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."

  • A Scholarly Look at Romney 2008 and Religion; the Huckster – Noise and Fury Signifying Little; and more…

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 09:32 am, July 1st 2010     &mdash      3 Comments »

    John and I feel somewhat validated – but not at all surprised – by this report of a scholar’s analysis of Romney and religion in the 2008 presidential election cycle.

    The paper, entitled “Mitt Romney’s Religion: A Five Factor Model for Analysis of Media Representation of Mormon Identity,” appeared in the May issue of The Journal of Media and Religion. This paragraph will bring a smile to those who’ve followed this blog for a while:

    For many, the combination of Mormonism and Romney’s ‘flip-flops’ on many hot-button issues gave reason to oppose him. Conservative activist Brian Camenker’s report on Romney’s shifting positions gave ammunition to conservatives to withdraw support from Romney. Vanderbilt University researchers found Romney’s flip-flopper label was an easy cover for anti-Mormonism. In the end, it was the rise of Huckabee and the political primaries in the evangelical-dominated South that derailed Romney’s bid for the presidency. For many, Romney’s run represented a misguided attempt to curry the favor of evangelicals.

    That almost makes me think Professor Baker is also a regular reader here. ;) (Seriously, with this paper she has moved to the top of my list of “People I’d Like to Have Lunch With.”)

    Here is the article abstract from The Journal of Media and Religion (it costs $30 to see the entire piece):

    Mitt Romney’s religion accounted for 50% of all religion-related presidential primary campaign stories in 2007, and 30% of Romney’s total media coverage focused on his Mormon faith. This article reviews that coverage and considers it within the larger historical context of the complex relationship between media and Mormonism throughout the 180-year history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A factorial model (the first in the area of Mormon Media Studies) is proposed by which to document and analyze the wider societal influences that are reflected in media representation of Mormon identity. The model’s 5 factors include the media, the Mormons, other religions, secular influences, and politics/government. The model assumes an interrelationship among the five factors. Factor influence and relationships among factors vary according to time, issue, and circumstance. The model relates to informational (not entertainment) media. Suggestions are made for application of the model to academic studies.

    As I jokingly note above, we documented and analyzed all of this as it occurred.  If you’re interested and want to save $30, be sure to read our “Telling The Story” series for our version of this same tale, minus the Smoot comparisons, which we examined in our five-part series reviewing and commenting on Kathleen Flake’s book “The Politics of American Religious Identity.”  You may recall that Flake’s book was about the Smoot seating hearings.  You can find our posts about that here - hereherehere and here.

    John Jumps On Board…

    ..Because The Huckabee “boomlet” has become a “Boom?!”

    In the words of Jacob McCandles when confronted with rumors of his death: “Not hardly.“  Here’s how this went down.  Huckabee did Fox News Sunday last Sunday.  If you read the transcript, this is what he says:

    I haven’t closed the door. I think that would be foolish on my part, especially when poll after poll shows that there is strong sentiment out there. I end up leading a lot of the polls. I’m the Republican that clearly, at this point, does better against Obama than any other Republican. You know, I’m not totally unaware of that.

    At which point the MSM and leftie blogs went ape – The HillHuffPoPolitics DailyThe FixUSAToday – one very right wing outlet sounded the trumpets – News Max.  His home town paper was a bit less impressed.

    Let’s analyze what’s really happening here.  Fox commentator Huckabee appears on FNS in a short segment.  That sounds more like a promotional appearance than a serious interview to me.  The idea was to generate some heat for Huckabee’s show and based on the coverage, I think they got it.  Secondly, Huckabee is prone to exaggerated claims.  He still claims to have finished “second” in the 2008 primary race despite the fact the delegate count, and his speaking slot at the convention, clearly indicate to the contrary, even though he stayed in the race far longer than the actual second place finisher – Romney.

    Huckabee is a media guy now – he has speaking fees to maintain, and his bread-and-butter constituency is not what it used to be.  The Huckster needs the possibility of a run to continue to make a living.  And of course, the MSM and non-team players are always willing to stir the pot on our side.

    There’s a lot of coverage here, but no meat on the bones.  Call me when Huck’s fundraising gets better and he loses at least 60 pounds, until then its all posturing for ratings and fees.

    UPDATE (7 hours after initial publication)Told ya so! I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet….  Back to the initial post.

    And Speaking of Lefties Doing Some Pot Stirring…

    What do you think Marc Ambinder is up to with this piece?  [Lowell interjectsI do not like his suggestion that Iowa and New Hampshire just be allowed to go ahead with their February primaries.   Why should those two quirky, small states, whose voting is so easily manipulated, be allowed to set the tone for the entire campaign?]

    Mormon Stuff…

    This is silly, and discriminatory – CNBC covering “Mormon” business.  Most business school graduates prefer to hire grads of the same business school,  Nothing to see here.

    This is just great read.  Would that other forms of Christianity were as open minded.

    Here’s another one with idiot commenters.  Why someone has to turn that story into a religio-political comment is beyond.

    General Religion Stuff…

    This is so utterly simplistic as to be annoying.  (In fact it is self-contradictory, but it is not worth the effort to demonstrate that fully here.)  One can judge a candidate’s character, or stance on issues, without reference to religion.  Religion does indeed influence those things, but it is not wholly determinative.  When you drag religion into it, it indeed starts to get about “us” and “them” instead of about the issues at hand.  And that leads to unnecessary conflict.

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, Electability, News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Religious Bigotry, Telling The Story, The Speech | 3 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Revisiting Romney’s “Faith in America” Speech: Did It Really Change The Discussion Forever?

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 09:50 pm, March 13th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    [John and I are otherwise engaged these next few days, so just for fun we are re-publishing a post that went up on December 10, just after Romney’s “Faith In America” Speech (see it here) at the Bush Library in College Station, Texas. Read it and tell me: Was I wrong? Did things turn out the way I thought they would? That you thought they would? Comment away. Comment moderation is turned off. Let’s get a comment thread going.]

    Romney’s “Faith in America” Speech: Changing The Discussion Forever

    John and I were on Hugh Hewitt’s show Friday for a few minutes and Hugh asked us if we thought The Speech put The Question to bed. We didn’t have time to answer fully.

    On reflection, I think what has happened is that Romney has irrevocably and forever changed the discussion about The Question. (K-Lo seems to agree.)

    As John notes below, Romney has drawn a line in the sand, and everyone watching this race — candidates, commentators, or voters– will need to decide which side they are on.

    Why? Because Romney has taken the high ground on the issue of religion. From this point on, the following statements from his “Faith in America” speech will guide the discussion:

    (more…)

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    Posted in The Speech | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Update: James Dobson on Today’s Vote

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 10:46 am, February 5th 2008     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Because of James Dobson’s history on this issue (saying on Laura Ingraham’s show that he doubts Evangelicals will support Romney) this statement, also on Laura’s show, seems significant (audio here):

    “I’m deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, who voted for embryonic stem cell research to kill nascent human beings, who opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, and who has little regard for freedom of speech, who organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language.

    “I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are.  He has at times sounded more like a member of the other party.  McCain actually considered leaving the GOP in 2001, and approached John Kerry about being Kerry’s running mate in 2004.  McCain also said publicly that Hillary Clinton would make a good president.  Given these and many other concerns, a spoonful of sugar does not make the medicine go down.  I cannot, and I will not vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience.

    “But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives.  Should John McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime.  I certainly can’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions.  If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life.  These decisions are my personal views and do not represent the organization with which I’m affiliated.  They do reflect, however, my deeply held convictions about the institution of the family, about moral and spiritual beliefs, and about the welfare of our country.”

    Dr. Dobson did love Romney’s speech on “Faith in America,” but has never endorsed anyone in the race.  Well, at least we know which candidate he will not vote for.

    (HT:  The Campaign Spot.)

    UPDATE:  A reader e-mails us and reports that Dr. Dobson was on Dennis Prager’s show this morning: “Dobson said, even tho he has doctrinal differences with Mormons, he would definitely vote for Mitt in the general were he the nominee.”

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, The Speech | 1 Comment » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    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

    Krauthammer Cries ‘No Mas’

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:44 am, December 15th 2007     &mdash      3 Comments »

    Charles Krauthammer wrote a column yesterday that said everybody was dipping too deeply into the well of religiousity this election cycle.

    This campaign is knee-deep in religion, and it’s only going to get worse. I’d thought that the limits of professed public piety had already been achieved during the Republican CNN/YouTube debate when some squirrelly looking guy held up a Bible and asked, “Do you believe every word of this book?” — and not one candidate dared reply: None of your damn business.

    Instead, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee bent a knee and tried appeasement with various interpretations of scriptural literalism. The right answer, the only answer, is that the very question is offensive. The Constitution prohibits any religious test for office. And while that proscribes only government action, the law is also meant to be a teacher.

    Krauthammer saves special mention for Romney. This is because The Speech was far and away the most reasonable utterance by a candidate in the subject to date, but the point Krauthammer makes refers to my biggest and only serious “wince point” in the whole Speech:

    (more…)

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    Posted in Candidate Qualifications, Doctrinal Obedience, Issues, Political Strategy, The Speech, Uncategorized, Understanding Religion | 3 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

    Romney’s “Faith in America” Speech: Changing The Discussion Forever

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 12:06 am, December 10th 2007     &mdash      4 Comments »

    John and I were on Hugh Hewitt’s show Friday for a few minutes and Hugh asked us if we thought The Speech put The Question to bed. We didn’t have time to answer fully.

    On reflection, I think what has happened is that Romney has irrevocably and forever changed the discussion about The Question. (K-Lo seems to agree.)

    As John notes below, Romney has drawn a line in the sand, and everyone watching this race — candidates, commentators, or voters– will need to decide which side they are on.

    Why? Because Romney has taken the high ground on the issue of religion. From this point on, the following statements from his “Faith in America” speech will guide the discussion:

    (more…)

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    Posted in Electability, Notables, Religious Bigotry, The Speech | 4 Comments » | Print this post Print this post | Email This Post Email This Post

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