Don’t we have better things to worry about?
An opinion piece in the Washington Post authored by Ken Starr, formerly a special prosecutor and now the president of Baylor University, asked “Can I vote for a Mormon?” Were Mr. Starr a Mormon, the question might have to be rephrased: Can I not vote for a Mormon?
According to this article, the “he’s one of us” attraction to Governor Romney is powerful.
Many young conservative Mormons in America are lining up behind Romney, who represents more to them than just policy positions, a big family, and good hair. But among young Mormons more broadly, seeing one of their own in Romney — and Jon Huntsman, to a lesser extent — so close to the nomination is exciting, because it would suggest that their religion is not a barrier to the White House — or at least a nomination. That’s caused great excitement among the millennial generation of Mormons, especially those who live outside the Mormon enclaves in Utah and are used to being a religious minority.
While many don’t consider Governor Romney sufficiently conservative, it has been reported that
Mormonism remains both the most conservative and most Republican religious group in America. A Gallup Poll found that 59 percent of Mormons polled classified themselves as conservative, according to 2009 polling data. Just 8 percent of Mormons considered themselves to be liberal, the lowest of any of the polled religious groups.
As the race tightens, there will continue to be many non-Mormons who dislike Governor Romney for reasons having nothing to do with his religion and who would gladly vote for (almost) Anybody But Romney — principally because Governor Romney is a RINO. I find myself in that group and might even prefer to vote for Francisco Silva — at he least freely acknowledges that he is a clown.
However, if Governor Romney becomes the nominee I shall probably vote for him anyway because the reelection of President Obama would be far worse. At least under President Romney
this cartoon might not be entirely accurate.
In an article published last October, I suggested the principal doctrinal differences between Mormons and “mainstream” Christians. An Agnostic, it may have been presumptuous for me to do so. However, there seem to be some fairly substantial differences and in November a PEW survey found that
Many Americans continue to see the Mormon faith as unfamiliar and different. Half say they know little or nothing about Mormonism, half say it is a Christian religion while a third say it is not, and roughly two-thirds believe Mormonism is “very different” from their own beliefs. There has been virtually no change in these impressions over the past four years.
There are thirteen Mormon Articles of Faith and these seem the most doctrinally different if not necessarily inconsistent:
5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
This, on the other hand seems fairly consistent with Christian ideas, although it is arguable that there are exceptions:
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
I haven’t been able to think of any proper function of the President that would, or even could, be impacted by Mormon Articles of Faith 5, 7, 8 or even 10; in the unlikely event that Article 10 comes to pass during President Romney’s term, he won’t be able to do much more about it than any other president. There might well be objections to Article 11 were it applied to Voodoo animal sacrifices, radical Islam or the Religion of Kim; it was probably not written with them in mind.
Here is an argument against having a Mormon, qua Mormon, as the President.
On such essential doctrines as the Trinity and the role of Jesus in salvation, there are major differences between orthodox (biblical) Christianity and Mormonism. But the real problem is that Mormons believe and teach an American history that is in many particulars completely unsubstantiated and in others demonstrably false. Mormons believe that the “lost tribes” of Israel actually ended up in America, and that Jesus visited America and these tribes during his incarnation. These are just a few of Mormonism’s highly idiosyncratic views of history.
As to the Trinity and the role of Jesus, Article 1 of the Articles of Faith says, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” How, as commonly understood in mainstream Christianity, or significant there, is there any difference between Article 1 and the Christian concept of the Trinity?
The article continues,
Placing a Mormon in . . . [the Presidential bully] pulpit would be a source of pride and a shot of adrenaline for the LDS church. It would serve to normalize the false teachings of Mormonism the world over. It would also provide an opening to Mormon missionaries around the world, who could start every conversation: “Let me tell you about the American president.” To elect a Mormon President is to advance the cause of the Mormon Church.
. . . .
A Romney presidency would have the effect of actively promoting a false religion in the world. If you have any regard for the Gospel of Christ, you should care. A false religion should not prosper with the support of Christians. The salvation of souls is at stake.
. . . . If Mitt Romney believes what the Mormon Church teaches about the world and how it operates, then he is unfit to serve. We make him our President at great peril to the intellectual and spiritual health of our nation.
As I contended in my linked article about Governor Romney and Mormonism,
The essential arguments of the linked article are (1) that Christianity is the one true religion while Mormonism is a false religion and (2) that a function of the presidency is to advance the doctrinal precepts of the “one true religion.”
These arguments, if accepted, would impose upon the President a new obligation, that of Defender of The One True Faith. The title of the English monarchs has included the phrase Defender of The Faith since 1521 with a brief hiatus between 1530 and 1544. By prohibiting the establishment of a federal religion, the First Amendment rejected that sort of thing. The President must support, rather than abandon, and must be dedicated to, defending the basic principles upon which the country was founded.
To oppose or to favor Governor Romney because of doctrinal peculiarities of his religion, having nothing to do with how he would or could conduct himself in office, strikes me as no less perverse than in comparable circumstances favoring or opposing a candidate because of his race or gender. There are many other, and better, factors to consider. Perhaps we should give those more thought.