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."

  • What The Absence of Religion Hath Wrought

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:55 am, June 3rd 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    A columnist in the London Guardian, writing under a psueodnym, asks:

    Why is it that liberals feel no qualms about being rude? Far too many people who are perfectly polite and courteous, otherwise, think nothing of insulting you for not sharing their political opinions.

    Pretty good question, is it not?  He cites example after example.  Here’s a couple:

    Liberals have no shame. A dinner guest in our home stood up at the table, clinked his wine glass and said, “It shows how stupid the American people are, they voted for Bush twice.” He turned to me, smirking, and said, “I know you voted for him.” A biochemist who had been too busy learning liberal doctrine instead of the basic manners of being a guest.

    We also had dinner with a couple who spent the evening trashing Rudy Giulliani, claiming that the former mayor of New York had nothing to do with turning the city around, even though he took office in a crime-ridden city and stepped down when it was safe. It would have happened anyhow, they said. As we said goodnight in the driveway, one said with a grin, “We like you even if you are Republicans.”

    and he concludes:

    President Nixon proposed a healthcare plan that was blocked by Senator Ted Kennedy, and the senator later apologized for putting political interests ahead of the good of the country. He had not wanted Republicans to get credit for accomplishing something positive.

    This is a critical time in America. Instead of taking sides we should be working together. Now is the time for liberals to emulate Ted Kennedy and, instead of automatically ridiculing conservatives for digging into questions about Benghazi, the IRS and the seizure of press records, help us find the truth – no matter what that might turn out to be.

    That conclusion shows what results from such an approach – it forces one to embrace corruption for political survival.

    But let’s return to his opening question – WHY?  Every rude liberal you know will have a different answer.  Most you will find, I think, are deeply personal.  “I and those like me have been oppressed…” – “Well, I was treated like this….”  And there in lies the rub – the left makes the personal political and vice-versa.  Such is a result of absenting religion from public discourse.  There are two ways in which this is easily demonstrated.

    For most who are serious about their faith, religion is a personal balm.  It is a place where one takes one’s feelings and finds comfort and solace when the world is unjust.  Much of the great sacred music of the last 200 years or so came out of the slave camps of the old south when the slaves turned to faith in their very real and very genuine oppression.  The world is neither fair nor just.  Religion teaches us that we are “sinners” and that as such we will always mess up.  Faith teaches us how to cope with a world of sinners, we don;t always need to try and fix it.

    Which leads me to the second way that religion helps.  Faith allows us to see beyond ourselves and our needs.  For example – it allows us to see a world of sinners, even if we are unable to confront our own sin.  By acknowledging a greater power, usually the God of Christianity, we gain a perspective on a problem that allows us to understand that our own personal concerns, painful though they may be, are not the definitive issue in the problem.

    A personal view of the political allows for rudeness.  When it is personal, disagreement is not with ideas, but with the person holding the ideas.  Thus disagreement is insult and rudeness seems a reasonable response to insult.

    I have many stories of such rudeness that I could share as well.  There is one thing I know – we can ill-afford to respond in kind.  If we dip into the game of dismissal, insult and rudeness, tempting though it is in the face of the onslaught, then we are playing on their turf, not our own.  But more importantly, to do so is to abandon the perspective that our faith gives us, and therefore in some sense to hold less of our faith.  We lose when that happens.

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    Posted in character, Culture Wars, Evangelical Shortcomings, Prejudice, Religious Bigotry, Social/Religious Trends | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Will Churches Be Far Behind?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:54 am, May 31st 2013     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    The Washington Times reports:

    California senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would strip the Boy Scouts of America of its tax-exempt status in the state.

    They’re not happy with the group’s recent vote on gay membership, saying it didn’t go far enough.

    [...]

    The bill passed the Senate 27-9.

    Welcome to the chilling new age.

    Coercion has replaced convincing.  Decades upon decades of good acts and making good people is to be punished over a legitimate disagreement on a single issue!?  This is abuse of government at its absolute worst.  How can a government even dream of singling out an organization in this fashion?  One organization!  The power of government is being used not on a policy basis, but on a punitive, highly aimed basis.  Was it not opposition to such government action that our nation was founded upon?

    The threats of this action I have understood.  Such threats are powerful rhetoric and policy changes are wrought in rhetoric.  But to actually pull the trigger and act, and to do so based on a compromise action is frightening.  This is political violence, make no mistake.  We are unleashing forces that we may not be able to control.

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    Posted in Religious Bigotry, Same-sex marriage, Social/Religious Trends | Comment on this post » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    With friends like these…

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 07:35 pm, May 30th 2013     &mdash      1 Comment »

    This is the kind of thing that tells us there is more work to do if politically conservative Evangelicals and Mormons are really going to link arms on important issues.

    We will probably never know if significant numbers of Evangelicals stayed home on Election Day 2012, or refused to vote for Romney, based on the GOP candidate’s religion. If they did, it was because of nonsense like this.

    John adds…

    Fischer is a known dummy and worked hard against Romney because, Fischer so stated, of Romney’s religion.  He is was one of the Iowa ringleaders and he gladly takes credit for 2008.  I believe Romney effectively neutralized him in 2012.  This sort of thing, odious as it is, is relatively isolated.

    We will never know for certain if Evangelicals stayed home in 2012, but the evidence is awfully strong that they abstained from voting for Romney in significant numbers.  My personal theory is that Evangelicals 1) are dissatisfied with “the establishment” generally and 2) were, we now know, actively suppressed from organizing.  Put those things together and you have a very close race, when the president’s record should have had him far behind Romney.  I believe that the steps Romney was forced to take to neutralize guys like Fischer contributed to the Evangelical ennui.

    Under these circumstances is does not take “significant numbers” to make a difference.  Very small numbers will do the trick if they are strategically located.  But it is the combination of these factors that set the table for this sort of nonsense to make a difference.  Absent the scandalous intimidation of the the Obama administration, most notably from the IRS, this stuff would not have been enough of a blip to matter.

    Fischer should not have mattered, but he did because this administration, if not the most corrupt, is certainly shaping up to be the most unethical in history.  The scandalous and the stupid – and effective, if disappointing combination.

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    Posted in Analyzing 2012, Evangelical Shortcomings, Religious Bigotry | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Speaking of Religious Tests…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 02:16 pm, May 17th 2013     &mdash      2 Comments »

    From Chris Moody (HT: Jim Geraghty):

    On June 22, 2009, the Coalition for Life of Iowa received a letter from the IRS office in Cincinnati, Ohio, that oversees tax exemptions requesting details about how often members pray and whether their prayers are “considered educational.”

    “Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3),” reads the letter, made public by the Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm that collected evidence about the IRS practices. “Organizations exempt under 501(c)(3) may present opinions with scientific or medical facts. Please explain in detail the activities at these prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your organizations spends on prayer groups as compared with the other activities of the organization.”

    Geraghty said, “Today’s hearing on IRS abuses had a lot of “are you kidding me?” moments….”  That is frankly – understatement.  I find myself praying for the patience to let the system work.  That is simply contemptible.  Not to mention utterly chilling.

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    Posted in character, Religious Bigotry, Religious Freedom | 2 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    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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    Posted in Religious Bigotry, Social/Religious Trends | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    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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