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."

  • Can You Believe They Are Still Writing This Stuff???

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:00 am, May 1st 2013     &mdash      1 Comment »

    From Philip Rucker at WaPo’s “Post Politics” blog yesterday:

    Faith has been a constant in Mitt Romney’s life, yet when he ran for president, he was extremely cautious about discussing his Mormon religion. He rarely spoke of God on the campaign trail. Rarer still were any references to Mormonism itself.

    But now, six months removed from his unsuccessful bid for the White House, the former Republican nominee is opening up about his Mormon upbringing and his strong belief in a traditional family structure.

    In a commencement address at Southern Virginia University last weekend, Romney spoke about his Mormon mission to France in the 1960s, in which he explored the reaches of his faith, and told stories of early settlers in Salt Lake City. Repeatedly citing the Bible, Romney urged graduates to find God, marry young and have many children.

    So, what was the occasion?

    Romney’s address at Southern Virginia University — a small liberal arts college in Buena Vista, Va., where more than nine in 10 students are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — marks a significant departure for the former Massachusetts governor who became the first Mormon to win a major party’s presidential nomination.

    The story seems to want to make Romney out to be disingenuous somehow:

    At the rare moments when he did talk about spirituality, as in his 2012 commencement address at Liberty University, founded by the late evangelical televangelist Jerry Falwell, Romney spoke broadly about his shared “Christian conscience” and his trust in God, but did not utter the word Mormon.

    At a town hall meeting in Wisconsin, when a young man confronted Romney by reading from a book of scripture published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Romney grew visibly agitated with the man’s line of questioning.

    “I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view,” Romney said. He added that he would talk about the practices of his faith, but not the doctrines of his religion.

    Yet as he addressed graduates and their families on the grassy quad at Southern Virginia University in the Shenandoah Valley, Romney read from the diary of an 1800s Mormon pioneer and then from the Bible.

    “Children are a heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the loom is his reward,” Romney said, quoting scripture. “Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them.”

    I honestly don’t know what to make of all this.  First of all, who really cares anymore?  With all due respect to Gov. Romney, someone I respect a great deal – this stuff does not matter anymore.  Secondly, they are comparing apples and oranges here.  Any reasonable speaker is going to tailor their remarks to the crowd in front of them.  Hence remarks to a largely Evangelical crowd would sound different than remarks in front of a largely Mormon crowd regardless of who is making the remarks – your truly included.  (Having addressed both on multiple occasions.)

    But lets go back to why this is appearing even now.  Once must presume there is more at play here than simply winning the presidential election.  Mitt Romney lost – it’s over.  The “not authentic” meme of which the “he never talked about his faith” is part-and-parcel was part of the reason he lost.  It worked because it divided the right.  Evangelicals tend to find Mormons somehow “inauthentic,” and this meme played on that.  And that is why they are still writing this stuff.

    They are interested in more than than simply beating Mitt Romney.  They are interested in keeping Republicans on the ropes for, well, eternity.  But there is more.  They are very, very interested in keeping religious people generally out of politics, and making them look like fools.  The “not authentic” charge is really a soft form of the “hypocrite” charge that was so commonly aimed at the religious in my youth.  They just want to keep us down.

    We cannot fall for this bait.  Such an argument is not a charge in which we need put stock.  This charge stands as little more than a temptation to stop trying.  It argues implicitly that there is no sense trying to be better because you’ll never make it and just look like a phony trying.  One of the reasons our public influence has waned is because we have bought into this charge and now can barely be distinguished from anyone else.

    Leadership demands that we stand apart.  It is time we started to do so.

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    Joe Biden’s Odd Form Of Racism

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:56 am, April 26th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    So, much and more has been made of Joe Biden’s comment a couple of days ago about the Boston Bombing Boy Band being “knock-off jihadis.”  Said Allahpundit:

    Via NRO, someone didn’t get the memo that liberals are still in “pretend the motive is unclear” phase, the most fun part of which is spitballing about Tamerlan Tsarnaev possibly having brain damage from boxing. Could that be it? Could it be that Bin Laden liked to spar for fun too and finally took one right hand to the face too many circa 2001? What about poor Dzhokhar’s “Holden Caulfield-like adolescent alienation,” a hormone-fueled vortex that had him alternating between cooing over how hot Miss USA is and planting bombs next to eight-year-olds? Will we ever know the answer?

    Yeah. Biden’s comment was all about motivation – or was it?  Implicit in all this discussion of what makes a “genuine jihadi” is that fact that the only people the left are willing to buy as genuine are Arabs.

    I don’t know what’s worse there, the implication that in order to be genuinely evil you must be of a certain ethnicity, or the deep confusion between ethnicity and religion.  Either way, the stereotyping involved in the discussion is such that were it applied to African-Americans the cries of racism would be sufficient to put crowds in the streets.

    Long term, what is more problematic is the confusion of religion and ethnicity.  When religion is reduced to an identity factor it loses its real power, both personally and publicly.  Rather than being something that calls us to better ourselves, it is simply something that we are, and we cling to – sometimes violently.

    But then, I am building this argument by implication and I am probably making a wrong one.  Biden is a man of the left, and racism only exists on the right.  Just ask anyone on the left.

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    Economy,Civility – Easter and Passover

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:09 am, March 29th 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    I spent a good bit of yesterday getting people that owe me money, some of them for quite a long time, to pay me the money they owe me.  In business we call this “collections.” Most business like mine is conducted on some sort of limited credit.  When the economy is pumping along, it is usually not an issue.  But when things are down, it can be a huge issue.  People hoard money, they stretch their credit to the limit and if they owe you money, you have to ask to get paid.

    Usually collections are a matter of course, you ask for the money, you get paid.  Lately though it seems like it takes more than just asking.  Threats of, and actually withholding, delivery is becoming something I have to do more and more of to get paid.  Money up-front, C.O.D. terms and other more forceful methods are necessary to keep the receivables in line.

    I find myself wondering why, if the economic signs seem hopeful – as the news proclaims and the market seems to think, am I having such a hard time collecting money?  Is money tighter than we are being lead to believe?  I think that is true in some markets and maybe I am stuck in those markets at the moment.  But I think there is more at play.  If the government is borrowing money at a break-neck pace, with no real plan or seeming intention to pay it back, why shouldn’t my customers?

    The timely payment of debt is a matter of simple civility.  By incurring debt I have pledged to meet that obligation.  I consider myself an honorable man, a man of my word, so such an obligation is not to be taken lightly.  And yet, if my situation is any measure, people are taking that obligation pretty lightly indeed.  This is not a good thing.

    When things are down in this fashion, a society/nation has two ways to turn – on itself or towards something bigger.  America has always been about something bigger.  Our word has always been our bond – we have always worked to improve for all so that things improved for the self.  But one is forced to wonder if the nation is responding that way in the current times.

    James Lileks:

    Empathy is always held up as a great virtue, but it’s remarkable how so few people have empathy with the total sum of the American experience beyond their own self-definition.

    Daniel Greenfield:

    There are two ways to destroy a thing. You can either run it at while swinging a hammer with both hands or you can attack its structure until it no longer means anything.

    The left hasn’t gone all out by outlawing marriage, instead it has deconstructed it, taking apart each of its assumptions, from the economic to the cooperative to the emotional to the social, until it no longer means anything at all. Until there is no way to distinguish marriage from a temporary liaison between members of uncertain sexes for reasons that due to their vagueness cannot be held to have any solemn and meaningful purpose.

    You can abolish democracy by banning the vote or you can do it by letting people vote as many times as they want, by letting small children and foreigners vote, until no one sees the point in counting the votes or taking the process seriously. The same goes for marriage or any other institution. You can destroy it by outlawing it or by eliminating its meaningfulness until it becomes so open that it is absurd.

    Doug Wilson:

    Anyone who has not noticed that “demands for apologies” have become one of the central political tactics of our day has simply not been paying attention. Like many effective tactics, it depends on an impulse that was originally good and right. It is the old Pottery Barn rule — you break it, it’s yours. Everybody knows that. But in our hyper age, we have gotten to the point where old high school pranks can be hauled out in presidential campaigns. This is simply pathological.

    There is no civility here, there is only the desire to destroy what you have for the sake of what I want – whether it is destroying marriage of failing to pay debts, or forcing apology as a means of avoiding responsibility.  Why, after 200 years of pitching in and working together towards a compromise solution to any dilemma are we turning on ourselves and devouring one another?

    Like the unleavened bread of this Passover season, we are missing an ingredient.  God, something bigger than all of us, is no longer a normal part of our thinking and discussion.

    It’s Good Friday, the world is a dark, dark place.  At church, Easter is coming, the light will return.  But will it return to the nation?  Only a future more distant than Sunday will say for sure.  However, this I know – if we accept things as they are, if we keep our Passover and Easter celebrations within the confines of our Synagogues and Churches it will not.

    I hate doing collections.  I hate having to point out to people that they are being dishonorable and uncivil.  I hate having to find a way to be nice to them when they are being so hard on me.  But I have found through long years of experience that such is just what I have to do.  Withdrawing means I never get paid.  Becoming completely adversarial just costs me more money.

    So it is with putting our faith back in its place as the leaven of our society.  We have to undertake the unpleasant task of pointing out, and enduring, incivility while remaining civil.  We have got to step out of our ghettos.

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    The Real Stakes

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 11:28 am, February 4th 2013     &mdash      1 Comment »

    As the Boy Scouts begin their meetings to decide, among other things, if they are going to change their rules on homosexuality, I think it is reasonable to come to understand what is really at stake.  This MSNBC article makes it fairly plain.

    The Boy Scouts of America announcement last week that it may eliminate the exclusion of gays from membership at the national level, leaving the decision to its local units, has drawn a harsh backlash from some of the organization’s more religious conservative members, who are “gravely distressed,” even as more liberal churches hailed the move.

    With more than two-thirds of Scouting groups affiliated with religious bodies, faith plays a large role in the private youth organization.

    And so the “battle lines” are drawn.  It’s the reasonable, loving pro-gay forces against the repressive, Luddite forces of religion.  Make no mistake.  The forces of homosexual normalization have the religious community squarely in its sights.  What makes me sad is that people of faith are not mean to homosexuals, they simply view homosexual practice as aberrant and immoral.  It is the nature of Christianity in all its expressions to understand that  we are all engaged in sinful behavior of one sort or the other.  But it is in fact religion’s job to help us overcome that behavior.

    But that is not the game the LGBT community is choosing to play here.  In their view, if we do not accept their behavior, then we do not accept them.  The responses to such are trite – “Is it ‘unaccepting’ to allow a child to stick their hand in a fire?” and so forth.  We have good arguments, but our opponents choose not to listen to them.

    Perhaps we bear some responsibility for those deaf ears.  We have at times set the LGBT community outside the community of “common” sinners, as if lepers.  In this we were wrong, but the answer is not to change our definition of sin – the answer is to do as Jesus and the apostles did.  Make company of the “leper,” while still seeking to heal them.

    But we must also protect our institutions.  Have you ever wondered what constitutes an institution?  Some, business corporations for example, are pure money machines.  It is the acquisition of wealth that is their reason to exist.  But some institutions exist for other reasons.  University, for example, exists to preserve and advance knowledge.  For them money is but a means to that end.  At least it should be, though I fear that for many the money now drives the mission instead of the other way around.

    Scouting is an institution of a different type.  Like service clubs such as the Rotary or the Jaycees, it is an institution deigned to promote character in its participants.  Often religiously tinged, though rarely overtly of a religion, such institutions exist to create and reinforce good character across religious and cultural lines.  They are first and foremost American institutions.  Not of the government but designed to reinforce the character that is typically viewed as necessary for good citizenship.

    When you mess with the character and morality standards of such an institution, you mess with the very basis of the nation.  Yes, the institution will continue to survive in some sense, but it will be something very different than what it was conceived to be.  You could say that in the moth, the caterpillar still lives, but does it really?  Is it not now so fundamentally changed that you must declare the caterpillar dead?  So it has been with churches that have made the move that the BSA now contemplates – so it will be with the BSA.

    Yes, some troops will still resemble the “old” Boy Scouts, at least for now.  But such changes are a form of institutional entropy.  They drive ever forward and once the energy barrier has been overcome, the entropy inevitably spreads.

    A friend commented to me that many, if not most, of the commercials during last night’s Twilight Zone of a Super Bowl were an indication that we are in a true age of cultural depravity.  Perhaps what constitutes “depravity” is subject to individual interpretation, but freedom means we can create pockets where our view is preserved.  But our opposition on these matters seems determined not to allow us such pockets.  If they would allow us such freedom they would simply form their own institution similar to Scouts, but no, they must change the Scouts.

    Freedom is not what this fight is about.  They wish to transform us at our very core and are willing to eliminate our freedom if that is what it takes.

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    Yep, From The Left It Is Hatred

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:10 am, November 20th 2012     &mdash      3 Comments »

    Apparently, for the election, the Orange County (California) Weekly ran a cover depicting Mitt Romney as the Angel Moroni.  Now they are complaining about the complaints they received.  I wish I could quote some of the piece but it is so full of obscenity that I cannot find sufficient material  to reprint without it.  Apparently obscenity substitutes for reason or arguments.  The heart of the defense seems to be that they work overtime to be rude, offensive and obscene about all religion, not just Mormonism.

    I get it, being rude, offensive, and obscene is a problem only if you reserve it for certain groups.

    One does not know how to refute this because there is not enough substance to grab onto to even begin to form a basis for discussion.  It is; however, clearly indicative of one of the hurdles we must overcome.  This is not disagreement, this is hatred.  We have always relied on the presumption that such hatred is a small minority, better left on the fringes than engaged.  The piece makes specific mention of same sex marriage and given that such prevailed in four states, one must begin to wonder if this hatred is now no longer such a fringe minority.

    Some major rethinks are in order.

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    Examing Evidence in Detail

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:00 am, November 19th 2012     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Friday, we mentioned some post election analysis on the Hugh Hewitt show that could indicate and anti-Mormon problem.  The interview is with Brad Miller of CitizenLink.  Here is the transcript of the segment:

    HH: Hugh Hewitt joined now by my friend from CitizenLink, Brad Miller from Focus on the Family Radio Studios in Colorado Springs.  Brad, yesterday we were talking, we are still doing election aftermath.  And there were a number of states in which social issues were on the ballot, like Colorado, with legalization of dope and marriage in four different states.  And turnout numbers on those matters were higher than for Romney.  Give people a sense of what these numbers are and what you’re trying to figure out.

    BM: Yeah, Hugh.  In our post-election analysis we were really trying to do some soul searching here because, of course, you’ve heard, the punditry, punditry class talk about, you know, how and why the Republican Party should moderate its position on social issues and in some circles they’re saying jettison them altogether — esentially, just becoming Democrat Lite. And, you know, we want to figure out, okay, are our positions so passé that frankly we have no place to go? and, of course, you and I pull to the standard that those issues are true truth and you just can’t throw them off like, you know, just on a whim.  And so, we began to dig into the numbers here, Hugh, and it really is fascinating.  When you look at Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, states where marriage was on the ballot.  You know, in Maine, the same-sex the marriage veto lost by 6 percentage points.  Romney lost by 16, so it performed 10 points better than Romney did in Maine.  In Maryland, it was a 4 point loss for the veto of same sex marriage in that state.  Romney lost by 24 points there.  In Massachusetts, assisted suicide–we won that, Hugh, by two points and Romney, in his home state, loses by 24.  In Minnesota, lost by three and Romney wins, pardon me, loses the state by 8 percentage points.  Now, Minnesota is really fascinating because when you look at the overall national numbers here, Hugh, Romney received 1.9 [million] fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008.

    HH: Well, that number is coming down, Brad.  I don’t if you saw the latest thing.  It’s down to about 535,000 now. [ed: it is even lower since this aired.]

    BM: Is that right?

    HH: Yeah.

    BM: I had not seen the latest.  Thanks for that.  But, Romney got 3-1/2 percentage points more than McCain did in Minnesota.

    HH: Yeah.

    BM: Now why is that?  Now, we can’t make a direct correlation or causation at this point, but what I’m saying is that the evidence leans toward the fact that these social issues are not the things that people ran from in this election or that certainly kept them at home sitting on their hands.  We believe that these issues must remain in the party platform, must remain part of the bedrock, you know, gut level conservative principles that we’ve held to for the entirety of the Republican Party’s establishment and so, you know, it’s critical that we maintain this, Hugh.  And I know that, but –

    HH: I do.  I’m just curious when people say what was the best bit of news that you got?  I want something to hang on to.  What was it from this cycle?

    BM: For us, I mean, parental notification in Montana wins by 40 points.

    HH: Yup.

    BM: Wins by 40 points.  Now, Romney won Montana as well, but he won by 13 points.

    HH: So there is a significant number of Democrats, I think what you’re saying, who hold traditional values positions, on marriage, on life on marijuana control.  So those Democrats have to be persuaded that when it comes to electoral politics, this is a seamless garment because they’re obviously disconnecting the impact of the courts of the presidency upon these issues.

    BM: We certainly have a heavy lift ahead of us in terms of education the electorate in terms of the consequences of their votes.  I’ll tell you this though, Hugh, one area where I really believe we missed the boat– and we’ve missed it the last couple election cycles — and it’s the bridge and the intersect with the Republican Party and Hispanics has always been social issues.  It’s been marriage and it’s been life and it’s been religious freedom.  And we made it, our partner groups and others that we work closely with on the ground, continue to beat the drum with us that they wanted to educate Hispanic voters on economic issues and our view of that from the very beginning was there’s no way you’re going to educate them and bring them to our side on those issues between January and November.  It’s just not going to happen.  Use the bridges that are already there.  The bridges of life, the bridges of marriage and the bridges of religious liberty into those communities where we can speak the same language and then maybe, just maybe, we glean off, we pull off more votes from that community.

    HH: Thank you so much, Brad Miller of Citizen Link.  Go to the Citizen Link button at Hughhewitt.com or go directly to citizenlink.com.  Continue to work for those values.  There’s lots of work to be done and they actually have some great news which we’ll continue to talk about in the days and weeks ahead.  Stay tuned.  It’s the Hugh Hewitt Show.

    Generally speaking, social issues performed better than Mitt Romney.  Not conclusive, but certainly indicative that social conservatives had a problem with Mitt Romney that could very well have been his religion.  More analysis of this data is needed.  First step is to “correct” the percentages for the African-American vote.  We need raw numbers and exiting polling data.   This is a big project to do well and we are going to ask for your help.  Please help us find the raw numbers for the presidential, and the proposition in question, in each of the states cited – this should be at the Secretary of State’s website for each state.  Please leave links in the comments.  Then we need the demographics of the electorate from each of those states, that means exit polling data – some of the state may not have such data, which means we’ll have to use the raw state-wide demographics and turnout models.  Again, please leave links in the comments.  This will be harder to find.

    Once we have done all this we still will not be able to separate what was anti-Mormon bias from a simple distaste for Romney personally, but at least the evidence will be stronger.  This’ll take a while.  Thanks for your help and sticking with us.

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