Mormonism Archives

Can a Christian Vote For a Mormon?

Hat tip to Clayton Cramer, who links to a video of noted Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias. If you are having qualms about voting for a Mormon because of your Christian beliefs, this is a very good (short) video from one of the greatest Christian thinkers of our day.

Also, the AP is reporting that some black pastors are telling their congregations to sit this election out.

Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.

The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.

I’ll say what I’ve said in previous elections. While I think a person’s value, informed by their religion, are something to consider when voting, I’m not voting for a national pastor; I’m voting for a national political leader. I think if these pastors could watch this video and get over their concern that Romney happens to be Mormon, this could really change the playing field.

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    Is Mormonism Christianity?

    When I set up the post category hierarchy originally (see the Categories box over there?), I put Mormonism under Christianity because, while it may be considered to have many serious errors according to most Christian denominations, I figured it was the best place to put it since they use the Christian Old and New Testaments (or at least their version of them) as one of their foundational scriptures. Justin Taylor, however, pointed out a New York Times opinion piece by a devout Mormon who insists that he is "emphatically not a Christian".

    Now, what the writer means by "Christian" varies between a theological definition and a cultural one. Taylor deals with some of the points in the article, but then goes on to describe some of the key differences between Mormonism and historic Christianity. I think it’s a good start at understanding the religion of the likely Republican nominee for President.

    And as clarification, while I think that a candidate’s religion is fair game for scrutiny during an election, it is mostly as a gauge to understand how he may act politically. I’m not electing a national pastor; I’m electing a political leader. To the degree that his religion affects his politics and policies, I think it’s worth understanding. However, this particular examination of the Mormonism is for the purposes of understanding it as a religion; disassociated from politics. Just an FYI.

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      Vacation Link Wrap-up

      Last week was Spring Break for us, but that doesn’t mean I stopped reading the news.

      The long arm of “Pastor” Terry Jones. Obama bombs a Muslim country, and all’s quiet, but one nut half a world away burns a Koran, and gets disproportional media coverage for it, and Afghans riot, killing at least a dozen people.  Jones may be overreacting, but he’s got nothing on the angry mullahs in Afghanistan. And after all, according to NBC, burning the Koran is worse than burning the Bible because the Bible was written by men, not God. (Where do they get their religion experts?)

      A new Broadway musical attacks Muslims! This could spawn more riots! Oh, wait. It attacks Mormons. Well then, never mind.

      Say it isn’t so! The New York Times is getting its “facts” from left-wing websites and not checking said “facts” for accuracy. Oh, that liberal media.

      The Obama Doctrine; looking more and more like the Bush Doctrine. (And the Bush Doctrine is really just common sense.)

      Name the Senator who used to think that a war without congressional authority would be “monarchist”? Click here for the video.

      Carbon emissions dropped 21% from 2000-2009, without cap-and-trade. Gee, wonder who the President was during that time.

      Jimmy Carter equates Christianity with Islam in how both religions view women as inferior. Really, Jimmy? I guess if nations that are (or were) historically Christian would do things like, oh, allow women to vote, or hold jobs, or drive, or not have to cover their entire bodies with tents, then perhaps we can revisit this question.

      And finally, two nuclear questions. (Click for a larger image.)

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        1. Interfaith events almost always feature lukewarm and dumbed-down faith. This is true whether it’s a progressive event put together by Unitarians and barely religious theists or a conservative event put together by a god-and-country Mormon such as Glenn Beck.
        2. Interfaith is fine and good for patriotic events and to gain momentum on common causes, but Beck bills this as a time to help “heal your soul,” and I can promise you that the red-meat rhetoric that highlights most Beck events won’t heal anything.
        3. Evangelicals don’t look to Mormons for spiritual solace.
        4. While I am an active conservative, I do not appreciate Glenn Beck’s caustic and smirking approach to political dialogue. One evangelical leader is participating in the event because, he says, although Beck is a Mormon, he exhibits Christian “fruit.” “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal.2:22,23) I’m sorry, but that’s not a list of Beck traits. He exhibits a commitment to promoting many conservative political principles, but—in my view—by employing unchristian means.
        5. Let me give you some perspective. Most evenings during the 5 o’clock hour I’m on a treadmill at the local fitness club with a TV screen in front of me. Last night, rather than watch Glenn Beck I was watching the Little League World Series. The LLWS, really? That’s pathetic, I know, but it should tell you all you need to know about my appetite for Glenn Beck programming.
        6. I am a Republican and I think both Beck and this event are potentially harmful to improving Republican fortunes.
        7. I have a date with my wife.
        8. The Braves are in a pennant race and they’re on TV tonight (although that is trumped by #7 above).

        I could come up with several more reasons, but thinking about Glenn Beck makes my head hurt.

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          Mormons Join the Calif. Gay Marriage Fray

          While other Christian groups and denominations may have doctrinal issues with the Latter-day Saints, they do line up on a number of political issues.

          SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking California members to join the effort to amend that state’s constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

          A letter sent to Mormon bishops and signed by church president Thomas S. Monson and his two top counselors calls on Mormons to donate "means and time" to the ballot measure. A note on the letter dated June 20 says it should be read during church services on June 29, but the letter was published Saturday on several Web sites.

          Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Monday that the letter was authentic. He declined further comment, saying the letter explains the church’s reasons for getting involved.

          The LDS church will work with a coalition of churches and other conservative groups that put the California Marriage Protection Act on the Nov. 4 ballot to assure its passage, the letter states.

          In May, California’s Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, saying gays could not be denied marriage licenses.

          "The church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children," the four-paragraph letter states.

          Mormons say they have 750,000 member in California, who could have a big impact.

          What’s not clear in all of this, regardless of the addition of the Mormons to the fray, is how California will deal with the genie they’ve already let out of the bottle; what to do with marriage licenses that the amendment would directly affect.  This quandary, brought to you by Judicial Activism(tm), is the result of liberals in government not letting the legislative process do its work and trying to usurp it.  Some complained here in Georgia that the constitutional amendment that passed here was unnecessary since we already had a law against same-sex marriage.  The California situation is a prime object lesson for why that argument was, at least, disingenuous. 

          [tags]California,Latter-Day Saints,Mormons,same-sex marriage[/tags]

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            The Iowa Caucuses

            The next phase of the presidential campaign season began yesterday as Iowans held their respective caucuses (caucii?). Some surprises, and some expected results

            Democrats

            This is the “surprise” category. While only 1% behind the guy in front of her, and while getting 29% of the vote, Hillary Clinton (The Inevitable One(tm)) placed a disappointing 3rd behind Obama and Edwards. For a campaign machine that has been essentially running non-stop since 1992, this must be a serious blow. I heard on the radio this morning that she arrived in New Hampshire at 5am, apparently bailing out of Iowa as soon as she could. It ain’t over by any stretch of the imagination, but this is an upset.

            As a blow against identity politics, which I’ve covered before, Barack Obama’s 38% victory shows that white folks will indeed vote for a black man with whom they agree. I think this goes for members of either party frankly. (I personally wished J. C. Watts had decided to run when I watched him during the Bill Clinton impeachment debate.) Iowa has a lower percentage of blacks than in the country in general, and yet Obama won handily. I don’t agree with Obama’s policies, but I’m glad to see this result. Hope the girls at Spelman College take a lesson from this and vote policy and position rather than color.

            Republicans

            Huckabee picked up the win here, as expected. Well, as most recently expected, not as anyone expected 4 months ago, which points out that polls really are just barometers of how people think or feel now. Iowa GOPers are 60% evangelical, so quite likely identity politics did play a part here. See Bryan at Hot Air, who notes that this is “a reversal in the way the two parties tend to think and choose their respective leader”. Indeed, and I really hope this isn’t a new trend. I do generally want a candidate that shares my values, but I’m not necessarily going to get hung up on their religion. However, religion tracks quite closely with positions I want to see, so it does play a large part.

            I don’t agree with the Article VI blog that evangelicals will never vote for a Mormon. Some won’t, I’m sure, but one caucus does not a trend make, and Romney’s flip-flopping on hot-button issues like abortion and gay rights likely have more to do with his 2nd place finish than his religion. He was only 9% behind Huckabee, so this isn’t quite the blow they’re making it sound like. While Iowans, according to a poll noted on Article VI, generally do consider religious belief high on the list, I think (and I hope) that identity politics play less of a role as time goes on.

            Read the whole Article VI post. Even though I disagree with the thrust of the post, it has a lot of good information on this identity issue with Republicans. Includes this from Albert Mohler being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:

            AM: Well, let’s put it this way. Evangelical Christians are very much committed to a Christian worldview that reaches every aspect of life. But there really isn’t an Evangelical foreign policy. There’s really not an Evangelical tariff or tax policy. And I think when everything’s identified that way, well, I’m going to be honest, there’s a bit of self-protectionism here.

            HH: Yup.

            AM: I don’t want to get blamed for everything that a supposedly Evangelical president might do that in terms of policy would be disagreeable.

            [tags]Iowa Caucuses,Barack Obama,John Edwards,Hillary Clinton,Bill Clinton,J. C. Watts,Mike Huckabee,Mitt Romney,identity politics[/tags]

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              New Poll: Romney

              OK, we did this for Guiliani when he was in the news regarding the Religious Right vote, so now that Romney’s given his “Faith” speech, let’s now see how folks feel about him. The Guiliani poll showed that our readers were willing to vote for him by a wide margin over staying home, so let’s see how Romney fares. If you have a comment about why you’d vote (or not vote) the way you would, put a comment here.

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                Romney’s “Faith” Speech

                I’m not sure if this was the right thing to do, but Mitt Romney feels it necessary to give a speech that, while billed as one dealing with his Mormon faith, doesn’t really appear to deal with that specifically. From the news reports on those parts of the speech released so far, Romney sounds defensive.

                Republican Mitt Romney declares in a speech being delivered Thursday that he shares “moral convictions” with Americans of all faiths, but should not have to explain his own religion just because he’s striving to become the first Mormon elected president.

                “To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president, he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths,” Romney said in remarks prepared for delivery at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

                Well, actually, explaining your religious views does not, in any way, violate the Constitution. Article 6 states:

                The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

                What I emphasized there is that one’s religion cannot be used to disqualify someone from running for or serving as President or any other office. We’re past that already; Romney has not been disqualified on account of his religion, and should he win the election he can serve.

                Once someone is a candidate, however, questions about their values and views that are affected by their religious beliefs are completely fair game. How his religion, or lack thereof, informs his opinion on abortion, gay rights, tax policy and the like are certainly allowable questions. If there are any limits, they are limits of reasonableness; what is reasonable to understand about their religion that would be required to understand how they would govern. Mike Huckabee put it this way:

                “I think it’s a matter of what his views are – whether they are consistent, whether they are authentic, just like mine are,” Huckabee told NBC’s “Today.”"If I had actions that were completely opposite of my Christian faith, then I would think people would have reason to doubt if this part of my life, which is supposed to be so important, doesn’t influence me. Then they would have to question whether or not there are other areas of my life that lack that authenticity as well”.

                Frankly, people are just as free to vote against someone because of their religion as they are to vote for them because they make a good impression on The Tonight Show, and neither is unconstitutional.

                So the constitutional issue is completely off the table, but that seems to be one of the main points of Romney’s speech, and that sounds very defensive, which is not how you need to appear with less than a month before the Iowa caucuses. He does make some very good points regarding church-state separation that I wholeheartedly agree with. But his appeal to the Constitution to refrain from getting to detailed about his beliefs doesn’t come across well, and the speech may do more harm than good for his campaign.

                [tags]Mitt Romney,Mormonism,Latter Day Saints,US Constitution,Article 6,Mike Huckabee,separation of church and state,religion,religious test[/tags]

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