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."

  • Progress?!

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:38 am, July 15th 2014     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Regular readers know that I am Presbyterian.  Most do not know, nor care really, that I am Presbyterian Church in the United States of America – PC(USA).  There are many Presbyterian denominations in the US and the world.  PC(USA) is the largest in the United States.  It is also the most liberal.  At its last General Assembly, the highest governing body in the church, it voted, among other things, to divest from Israel for the sake of peace and to allow pastors moved by conscience to perform same-sex marriages.

    I find myself in the rather unusual position of having the church I was raised in and that inculcated me with my sexual mores calling me a bigot because I believe homosexual practice is outside of God’s will.  People of many different faiths read this blog.  One thing we all share is the idea that what is good, typically defined by divine order, is static, not subject to whim, fashion, or even time.  It is strange indeed to have gone from faithful adherent to bigoted old fart without ever changing my view.  It is also rather unusual when I have visited Israel and been under rocket fire from the Gaza to be told by people that have never left the Midwestern United States that I have no understanding of peace and war and the situation in the Middle East.   It is as if reality is warping around me.

    People are deriding the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints for standing firm on things that have been a part of it from the beginning:

    The true legacy of the Mormon Moment might just be that the church was given the chance that many religious institutions desperately need to stay relevant in the 21st century: the opportunity to open itself to criticism and inquiry. The church has chosen not to. And it has killed its own moment by doing so.

    Note that phrase “stay relevant,” we will return to it momentarily.

    Dennis Prager has written of how upside down the anti-Israeli view has become in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas playing out in the Gaza region:

    And what is the primary concern of the United Nations, nearly all the world’s media, and nearly all the world’s intellectuals? That Entity B, while hundreds of missiles are launched at its most populated cities, not kill any of the civilians among whom Entity A’s leaders hide.

    The moral gulf between Israel, our Entity B, and Hamas, our Entity A, is as clear and as great as the one that existed between the Allies and Nazi Germany. It is one of the few instances in today’s world when the Nazi analogy is accurate.

    It is clear that while free and democratic countries such as those in Western Europe value the freedoms of speech, assembly, and press for themselves, the absence of these freedoms among Israel’s enemies means nothing to the Europeans in morally assessing the Middle East conflict.

    The news media, too, have no moral focus. They are preoccupied with Gazans who have died, and with the disparity between the number of Gazans killed and the number of Israelis killed — as if that is morally dispositive. Imagine that during World War II, the Western press had converged on German hospitals and apartment buildings and repeatedly announced the huge disparity between German civilian deaths and British civilian deaths. More than 10 times the number of German civilians were killed as were British — but did that have anything at all to do with the morality of the British war against Germany?

    There are voices pointing out that  sometimes we have to “go against the grain:”

    So if there is one thing we can learn from Glenn Beck (and subsequently Jesus) it is that we must be willing to go against the grain to stand for what we know to be right, even if it costs our job, wealth, power, position, or privilege. We must be willing to stick our necks out and seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. If we do, God will take care of everything else.

    Note that Beck is going against a conservative grain here (humanitarian aid to illegal immigrant children), not a liberal one.  Which raises some interesting points.

    One is that Mormons seem to be standing firm more than others.  And yet we were worried about Romney’s Mormon faith?!  I am sorry, there is a lot of sour grapes in that – which is unbecoming, but gosh darn it – I told you so.

    The second interesting point is that religious values and political values do not always align, on either side of the political spectrum.  Beck is absolutely right on this one – as I wrote last week.  The conservative orthodoxy regarding illegal immigration ignores the humanitarian disaster we are confronted with.  Politically, governmentally, we cannot take them into the nation – on that I agree.  But churches, as separate entities, should be offering all the humanitarian aid they can.  To do less only harms the reputation of religious folks.  It makes us look like the beasts the left wants to claim we are.

    Which brings me to my third point.  It is one we have made here over and over and over again.  Democracy can only work with a good and moral populace.  It is the job of the church to help people find that goodness and morality.  Absent divinity, reality can indeed warp.   Some churches seem to be abandoning divinity, the left certainly has.  The question is not relevancy, it is right.  Politics is an expression, not a source.

    Before we can get our politics correct we have to return to our source.


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    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:16 am, February 18th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Come hear “blogfather” Hugh Hewitt speak on his latest book ” The Happiest Life” at La Crescenta Presbyterian Church tomorrow, Feb 19 at 7PM.  Details:


    2902 Montrose Avenue

    La Crescenta, CA 91214

    (818) 249-6137

    Book signing to follow.  A few books available for sale – cash and check only.  I’ll be there too and hope to meet you.


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    Worth Remembering…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 04:23 pm, January 21st 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    Victor Davis Hanson -

    I am not engaging in pop counterfactual history, as much as reminding us of how thin the thread of civilization sometimes hangs, both in its beginning and full maturity. Something analogous is happening currently in the 21st-century West. But the old alarmist scenarios — a nuclear exchange, global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps, a new lethal AIDS-like virus — should not be our worry.

    Rather our way of life is changing not with a bang, but with a whimper, insidiously and self-inflicted, rather than abruptly and from foreign stimuli. Most of the problem is cultural.

    Church/Religion is the leading agent to affect culture, save for the fact we have abandoned that role.  It is time we take it back.


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    Quote Of The Week

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:46 am, January 14th 2014     &mdash      Comment on this post »

    from “Socrates Rises With Christ” in Intercollegiate Review:

    Is there any way to bring political philosophy and revelation, Athens and Jerusalem, into a coherent, non-contradictory relation to each other without undermining the integrity of either? The issue is ancient no less than medieval and modern. We need a philosophy that only “searches” for wisdom but did not constitute it. We need a revelation that is open to reason, not based solely on the voluntarist proposition that each existing thing could be otherwise. To consider this relationship, we presuppose that both political philosophy and revelation talk of intelligible things.


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    As Apologies Go….

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:05 am, January 5th 2014     &mdash      1 Comment »

    On New Year’s Eve, I said this about the incidences on Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC:

    Sarah Palin has this one absolutely right – Despicable.  to that I will add – Contemptible – apologies not withstanding.

    At that juncture, Harris-Perry had issued a apology on Twitter “Without reservation or qualification.”

    She has returned to the air this weekend and made further, deep and heartfelt apologies. (See the video.)  As on-air apologies from the left go, this one is by far the least perfunctory and most meaning filled I have encountered.  Harris-Perry is clearly disturbed by what happened and is clearly seeking to right a deep and hurtful wrong.

    It leaves us in a difficult position.  The apology is great as far as it goes.  I do not doubt the sincerity with which it is offered nor the contrition which underlies it.  But here is the thing about confession/apology – sometimes we confess and apologize for lesser crimes in order to redirect focus from the larger crimes.  Usually we do that to avoid facing our own deep demons, not just to deceive those around us – I believe that to be the case here.

    Note Harris-Perry’s focus on the adopted child.  It is clear Harris-Perry relates to the child, has empathy for the child and truly regrets any harm she has caused the child in the conduct of her show.  This is all right and good.

    But what went on on her show the prior weekend, even in the name of humor, was offensive to far more than just that beautiful baby.  Also called into question was the ability of the Romney extended family to properly love and care for that child.  If you know the Romney’s in even the slightest, you would know that nothing could be further from the truth.  It is deeply, deeply offensive the presume that because they are white Mormons, the Romney clan is somehow unable or ill-equipped to care for or parent an African-American child.  Harris-Perry mentions this issue not at all.  She offers no apology to anyone in the Romney extended family.

    Secondly, all of what went on on that show as steeped in racism.  As Harris-Perry explains at length, this was supposed to be a comedic look at interesting pictures from the year just past.  To put up that picture under those circumstances is to imply that whites and blacks generally are somehow incompatible – that there is an absurdity to such a mixture in a family setting.  That implication is purely, unabashedly racist.  Racism is harmful not just to the individuals involved, but to our society as a whole.  Harris-Perry’s apology makes no mention of her own ingrained racial attitudes, nor those of her producers and/or staff.  She barely mentions race in her apology, and when she does it is only in the context of harm to the child.  There is nothing to indicate a rethink on Harris-Perry’s part about the role of race in our society.

    I could go on like this for a while, but it is not my intent to slight Harris-Perry’s apology as far as it goes.  I just want to be clear that in accepting the apology, and it is indeed worthy of acceptance, many problems still remain.  Many underlying issues still need to be addressed.  This incident is past, but the problems that created it are far, far from over.  Those problems remain, as I said originally, contemptible.


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    The First Boomlet of 2016

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:14 am, December 14th 2013     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Of course, there has been a lot of discussion of the potential field for 2016, but this week has witnessed a boomlet.  The dictionary defines “boomlet”:

    : a sudden and usually brief increase in business activity : a small boom

    But it is important to note the exemplary sentence with that definition:

    A few years ago, the town enjoyed a nice boomlet, but since then times have been tough.

    One of the definitional characteristics of a boomlet  is that they die.  The 2012 Republican primary was a series of boomlets – from Perry to Gingrich to Cain and back to Gingrich and then to Santorum.  These 2012 boomlets served the same role that the Huckabee candidacy did in 2008 – SPOILER.  They represent a significant subset of Republicans that are grossly dissatisfied with what they view as “business as usual” and they flail around like a chicken minus its head looking for an alternative.

    Needless to say, Democrats and the MSM love this group because they are just large enough to prevent a strong Republican cadre from coalescing, thus greatly increasing Democratic chances.  That’s what a spoiler does.  This bunch lack sufficient mass to win, but they have just enough to make sure the Republican they don’t like can’t.  We cannot forget where they were born – Iowa 2007.  They were born in direct reaction to Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.

    Go back and read the archive of this blog in November and December of 2007.  It was practically open religious warfare.  The religion buzz was everywhere.  So much so that Romney had to whip out his speech on religion months before he wanted to.  It was working too.  Then Huckabee rang the religion bell in a NYTimes interview and well, the rest is as they say, history.

    Most fascinating about this is that every step of the way this spoiler group has only generated destruction of their agenda.  If not directly, although much has been done directly, then because they gave the media sufficient fodder to portray and divided and disorganized Republican party – weakening it and paving a path for Obama.

    And now this latest boomlet simply repeats that pattern.

    They are back where they started – Mike Huckabee.  TownahllHot AirThe FixJim Gerahty are all talking the Huckster.  Geraghty proclaims it “a highly coordinated rollout.”  But start with Townhall and the video that is generating a good bit of the furor.  Huckabee keeps talking about all the support he is getting from places like Iowa and South Carolina.  The Fix does a fine bit of political analysis as to why this is a pipe dream.  Regardless, there are a couple of comments to be made.

    I am the last person to talk about anybody’s body weight.  I used to be the size of a small city, gravitational field and everything.  Fortunately that is no longer the case – a heavenly blessing.  Mike Huckabee on the other hand has yo-yo weight.  He has been up down and every size in between.  Most extraordinary to me is that the man is master at manipulating the press photographing him.  When I went looking for pictures to illustrate my point, recent full body shots are hard to come by.  Based on his face, I would say his weight is currently coming down, but it is hard to judge that way.

    When it comes to weight, there is a far more credible possible with the same issue – Chris Christie.  I have not talked about this issue with him because he seems to be doing it right – he’s just losing the weight, none of this yo-yo stuff we have seen in the Huckster over the years.  Weight of itself is not a disqualifier for the office.  We have had more than one president of extraordinary girth.  But the modern campaign is an exceptional physical task.  Too much weight – as I am uniquely positioned to know – can simply make it impossible to keep pace.

    All this is to say that if the Huckster is slimming we’ll know he is serious.  But I have far more concerns about him than I do Christie.  Given that the Huckster ballooned like a child’s toy as soon as he was out in 2008 – the yo-yo thing – it shows that the entire episode was “a show” for him and not a serious endeavor to help himself and the nation.  Because Christie has not done the yo-yo thing, he still gets the benefit of the doubt.

    But the far more important comment is about this spoiler group.  Romney’s nomination in 2012 shows that they are smaller and less effective than they were in 2008, but his 2012 loss in the general contained strong indicators that this bunch stayed home, or left their presidential ballot blank, and that they could have spelled the difference.  And so this bunch may very well have put the nation in the deep pickle it finds itself in today.  Scandal upon scandal.  Somebody this past week, and I am sorry I cannot remember who, proclaimed Obamacare “the most disastrous piece of social engineering since Prohibition.”  We are on the brink of war on the China Sea.  There were Americans killed in Benghazi more and more apparently to influence an electoral outcome.  It is seriously questionable if we remain the leader of the world.

    And all this because a relatively limited group of people did not like the cut of Mitt Romney’s religious jib.  Oh sure, by 2012 nobody was talking religion directly, but come on, same people, same places – give me a break.

    I don’t know Mike Huckabee – but the fact that he would once again seek to capitalize on this bunch.  That he would give them air and hope and support, regardless of his personal conviction, is destructive.  Not merely of the Republican party, but as the last 5 years have shown – of the nation.  That alone disqualifies him in my book.

    Huckabee is not going anywhere – but how much damage will he wreak in the meantime?


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