Friday, December 7, 2007

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Honestly, this is the best analysis I've read of the whole Romney speech/religion & politics/etc. thing. I especially like Rod's answer to the unfair reading of Huckabee's interview statements regarding the law establishing morality. Obviously he means in the sense of law reflecting and codifying rather than somehow generating morality. Clarifying language is important, but I think most of us understand what was intended in context.

Likewise, I believe Romney's "freedom requires religion / religion requires freedom" theme requires some qualification and explanation. As Bill Bennett pointed out this morning, persecuted and underground churches have been some of the strongest expressions of faith throughout history. But to thrive outwardly and publicly, it can be observed that a Constantinian legalization or American tolerance can help religion to thrive and spread as well. That's my interpretation at least.

I have to also give Rod kudos for perceiving the context of this speech by mentioning the way this type of public discussion goes over in other erstwhile outposts of Western Civilization like Britain, i.e., like a lead balloon.

Back to Huckabee. I've been leaning toward him as of late and not just because of the cool Tobias. I don't think it's a big deal that he flashed "Christian leader" in an Iowa ad. But Huck's recent remarks about an "American ruling class" are much more disturbing to me. I hope he just means by this bureaucrats-in-government-who-are-not-representing-the-people-etc. Otherwise that sounds a little too overtly populist for my blood. I know that the cartoonists want to see a Huckabee/Obama race so they can keep the drawing the enormous ears which they've gotten so good at grafting onto GWB....

(In the interest of full disclosure: I am not now nor have I ever been a card-carrying member of America's Ruling Class. Not that I don't hope to be someday... mwaa-ha-haaa...)

Meanwhile, Jimmy Akin provides an opposite viewpoint on the Romney speech from a strictly religious, Catholic perspective.


  1. Yes, I agree with Rod's analysis of Romney's speech. However, I wonder if he would hold those views if Mitt was a Catholic? What do you think?

  2. I wonder if he would hold those views if Mitt was a Catholic? What do you think?

    Bishop or layman?

  3. Either. Mr. Dreher is one of those media elitists who have no problem with the influence of Al Sharpton or Jerry Falwell, yet goes into major hissy fits when someone like Archbishop Wuerl or even Alan Keyes said anything remotely Catholic in nature. You see Republican and Democratic candidates do various fundraisers in many Protestant churches. What do you think would happen if one did one in a Catholic church?

  4. Jonathan, regarding Mr. Dreher: I for one am done trying to get into that dude's head. Regarding his Catholic-bashing, I believe he might be in some support group for that, but I'm not sure. He seems to have been staying on the wagon for a time now. Questions like WWRDD if a Catholic dog took a crap on the carpet hold no interest for me. I'm more concerned with what people actually do say, not what they might say.

    Regarding Alan Keyes: he should be in a support group or on some type of medication. I say this not because he's Catholic, but because he is a NUT who makes Ron Paul look presidential.

    Regarding Abp. Wuerl, Rod last mentioned him in May of 06 (AFAIK from his blog).

  5. Yes, Keyes does make Paul look Presidential by comparison. I was just using him as an example. Perhaps a better example would have been Hillarie Belloc. Besides writing good books defending our faith ran for parliament in 1905. When he was confronted by people who did not like the idea of having a Papist representing them he said " I am a Catholic and I wish anyone has anything against my religon to vote against me; for I do not represent a consituency of bigots." He won his election and reelection. How do you think someone like that would last today?

  6. For what it's worth, I am becoming more convinced that I personally should not support a Mormon candidate for President in general, or this one in particular. Reading a transcript of Romney's speech as-prepared, I see a couple good reasons for my reluctance.

    Jimmy Akin is absolutely right that the "religious test" clause in Article VI prohibits the government from making a religious restriction on who can run for office: it makes NO restriction on whether voters can let religion influence their decision on who to support. To suggest otherwise is appalling, because, with his law degree, Romney should know better.

    Equally appalling is this willingness to villify those who would oppose him because he's a Mormon. Are we displaying a form of intolerance towards Mormanism? To some small degree, yes, but refusing to vote for a Mormon is NOT equivalent to supporting a law that forbids him from running. It's just like saying, because Mr. Smith wouldn't marry outside his race, he's as intolerant as someone who actually opposes the legality of interracial marriage.

    (Lee Harris makes a similar complaint, here. at TechCentralStation.)

    From the prepared notes, I read that he said this:

    "Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree."

    This doesn’t fly: of course doctrinal difference is a basis for criticism, and Mormonism concedes as much in its assertion of exclusivity that most other religions also share (i.e., its belief that all other faiths are, to one degree or another, wrong), in its attempt to proselytize, and most emphatically in its belief that Catholics and Baptists alike are apostates to such a degree that practically every major figure of the Bible had to show up for an encore appearance to tell Joseph Smith where we’ve gone astray.

    More than that, even in this speech, Romney demonstrates that he doesn’t really think doctrinal differences are exempt from criticism, as he criticizes "the creed of conversion by conquest."

    David Frum noted, rightly, that Romney crossed the line into theological specifics when he affirmed his belief "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind". Frum thinks that, with this comment, Romney opened the door to all sorts of questions about his faith. He doesn't see a principled distinction between that comment and making clear that (as a Mormon) he believes Jesus is the brother of Satan.

    I certainly see a political distinction, and that's at the heart of my problem with this speech: Mitt Romney has no problem invoking religion if doing so helps his chances politically.

    He appeals to the fact that he's a church-goer as a good reason to vote for him, but he rails against the possibility that what his church believes could be seen as a good reason to oppose him. He uses religion as a political tool, and, hypocritically, he wants his faith to become verboten the moment it becomes inconvenient.

  7. I'm not up on the debate, but after spending more than a few nights in a Marriott hotel (where the mormon owners put a copy of the Book of Mormon in the nightstand), I have quite a few qualms about voting for a Mormon. The Bk of Mormon is WHACK. Sorry. To give this sludge the weight of the Holy Bible shows very questionable judgment at a minimum. Don't get me wrong -- from what I observe, mormons are very admirable, even enviable individuals. But they seriously undermine their own credibility as Christians by introducing the Bk of Mormon into their religious canon.

  8. PS: I also believe Romney is self-interested to an extraordinary degree. Plus the five-sons-and-not-a-one-in-the-military-ever datapoint does carry some weight. There is a very biting youtube video about that.