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February 20, 2012

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Not a deal- breaker. All of us (not just Mormons and not just right- wingers) have no trouble believing six impossible (and incompatible) things before breakfast.

I think where the position of the Mormon church comes in as relevant is that Romney is or was Mormon clergy (not sure how far up bishop in their hierarchy is). So I think it would be fair to hold him to stricter standards than a simple member.
There were and are catholic candidates that openly declare that they disagree with parts of church doctrine but imagine a catholic bishop running for elected office doing the same (Yes, I know that RCC clergymen are not allowed to run for secular office).

Everything I say is a reflection of my experience with my local Mormon church and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with other Mormon churches.

There is a strong immigrant contingent: Samoans and Guatemalans.

Yes, they are natural Republicans because the church presents itself through the messages from the speakers as the place for people who want life's challenges and questions to be easily reduced to Rules for Us which Ought to be Rules for Everyone and We are secreatly Better Than All Those Other People Because WE Have Our Rules.

There is also a huge component of magical thinking, of training members to believe stuff no matter how much reality intrudes. I heard it said from the pulpit that the garment Mormon men wear keeps Mormon soldiers from being killed in war, for example. The fact that several congregation members had died in wars was glossed over.

Also the local church gives lip services to the idea of "taking care of our own" and not needing government. Of course the reality is that members who work at the logging company are subsidized by the fedeal government and those that collect their Medicare and Medicaid and Vet's benefits are too. Then there's the middle aged members who either work for local government or work for local small businesses that extract dollars from people who work for local government (local government being the only employer that pays a living wage) combined with the fact that the church actually does nothing for its members, won't even give a disabled member a ride to church...

So you get training to be prideful, to brag about one self's as "pro-life" and "pro-family", "patriotic" and "not dependent" along with training to not think about what any of that might mean in real life which seems to me to be the essence of the modern Republican party.

Of course the same training is available down the street at the local fundamentalist church. And the same training is available at the local Chamber of Commerce along with a lot of crap about how cutting the taxes of the Chamber members will magically cause someone other than them to create local jobs.

All churches can be made to look silly or hypocritical of course. I think Catholic bishops should be more concerned about the sex lives of priests than the possiblity that non-Catholic women might have birth control coverage in their insurance. The local Morman church does provide an open door for people who otherwise might be marginalized as outsiders. So As i said, my observations are of one particular Mormon cvhurch, not of any others. The local church might have poor leadership for all I know.

Is it right to hold Romney more strictly to what his church believes?

My first impression is: no, it isn't right, under most circumstances. Leaving aside the Jeremiah Wright issue, or Jimmy Carter as born-again Christian (which implies a ton of spiritual issues), grilling candidates on theology for no better reason than they belong to a particular church or religion, or even because they held a position in their church's leadership structure, has any number of vices: the nature of communion, creation, the parting of the Red Sea, Noah's Ark, etc, the concept of 'conjugal marriage', etc, all get into matters of belief that are only relevant if, Santorum-like, a candidate openly proclaims the need to meld theology with public policy.

Forcing a candidate to defend or oppose why, for example, the communion host is or is not really and truly Jesus' flesh, or why the communion wine really is or is not Jesus' blood, presupposes, in the first place, that it is something the candidate has thought through in a detailed and substantive manner, rather than simply observing the ceremony of his/her particular faith.

If the purpose is to ask questions that make a candidate look odd or ignorant or whatever, then there are all kinds of equally irrelevant questions that could be asked: Mr. President, have you, as a married adult, fantasized about sex with another woman? Have you, since you've been married, watched a pornographic movie for more time than it took to change channels? Can we have the hard drive to your computer so we can see what web sites you've visited? Have you masturbated, since being married? How old were you when you first had sex? Have you ever told a lie? When did you last tell a lie and what was it? Have you ever gotten behind the wheel after having consumed alcohol? When was the last time, if ever, you drank alcohol to excess?

Stupid, unnecessarily personal questions that reveal nothing about integrity, policy choices, leadership style, etc.

It also has me wondering if Mormons are natural Republicans, or if something like this is a deal breaker. Anyone know?

Any philosophical body that believes in individual self reliance, traditional "family values", economic prudence in their personal affairs (and, by extension, to gov't spending) will be drawn to the right of center. Currently, the Republican party is their only option.

McTx: Any philosophical body that believes in individual self reliance, traditional "family values", economic prudence in their personal affairs (and, by extension, to gov't spending) will be drawn to the right of center.

I'm going to have to disagree. I'd get a little closer to agreement if you put an "only" in there between "that" and "believes," but even then, not so much.

On Mormonism more generally, I'm reminded of something Jon Krakauer noted in Under the Banner of Heaven, which was that Mormonism, unlike most (all?) other religions, appeared recently and during a time when there were things like daily newspapers and thus we have a historical record readily available to document it and the various changes it has undergone, unlike, say, the various christian religions, judaism, islam, or buddhism, hinduism, shintoism, etc.

As a result, the various rituals, beliefs, etc. of the Mormon church look additionally peculiar to non-believers, which I think doesn't quite apply to the aforementioned religions in reverse.

All of which is to say, I can see how Romney might be expected to "answer for his religion" more than other candidates, much in the same way JFK had to do so for being Catholic (and, I presume, for anyone who's not a member of a christian religion who might happen to be running for president, which I guess sort of contradicts my statement above).

"unlike most (all?) other religions, appeared recently and during a time when there were things like daily newspapers and thus we have a historical record readily available to document it and the various changes it has undergone, unlike, say, the various christian religions, judaism, islam, or buddhism, hinduism, shintoism, etc.

As a result, the various rituals, beliefs, etc. of the Mormon church look additionally peculiar to non-believers, which I think doesn't quite apply to the aforementioned religions in reverse. "

I agree with you, but feel compelled to offer a major counter-example: Scientology. There are still people alive today who heard L. Ron Hubbard talk about setting up a religion as a joke, tax dodge, and just because he wanted to make lots of money off of it. But that doesn't appear to have stopped the true believers from taking off with it.

Actually it might not be a very strict counterexample come to think of it. Maybe it a confirming example if you look at it just right. I'll have to think on it more.

All of which is to say, I can see how Romney might be expected to "answer for his religion" more than other candidates, much in the same way JFK had to do so for being Catholic (and, I presume, for anyone who's not a member of a christian religion who might happen to be running for president, which I guess sort of contradicts my statement above).

That would have Romney saying, if effect, I keep my religion separate from my politics and will act in the country's interests, not my church's. I'm fine with any candidate making that clear. It's the one's who think their job is to legislate based on their religion that need to be questioned.

Is it right to hold Romney more strictly to what his church believes?

It's right, or at least justifiable, for members of his church to hold him more strictly to what his church believes.

The rest of us, probably not.

This is the line I found really weird:

"We view immigration as a God event," said Ignacio Garcia, a history professor at Brigham Young University

Bolds mine. I will not be looking to BYU for insightful historical analysis.

Any philosophical body that believes in individual self reliance, traditional "family values", economic prudence in their personal affairs (and, by extension, to gov't spending)

I'm not gonna wade in on the culture-war aspect of this, because there likely is no point.

But why the scare quotes?

But why the scare quotes?

Because we all like to think we favor 'family values'. I could have capitalized the F and the T. My intent was to set aside the socially conservative set of Family Values, as opposed to everyone else's Family Values. IOW, I was trying to avoid the impression that others don't have family values, often very traditional family values.

Instead of 'traditional', I should have said 'socially conservative' and done away with the quotes.

IOW, I was trying to avoid the impression that others don't have family values

I'm not sure there is one set of family values for conservatives and another for everyone else, e.g.:

often very traditional family values.

But I appreciate your interest in not wanting to claim family values, of any sort, as the exclusive property of conservatives.

So, thank you.

But I appreciate your interest in not wanting to claim family values, of any sort, as the exclusive property of conservatives.

I was attempting to avoid picking a culture war fight and didn't do a very good job. I mean socially conservative family values. Even there, I know a lot of libs who are socially conservative at home and with their children.

I know a lot of libs who are socially conservative at home and with their children.

I'd say, in fact, that what most of us think of as "socially conservative family values" are pretty much independent of political (or economic, or social) ideology. You can be very good about teaching your children (by word and deed) how to be good people, no matter what your views on other subjects. You can also, as we repeatedly see in the news, be set a terrible example of behavior, again regardless of your political views.

Yes, a lot of self-proclaimed conservatives have spent a lot of time talking about "family values." But once you look at the actual behavior of both liberals and conservatives, you don't see much of a correlation. Actually, I would go further. With most of the population, there is no correlation. But with politicians, there appears to be a negative (not huge, but negative) correlation -- those who talk loudest about it tend to have the worst track records.

"Any philosophical body that believes in individual self reliance, traditional "family values", economic prudence in their personal affairs (and, by extension, to gov't spending)"

I'm a Quaker, a group generally regarded as pretty liberal, and those terms apply to us, too. That is, except for for the last part, your linking to governmental spending for the public good -- wars excluded. And our concept of "traditional family values" is considerably different from, say, Rick Santorum.

FWIW, we've already had a lapsed Quaker as a president (Nixon), and an avowed one (Hoover). Neither one worked out very well, although Hoover did a lot of good before his presidency.

I was attempting to avoid picking a culture war fight and didn't do a very good job.

Actually, I think you did a fine job, and I appreciate the effort. My buttons got pushed a bit, but some buttons are prime for pushing, sometimes unnecessarily so.

I appreciate your replies.

I'm a Quaker, a group generally regarded as pretty liberal, and those terms apply to us, too.

My wife and I are members of a UU church. Those terms generally apply to us, as well.

The one that probably does not is "individual self reliance", that's not an especially high priority for us, or most folks in our religious community. So, there are some differences.

".....(and, by extension, to gov't spending)"

There is no extension there. Viewing government finances as similar in any way to a private family's finances (regardless if they are a traditional family or not*)is simply, deeply, and boneheadedly wrong.

If you want to go on about "family values" and political affiliation, be my guest. ....although I find it interesting that the taxpayer paid for prison industry, by relocating people from urban to rural areas tilts political representation to those more rural locations, thus allowing them to send more representatives to Congress to screech about 'family values'.

*Unless they are a family of counterfeiters with their own central bank and the power to tax. You know any?

Socially liberal values,

Respect for family.
Respect for others.
Respect for differences.
Empathy for others, especially those thrown down by society.
A willingness to pitch in for the common good.
Charity.
Peaceful.
"Turn the other cheek" values.
Live and let live.
Respect and awe for the natural environment.
Appreciation and value of and learning and science.
Awareness that none of us is an island unto ourself.

There are more. Many conservatives exhibit one or more of these values from time to time. For that I am thankful.

McKinneyTexas's last point aside, I agree with his first point. There's little utility in trying to hold a political candidate to their own stated religion's tenets aside from juvenile "gotcha" attacks, unless the candidate is explicitly running a sectarian campaign (like, for example, Rick Santorum).

In 2004, it was popular to attack John Kerry for being a bad Catholic because he supported abortion rights. If I were an anti-abortion-rights Catholic, I would care, but otherwise I don't see the point; we all know Catholics in the real world believe all sorts of things.

There's an idea (a very Protestant sort of idea, though not all Protestants subscribe to it) that your religious identity is all about the details of what you believe, and if you decide you don't believe everything the leaders of your church say, you're supposed to vote with your feet and join a different church or start a new one; otherwise you're some sort of hypocrite. But many, probably most religions are not like that. I can't speak to how it is for Mormons, but it's probably not really my business.

What I care about is not how consistent the candidate's values and prospective policies are with his own religion, but how consistent they are with what I want.

There's an idea (a very Protestant sort of idea, though not all Protestants subscribe to it) that your religious identity is all about the details of what you believe, and if you decide you don't believe everything the leaders of your church say, you're supposed to vote with your feet and join a different church or start a new one; otherwise you're some sort of hypocrite.

This is, in fact, a very American Protestant idea, because this is how church-formation works in American communities: it is socially acceptable to found a new church or to become a member in one. On the other hand, in countries with protestant majority churches (historical state-churches), the cultural attitude towards the national church is about the same as the Catholics have.

For example, as a Lutheran, I would need a very major disagreement with my church to leave it. And in Lutheranism, this is an theologically acceptable stance: the unity on sacraments and salvation is enough to form the unity of church. I don't have to agree on everything with everyone else.

My own view (Mormon view, but I obviously don't speak for everyone):

1) Romney's view wouldn't be a deal breaker. Yes, hard to believe, but there is diversity of thought amongst Mormons. Even some democrats (and in my own family!). Not to mention Harry Reid.

2) I think it's o.k. to hold Romney to a higher standard to the extent that beliefs are relevant to the political debate (somewhat debatable). At the same time, Lurker raises an important point. Like most other faiths in America, some disagreement is acceptable. There is no doctrine on US immigration, contrary to what the article implies. The church did issue a statement regarding its position but it's not the sort of thing that members have to accept.

3) LJ: in short, yes, Mormons are natural Republicans IMHO for pretty much the reasons stated by McKinney (as clarified, no shots please). But (see below) the issue of immigration is, IMHO "special" amongst Mormons.

You have to consider that a large portion of the population of the church served missions in foreign countries. They became familiar with the people, the culture and the language. That typically changes your view on immigration.

Take me, frex. I went to LA. I was assigned to speak Spanish and learned the language. I loved the people, the culture and the food. Most of the people I worked with were from Central America, but a lot of South Americans, Cubans, and Mexicans as well. One guy I met was from El Salvador. His father was a government critic (no FMLN, mind you) and was killed. When my friend went back for the funeral, he was tortured. He was in the US illegally (had to sneak back), was married with a young boy. When Reagan came out with amnesty, he missed the deadline by (as I recall) mere months. Great person. Smart too. But his asylum app was denied. Within days of being sent back, Canada took him, and thank goodness.

Experiences like that affect you. So does the fact that most missionaries serving in Spanish-speaking countries come back considering themselves miembros adoptivos de la raza, or something similar if from other countries. Look at how many missionaries went back to help after the Haiti earthquake. Simply put, we like the people we serve, just as anyone does.

4) The article doesn't accurately state what Mormon's believe doctrinally either from the Book of Mormon. No special doctrine that the US itself (vs. the American Continent in general) is the "promised land." That's pushing it. I haven't heard that one before. Are Latinos and Indigenous people special? Absolutely. But it doesn't include some specific religious mandate vis-a-vis the U.S. in particular.

Yeah, the more I think about this post, the more I think it should have been focused on Santorum.

There was an interesting moment over the past few days, when that 2008 speech of Santorum's resurfaced in which he argued that "mainline Protestantism" had strayed from true Christianity. A bunch of people responded by saying "ha, I bet the Southern Baptists aren't going to like that."

But Santorum wasn't talking about the Southern Baptists; "mainline" in this context means "not Southern evangelical or fundamentalist", among other things. He was only dissing Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, maybe American Baptists...

But this is sufficiently inside terminology that many Americans don't even know that. I have to believe that this kind of thing is going to catch up with him sooner or later.

But this is sufficiently inside terminology that many Americans don't even know that. I have to believe that this kind of thing is going to catch up with him sooner or later.

I had a chat the other day with a die hard Santorum supporter. Wow. I learned that gay marriage is the tipping point beyond which our slide into an abyss of immorality becomes irreversible. Also, I learned that specific questions aimed at the received wisdom's underpinnings will not be entertained.

Someone elsewhere today commented that the Santorum campaign is like running a Jack Chick tract for President.

My Evangelical in-laws are Santorum supporters, so politics is off the table at get-togethers.

Except that Jack Chick is pretty strenuously anti-Catholic (though I think he did revise the tracts where the Pope is literally the Antichrist), whereas Santorum is part of the new wave of alliance between far-right Catholics and far-right evangelical Protestants against everyone else.

Yeah, the more I think about this post, the more I think it should have been focused on Santorum.

This was one of those posts where I wasn't really sure (and still am not really sure) what I am thinking about. I have been struck about how much more Romney seems to be a part of the Mormon church (in terms of giving and history) than any other candidate, so the attack, basically from inside his own church, caught me by surprise. The differences and similarities between him and Santorum are interesting. I also think the shorter history of the LDS does focus things in a different way. It also is interesting that the Mormon church would seem to be a more natural place for Republicans, EXCEPT for the emphasis on immigration. Here is an interesting view of that and this from the Telegraph might be of interest.

whereas Santorum is part of the new wave of alliance between far-right Catholics and far-right evangelical Protestants against everyone else.

I am afraid this is right. How could this be any dumber (more dumb?)? In raw numbers, if you add all far-right Catholics to all far-right evangelicals and then subtract the moderates and independents who go running for the hills, how many votes do you have left?

My Evangelical in-laws are Santorum supporters, so politics is off the table at get-togethers.

We are very close socially with a Santorum supporter and then another friend who is a Tea Party guy, very hard core anti-Obama. Every once in a while, after a drink or two, I'll roll out a rhetorical hand grenade. I am conservative, but many friends think I'm a bomb-throwing communist.

I am conservative, but many friends think I'm a bomb-throwing communist.

You have the audacity to think beyond those most superficial aspects of a given issue that are selectively highlighted by prominent conservative pundits and politicians whose opinions many other conservatives seek out to formulate or reinforce their own opinions. Or so I'm guessing, along with that being explanatory of your friends' characterizations of your politics.

I should add that liberals never do the sort of seeking out of pundits and politicians for opinion formulation or reinforcement that conservatives do. ;)

(God, I miss Keith Olbermann....)

if you add all far-right Catholics to all far-right evangelicals and then subtract the moderates and independents who go running for the hills, how many votes do you have left?

I think this has been gradually building for a long time. But we've now reached the point where sexually charged political issues are considered more important than the Catholic/Protestant doctrinal and cultural gulf, and there's this rapid realignment happening.

It didn't initially do a lot of damage to Republican electoral prospects because figures like Bush were able to hold them in a broader coalition, or there were more broadly disliked enemies to unite against (terrorists, liberals, Obama). But I think some of these folks really can't help themselves.

Experiences like that affect you.

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt

I would imagine that texts like these would resonate strongly with Mormons.

But we've now reached the point where sexually charged political issues are considered more important than the Catholic/Protestant doctrinal and cultural gulf, and there's this rapid realignment happening.

I am somewhat plugged into the evangelical/Southern Baptist community via a number of colleagues and family members. There is commonality of viewpoint with the RCC on gay marriage, much less so on BC and sex. Mainstream Baptist and many evangelical church's views on sex and BC are directly opposed to the conjugal marriage premise that is the basis for the strict RCC view. Baptists view sex within marriage as pretty much 'anything goes' and are perfectly fine with BC. Ditto many evangelicals.

The differences and similarities between him and Santorum are interesting.

Hard to argue with this. Fundamentally, Mitt is an ambitious technocrat whose religion is, in my view, incidental. Despite his flip-flopping, he is the least unappealing of the Repub candidates IMO. Santorum is the direct product of his religion and it defines who he is and what he would like the country to look like. Which is scary on two levels. Level One is that he could, in theory, get elected. Level Two is whether he gets elected or not, he could set back the prospects of electing a generic, small gov't conservative president by a decade or more.

Russell, good text and a timely reminder to all of us. Thanks for that.

There is commonality of viewpoint with the RCC on gay marriage, much less so on BC and sex. Mainstream Baptist and many evangelical church's views on sex and BC are directly opposed to the conjugal marriage premise that is the basis for the strict RCC view.

From a European point of view, and from my own Lutheran background, the idea of a Roman Catholic-Baptist entente seems absurd. Historically, babtists are the extreme left fringe of protestantism. You can't get more radical than them in theological issues. With the exception of the LDS church, which embraces almost every heresy that the Catholic church has ever bothered to condemn, from God the Mother to all christological and cosmognomical heresies available. (And this is not meant as an offense, but as an observation) Truly, the ways of politics are odd.

It is strange, isn't it? And some of the most liberal churches in the country are directly descended from the Boston Puritans.

And some of the most liberal churches in the country are directly descended from the Boston Puritans.

LOL.

The church my wife and I attend was established in 1629. Not the denomination, the specific church community. We still say the covenant that they said then, amazingly enough.

But lots of other things have changed in the intervening years.

Neither Romney's religion, nor the nature of his adherence to it, is any kind of deal breaker. People wanting to be taken seriously using words like "prophesized", on the other hand...

("Would you like to prophesize your order, sir?")

Not even five enforcement agencies can save their own
Never mind the people

Tonight it's raining on the angels of the city
Did anyone prophesize these people?
Only Travis
Come in, Travis!

Someday a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets.

"Prophesized" is fairly common usage, these days. If you want to argue against the flow of language, have at that windmill, young Oriscus!

Romney was also President of the Boston Stake for 8 years, effectively running the LDS Church in Eastern Massachusetts. That placed him above the leader of a single congregation or Ward. It seems that he should be seen as an important leader of the Church - he's certainly devoted a significant part of his life and money to it.

s it right to hold Romney more strictly to what his church believes?

Let's start by holding Romney to what Romney believes (or has claimed to believe in the past.) That's already a full-time job.

Schilling
That was rude. Funny, true, and fair, but rude.
Are you willing to be held to what you said in the past? I'm not. People change, circumstances change, and even the history books change.

"Romney was also President of the Boston Stake for 8 years...It seems that he should be seen as an important leader of the Church"

1) A Mormon "stake" is comprised of roughly a dozen congregations. So, large but not huge.
2) In 1980 there were 1,288 stakes, and today there are over 2,800, so the head of the LDS Church wouldn't even recognize most stake presidents, though Romney would've been an exception.
3) It is an extremely hierarchical church. Stake presidents, separately or as a group, have no say in the direction the Church takes on anything.

Regarding immigration: the LDS Church has fought against the culture or been out-of-touch on other major issues: feminism, gay marriage (esp. Prop 8), and waiting until 1978 to let blacks obtain the priesthood. They may see support for illegal immigration as a chance to be "progressive" on at least one major cause.

Conveniently, it's also the position the Church's richest members want them to take. The businesses of these men are often uniquely dependent on immigrant labor: Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding (a childhood friend of the current head of the Church), the Marriotts, and homebuilders Ellis Ivory (the former publisher of the Church-owned newspaper The Deseret News) and Ira Fulton, Richard Peery, etc.

Lastly, the group quoted in your link (Somos Republicans) is a rump organization that appears to be Republican only in the sense that it wants Republicans to oppose enforcement of our immigration laws.

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Whatnot


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