.

    On the radio…

    Hugh Hewitt covered the story extensively with:

    We'll keep you posted if more develops!

    [tags]push polling, Iowa, New Hampshire, Mitt Romney, anti-Mormon, bigotry[/tags] 

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    A Letter To Some Of My Fellow Evangelicals

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:03 am, April 17th 2007     &mdash      1 Comment »

    In talking to my evangelical friends, both personally and  in some emails I receive about this blog, there are some themes or statements that come up again and again.  I thought I would address a few of them.

    How can I, in good conscience, vote for someone whose beliefs are very different than mine?

    Why would your conscience be troubled?  You are voting for someone to do the job of president, not pastor.  You are voting for the individual, not his beliefs.  Can he do the job?  Will he do the job in a way that aligns with my principles and values?  Those are the questions that matter.  When hiring someone for my business, those are the question I ask.  Of course, I would prefer someone that believes as I do, but often I find candidates much better qualified for the job with other, or more frequently simply without, beliefs.  I frankly would be foolish to hire a lesser qualified candidate to operate a soil sampling drill rig simply because the best candidate was a Jehovah’s Witness instead of a Presbyterian.

    People’s beliefs really matter in their lives, and Mormons believe so differently.

    Indeed Mormon belief is quite different, but how precisely does that matter?  It is my opinion that Mormon belief is grossly misunderstood.  It is not orthodox by any stretch of the imagination, but it is not so far off as the common perception might suggest.  Consider the Godhead, to use the LDS term.  Mormons are decidedly non-Trinitarian, fair enough.  But does that make a difference in how a Mormon would govern?  I don’t think so.  Are our values based on our Trinitarian views? - No.  Our values are largely based on the Judaic law, which is in turn based on monotheism, but not Trinitarianism.  Some try to paint Mormons as polytheists, and the strictest possible interpretation of their theology of the godhead would indicate they are, but I have read enough Mormon theologians to know they do not carry their views of the godhead that far.  Ask any Mormon if they are polytheistic and they will deny it vociferously.  At best we can accuse them of having lousy logic in their theological formulations, but in practice and life they are little different than us.  Please remember they hold the same scripture we do, plus  “The Lord your God is ONE God” is scripture for Mormons just as much as it is for us.  The additional scripture of Mormonism does not to the best of my knowledge contradict a word of the Bible – they interpret it very differently, but that is not a critical matter in this instance.

    So, my question to you – specifically what is it that Mormons believe, as cited by Mormons, not anti-Mormon activists, that will affect how they govern?  My researches of the last year and 100 years of Utah history says that they govern just like we do.

    If you are still concerned, consider:

    How do you feel when atheists say you should not vote for X because he is a Christian?  This is America; our freedom to practice our faith is highly dependent on the freedom to have religious diversity in all areas of society, including government.  If we, even in the privacy of the voting booth, exclude someone of another faith, then we are giving permission to allow others to exclude us.  And we are increasingly in the minority in this nation . . . .

    [tags]Mormons, belief, difference, Evangelicals, Mitt Romney[/tags]

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