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."

  • Who Is Mixing What!?!?!? Beck and the Mormon Crack

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 12:47 pm, January 23rd 2015     &mdash      1 Comment »

    McKay Coppins tweets of Glenn Beck:

    It is fascinating to watch this thing go all over twitter in a matter of seconds,  First thing, watch the video, there is no context whatsoever.  One must assume from the comments that Beck is commenting on some local Utah issue, but you can’t really tell.   Secondly, Beck has his history so, so wrong.  His reference to Smoot-Hawley is just bizarre.  One, not both, of the sponsors was a Mormon.  We did an extensive 5 part review (III - IIIIVV) of a book that centers on the seating of Reed Smoot way back when this blog started and there is simply no evidence that its was Smoot’s religious convictions that informed his sponsorship of that ill-fated tariff.  Finally there is the point that Beck himself, as almost everyone that responds to Coppins notes,  is a Mormon, though he is rumored to be having a crisis of faith.  I met Beck at Romney’s “Faith in America” speech back in ’07 and he then seemed a man who knew where the lines were.

    One must wonder here if Beck is not the one mixing his “gospel and politics.”  Could it be that Beck’s personal issues with his faith are influencing his comments?  One must also wonder with his “Tea Party” and “Bush/Romney” mentions if he is not reaching for a convenient stick to throw at candidates that he disagrees with?  That is to say, Beck appears to be the one using religion as a political weapon here.

    Regardless one thing is certain, and the Twitter response makes this quite plain, if a Mormon with as public a profile as Beck is going to take Mormon swipes like this open war on Mormons in public life has been declared if Romney runs.  Beck may have left himself some plausible deniability with the word “when,” but does he honestly think the general press is going to notice that or be so nuanced?

    This campaign has not even really started and it’s getting awfully ugly already.

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    Hitting All The Marks

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:07 am, January 19th 2015     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Yesterday, I reacted to the reactions to Romney’s Friday night speech to the RNC.  I did so becasue I did not have a chance to see the speech.  Well now I have.  Watch it with me:

    Ten days ago, after a magazine in Paris was shot up, I wrote this:

    The campaign for the presidency, 2016, should not merely be about candidates positioning themselves to get elected.  It should be a test of leadership.  That leadership will be expressed in the candidate or candidates that can get the nation to understand the terrorism cancer that threatens us and convince us that we have to do what we have to do to survive.  I know, national security elections have seemed a thing of the past.  I am looking for the candidate that can make 2016 a national security election.  Anything less threatens our very existence.

    What is the number one concern in that speech by Romney?  Making the world safer!  He is the first candidate or potential candidate to hit what this writer considers exactly the correct tone and stance.  In one speech he has moved me from thinking about what loyalty requires of me to being truly excited by what he has to offer the campaign.

    Well and truly done.

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    Clash With Class

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 12:51 pm, January 12th 2015     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Been an interesting weekend.  Three events have caught my eye:

    1. Romney has more or less said he is running.
    2. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Denver Broncos yesterday.
    3. Rick Santorum got feisty.

    How are these things related?  Well, let’s start with Santorum:

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mitt Romney has told a group of his top donors that he is seriously considering a third White House bid.

    Santorum smiles broadly. “Bring it on,” he says. The surprise runner-up in the 2012 Republican primary, Santorum won eleven primaries and caucuses before eventually conceding a hard-fought battle to Romney. Now, he wants a rematch.

    After reading that this morning, I could not help but think of the December piece on Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, from the Wall Street Journal:

    Luck has become famous for congratulating—sincerely and enthusiastically—any player to hit him hard. Any sack is met with a hearty congratulations, such as ”great job” or “what a hit!” He yells it after hard hits that don’t result in sacks, too. It is, players say, just about the weirdest thing any quarterback does in the NFL.

    There are two highly notable things about the Obama presidency.  The first is the overwhelming use of sports metaphors and the other is leading from so far behind that he has become invisible.

    Since sports metaphors seem to be the order of the day and the Andrew Luck led Colts are experiencing far greater success than most anticipated, one has to wonder if it might be time for us to ditch the Santorum-type trash talk in favor of a “weidrder” (well, that’s what the WSJ called it) approach to the primary season we find thrust upon us oh, so early.

    The thing is this, the punditry has been spending enormous amounts of time and energy trying to delineate the divisions within the GOP.  Whether it be “establishment against Conservative,” or “Bush v Romney,” or Ted Cruz against the world, they want us at each others throats.  There is no doubt this will be the most hard fought primary in my memory – the number of participants alone almost guarantees that.  But the last thing we need when it comes to the general election is to be so worn out from the primary fight, or so divided, that Hillary wins.  After the eight years of utter disaster that have met us, after eight years of saying “it can’t get any worse” only to be proven wrong, after being stunned time and time again by the utter incompetency of this administration, we cannot even dabble with the thought of Benghazi Hillary, grandmother of Obamacare, major player in this utterly incompetent administration gaining the White House.

    Since 2006 this blog has chronicled the presidential aspiration adventures of Mitt Romney as regards his religion.  He has, in large part because of his religion, been the most Andrew Luck like of candidates.  Romney’s prior defeats seemed to indicate the rise of greater and greater coarseness in our national debates.  But if civility is winning big in the NFL, who knows what will happen in campaign 2016.  I for one would welcome less trash talk and coarseness and the division it engenders.  Regardless of any individual candidates final decision regarding running, her’s hoping.

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    “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:51 am, December 25th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    …Thus quote Santa at the end of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

    At last night’s Christmas Eve services I was reminded of the story of the shepherds near Bethlehem.  When the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people….”

    Early though it is, there are already two “announced” candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination for president, Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush.  As such, I have been researching the archives of this blog getting warmed up for the extended election season  that is upon us – and it is deeply depressing.  While the GOP is the party that promotes religion in the nation, the extent to which religion divides us is truly astonishing.

    Hence I simply wish to point out that the good news of Christmas is intended for everyone.

    May that be the start of the religious discussion of the 2016 presidential election cycle.

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    Why Do People Want To Change Religion Rather Than Change Religions?

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:51 am, December 13th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Last Wednesday I ranted about Ben Carson’s pet newspaper, the Washington Times, carrying a disingenuous Mormon cheap shot that had to be motivated by fear of substance to the Romney 3rd run rumors.  (Note the sourcing on the latest round of rumors – Romney backers.  The vast majority of these stories are placed by people trying to put pressure on Romney to run again; they are not based on anything Romney is saying.  So how informative are they really?)

    Another story line has appeared, this one emerging on the left, that has the same feel to it.  A left wing Mormon blogger noted from Dianne Feinstein’s attempt to total disrupt national security that some of the key people that engaged in the enhanced interrogation program were Mormon.  It has echoed elsewhere in the Mormon blogosphere.  It even made the big time press a bit.  But really I think this story is not about ginning up “Mormon” to dissuade Romney at all – this is about the rather large battle of left v right inside the CJCLDS.

    The Latter Day Saints are hardly the first church to see this battle.  It is over in the Episcopal Church and the liberals have won.  The Presbyterian Church in The United States of America, PC(USA), is in the mop up phase as the right wing congregations are fleeing the denomination as fast that the convoluted bureaucratic process will allow them.  The Methodists seem next up to bat for the final showdown.  Pope Francis seems to have opened the door for the beginning salvos inside Roman Catholicism.  It is interesting to see it in the CJCLDS; however, because the process is seriously compressed.  The protestant churches previously mentioned have been through a liberalization lasting many decades.  If it proceeds in the Roman Catholic church, it’ll last centuries.  This liberalizing process typically begins with a growing acceptance of divorce, moves through the ordination of women to ruling office in the church then to various expressions of “peacemaking” agendas, and advances to the LGBT agenda (with many small steps in between)  which seems to be the final battleground.  The liberal Latter Day Saints seem to want to address all these issues in a very short period of time.

    But unlike in, say, the 1950′s, when moving from Baptist to Methodist to Presbyterian was more like changing decor than moving to a new city, nowadays there is a huge diversity of stands on all these issues spread throughout churches across the land.  Are you gay and feel unwelcome in Church X?  Well, Church Y down the street would certainly welcome you with open arms.  So why do people seem so he%$bent on changing  Church X instead of just going to Church Y?

    There are probably as many motivations as there are people involved in the process, but there is one thing about which you can be certain.  It is testament to the power the church has in forming culture.  If the church were as irrelevant as the atheistic left would have us think this would all be silly little tiffs that we would never read about in the papers.  But this is big news with ramifications for presidential elections.  People are interested in changing Church X becasue they want to change the nation as a whole and as long as Church X is holding out they have failed in their mission.

    It is irritating that so many churches seem to cower under the assault.  The assault is testament to the power the church has to shape things and yet rather than try to shape things, the church usually tries “not to offend.”  (Can anyone say “peacemaking agenda?”)  The church is a potent force in society, which ripples out into everything from music videos to presidential elections.  It is time we acted like it.

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    Battles and Wars

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:07 am, August 4th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    A recent article in Roll Call a couple of weeks ago points out that that a lot of former megachurch staff members seem to be winning the low-turnout elections this summer:

    Their victories come as public opinion has shifted dramatically on some social issues, notably same-sex marriage, denounced by most religious conservatives. The rise of the tea party and libertarian factions in the Republican Party has also diluted the influence of social conservative activists in the GOP.

    But in the case of these faith-figures-turned-pols, the candidates’ close relationships to their churches played a factor — perhaps the deciding one — in their victories.

    “People generally like their pastor, and in politics it’s always good to be liked by voters,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon.

    This cycle’s successful religious leaders include Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., who recently won a primary in the special election to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Coburn.

    They cite organizational skill as the primary reason fort this trend:

    From a political perspective, operatives cite organizational abilities as a religious leader’s No. 1 strength in campaigns. In low-turnout summer contests, that often leads to success.

    “Churches do a good job of mobilizing and getting their people out because they’re organized, there’s phone trees, there’s a registry, and they certainly use that to get the word out,” said GOP ad maker Casey Phillips.

    Makes good deal of sense to me.  We have discussed a lot on this blog that the diverse and fragmentary nature of Evangelicalism has blunted its political effectiveness.  But there is an issue that flows from this.  The church is not an inherently political organization.  A megachurch may be well organized for political action, but is it well organized for doing what the church is supposed to do?

    I do not want to attempt to answer that in this post, but I do think it is worthy of discussion.  Too many churches automatically think bigger is better without thinking about why and how they get bigger.  What do you think?

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