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« Not holier than thou | Main | And the nominees are... »

Dec 07, 2007


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Spag/The CA

I think this whole thing about qualifying Romney or any candidate based on their religion is nutty. I think the South Park episode on Mormonism demonstrates in a humorous way so many people are skeptical of Mormonism although the main problem evangelicals have is that the Book of Mormon is outside of the Gospel. But to make this a voting issue makes no sense because it has nothing to do with making political decisions.

Billy Hamby is the Chief District Court judge in Cabarrus County. He is a Mormon, but is a great guy, and I voted for him when I lived down there. Romney needs to be judged on his abilities, not whether he believes Joseph Smith's story about Jesus.


If Romney becomes the Republican candidate, it may be a good time to learn about the Mormon religion.
My own experience, having lived in Salt Lake City 20 years ago, is that the Mormons do not generally socialize with non-Mormons, and nobody is allowed into the temple except Mormons who are in good stead with their church (this is determined by the local bishop). The head of the church, called a prophet, is more powerful than the pope when it comes to what the membership are required to do. If he has a revelation from God that says all faithful should begin wearing knee socks on Saturdays, then you best believe the faithful will do just that. The church puts a strong importance on the family and, like Catholicism, discourages birth control and is against abortion. The power the church has over its members is rather eerie but not threatening in a direct way - I think they would not be given to bombing abortion clinics but would like to have a more direct and lawful influence over how people lead their lives.
This is why a Romney presidency might be troubling to some. Sure, he can say that the "prophet" will not tell him how to run the country, but when this is put to the test how can we be sure to what he owes his loyalty? The Church of Mormon has really been salivating over the idea of someone in the White House - it is their ultimate legitimizing coup and would give them a tremendous leg up on the competetion.
Oh, and you wouldn't be able to sit down and have a beer with Romney. The church is anti-alcohol of any type. That is, until the prophet has a revelation....

Spag/The CA

I still have a hard time believing that we are having this discussion about Romney all these years after JFK- and even after Romney's father, George Romney attempted a presidential run in 1968. That was forty years ago. One would think that 40 years is plenty of time to debate Mormonism in politics.

Dave Dobson

Sam, I agree it's disheartening. I think some of it is the party's doing - the identification with the Christian right that the Republicans have actively cultivated isn't going to leave the base friendly to a non-traditional religion. I bet Romney (or any other Mormon or non-WASP) wouldn't have nearly as much of a problem with the Democrats.

Heck, if he'd just go back to his ca. 1995 positions on the issues, he was almost a Democrat anyway.

Spag/The CA

Dave, Pat Buchanan isn't a WASP and he did quite well when he ran in 92.

Dave Dobson

Buchanan never got close to a majority, in the 30's until he dropped out early, and many of those votes were seen as protest votes.

But, I'll be happy to expand it to WASPs plus Catholics if you like.

The CA

Buchanan won South Carolina in 96 and almost beat Bush 41 in 1992. You can add Catholics, but I seem to recall that every Democrat who ever won their party's nomination was also a WASP or a Catholic.

I suspect that the issues raised about Romney as stupid as they are, won't be confined to the GOP if Romney is the nominee.

Dave Dobson

I hope you're wrong, but you could well be right, Sam. Very good points. But I still think the Republicans have situated themselves with a less religiously diverse, less religiously tolerant voting base, and I think if Romney makes it through there, he won't have the same trouble with the general public.

Spag/The CA

I don't know Dave, a lot of people on the Left hold a person's religion against them and openly complain that politicians let their religion interfere with their decisions. Bush is a fine example of that. This really isn't any different than someone on the Right worried about Romney and the source of his views.

Dare I say that a politician's religion is an issue of much greater concern with voters on the Left than on the Right. The Right once a candidate that goes to the "right" church. The Left often has a problem with a candidate who goes to any church. Both are forms of intolerance.

Ed Cone

"The Left often has a problem with a candidate who goes to any church."

Really? Please define "The Left" in this usage.

Church-going and public avowals of same are staples of presidential politics. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards all wear their church-goingness on their sleeves. Fred Thompson is the only mainstream candidate I'm aware of who has said he doesn't go to church.

If there is a "left" that has a problem with candidates who go to church and talk about doing so, then it is a left without any serious impact on elections.

Dave Dobson

Yeah, what Ed said. There are some Democrats (and probably some Republicans) who would prefer only atheist candidates, but they're not running things.

Although there is certainly religious prejudice among Democrats, I think the broader sentiment for many Democrats is a desire for candidates who are tolerant of the views of others and make choices based on the Constitution, good government, civil rights, and effective policy rather than their personal religious doctrines (for examples of what makes them mad, look at the RU486 issue, stem cells, and abstinence-only sex education).

I don't hear those objections with Romney; I hear "he isn't a real Christian," with the strong implication that only a Christian can be a good Republican and a good president.

Spag/The CA

Ed, Clinton has yet to say what she believes.

Many on "the Left" cringe when they hear that a candidate is an evangelical Christian or born again out of fear that person will run the country according to his or her religion. We have seen this constantly with Bush.

I still maintain that both are forms of religious intolerance. Not the right kind of religion versus too much of one kind of religion.

Some Republican's will say Romney is the wrong religion, some Democrats will complain that he is too religious.

Dave Dobson

Bush DID run the country according to his religion. Often, that was in conflict with the Constitution, the law, and common sense. I'll confess to being intolerant of that.

If Democrats are anti-religion, they've got a funny way of showing it. Bill Clinton is a southern Baptist. Jimmy Carter is evangelical and as deeply religious a person as you'll probably ever meet. Both of them, though, respected the fact that our country was founded on separation of church and state, and while their religion might guide their private lives and even their policy goals and objectives, it didn't take precedence over law and the nation's interest.

Ed Cone

Sam, your made this statement: "The Left often has a problem with a candidate who goes to any church."

Your statement was disputed on the facts: major candidates, including the leading Democrats, all make a big show of going to church.

So, again: please define "the Left" in this usage, and explain its relevance to an electoral process in which a public display of church-going irrefutably is seen as politically expedient.

Is it the same "Left" who you later say "cringe when they hear that a candidate is an evangelical Christian or born again?" If so, how is that Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination? Also, one of the more interesting stories of the year -- one that's been covered here quite a bit, as recently as today -- is the emerging recognition that "evangelical" does not equal "conservative" in political terms.

That is not to say that there are not millions of Americans who are not religious, and millions more who are concerned with the intertwining of church and state, and wrestle with the relationship of religion and politics.

Finally, when you say "Clinton has yet to say what she believes," what do you mean? She's talked about her Methodist faith quite a bit.

This article says: Mrs. Clinton, the New York senator who is seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, has been alluding to her spiritual life with increasing regularity in recent years...Mrs. Clinton and others who have known her as a church youth-group member, a Sunday school teacher or a participant in weekly Senate prayer breakfasts say faith has helped define her, shaping everything from her commitment to public service to the most intimate of decisions.

“It has certainly been a huge part of who I am, and how I have seen the world and what I believe in, and what I have tried to do in my life,” Mrs. Clinton said in the half-hour interview devoted to her religious convictions."

Spag/The CA

Ed, I think what I said-

"I still maintain that both are forms of religious intolerance. Not the right kind of religion versus too much of one kind of religion.

Some Republican's will say Romney is the wrong religion, some Democrats will complain that he is too religious."

is an accurate statement. We saw complaints already from secular progressive groups that Romney didn't include secular progressives and atheists in his speech.

Carter was nominated 32 years ago in a much different time.

Hillary won't say where she goes to church or what denomination she is.

Ed Cone

Sam, you said something specific: "The Left often has a problem with a candidate who goes to any church."

It's been pointed out in response(more than once) that all the major candidates make a point of emphasizing their religiousness, and thus you've been asked (more than once) two specific questions: what does "the Left" mean in this context, and what is the relevance of any such "Left" in a political system that clearly ignores its alleged prejudice against candidates who attend any church?

If you misspoke, fine. If you believe that, as you said, "The Left often has a problem with a candidate who goes to any church," please define "the Left" and explain its relevance in a process where all major candidates emphasize their religious faith.

As for Clinton, she's a Methodist, as has been endlessly reported, and as even the briefest of Google searches would reveal. The article linked and cited above goes into some detail on the subject, for that matter.

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