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More Mormonism

At the risk of further inflaming at least on NLT commenter, let me call attention to Richard John Neuhaus’ response to Jacob Weisberg’s piece of anti-religious bigotry, which is directed at Romney and at anyone who isn’t essentially a religious modernist, agnostic, or atheist.

For fear of misleading someone into thinking that I agree with everything I quote, I won’t give you anything from Weisberg’s piece, but I will offer this bit from Neuhaus (reminding everyone that Neuhaus is not Knippenberg, nor Knippenberg, Neuhaus):

First, what would people think of someone who abandoned the religion of his forebears in order to advance his political career? (Mr. Romney is apparently having difficulties enough in explaining some of his political changes.) Second, do we really want to exclude from high office millions of citizens born into a religion whose tenets strike most Americans as bizarre, especially when there is no evidence that those peculiar tenets would have a bearing on their public actions? Third, candidates should be judged on the basis of their character, competence, and public positions. That one was born a Mormon is not evidence of a character flaw. That one remains a Mormon may be evidence of theological naiveté or indifference. But we are not electing the nation’s theologian. And, it should be noted, there are very intelligent Mormons who are doing serious intellectual work to move their tradition toward a closer approximation of Christian orthodoxy, which is a welcome development.

I will also note that Weisberg reminds us that other Mormons have sought the presidency, including Orrin Hatch, Morris Udall, and Romney pere. I can’t recall there being much discussion of the candidate’s Mormonism in any of those cases, though I have to confess that in 1968 I wasn’t old enough to pay close attention to politics. It’s worth noting that there’s a fairly wide range of political opinion--all of it comfortably part of the mainstream--in that modern list.

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I’m certainly had my fill of Mormons today. But two points worth repeating: There’s no Mormon pressure for political conformity (as the names Udall and Reid suggest), and there are a good number of Mormons in good standing who are very fashionably liberal teaching at BYU. Father Neuhaus is right that there are many serious and deep Mormon theological/philosophical writers. Some are trying to move Mormonism in a sort of Thomistic direction, while, it’s important to add, continuing to appreciate what they regard as the distinctive theological strengths of their religion. And there are a surprising number of Mormon students of Strauss--such as our friend Ralph Hancock. And Ralph is certainly one of the country’s leading students of political philosophy and a believing and faithful Mormon bishop. All in all BYU, which has 99% Mormon students and faculty, is better than any evangelical university and in many ways rivals Notre Dame. GOD IN THE QUAD didn’t do BYU justice, for the same reason it didn’t do ST. THOMAS AQUINAS in California justice. It’s not necessarily an educational disadvantage for "a community of learners" to share certain first principles in common. More precisely, it has both advantages and disadvantages.

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Even over at National Review, the home of what Ann Coulter called girlie men,
the head cojone-free boy himself, Rich Lowry, takes Linker to task over his anti-Mormon religious bigotry: here.

It’s a shame that Knippenberg couldn’t manage to make his own position something remotely positive-definite.

Even more bashing of Linker from the pages of National Review here
showing the lackluster Knippernberg how it’s done.

Head’s up Knippenberg, this is how folks who are not raving religious bigots go about their work. School is in session.

Paul, although you have to lay off Joe K. and stop taking Coulter’s emasculating efforts seriously, I have to agree that Lowry’s post is on the money.

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