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."

  • The President’s Prayer Breakfast Remarks – Worse Than You Thought

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:22 am, February 6th 2015     &mdash      3 Comments »

    The President gave talk radio a field day at yesterday’s prayer breakfast.  Punditry had a go too, consider, Paul, John and Scott at Powerline.  Everybody had good point – everybody.  But it seems like everybody missed what I would call the “metapoint.”  Most of the radio commentary focused on this passage from the speech:

    Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.  Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.

    So this is not unique to one group or one religion.  There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.  In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try.  And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.

    The historical ignorance, moral equivalence and “hipness” (“Gandhji,” really?!) are abysmal.  But consider the theme of the remarks.  He makes his thesis statement in the paragraph just following those much discussed remarks:

    And, first, we should start with some basic humility.  I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.

    That is an astonishing statement!  Think about the utter lack of humility involved in telling religions – all religions – to be humble.   He is in this paragraph telling every religion that they hold only some portion or some version of truth.  Not only is that insulting to any religion listening, one of the purposes of religion being to act as keeper of truth, but it requires a nearly god-like self regard to presume to utter such a statement.

    Again and again his remarks turn to the word “humility” and each time Obama demonstrates an utter lack of the characteristic in himself.  Why would anyone want to be humble in the face of such immense and thoughtless hubris?  This is the kind of talk that comes from the mouths of cult leaders, not genuine religious leaders.

    But then a lack of humility has been the single greatest hallmark of the Obama administration.  We could go on for hours.  Even more stunning  in a call to religious humility is his moral equivalence about religion itself – and specifically about the clash between religions that he so pietistically (well at least with regards to his own self- anointed wisdom) tries to address.  Christianity, almost entirely, and Judaism to a large extent are religions that call people to humility.   Judaism does not really call upon its adherents to proselytize.  Jesus tells his followers, when he sends to to proselytize, that f a place does not hear what they have to offer, to wipe the dust from their feet and move on.  Humble approaches, both.  Islam on the other hand encourages proselytization at the point of a sword.

    Mohammed was a conqueror – Jesus sacrificed his very life.  When it comes to humility there is a marked difference in these religions.  Obama cites historical flaws in Christian practice. Indeed, but aside from the fact that they are historical – they were self-correcting.  It was Christians opposed to these errant Christian practices that brought them to an end.  The humility that Christianity seeks to foster, meant that such in-humble practice had a limited lifetime within Christianity.  Where is such self-correction is Islam?  To draw a moral equivalence between the religions of the West and the Islam of the near-East is to be utterly ignorant of all religions involved.

    And in this speech not only utterly ignorant, but proudly so.

    Much has been made in the punditry of the complete vacuousness and posing of these remarks.  Those things are true, but only because this may be the most powerless “4th quarter” president in American history.  Everything he says is vacuous because in the real world, nothing he says actually matters.  But had this man any actual power, these remarks would be dangerous.  As a Christian I am insulted by his ignorance of my faith and irritated, perhaps even angered, by his proud preening and posing.  If I were Islamic I would take both his ignorance and his stance as a challenge – a call not to less conflict but to more conflict.  In his ignorance of all the faiths in question Obama incites conflict, not tamps it down.

    The big question in my mind is does ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the rest understand how really powerless Obama is?  If they do not, then they will in fact be incited.  This is not a good thing.

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    A Fitting End

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:36 am, February 1st 2015     &mdash      1 Comment »

    Needless to say, this blog was as surprised b Mitt Romney’s decision NOT to run on Friday as was the rest of the world.  Yesterday, The Daily Beast published a short piece by the brains behind Romney’s political operation, Stuart Stevens, “Why Romney Didn’t Run.”  It’s closing words are most fitting to Romney, his campaigns and to why this blog has done what it has done:

    It’s an unusual move. Before his call Friday, most political observers were predicting Romney would move forward, which seemed the safe bet. (Though Romney had consulted with a wide range of people while considering the race, only a handful knew of his final decision.) It’s rare that someone who has a very good chance to win a nomination, particularly for an open seat, would pass on the opportunity. But it’s consistent with who Mitt Romney is: a good and decent man, remarkably centered in his family and faith, who really does want what he believes is best for the country. He’s not a candidate driven by some personal anger, desperate to prove himself. If in a wide range of candidates there is a chance for the nominating process to produce a very strong candidate, he doesn’t want to put personal ambition before that possibility.

    Outside the intense partisan fire of the election, hopefully more people have been able to get a better sense of Mitt Romney as a person. Yesterday with a bit of graciousness in our “me first” culture, he gave us a little more insight.

     

     

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    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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