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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, May 21, 2007

Religion in politics

Better late than never, right? Buckle in. It's gonna take you a few minutes to read through this one.

So watching the presidential debates recently and reading as much as I can about the candidates from both parties, I saw something that made me flashback to childhood. I'll get to that in a minute.

But what started this ball rolling in my mind was watching a news clip about two weeks ago of the Rev. Al Sharpton making a coy statement about "real" Christians pulling together to defeat Mitt Romney in the upcoming presidential elections...assuming Romney won the Republican nomination. Later Sharpton said his comment wasn't an indictment of Romney's Mormon religion, Romney decried Sharpton's words as religious bigotry, and Sharpton was roundly skewered for speaking out of turn.

I had two reactions to this incident: frustration and disappointment.

It is very difficult these days to get anyone, much less a public figure, much less a politician, in a position where they have to give you a straight answer, where they can't squirm out of it.

And it's even more difficult to get straight answers out of them when you ask your questions or raise your concerns in a stupid manner, thus giving the politician an out, an excuse of hurt feelings for not addressing the concern or answering the question.

Still with me?

In other words, Sharpton stuck his foot in his mouth. And while that must be a familiar place for it these days - no worries; he has plenty of company on both sides of the political spectrum - had Sharpton worded it appropriately, asking Romney about some of the tenets of his faith would have been just fine.

My fear is that religious faith is going to fall under the veil of political correctness and soon become off limits to questions. You think we know little about how individual politicians really feel now? Wait until it becomes as taboo to question faith as it already is to make jokes about race, weight, height, speech, etc.

I used to question PC terms in the early '90s like "handi-capable," one of the many PC terms used for a short while to describe people who were physically disabled. I always argued that "handicapped" like "physically disabled" was not something to be treated like the plague. Nor was it anything to be ashamed of. Just like being black or white or tall or short, I always figured it was luck of the draw. So what was the big deal? Seriously, none of us are really handi-capable. I'm clumsy as hell, and I have have bad knees, weak ankles, a bad back, and really flat feet. You want to know who's handi-capable? Superman. That's who's handi-capable. He can pull of wearing tights with a straight face. He can fly. He can burn things or freeze them with his eyes. And he can take a bullet, literally. When we can do all of that, then we can all be handi-capable. But I digress. My point is once something falls under the PC umbrella, we're supposed to feel uncomfortable talking about it. And I'm not comfortable with that.

When I was a kid, after my dad had retired from the military and had attended seminary and had begun pastoring a church in Southeast Virginia, he developed a reputation as a community leader. Understand, he never declared himself a leader of anything but his congregation, and that was with his church members' vote of confidence. But people in the neighborhood of his church always knew that they could go to "Pastor B." for help, whether they wanted spiritual guidance, food, work, or whatever. Small business leaders and city officials turned to him for help in keeping the gritty neighborhood where the church was located under control. Conversely, having a public reputation also drew critics, and opponents out of the woodwork. I never heard or heard of anyone challenging my dad's attitudes, or manners, or his character or anything. But every now and then, someone of a different faith would challenge him to a theological duel.

In one incident, I had gone to the church with my dad on a Saturday afternoon so he could retrieve some paperwork. When we exited the building a guy sprung out of the shadows. It's not nearly so dramatic as that sentence makes it sound. It was a guy we had seen around the neighborhood, a member of nearby Mosque. He startled us, that's all. Anyway, the guy was selling bean pies, incense, and cologne oils. We said no thanks. And he persisted. We said no thanks again, and then the conversation got personal. The guy began denouncing Christians and suggesting Christianity, in all its modern manifestations, was a con. That's OK. It was his right to believe and say as much. So he began peppering my dad with questions. How did he know this or that? Why do Christians believe this or that? That went on for several minutes. For every question he got, my dad calmly gave an answer, offered a historical context, and then as part of the playful give and take - 'cause by the end the two men were smiling mischievously at one another - he would throw a question about Islam back to the other guy. After a few minutes the guy, by now grinning ear to ear, held out a hand to my dad and said something to the effect of "Preacher B, I don't necessarily agree with what you believe, but I have to give you credit for knowing what you believe. A lot of people wouldn't have been able or willing to explain anything."

I was ticked off at the guy when we finally walked to our car. I thought he was rude and mean. My dad brushed it off as we drove away and pointed to the big sign above the church and said that if the church was going to say "come one, come all" to the neighborhood, the leader of the church should be willing to tell folks what they would get inside those doors. Everyone knew my dad as "Pastor B." They didn't separate James Burnett the military veteran from James Burnett the husband and father from James Burnett the preacher. He was all the same person. And each one of those elements played a role in how he publicly presented himself.

The same goes for anyone - leader or follower - who publicly declares that a set of religious beliefs helped define who they are. If you make that declaration, expect people to want to know what those beliefs are all about. If they can't understand those beliefs, they can't really know the whole you, now can they?

This leads me back to Mitt Romney. Ever since questions started to pop up weeks ago about his Mormon faith - few specific questions, mostly generic stuff by pundits who said they just didn't understand it - Romney's defenders have been coming out of the woodwork saying such questions revealed bigotry. My understanding is that the few specific questions were about different Mormon factions' positions on race. There was a time some Mormon factions declined to allow ethnic minorities (black/brown people) to become priests. There was also a time back in the day that some Mormon factions taught that black/brown people were lesser people than their white counterparts. To be fair to Romney, there was a time in this country that some devout Christians believed it was their God-given right to own slaves and that black people were less than human and thus equal to property. Some believed that cheating on one's spouse was worthy of a good beating or a stoning, or being gay was worthy of death. And these were "Christians" who dug up scriptures to defend those beliefs. Romney's defenders though suggested questions aimed at him were too painful, too uncomfortable, unfair to him, and irrelevant to his presidential run.

And I say they're just plain wrong. If a Baptist or a Catholic were running for the highest office in the land, I would want to know from them if they subscribed to certain recorded elements of their faith that held some men in higher/lower regard than others. And my questions would be fair. I don't want a guy in the White House who isn't going to represent me as vigorously as my white neighbor or my rich neighbor or my Protestant/Catholic/Buddhist/Muslim/etc. neighbor. People lambasted JFK for being Catholic and said it wasn't right that a Catholic occupy the White House. That was bigotry. But if people had told JFK "We've never had a Catholic president. Some folks don't fully understand your faith. Tell us a little about what it means and what you believe so we can move past it and start looking at the other parts of you," that would have been fair and understandable. Do you think if Jerry Falwell had run for president, no one would have asked him to explain why this or that is taught in many Baptist churches?

There are some people among us who have no religious beliefs. Fine. Whatever. Ask my mom. I'm pretty sure that I'm a heathen too. And there are some people among us who are the stoic, silent types about religion. They don't feel right talking about it, 'cause they don't want to be perceived as in-your-face. They'd rather let their lifestyles do the talking. And there are those people who believe it is important to announce their faith as an integral part of how they live their lives. It's my humble opinion that we often find politicians in the latter category.

Let's face it, based on the blueprint laid in the 1980s by the Moral Majority, wearing your faith on your sleeve can work wonders for a politician's odds. But if you're going to tell people that at least part - if not all - of your life is governed by a moral standard that has been shaped by a specific set of religious beliefs you have to be willing to answer questions about those beliefs. Mitt Romney seems like a nice guy. He changes his mind a lot, from what I've read. But he seems nice enough as a person. But take a good look at my photo on the upper right side of this page. Do you really think I shouldn't be curious as to how he feels about those old doctrines of his church? I've had a religious expert tell me that no mainstream Mormon denominations still believe those things. But, what if? I can't ask that? Why not?

Sure, I could be politically correct and smile and offer polite applause when you say "Vote for me. I'm the most moral of all the candidates. And my faith is strong, and it has made me the man I am today."

But if this turns into one of Aesop's Fables, and I find out after you've been elected that the fine print of your religious beliefs calls for you to eat a live chicken every full moon and to sacrifice a 6'3" black man every few weeks or so, starting with those living in South Florida, I have only myself to blame.

Religious faith is not like the knowledge of what you do in your bedroom. It shouldn't be a secret. If you believe it, then you should be willing and able to defend it thoroughly and vigorously. And someone questioning the meaning of your faith shouldn't get blasted for being insensitive, unless like Rev. Sharpton they word their thoughts in a stupid manner. Rather, they should get credited for trying to understand you better.

Gov. Romney, and any other politician who might have fallen, bumped their heads, and landed face down in front of a computer screen with this blog posting on it: If you don't want to talk about it your faith, don't. It's your right. But if you want to lead the country? Then get over the shyness and "protocol" and talk about it. And if you're unwilling or unable to do the latter, then don't blame me for being a little uncomfortable with "who" you are.

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  • I guess slurs and unwarrented attacks are what bother me. Sharpton is a big hippocrite and deserved whatever he got for his "real Christian" comment.

    On the other hand, if a politician is going to make his religion public he should be able to stand up and answer questions about it.

    That's why we will probably not see a scientologist president anytime soon ;)

    By Blogger Hammer, at 5:18 PM  

  • It's a sensitive area. My advice would be to learn as much as you can via available resources about the faith to which a man proscribes, (in order to tell him you care enough and have become somewhat knowledgeable in key aspects of his faith.) THEN ask him specific questions about his particular beliefs to gain the insight you need.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 5:21 PM  

  • Hammer, I'm with you. My immediate feeling when I saw Sharpton's clip was "Why did he of all people have to bring this up? He ruined the chances of some credible person to ask about it now." And I agree about the Scientologist president. I'm not weighing in on that religion/way of life one way or another. I don't want black helicopters hovering outside my house. Kidding, kidding, kidding. But seriously, people will be afraid and not ask questions, and their fear will stifle them.

    Sarc, yours is sensible advice. It makes sense to study the religion and then ask the questions. Uninformed questions are just as harmful as not asking any questions at all, I guess.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:36 PM  

  • In a perfect American government - it shouldn't matter what religion one is because there is suppose to be separation of church and state... however, religious background and beliefs are part of what makes a person - so regardless of whose asking, we have a right to know Mitt Romney's views on EVERYTHING.

    By Anonymous Karmyn R, at 6:44 PM  

  • You're making me think.

    One. I don't think Rev. Sharpton was just inarticulately asking a proper question with his real christian comment. The need for dialogue about Mormon beliefs about minorities was plan B. Typical Sharpton dissembling.

    Two. I agree that if a politician wears his or her religion on the sleeve, I want to know about what that religion is. Catholic with JFK, Baptist with Falwell and Morman with Romney.

    Three. With Romney, I think he is trying to waffle to pander to what he wants to be his constituancy. Rightist, religious Republicans. McCain had a rhetorical point in the debate when he said "[a]nd I haven't changed my position on even-numbered years or have changed because of the different offices that I may be running for."

    That said, four, I don't want an elected official that performs in office based on his or her religious beliefs whether the politician is JFK, Falwell(or his progeny), Sharpton or Jackson.

    It's one thing for your father to live his moral life and be called to community service. It would be another for him to impose his religious beliefs on the community.

    I'm not much of a Romney fan from what I can see so far. I'd be less of a fan if it turned out he has hidden racial biases. I'd be even less of a fan if it turned out he has some sort of religious agenda of any kind that he wants to bring to the Presidency.

    Appreciate you making me think.

    By Blogger Dave, at 7:12 PM  

  • When our "fathers" founded this country, there were morals imposed upon people by their faith and not their state.

    Thats what I want to see in by faith. Serving their country and their God..... most of them currently are not in service, they are just plain serving themselves.

    Your dad sounds like the right kind.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 11:01 PM  

  • Personally I have more problems with Newt, and Rudi and Fred Thompson with their divorces and alleged womanizing standing up there claiming to be so damn moral than I do with what religion Romney is.

    But the problem Romney has is that he has said, more than once, that a "person of faith" should lead the country. So, if he believes that, then we ALL deserve to know what his "faith" is. He can't talk about being a "person of faith" and refer to his "faith" and then refuse to answer questions about his "faith".

    By Blogger Jay, at 11:28 PM  

  • I cannot comment on the politics over there..soon we have our own election here and already fights between parties begins.
    One arguement right now is about whether Labor get in or not in the next election and if they will release David Hicks.... the alleged terrorist who was brought back to Australia from your home turf this past weekend.

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 4:30 AM  

  • What bothers me most is not that some politicians try to hide behind a 'political correctness' thing but that they claim to have faith, to be 'persons of faith' - yeah, right, which, & what do they believe? - but that, having made these claims, they carry on like any other politician - self-serving, money-grabbing, promiscuous, etc. AND THEN they have the nerve to try telling other countries that they've got it right.

    BTW, James, your Dad definitely had it right. Know what you believe, why you believe it, live it, & be prepared to give reasonable & reasoned replies to those who ask.

    Trouble is, these days, we're all more interested in spin & image rather than substance - or so the media (specially TV) would have us think. If they want us to think at all!

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 6:19 AM  

  • Thought provoking stuff James.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 6:28 AM  

  • Don't everybody gasp at once, but I'm LDS (Mormon). I don't follow the guidelines anymore, but that doesn't mean I don't still absolutely believe everything I was taught - including knowing exactly what I'm doing wrong with my life now.

    About Mitt - I think he needs to answer honest, thoughtful questions about the Church and what we believe. I think he needs to ignore all the polygomy and Koolaid jokes, et al.

    The Church as an institution has some 'splaining to do about the way black men were excluded from the higher priesthood. Mitt needs to explain - and make people believe - that he doesn't espouse those beliefs now...that he REALLY, in his heart, doesn't have those beliefs, and that he's not just blindly following the dictates from Salt Lake.

    And Mormons as a whole need to quit being so defensive about what we believe. The Church is a Christian church, founded on the rock solid belief that even today, God speaks through a prophet. What's un-Christian about that?

    Of course, I'm still not voting for him because he's a Republican, but that's another subject.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 9:42 AM  

  • James this one is definately food for thought. Good Job!

    By Blogger Angie, at 10:39 AM  

  • JB,

    I agree and disagree with your outlook on this thing. I agree that the way Mitt Romney was queried about his religious beliefs probably precluded a meaningful discussion on the subject of what he does or doesn't believe and how those beliefs would affect me and you should he get elected President. I don't know what the show was or where the clip came from, so I don't know the context. But usually, whenever Al Sharpton involves himself in a discussion, it provides an opportunity for every other person (usually white) involved to demean the experience as less than scholarly, less than political, and inferior.

    Sharpton's presence, however, is the presence of an African Americna voice, however you may feel about that voice. Sharpton does have a congregation of sorts, has been a preacher since he was a boy, and probably does have his heartfelt interpretation of the Bible and other Judeo-Christian texts which reveal the existence of God to those who believe in such things. So to the extent that his presence and the negativity surrounding him allows white politicians to dismiss his opinions and questions as somehow inferior, you are right. I disagree that the fact that this occurs is proper in the context of political discussion. People feel that because of one mistaken incident (Tawana Brawley lied to him too) and several self-aggrandizing moments (last of which was James Brown's funeral)that Sharpton has no credibility and therefore cannot even ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. That is where I think you and everyone else who hates Sharpton is wrong. Anyone who asks the right question becomes credible and deserves an answer, regardless of their personality. I agree that white politicians often use the context of the question (loud political harangue on a talk show) to duck the answer, but that is not Sharpton's fault. Someone credible sitting next to him can repeat the question that didn't get answered. Just because someone is loony does not mean that they're wrong--it just means you have to swallow more pride by having a nut be right instead of someone you like better.

    Where I also disagree with you is your dismissiveness of the fact that Sharpton exhorts Christians to rally against Romney for being Mormon. Mormons are not Christians--they do not believe in the ultimate divinity of Christ and follow Christ's teachings to gain access into heaven.
    Mormons believe in Joseph Smith and his theory of Latter Day Saints. Implicit in the Mormon orthodoxy is a rejection of Christ as the only savior and Lord for humanity.

    Therefore, Al Sharpton is absolutely right about Mormons. If you believe that someone other than Christ can be your savior, then you are not a Christian. Just ask the Jews, who do not believe Christ was the messiah, whether a person can be Christian without a belief in the divinity of Christ. What this all points to is that almost no one believes or practices Judeo-Christian orthodoxy to the letter of the Bible or any other texts. The only people who seem to practice their faith in an orthodox manner are people we consider to be fanatics--Hasidic Jews, Muslims in the Middle East, Hindus who have a dot, etc.).

    Mitt Romney doesn't practice the Mormon faith to the letter as laid down by Joseph Smith. But make no mistake--Mormons are not Christians and neither is Mitt Romney. If he was being up front with people in America, we would know this.

    So give Sharpton a little credit when he is right instead of always trying to find ways to knock him for being wrong.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 11:42 AM  

  • That was an excellent post and one that shows questions that should be asked, in a manner that allows no "wiggle room" too. I remember when JFK first surfaced as a presidential candidate and all too often, his religious beliefs were used as the defining factor there. But today, the current leadership is -in my opinion - blatant about the "faith-based leadership" yet, based on observations of many of their actions, really makes me wonder what faith their faith really is based in anyway?

    By Blogger Jeni, at 11:49 AM  

  • Big Daddy, as a Mormon, even a non-practicing one, I have to tell you you are wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    If you haven't already, I recommend you talk to some Latter-day Saints and get your facts straight. If you're going to say you *have* talked to some, I recommend you talk to them again and really listen this time.

    The first Article of Faith for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

    We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    Sorry, James. I don't want to turn your blog into a debate on Mormonism, but I absolutely cannot let that one go by.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 12:39 PM  

  • Thank you, James, for your very balanced, reasonable and thoughtful post. The Mormons that I have gotten to know have been warm and kind and I have been proud to call them my esteemed friends, but in all humility and with respect to them, I have to offer the following:

    In following the discussion of the Romney campaign, I’ve had occasion to read the comments of many Mormons attempting to answer criticism of their faith. It is impressive how well Mormons have learned and integrated the teachings of their church into their discourse with others. However, I’ve noticed a pattern of echoing boilerplate rhetoric that actually serves more to divert than to inform.

    Most common and unfortunately specious is the “if you want to know about Mormonism ask a Mormon” suggestion. It might sound logical; however it presupposes that Mormon believers are the only ones who can become conversant about Mormonism. In fact, anyone can read Mormon scripture and other Mormon writing, listen to their words, and form opinions about how well they match up with the doctrines and teachings of other faiths.

    Another often repeated and specious argument is that Mormonism is “Christian” because it espouses a belief in Jesus Christ. Most people believe that Jesus was a historical figure who actually lived on Earth and those that do usually have some conception of who He is and attach some kind of meaning to His life. "Christians" on the other hand, have very specific beliefs about who Jesus is and the significance of His life. Whether or not Mormons endorse these beliefs is a matter of debate, but in any case, a person cannot claim any connection to Christianity merely by dropping the name Jesus Christ in a doctrinal discussion.

    Now if you happen to tell a Mormon that he’s not a Christian or doesn’t believe in the Christian God, his or her protesting cries of “bigotry” will be swift and loud. However when the FLDS and other polygamous sects were in the news after the HBO show Big Love premiered, all I heard from LDS spokesmen was that these “fundamentalist Mormons” were by no means Mormon and in fact, Mormonism apart from the officially sanctioned church did not exist. The hypocritical double-standard is mind boggling.

    By Blogger Jim Sweeney, at 1:54 PM  

  • swf41,

    My argument obivously is one of semantics. Just because you say you believe in Jesus Christ and write that down in some book doesn't make you a Christian. Catholics, for example, are Christians. Their belief system places one's affinity to Christ before all others as set forth by the Gospels of Paul. Protestant religions, of which Mormonism is one, vary in differing degrees regarding their affinity to Christ as the ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR. I'm not saying that means you don't believe in Christ --your religion obviously does. I'm saying that your religion does not have as its primary and ultimate aim the worship and consecration in faith with Christ. I have deliberately left out proselytizing and conversion as Christian tenets because I don't read those political aims as part of the Gospels, the Revelations or other gnostic texts regarding Christ and his life.

    Don't get me wrong here--I think the concepts of either Christianity or Mormonism as being more credible than the other are equally ludicrous if you simply believe in the possiblilty of a supreme universal. Christianity is only more credible because it has been with us longer; Joseph Smith's revelations in the foothills of Pennsylvania are as valid as any had by anyone before or since.

    But from a viewpoint of definition, you really can't be Christian unless Christ is the end all, be all to your faith. There can be no intervening claims of faith. Anything less than full devotion to Christ and Christ only is heretical. To think that you are Christian while adhering to the teachings of another man than Christ is self delusional. That would be like me saying I'm a Mormon, but I believe in the teachings of Former BYU and Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.

    But here's the good news swf1--most professed Christians don't really believe in or adhere to Christ's teachings either, so you're in the company of a big crowd. That's why guys like George Bush and Dick Cheney really can't be Christians--if they actually believed in the divinity and teachings of Christ, they could never bring themselves to harm other people in the manner that they seem to relish. They wouldn't make up lies to start a war or get a free meal or anything. They especially wouldn't do it for money or something else as spiritually worthless.

    So swf1, I am not knocking Mormons. I lived in Missouri and Kansas and knew plenty. The Mormons I knew were fine people, even if they did seem a little pushy on their bikes with shirt and tie. I just wouldn't classify them as primarily Christians. Yes, they are Protestant, and yes they believe in the God, but it ends where you follow any teachings of Joseph Smith instead of Christ, even if those teachings are the same. Something about thou shalt have no other gods before me comes into play here. Otherwise, you wouldn't see the splinter sects like RLDS or other offshoots who feel less comfortable worshipping Joseph Smith or Brigham Young than God and Christ.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 3:03 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 3:14 PM  

  • Latter Day Saints believe in Jesus Christ as the living Son of God, who died for our sins so that we might have eternal life.

    See John 3:16, in any version of the Bible you have handy.

    We also believe God's words are still brought to us by a living prophet, the same way God's words were brought to people in the Old Testament by Abraham and Noah and Moses and Isaiah. What you refer to as 'worshiping' someone else is not anything of the sort, any more than those aforementioned prophets were "worshipped."

    Again, I feel really uncomfortable even discussing this because I am not a shining example of what makes a good Latter Day Saint. I've chosen to live a different lifestyle, and I'm well aware that one bad example reaches a hundred more people than one good example.

    James, I apologize again for taking your thread off on a tangent.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to find a brick wall to bang my head against. It will be a more productive use of my time than continuing this conversation.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 3:16 PM  

  • Karmyn R, we're definitely in agreement.

    Dave, glad to offer some food for thought. I don't have the answers. I'm just curious about them, that's all.

    Pamela, our national "fathers" definitely need to get their acts together. And thanks about my dad. Even though I'm something of a heathen, probably, these days, he was a good example to me.

    Jay, here here! I'm also a fan of Fred Thompson, though I probably still wouldn't vote for him. Love him on Law & Order though!

    Cazzie, that's going to be a sticky issue in the Aussie elections. I'm curious. What's the prevailing opinion among voters as to whether that guy really was a terrorist or not?

    BK, spin is like running in place. Ultimately gets you nowhere.

    Captain, thank you.

    SWF41, as they say, it's all good in the hood. I think we're on the same page. People should know what they claim to believe, that's all. And if they're public figures who wear those beliefs on their sleeves, they should be willing to talk about 'em in detail. Truthfully, I have nothing against anybody's faith. I don't agree with some, based on my meager knowledge of history and religious texts. But I respect anyone's right to believe whatever as long as their belief doesn't call for them to try to interfere in my life.

    Angie, thanks. I aims to please.

    BD, why most you take this to extremes? You make my point about Sharpton's credibility by accusing me of being among those who "hate" Sharpton. I don't hate him. I don't hate anyone. Hate takes a lot of energy I'm not willing to part with. I have to think a lot of you, and in a twisted way have some sort of respect for you in order to hate you. I am just skeptical of some of his motives and his ability to "moderate" his own tongue. As for Mormon's and Christianity, they say they are, and that, as you put it, Christ is the be all and end all. Who am I to say that's a disingenuous claim?
    Anyway, I think SWF41 says as much too.

    You guys sparked interesting civil debate. Kudos to both of you.

    SWF41, no apologies necessary. That's what this blog is for: thought and conversation about the uncomfortable stuff.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:21 PM  

  • What happened to separation of church and state? That was part of the foundation of our country, but all of the sudden (specifically in this election), a candidate's religion is one of the main topics. How about we move away from the name of the candidates' religions and just focus on their policies. Religion should not come into play when electing a president - it should be their ideas and policies that are the focus.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:23 AM  

  • Anonymous, I agree with you, except most politicians who claim to have strong religious beliefs bring them up without prompting. And if they're gonna do that I want to know what those beliefs are. It's only fair if they're gonna claim to live by those beliefs. At that point, considering they could get elected to "lead" me, their personal, religious beliefs become relevant to me.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:40 PM  

  • A student of mine recently told me that Romney was interviewed by Chris Mathews, who asked him how old his wife was the first time they had sex. I haven't heard about it, but if that happened, I think that definitely crosses the line. He might as well have asked him if being a Mormon means he's a pedophile. Jesus, that just seems over the top, designed to see if they could get him to blow up on TV and get ratings out of it. Smarmy.

    Otherwise, I totally agree with what you say. If you make your religion public, don't shrink from questions.

    By Blogger Fathairybastard, at 10:17 PM  

  • FatHairyB, I saw that interview. It was Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, not Matthews. I agree the question was over-the-top and irrelevant and seemed designed to be salacious and embarassing. Not cool.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:49 PM  

  • ugh, i had this big long beautifully worded comment and blogger ate it up!!!!

    If anyone is going into the public forum to represent ME, and they are doing it proudly displaying their religion and plan on being guided by that religion, I have every right to know wtf it is I may or may not vote for. Its bs to not ask questions in this day of such diversity and the history of religions.

    I hope that we recognize it isn't rude to ask a politician these questions if they are opening the topic up. Especially when they say they do not believe in evolution. Personally that should be immediate disqualifier

    By Blogger My Reflecting Pool, at 8:19 AM  

  • You're correct on your central point. Questions about Romney's Mormonism are completely legitimate. While Sharpton is a dunce, you'll find that virtually no credible Christian Theologians consider Mormons to be Christians.

    Similarly, the Mormons continue to teach that what we know as Christianity is completely wrong.

    I suggest you research what Mormons believe for yourself to find out why.

    Regarding race, this has nothing to do with splinter groups. The man ALL Mormons pray directly to as their Prophet, Josesph Smith, addressed race issues with great certainty.

    Negroes and Indians bear the "mark of cain" according to Smith, and were changed into something LESS than human by God. Irrevocably and forever inferior to Whites.

    Not something only a few "splinter groups" believe. It's the words of their "prophet" and written in their "scripture".

    In practice this meant negroes could not be admitted as members. This was changed in 1978 because Mormon-Owned businesses were going to be Walloped by the Justice Department.

    I should point out that I don't mean owned by individual Mormons. I mean owned by the Church itself.

    It's very similar to their reason for giving up polygamy (here on earth). Simply put, they wouldn't have been admitted into the Union had they not stopped openly practicing it.

    Mormons, ALL MORMONS, not "splinter groups" continue to believe that men will indulge in polygamy in the hereafter.

    The Mormon version of the hereafter doesn't bear any resemblance to the Christian conceps of heaven and hell, btw.

    Mormons (good male mormons) go to rule their own personal planet where they are given 60 virgins to populate said planet with.

    Either they are WRONG about that and thousands of other things, or Christians are WRONG about those things.

    By Blogger ArtfulSub, at 4:58 PM  

  • This is the best "political" post I've ever read in the blogosphere. Questioning the specific tenets of a candidate's faith is completely fair and should be done.

    I'd hate to get a candidate who sacrifices 6'3" black men, eats live chickens or truly believes that, say, all women should be banished to the home. Egads!

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 1:27 PM  

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