Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Faith in politics

There’s a good bit of talk about Huckabee’s "Christian leader" ad--see, for example, here, here, and here. I find it a little distasteful in its unsubtle attempt at subtlety.

And then there are Christopher Hitchens’ characteristically unsubtle questions about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. Yes, Mormonism was once racist; so was southern Protestantism; so were some strands of secular liberalism (as Jim Ceaser showed in this most excellent book); and the fathers of intellectually fashionable deconstruction were anti-Semites. Either everyone should be embarrassed, or everyone should (more or less equally) be off the hook.

Jonah Goldberg takes a different tack, arguing that various and sundry people of the Book(s) have a paper trail about which they can be quizzed, while secular liberals, who allegedly think for themselves by themselves, using only their reason, do not. Here’s Jonah:

Liberalism’s canon is largely unwritten, it’s dogma made-up as they go along (and yes, I’m over-generalizing to make a point; there are plenty of important liberal philosophical treatises that go unread by politicians and political journalists).


As someone who subscribes to the view that liberalism is a secular religion, it is very frustrating that liberal politicians do not offer up a paper trail for people to scrutinize the way conservatives do. Liberalism has a dogma as rich and serious as conservatism, but you can’t go to a liberal politician and ask: Are you loyal to John Dewey? Richard Rorty? John Rawls? You can’t ask what their bible is because they are acolytes of the bookless faith of good deeds, the cult of do-goodery. So when they argue for keeping "religion" out of politics they are saying "keep your religion out of politics." When they say that we need to "get past ideology" they are saying we need to get past your ideology. This means that conservatives must constantly defend their own territory rather than demand a similar accounting from liberals.

There’s something to this, but I think you can demand arguments and reasons, which surely have first principles and points of departure. People who have done their homework, as Jonah has, can begin to piece together the theoretical structure (perhaps Rube Goldbergish, perhaps shaky) underlying the lists of programmatic proposals. And even "pragmatism" has a literature, which, if you think it through, makes it pretty doggone scary as a "philosophy." Of course, this underlying argument is for the most part unacknowledged and/or held dogmatically, which makes it a species of faith not unlike that embraced by Huckabee.

Discussions - 2 Comments

The archeology doesn't support Mormonism. Now LDS makes certain claims, and those claims don't find validation in the archaeological evidence of the Holy Land.

Mormonism, like any creed, like any philosophical or economic system, has a structure, it has premises that move towards conclusions.

But do those of Mormonism add up. The Pope at Regensburg said that ALL religions have to meet and pass a reasonable test, that all religious belief must be VETTED by the mind of man.

Mormonism is a cult. Now the various cult members aren't blowing people up, they're not nasty, but so what. It's still a cult.

And just because Romney was born into that cult, doesn't shield him from the OBLIGATION to scrutinize his creed.

Why are we giving a cult member a pass?

Or have we so jettisoned the REASONABLE aspect of religious belief, and lost all confidence in it and articulating it, that we now collectively chalk up all religious belief to a "leap of faith." And thus place ALL religious belief in a vast buffet like offering. Some can pick Buddhism, some Shintoism, and some others Mormonism.

And I suppose NONE are to be questioned for subscribing to irrational creeds.

If Mormonism is irrational, doesn't that say something about Romney for subscribing to an irrational creed? Or we can't go there, is that it, because it's politically incorrect.

This is nonsense. The Constitution bars a religious test. But voters were NOWHERE admonished to take a disinterest in what creed a politician subscribes to, or fails to subscribe to.

If politician X proclaims himself a WICCAN, can't I draw some conclusions about politican X thereby.

This process of insulating Romney takes us down a path most unwise. That's where Europe is going, and it's disastrous.

JK: "There’s something to this, but I think you can demand arguments and reasons, which surely have first principles and points of departure."

You can demand, but that doesn't mean you'll receive an answer ... or an answer that makes any sense.

I used to think liberals were aware of their inconsistencies but tried to avoid admitting to them. Now I'm convinced they really don't believe they have inconsistencies. That's the beauty of a dogma that is, as Jonah Goldberg points out, "made-up as they go along." The latest dogmatic point is applicable; consistency with earlier arguments is not necessary.

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