Romney, Huckabee, and Religion

Much discussion has swirled recently about the role of religion in politics, particularly in the race for the Republican nomination. Of course the main focus has been on Romney and his Mormonism, but what of the religious beliefs of Huckabee? In 1998 he was party to this:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A full-page ad in USA Today Aug. 26 voiced the affirmation of 131 evangelicals to the Southern Baptist Convention that “you are right!” in holding forth the Bible’s teachings on marriage.
“At a time when divorce is destroying the fabric of our society, you have taken a bold stand for the biblical principles of marriage and family life. We thank you for your courage,” the ad stated. The ad also appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of WORLD, an evangelical magazine based in Asheville, N.C.

[…]

The SBC article describes marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” It also notes, “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. … A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. … A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.

(emphasis mine)

How does such a religious belief, specifically as it relates to women, compare to the beliefs of Mormons? Huckabee is a Southern Baptist who believes in Creationism, has declared homosexuality sinful, and made some controversial statements about AIDS patients in the past.

Also, mention has been made of how his foreign policy thinking is informed by his religious beliefs:

This is the kernel of Huckabee’s foreign policy. He wants to anthropomorphize (sic) international relations and bring a Christian commitment to the Golden Rule to our affairs with other nations. As he told the Des Moines Register the other day, “You treat others the way you’d like to be treated. That’s to me the fundamental issue that has to be re-established in our dealings with other countries.”

I’m bringing all this up mainly to illustrate that a candidates religious beliefs have an impact on how he or she can be expected to govern. Plenty of people are put off enough by Huckabee’s beliefs that they’d refrain from voting for him.

Compare this to the reasons often given for not voting for Mitt Romney, based on his religious beliefs:

1)It’s a cult, 2) “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”, 3)Mormons are not Christians.

In my post from the other day about how I was offended because Romney felt obliged to give a speech to reassure people that his Mormonism shouldn’t be a disqualifier, an interesting comment thread developed around my assertion that it’s silly for voters to write Romney off simply because he’s Mormon. It was suggested I’m arguing that his religion doesn’t matter, or that a candidates religious beliefs in general shouldn’t be part of the calculus in deciding for whom to vote.

Well, I have big problems with Mike Huckabee’s religious beliefs and how they have and presumably will inform his policies in office. Naturally, if anyone else voiced the same objections to Huckabee based on his religious beliefs I wouldn’t disagree.

While I understand Mitt Romney shares many opinions with Huckabee and Southern Baptists in general (some would say belatedly and conveniently), these aren’t derived uniquely from him Mormonism. To the extent Romney holds the same beliefs Huckabee does on the various issues outlined above, I disagree with him as well, but that’s an entirely different argument from that made by those opposed to Romney simply because his religion is different.

In my view, to argue effectively that Romney’s religion should disqualify him from the office of President, one would have to explain how his beliefs would impact his policies and decisions from a Mormon point of view that’s unique in comparison with other religious traditions.

So far the only reasons I’ve seen given are those I’ve listed above. Given that, I’ll state once again that it’s silly and, in my opinion, un-American to write Romney off simply because he’s a Mormon. I don’t think this is a relativistic point of view, and I don’t believe what I’m arguing is that religion shouldn’t matter, because it obviously does matter.

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