Category Archives: religion

Separation of Christianity and State

I swiped the title from Ace’s post because it’s succinct and to the point. Via Michelle Malkin:

Congressman Steve King reacted this morning to the nine “NO” votes on his resolution to honor Christmas and the Christian faith. The vote shocked Capitol Hill observers because votes on similar resolutions honoring the holidays of Islam and Hinduism passed without any NO votes.

Appearing this morning on the Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends, King said, “The [nine] naysayers didn’t make it to the floor to debate. I would like to know how they could vote Yes on Islam, Yes on the Indian Religions and No on Christianity when the foundation of this nation and our American culture is Christianity…I think there’s an assault on Christianity in America.”

The nine Members voting NO were Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) (FL), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). None of the nine voted against resolutions honoring the Islamic holiday of Ramadan and the Hindu holiday of Diwali.

Now I don’t want to get into a discussion about whether or not any religious holidays should get official government recognition, but what are these people thinking who vote YES on every other religious observance but NO on the Christian one? The only explanation can be that they really do think separation of church and state only applies to the majority religion and it simply exists to prevent the establishment of a theocracy, without any fundamental principle behind it.

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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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National Review Endorses Romney

There’s dispute about how much influence NR really has these days with the Republican base, but I think this is an important endorsement. Key paragraphs:

Uniting the conservative coalition is not enough to win a presidential election, but it is a prerequisite for building on that coalition. Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country.

Two other major candidates would be able to keep the coalition together, but have drawbacks of their own. John McCain is not as conservative as Romney. He sponsored and still champions a campaign-finance law that impinged on fundamental rights of political speech; he voted against the Bush tax cuts; he supported this year’s amnesty bill, although he now says he understands the need to control the border before doing anything else.

Despite all that and more, he is a hero with a record that is far more good than bad. He has been a strong and farsighted supporter of the Iraq War, and, in a trying political season for him, he has preserved and even enhanced his reputation for dignity and seriousness. There would be worse nominees for the GOP (see above). But McCain ran an ineffectual campaign for most of the year and is still paying for it.

Fred Thompson is as conservative as Romney, and has distinguished himself with serious proposals on Social Security, immigration, and defense. But Thompson has never run any large enterprise — and he has not run his campaign well, either. Conservatives were excited this spring to hear that he might enter the race, but have been disappointed by the reality. He has been fading in crucial early states. He has not yet passed the threshold test of establishing for voters that he truly wants to be president.

[…]

For some people, Romney’s Mormonism is still a barrier. But we are not electing a pastor. The notion that he will somehow be controlled by Salt Lake City or engaged in evangelism for his church is outlandish. He deserves to be judged on his considerable merits as a potential president. As he argued in his College Station speech, his faith informs his values, which he has demonstrated in both the private and public sectors. In none of these cases have any specific doctrines of his church affected the quality of his leadership. Romney is an exemplary family man and a patriot whose character matches the high office to which he aspires.

(emphasis mine)

I’m glad they confronted the anti-Mormon stuff head on. I still think Giuliani is the best bet, but Romney is more acceptable to me than either Huckabee or McCain.

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Romney’s Mormonism Is Only A Problem For Other People

Via Allahpundit: Polls: 80% say they’d vote for a Mormon — but only 45% say most people they know would

In other words, bias against Mormons is real — but it’s nowhere near as prevalent as people think it is. Just look at the spread as of June, before the sharp uptick in the Times poll. It’s an almost 50-point swing between people’s willingness to vote for a Mormon and their confidence in whether others are similarly willing. Any other explanation here besides the media blowing the Mormon issue out of all proportion?

I put in my two cents on the supposed controversy surrounding Romney’s religion a few days ago. I was offended that he felt the need to reassure people that’s it’s okay to vote for a Mormon, although I later heard that part of his speech was dedicated to assuring religious voters that he disdains atheists and secularists as much as they do, which I thought was counterproductive. Speaking of atheists – according to the polling Allah highlights most people wouldn’t vote for one. Oh, well. As for the media’s role in hyping Romney’s religion, may I suggest it’s the beginning of an availability cascade?

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Romney’s Religion Speech

“I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

That’s from Mitt Romney’s much ballyhooed “Faith in America” address. I’ll just link to the memeorandum page with the bazillion people commenting on it if you want to see what they have to say. I don’t care what the pundits say about the speech because the whole idea that he needs to explain, in this day and age, that he can be President while Mormon just pisses me off. I understand he’s competing with Huckabee for the religious vote, but it galls me even more that he has to pander and try to reassure people who might have a problem with his religious beliefs. Yes, I come from a different vantage point because I’m not a religious person, but what do these people think will happen if a Mormon is president? Do they think he’ll revive polygamy? What is their problem? I read in a couple of places that some folks are upset because supposedly Mormons believe Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. If so, who the heck cares if that’s what they believe? Do they think he’ll force everybody else to believe it, too?

There are other reasons to have qualms with Romney, such as his apparent flip flops on social issues that “values voters” are concerned about, but for crying out loud – the Mormon thing is just stupid.

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Gillian Gibbons Pardoned

Gillian Gibbons, the woman jailed in Sudan for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Muhammed, has been pardoned by the Sudanese president. That’s a relief, but to call it a pardon makes it seem like she really did something to be pardoned for.

Update: Ann Althouse posted on this at the same time I did, however she has additional information from the Washington Post story about the pardon. Key paragraphs:

“This case has done quite a bit of damage to how the Sudanese government will be perceived; they have done their country no favors,” said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, the county’s largest Muslim organization. He called the Gibbon’s release “wonderful news.”

British Muslim groups spoke out strongly in favor of Gibbons and said the Sudanese government’s actions in the case have created greater misunderstandings about Islam.

“This has certainly given ammunition to those who never miss an opportunity to portray Muslims as intolerant,” Bunglawala said. “We only hope that the actions of Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi and the whole British Muslim community can mitigate against the damage done by the Sudanese authorities.”

I guess there is an upside to this after all. By speaking out forcefully against what happened the Muslim community will put a dent in the perception, held by way too many people, that extremism is a facet of Islam itself.

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