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No Left Turns

The upcoming Romney speech

We learn from our friends at Power Line that Mitt Romney has decided to give a speech about his faith, at the (GHW) Bush Presidential Library, no less.

You can read more stories here (stressing the latest poll results from Iowa, showing Huckabee in the lead), here (stressing the GHWB connection and reprinting he 1960 Kennedy speech), and here.

Not that the Romney folks want my advice, but I offered it here. Above all, he shouldn’t say what Kennedy said, which emphasizes no-aid separationism above all else, raises the secularist boogeyman of churches and denominations ordering people around, and looks forward to a time when religious distinctiveness will diminish to a point of insignificance. Some pundits will treat this as Romney’s template, but it wouldn’t work for at least two reasons. First, its no-aid separationism is much more appealing to secularists and liberal Baptists than to anyone else. And second, if he’s going to honor the role that faith plays in the lives of Americans (which I think he has to, given his immediate audience), he can’t be as hostile to the "prophetic" role of denominations as JFK was.

It will be interesting to see what he says.

Discussions - 66 Comments

I don't think this speech is a smart play for Romney. His Mormonism is already a factor, making this speech only makes it that much more of a factor.

The speech would make it clear that his Mormonism is real, and not something he was born into, and for reasons mostly of inertia and drift, hasn't moved beyond.

The speech would open him up in a general, for the Democrats would run endless little stories on the quirks and peculiarities of Mormonism. And the speech would almost oblige him to defend each and every one of those aspects of Mormonism.

Either he goes out there and says his Mormonism doesn't matter because it's not really important to him, which begs the question, then why is he still a Mormon, just because his parents were.... OR he says his Mormonism is central to his personality, but isn't outside the mainstream of American public life, which then puts Mormonism on the table, for then it's natural to ask what aspects of Mormonism might influence his behavior while in public office.

Be mindful the duties and decisions of a Governor are as nothing to that of a President, especially a President in time of war.

Thus I don't think it's a smart move for the Romney campaign to drag Mormonism to the front and center of the political stage.

But his campaign does evidence a certain dreary, unimaginative plodding style. They had something like this planned from the get-go, and they're going to go through with it, whether it's the smart play or not.

The speech is intended to provide additional parallels to that former Massachusetts President, JFK. Romney, and his chief flack Hewitt too, obsess constantly on the alleged similarities between Romney's Mormonism and JFK's Catholicism.

Romney isn't JFK.

Mormonism isn't Roman Catholicism, and it's an insult to suggest as much.

One final observation. The speech is intended to be the final answer of Romney to any questions about Mormonism; it's intended to end discussion, end debate and end thought actually. Anything more will be said to be clear proof of prejudice and bigotry. The speech is hoped to be the final nail as it were.

But the speech will do precisely the opposite for Romney and his campaign. For it will place Mormonism on the table, not off it. And it will place ALL OF MORMONISM on the table, it's origins, it's history, it's tenets, it's core documents. And they're not going to hold up. Mormonism will stay on the table throughout the remainder of the primary battle, and were Romney to succeed in gaining the GOP nomination, the speech will only make sure that Mormonism stays front and center, instead of remaining off the table, or off stage, {to mix metaphors}. The media will be able to respond to criticisms from the Romney campaign by observing "you brought it up," which won't be necessarily accurate, but won't be inaccurate either.

Heretofore, Romney has succeeded precisely to the extent that he's made people forget his Mormonism. But after the speech, his previous efforts will be overturned. Romney is making it almost impossible for people to separate him from his Mormonism. And that is going to end his chances for the nomination.

Romney is effectively saying "either the GOP nominate him, or prove to one and all that we're possessed of anti-Mormon bigotry." IT'S EXACTLY like the manner in which the President and the administration pushed immigration reform, "either agree with us and vote for this, or you're all bigoted."

The speech will likely backfire with genuine Conservatives who will be jarred by the inherent implication thereof. And Christians will once again be insulted by the endless comparisons of Mormonism to Christianity.

Heretofore I thought Romney was doing about as well as he could, under the circumstances. This is probably the first DELIBERATE blunder of his campaign. This has been thought of all along. It's been planned long before Romney announced, and all throughout this campaign Romney's flacks have pushed the JFK analogy, and now they're trying to render that concrete in the party, and across the wider electorate.

Instead of making Mormonism a non-issue, the speech will convince that Romney is ramming his Mormonism down America's throat, and any complaint Americans might have is bigotry.

It isn't going to work, Hugh Hewitt's hysterics notwithstanding.

Somebody, please explain why Dan is not exactly right.

Romney's mistake here is too much fondness for the JFK analogy.

If you check out Hewitt's book about Romney, you'll see the speech foreshadowed. Romney's team has been preparing the speech for over two years, easy. And they've invested so much thought, so much research, so much polling and lastly, so much emotional effort into the speech, that they can't give it up. Instead of it being a part of an overall campaign, "the speech" has become THE issue for them. It's grown way beyond its proper scope, its proper role.

Oh, and I saw this one comin' too, a good country mile off.

An early morning quick thought on the topic is that Romney ought to define what he means by his faith before someone else, like Dan here, does that for him. One of the fascinating and difficult aspects of any organized religion in America is the liberal mode of thought within it. Within any church, even, you will meet people who respond to the central tenets of that faith differently, accepting or rejecting key aspects of doctrine at will. Even churches that have a controlling authority that will define orthodoxy maintain very little control over thought and belief of any given member. If a dissenting member does not express himself too loudly, he can be accommodated if he chooses to stay within that church.

I do not know many Mormons and none well enough to be absolutely certain of this in that religion, but I know an astonishing number of Protestants and Catholics. Some of those Catholics might as well be Lutheran or Episcopalian, or Unitarian, for that matter. I meet Protestants from various churches who might as well be Pentecostal, but do not belong to that kind of church for all sorts of reasons. No one has ever liked the Anabaptists. Because of American inclination to free-thinking, because of American tolerance for independent thought, a person can be a member of any church and, if he is quiet about it, believe within that church just about whatever he pleases.

Romney has a right to define his faith and if he gives the American people a chance to understand his definition of that aspect of himself, yes, he does defuse some critics. But why should he let his critics define any aspect of himself? Depending on what he believes, and if he is honest, he could be letting himself for a considerable drubbing. Mormonism as I have read about it, has some pretty wild stuff in it. It also has tenets and values that accord very well with mainstream Protestantism. I am sure those are the aspects of his religion that Romney will stress, and may be the core of his belief. He HAS TO define himself in this regard or his opponents can say whatever they like, insinuate whatever they like, or even accuse him of cowardice for not discussing this.

I think Romney has no choice in this to remain a viable candidate.

Romney is desperate. This will probably hurt more than help.

"Mormonism isn't Roman Catholicism and it's an insult to suggest as much." While I accept that there are some pretty wacky aspects to Mormonism, is the idea of Joseph Smith and the gold tablets that much further out of the realm of possibility than a great deal that we find in the Bible? How exactly is defending his, albeit strange, faith "ramming it down America's throat?" Are there particular public policies that grow naturally out of Mormonism? Does a Mormon have a particular view of foreign policy that we should be aware of?

I tend to agree with Dan who thinks this will create more discussion about Romney and Mormonism. There's little chance the press and others will say, "Oh, okay ... next subject?"

Jonah Goldberg at NRO asks an interesting question of those who have "concern" or "reservations" about Romney's Mormonism: "... what exactly these people think a Mormon President might do that would be so unacceptable?"

For what it's worth, I think the unspoken concern many have with Romney being President is that it might serve to legitimize the Mormon faith in more people's eyes. That might be a concern for some Evangelicals who are heavily invested in Mormonism being a "cult" diametrically opposed to the essential tenets of Christianity.

For example, see:

I think Clint is right. If Romney meant to do this, he should have done it ages ago (as his wife wanted him to do . . . wives almost always have better instincts about what is in the best interest of their husbands than campaign advisers seem to have). Now, in the face of his slipping poll numbers it looks desperate. It will ring hollow to anyone who may have given what he has to say about his religion serious consideration without the looming specter of a loss in Iowa. It rather confirms the other suspicion many have about Romney--that he does and says whatever he needs to do or say in order to get what he wants.

Julie, the speech became bigger, and bigger, and bigger, it loomed larger, and larger, and larger. It took on a life of its own. It's almost a separate entity within that campaign.

It's Romney's Operation Citadel, {for non military buffs, that was Hitler's Kursk operation, launched in July, '43, which he kept putting off, and putting off, and the operation became bigger and more ambitious almost by the week}. When finally launched, the Soviets were well dug in and prepared, and it became nothing less than a death or glory ride for the Wehrmacht.

Romney's guys now realize the speech, and what's more importantly, how the speech is spun, is either going to save his candidacy or be the last flicker of life in a candle, just before the flame expires.

Had the speech been delivered long ago, it might have been spun as Romney answering some questions, not hostile questions, just questions, mild curiosity if you will.

But now Romney's speech is being described as THE definitive response.

Moreover there's an air of unreality about the whole thing. Does the Romney team REALLY think all of Conservative America is sitting around with bated breath waiting for "the speech."

Even describing this thing as "the speech" is ridiculous. Things get branded "the speech" in RETROSPECT, not beforehand.

The whole thing, indeed, Romney's whole campaign is trying desperately to imitate that of JFK.

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I can't help but think there's something squalid about such imitation, such slavish mimicry.

Kate, Romney does NOT have the right to describe and "define" some separate Mormonism, some Romney Mormonism, apart and distinct from the rest of Mormonism, real Mormonism. He's a Mormon, which means either he purchases into it, or he's just going along because of drift and inertia.

But as for Mormonism proper, that has its own history, core beliefs, hierarchy, structure and liturgy. Mormonism is an OBJECTIVE thing, and Romney hasn't the right to try to muffle and blur what that thing is, all for his own ambitions.

Mormonism has been moving along out of view for quite a few decades now. And it's long since past time for Americans to take a good, hard look at what Mormonism is, what its tenets are, what it enjoins, what it prohibits, what its founding documents are, how it relates to Christianity.

Those are legitimate questions, and Romney hasn't the authority or the prestige to declare those questions out of bounds.

Romney is in serious trouble, the speech can't bale him out.

And Jonah Goldberg's question misses the whole point. It's not what Romney might do, or not do, {we already know what he'll do, he's an establishment candidate who will follow the dictates of that establishment, he's constantly mentioning "consensus," "getting agreement" and of course, calling in "the lawyers," we know full well what that flip-flopper will do, his foreign policy will be dictated by the State Department}.

The issue is the role of The White House in all of this. Romney's elevation to the Presidency will serve as cultural validation for Mormonism, which IS a cult. It's not a Jim Jones type of cult, it's not a Haley Bop Comet type of cult, but nonetheless, it's a cult.

Thus we would be elevating a cultist to The White House. The prospect of that ALONE, apart from the particular peculiarities of Mormonism IS the problem.

We're selecting the leader of the Western world, he should therefore flow from the two religions FOUNDATIONAL to that Western world, id est, Christianity and Judaism.

It would be thoroughly inappropriate to select a Muslim to be the leader of "the West," likewise it's inappropriate to select a cultist as the leader of the West.

Romney had his chance to objectively examine his Mormonism. He failed to do so, had he done so, he would have left Mormonism long ago.

It's important for all of us to maintain the relationship that exists between reason and faith. Validating a cult, elevating a cult, agreeing with the idea that such things are private and carry no wider cultural import, serves to break down the relationship between reason and faith.

Faith must have a rational basis. THAT'S the whole point of our critique of islam, that jihad is irrational, that muslim supremacism is irrational, that the shariaa is irrational, that the three-fold inequity of islam is irrational. Well, guess what, there are OTHER religions that are also irrational. Not bloodthirsty, but nonetheless irrational. And one of those irrational items is Mormonism.

Accordingly, I'm left with no option but to oppose Romney.

WERE Romney DEMONSTRABLY SUPERIOR, were he the only true Conservative in the field, with the only chance to defeat Hillary, then I'd have to do some serious thinking.

But Romney makes the call easy, for his long track record of allowing his positions to be dictated by the office he's seeking, and the constituents he's pandering to, make Romney's campaign a rather squalid affair.

Here's a good article on the bare, and hence inept, politics of Romney's whole campaign. He's never really had much of a shot. He doesn't have a principled agenda, but operates a strange business applied to politics that adapts to the situation. It should have been done a long time ago, if at all, as Julie says. Wives may have good political instincts, if you discount Jeri Thompson's.

Dan, you are right on today!

JC, your idea that the Bible stands on the same grounds a Joseph Smith shows a lack of study on the subject.

Wow...where were all you experts of religion in '89 when I converted to the 'irrational' religion of 'Mormonism', or perhaps 'Morcultism'. I really enjoy No Left Turns, and have been coming here for a number of years now, but...I'm just speechless. I had no idea, none, of all the expertise in 'Mormonism' that has been displayed over the last 6 or so months on these boards. I'm rethinking my entire belief system....ok, not really, but it is fun to read!! 8-)

And, for what it's worth, I don't believe Ol' Mitt is the best man for the job. Wonder if I'll be excommunicated for that thought...Dan? Do you know??

Brutus - Could you say more? How do we evaluate revelations?

Re-examine your Mormonism. Check out its core documents. They don't pass muster. Ergo Mormonism doesn't pass the plausibility test. Or have you exempted Mormonism from having to pass a plausibility test.

Mormonism is a creed, it's a belief system, it proposes a set of beliefs for man to accept and subscribe to. It makes historical claims. Those claims must be analyzed. Archeology has found nothing to validate the historical claims of Mormonism. Reason DICTATES that where evidence flies in the face of belief, it's not reason that folds, but the belief. Mormonism turns Western thought upside down. It prescribes a belief system that doesn't and can't pass a plausibility test.

Catholicism had to battle these issues long ago, long before the split between the Eastern Church and the Western, Latin Church. It's nothing new for us. We're kind of bored by it all.

But if Mormonism aspires to anything more than cult status, it has to answer those questions.

Aquinas demonstrated how Greek philosophy, with its emphasis on reason, SUPPORTED and SUSTAINED the claims of Christianity.

Mormonism has done nothing of the sort.

Playing a victim card ISN'T the same as providing a RATIONAL defense of Mormonism. Don't you guys understand that? We're not much impressed by cries of bigotry and prejudice.

Provide answers to the intellectual attack on Mormonism, or continue to be considered nothing more than an aberrational cult.

Aquinas provided answers that resonate to this day.

Where is the Mormon Aquinas?

Provide one or be considered a cult.

I know that's kind of brutal, especially today, in a world that stresses non-judgementalism. But that's the truth, and I can't muffle it or blur it just to avoid giving offense. Non-judgementalism is a Western heresy. It's kind of appropriate that Mormonism, yet another Western heresy, should hide behind it. Thus we have heresy hiding behind heresy, aberration behind aberration.

Well, whatever. Romney is only digging himself deeper into that hole of his.

And that speech of his isn't going to reveal him to be Mormonism's answer to Aquinas.

Sam . . . please remember that those publicly condemning the Mormon faith a "cult" are not any official part of this site. Like Steve Thomas, I have no appetite for the idea of establishing a public standard for comparative revelation.

Dan wrote: "The issue is the role of The White House in all of this. Romney's elevation to the Presidency will serve as cultural validation for Mormonism"

I wrote earlier: "For what it's worth, I think the unspoken concern many have with Romney being President is that it might serve to legitimize the Mormon faith in more people's eyes."

I'm really beginning to think that's the crux of the issue for many. I think many just don't like the idea of Mormonism being validated in that manner. The same would hold if a presidential candidate were Atheist, or Wiccan, or whatever.

Julie, I appreciate your desire to avoid giving offense, but such a test already exists. It's Western history itself. That's the test, thats' the standard. All of Western history exists as a homage to the role of reason. We can't get away from that. And we certainly can't get away from it just because Romney aspires to high office.

Does Mormonism match up with traditional definitions of a cult? That's not an insignificant question. Does Mormonism make historical claims? Yes. Can those claims be demonstrated to be accurate? No.

Romney's flacks ask us to select a man with beliefs that are not plausible.

I've moved on and asked the very simple question: "What does it say about Romney himself, that he holds beliefs that aren't plausible?"

Are Mormons irritated by those questions? Sure. Does their irritation prohibit us asking those questions? No.

Instead of focusing solely on how Mormons feel about their religion being defined as a cult, what about the feelings of those Christians who are appalled by Mormons blithely comparing their faith to a 2,000 year old Church. That breezy comparison, all for purposes of ingratiation, is the true insult here.

It's one thing for Romney to describe himself as more Conservative than his record and rhetoric indicates. But it's altogether another for him to make glib, cheap and foolish comparisons of Mormonism and Roman Catholicism, and by extension the whole of Christianity, which is the fullness of Christ on earth.

Romney and others are attaching Mormonism to the body of Christ himself.

Just thinking about it takes one's breath away.

Christianity has not been left unprepared against those who wish to attach their private and particular creeds to the body of Christ. St. Paul warns us repeatedly to be wary of such. Romney is asking us many things, but asking us to accept Mormonism as mainstream and moreover, as Christian, is way beyond the pale.

Dan ... was Aquinas arguing for the rationality faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, or for the rationality of all the tenets, practices and traditions of the Catholic Church?

Don, your question takes us down the path of distinguishing between Catholicism and the progeny of Martin Luther. There's no need for that today. We're simply maintaining a distinction between Mormonism, which has a certain creed, and Christianity, which despite variations existing within it, does have commonalities. Such as Christ being the Son of God, Christ being born to "testify to the truth," Christ being crucified for our sins, Christ offering salvation through acceptance of him. These are things that all Christians share.

Augustine and Aquinas are the type of men that naturally appear within Christianity. Just think of the title of a couple of John Paul II's final encyclicals, THE SPLENDOR OF THE TRUTH, and FAITH AND REASON. Just the titles indicate the emphasis that all of Christianity places upon reason, right reason.

But I don't really feel like wandering into the depths of Aquinas, {I had to take three courses back in the day, and I'm not too keen on reliving yesteryear, certainly not on a thread in a blog}.

Besides, I have some stuff that needs to be done, so enough of Romney. I think I'll stop posting anything on Romney until he delivers his speech. I suggested it wasn't politically prudent. David Frum amplifies on my idea over at NRO. I've remarked on Mormonism as a whole, and asked "Where is the Mormon Aquinas?" So on that I'll stand pat until his speech is actually delivered. Or at least I'll try to, but discussion on the topic might drag me back beforehand.

We'll see.

Perhaps Dan could explain how having Abraham Lincoln in the White House legitimized Lincoln's hetorodox religious views. Does Dan really think that people will come to Mormonism because Mitt Romney is president?

Dan, I was trying to draw a distinction between the core rationality of the Christian faith -- Jesus as Lord -- and all the manmade trappings that surround that. To many, the rituals and practices are what make seem irrational to the modern eye. And so to a modern secularist the Mormon Church may not look all that different from the Catholic Church. A clever non-believer would take both institutions and be able to draw the same conclusion about irrationality.

But if the focus is drawn back to the reality of Christ as Lord ... there can still be an argument about irrationality, but at least the argument is focused on the very heart and core.

A bad idea. David Frum explains exactly why at NRO today.

Clint and Julie have it right - it's too late to do this thing. I think it would have helped him if it were done early on, but, to echo Clint, now it smacks of desperation.

Julie...I am, as I said, a fan of the site. As such, I am aware of who is a 'representative', so to speak, of Ashbrook and who is just an anynomous Joe. I was not even remotely offended. I have been a active, practicing 'Mormon' for nearly 20 years now. These questions and accusations are not new and are easily found on internet sites as well as on anti-LDS forums etc. So far, nothing new has surfaced. The 'Mormon' church does not need Dan's approval, nor anyone else's, to include mine, to continue being. I just enjoy the comments and dissenting opinions that are on this site. You guys and gals that administer and comment on this site are great! Thanks so much! 8-)

There are two sides to the comparison of Christianity and Mormonism. Of course Christianity has a powerful and documented history that has been in large part proven over generations of science. Mormonism lacks this. However, Steve, Sam, and Julie are right that at a point any religious belief requires a little faith/revelation that is detatched from reason. How much of a jump you take is up to each individual and in some ways each religion. I'd say that Mormons take a pretty big jump. That leaves many Christians thinking they are nuts, perhaps as Catholics think that the Protestant leap of faith is crazy. So yes, all people of faith can be accused of not strictly following reason.

Theologically I have many questions about Mormonism; such as how could a religion change a fundamental tenant (polygamy) just to join society. That seems caving into the world if you ask me. But that's just where I imagine even open minded Christians and open minded Mormons will have to part ways.

Just to report that I've been talking with a number of Mormons, and many agree with Dan's sense (in his first two postings here) of the risks involved in Romney's promised speech. Some might even agree with his characterization of the "insulting comparison," though I suppose they might take that in another way. In any case, to state the obvious: not all Mormons are enthusiastic about Romney's candidacy.
As to a "Mormon Aquinas": very possibly slouching towards some Bethlehem to be born.

Well, if you don't need or want my approval, and the approval of millions of Americans just like me, then why the whining. Why the victim card?

Present the case in chief in favour of Mormonism. Cut the whining, and present your case. Show us why the rest of us Christians are wrong, but Mormons right. Show us how roughly 1,800 hundred years worth of Christianity got it wrong, that the great Saints got it wrong, the great minds of Christianity got it wrong, but that Joe Smith and the church of "latter day" saints got it right.

Show us how Mormonism is plausible.

Don't whine, prove. Or as someone in the NFL might say, "don't sing it, bring it."

Instead we get words more in sorrow than anger.

The reasoning for Romney will be used in another day, another time, for a group very different than Mormons. And the "argument" that persuaded us to accept being browbeaten by Mormons will be used by that group, and what will our defense be then?

Effectively Americans are being asked to COMPLETELY sever a man's private convictions and beliefs from consideration of him for public office.

To my mind, that's insane. And the founders would have thought so as well.

Rich Brookhiser over at NRO says such people are bigots. Which is a passing strange definition for bigotry. Who here suggested declining the extended hand of a Mormon. Who here suggested boycotting Mormon business. Who here called for the expulsion of Mormon kids from schools. Who here called for anything like that? No one has. REPEAT, NO ONE HAS. None have suggested a blacklisting, none have suggested debilities and legal restrictions. None has suggested a more onerous tax for Mormons. Nothing like that has been suggested. So where is the bigotry, and what does this bigotry consist of? Daniel Patrick Monihyan might quip this is "bigotry being defined downwards." I've often seen articles pushing for Romney that go on to name drop famous Mormons, or successful Mormon businessmen. So what. What are we supposed to do with that information? Are we to conclude that Mormonism must be ok, because various successful Americans subscribe to Mormonism. Is that logical? Is that a rational line of "argument?" The fact that some Mormons have learned how to turn a buck doesn't make Mormonism any the more plausible.

If you asked me who was the ideal quarterback, I'd say Steve Young. I said as much last week at a party. He was more mobile than Montana and Brady, and he could make just as quick and accurate a decision, as well as a throw.

But the Presidency isn't an NFL Quarterback.

When it comes to the LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD, the champion of the West, and an embattled West at that, how is it outrageous to suggest that the man selected be from the two faiths that made possible Western Civilization, Judaism and Christianity.

What if Romney were a wahab? And his flacks were advancing the same line of "argument" as Romney, what would be the response? The response would be to list the many problems with wahabism. BUT THAT PRESUPPOSES an examination of wahabism. That presupposes an examination of the reasonableness of the wahabi creed. YET THAT examination of the underlying reasonableness of a belief system is the very thing we're now told we're ESTOPPED from considering. Romney and others would prohibit even a cursory review of Mormonism, lest we pass upon the private convictions of a politician. And if we insist on checking out that belief system, here Mormonism, we're all rank bigots, yahoos, extras from the movie DELIVERANCE.

WERE WE IN EXTREMIS, were the candidates demonstrably incompetent and degenerate, were Romney the ONLY rational selection, ........ then the rule would have to take account of that, for necessity has its own reasons. But that's not the case. Our party is unhappy with the field, but not so unhappy and so desperate to embrace Romney.

Take a look at what's happening in Europe. Their elites quelled objections about muslim immigration by blasting those opposed as bigots, in the exact same fashion that many try to rule out review of Romney's beliefs. And look at the situation over there now, just a decade and two later. It's a disaster, the shadows are lengthening; Bernard Lewis concluded Europeans don't have a future, that their future is "islam."

My point here is to observe we're not getting rational argument anymore. We're getting endless accusations of bigotry. And not just on this issue, but a whole bevy of issues. It's a tactic that has been used for immigration reform, affirmative action, hiring quotas, governmental set-asides, for homosexual adoption and marriage, and now that same tactic is being used to advance the Romney campaign.

Allowing this type of tactic to pass unchecked is intellectual sloppiness of an amazingly high order. And it will come back to haunt us, not necessarily relating to Romney, but on other issues.

And some who are making accusations of bigotry are Romney supporters, and using that tactic to blast supporters of the other candidates, especially those who support Huckabee. And now the Romney supporters see bigotry under their bedsheets, Huckabee runs an ad that states his Christian past, and Romney's flacks cry foul. Enough!

Provide answers to the intellectual attack on Mormonism, or continue to be considered nothing more than an aberrational cult.

A Christian is writing these words? And meaning them in all seriousness?

Theologically I have many questions about Mormonism; such as how could a religion change a fundamental tenant (polygamy) just to join society.

Have you read your Bible lately? Admittedly the Mormons changes are a lot more recent.


WERE Romney DEMONSTRABLY SUPERIOR, were he the only true Conservative in the field, with the only chance to defeat Hillary, then I'd have to do some serious thinking.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you the guy constantly cheerleading for Rockefeller Rudy? You're on shaky ground in making any comments about other candidates conservatism.

John-I don't think that you'll find anything that the majority of Christians have switched 180 on, at least not a fundamental premise. -And that includes reading you Bible.

Yes, from this field, emphasis on "from this field," I favour Rudy. I want someone with an ornery, serious side. I want some savvy, I want a guy with some serious smarts, I want a guy who isn't an embarrassment. I want a guy far removed from the Bush family. I don't want another happy face. We're going on 16 straight years of Southern men with happy faces, Bill Clinton and GW. So I say enough already. But that's an entirely different subject than that of this thread.

This thread concerns the reasons for Romney imploding. And concerns his foolish attempt to stem that by delivering "the speech." Which I suppose we're all to TIVO or something, so that decades hence, we can show it to our kids, and say: "I was there when "Mitt" delivered "the speech."

Grandiose delusion coupled with political miscalculation isn't going to secure the nomination.

Given all of this list of arguments I can hardly wait to see what happens when Mitt Romney delivers this speech. This is the most interesting thing to happen in this l-o-n-g campaign.

Dan is quite right that America has not really looked at Mormonism in many, many years. This is not exactly a season of looking carefully at any candidate's religious beliefs, unless, until and to the extent that he or she has exposed them. It seems a bit unfair that Romney should be undergoing this challenging scrutiny on the topic. We are even supposed to take Hillary's or Obama's faith "on faith". At this point, some of you guys have me wanting to defend Romney as a candidate and I had not considered myself as a supporter in any way before tonight. Romney is not a wahab. I do not see how his Mormonism makes him a poor choice for President. I was more worried about his political record in Massachusetts than about his religious beliefs.

Is this speech of Romney's becoming a speech in defense of Mormonism or is it a speech wherein Romney defends his right to be a Mormon and run for president?

Wow, 36 replies on this thread and it not even close to being anything about the Civil War or Lincoln or the Southern Confederacy.

Dan-please write less, I'd actually read them then

Sorry Clint.

I'll try to condense it more often.

A comment on the length of this thread: Folks, if we conservatives are wasting our breath on whether Mitt is a Christian (or whether Rudy is a Christian) in September-October 2008, I guarantee you that we will get a Democratic president. And frankly, some of those who obsessed about theology in the political campaign of our lifetimes will have deserved exactly that.

It's the Romney campaign that's obsessed, obsessed with their JFK analogy. Their cavalier comparisons are insulting, and when they're called on it, they respond bigotry.

However, it won't be Romney. It looks like Huckabee is really draining away support for Romney, which was never very strong to begin with. Romney's campaign intended to portray their guy as THE challenger to Giuliani. Instead, for all the money they've spent, they find themselves thrashing about in Huckabee's dust. "The speech," now blown way out of all reasonable proportion, is an exercise in grandiose narcissism, and but a sign of desperation.

It's truly Romney's political equivalent to Operation Citadel. And like that military operation, he'll find no traction, and make no headway.

I can't believe I'm about to cite this person but, in this context, he's absolutely right. Will Smith (yes, that Will Smith) was interviewed on some program I happened to catch yesterday flipping channels and he was defending his friend Tom Cruise (yes, that Tom Cruise) against those who attack him for his Scientology without really knowing him (or frankly, much about Scientology). I am sure that I would find very much that is weird and strange and unbelievable in Scientology just as I would find it in Mormonism, and in Judaism, and in Zoroastrianism, and even in elements of Evangelical Protestantism. I would find them so because, as a Roman Catholic, I hold on to my own set of revelatory beliefs that is incompatible with much that is in these systems. As Smith (who was raised a Baptist and attended Catholic school) said--and I paraphrase--"How can I believe that my savior came from a pregnant virgin and then turn around and condemn this guy's beliefs as strange?" Of course, that's incomplete. But there is truth in it. In a private sense one can and does and, in fact, must do make these judgments. But it is something else altogether to call for a public standard of judging the things one believes on the basis of private revelation. That gets ugly. I know I don't want the day to come when I have to pass the muster on that test. Isn't it enough for us to judge a man by what he does and what he believes about our common enterprise: i.e., America. Leave the status of his soul to him or persuade him privately, if you can.

Just last night I was thinking of the Scientology analogy too. There are notable Scientologists, who are wealthy, successful and affable. They certainly don't appear threatening in any way, Ann Archer, John Travolta, Travolta's lovely wife. They don't look dangerous.

David Frum put the question directly, "What does it say about this guy that he believes this stuff." That's a paraphrase, but it captures the gist. He said we can't go there. I don't think we can avoid going there. It's not pleasant, it's certainly not the ideal. But there's too much at stake, the Presidency is unlike any other position. The White House DOES have that "bully pulpit," and that means we need to know much more about the guy we're selecting.

It's not so much about the soul of the candidate. I'm not interested in that, because that's a realm where only God lives and moves. No, it's about his mind. How it works, where it tends, how nimble it is, how rapidly he picks up on a point, how dense it is, how stubborn, things like that.

We have to avoid guys who "grow" on the job. And we can't have guys who read some recent politically correct tract on a subject, and then delude themselves that they understand it. Bush does that all the time. David Frum said that Bush almost NEVER met with any SERIOUS, well-informed opponent of his immigration reform proposals. But most especially Bush has done that with islam. He doesn't know spit about islam, and that's being charitable. But that hasn't prevented him from predicating long range, important policy upon his limited knowledge. Bush has demonstrated an amazing lack of intellectual curiosity. There were signs of that way back in 1999. We should have picked up on it and spared ourselves a great deal of pain, watching him thrash about.

Romney displays a SIMILAR lack of intellectual curiosity. THAT'S why we need to go there. So as to avoid Republicans "growing" in office, and appointing people like David Souter, Harriet Meirs and Alberto Gonzales. Thats' why we need to go there, to make sure that the guy we're getting is TOUGH MINDED, like John Bolton for instance, and not Condi, who has proven herself to be hopelessly out of her depth.

So you don't want to be interested in Romney's soul, which I'm on board with. But what of Romney's mind. We caught glimpse of that mind in action when Romney was asked what his favourite writer was, and what was his favourite book. And what was Romney's answer. Some might have suggested Solzhenitsyn. Others Stendahl, perhaps Dickens, Henry James, Melville, maybe Twain, perhaps Dumas, who wrote exceptionally entertaining tales. Maybe a more recent author, like Philip Roth. Or writers of popular fiction, which have been set on the silver stage, such as Herman Wouk. No. None of them. I would have answered Tolstoy and "War and Peace," which I've read half a dozen times easy, but that's me. So what was Romney's answer, ......... it was L. RON HUBBARD, the founder of Scientology. L. RON HUBBARD. That bears repeating, of ALL the writers out there, he chose L. RON HUBBARD. Now WHAT does that say about the man, and his mind. I don't think it's very flattering.

So there's a rich irony indeed in the Scientology analogy you've chosen.

Bottom line: Romney seems shallow, as Dan suggests. We don't want another shallow president, if we can help it. On the other hand, do we know for sure that anyone else is deeper? I'm guessing that Rudy is, but will someone who is knowledgeable about this question please help us out?

42: Good point, Julie.

David, re: your point in #44

That will be a question Rudy's performance in the coming weeks will have to answer. I don't know if he's deeper but my sense is that he is more resolute.

In a private sense one can and does and, in fact, must do make these judgments. But it is something else altogether to call for a public standard of judging the things one believes on the basis of private revelation.

Julie, you are ever the liberal. Evangelicals believe that the status of an individual's soul is a private matter, but it is my own Evangelicals who have sometimes failed to realize that religion is not now and never has been an entirely personal matter. Christianity is not now and never has been an entirely personal and private matter. There is clearly a corporate element to Christianity. Your Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and certain Reformed groups have always understood this better than my fellow Evangelicals.

Please show me a non-modern (if even that exists) example of a society where religion was an entirely private matter. Please show me the Bible verse that would suggest such a thing. Christians were persecuted in Rome not because they were Christians per se, but because their beliefs had corporate implications that Caesar did not like.

No one has ever been able to give me a satisfactory non-liberal reason why Romney's Faith should not matter. Why on earth does it not matter? It might not entirely prohibit me from voting for him (other things do) although it clearly disinclines me to do so, but his Mormonism clearly matters. It is not irrelevant or insignificant. The suggestion of some that that equals anti-Mormon "bigotry" is rank liberalism.

Since Mormonism claims Christian roots (from a theological standpoint it clearly is a heretical cult), does that give it a pass? Would it matter if a candidate was a Wiccan? An atheist? A Muslim? Or would that not matter either?

I do agree that Scientology or Mormonism should not be evaluated based on perceived silliness. Will Smith makes a good point with the Virgin birth analogy. They should be evaluated based on the fact that they are wrong. They are not the truth.

Huck wins IA, McCain wins NH. Rudy wins MI. The race will turn on SC. Whoever wins there will claim the first repeat victory and propel to the nomination. Even if NH and MI turn out different than my rash prediction, SC will still be the turning point provided IA and NH split, which they most surely will. My money is on Huck and has been for a long time.

No, none of that matters. Or rather, it matters in the political sense that the American people will not vote for a Scientologist, a Muslim, or a Wiccan. At least they will not at this time, thank God. Yet they might vote for a Mormon. We will see if they will in Iowa, and then in the primaries that follow. We have no religious tests in America. So theological correctness does not really matter in America. Free conscience is the way of things. You do not have to be an - anything - to run and perhaps be elected to office here. What you or I believe to be truth only matters in how we cast our individual votes.

Kate, I am not 100% sure what you are saying?

it matters in the political sense that the American people will not vote for a Scientologist, a Muslim, or a Wiccan. At least they will not at this time, thank God.

So we should "thank God" that we will not vote for a Muslim or a Wiccan? (I agree.) How illiberal of you. But then should we or should we not thank God that we won't vote for a Mormon? What is the difference?

David Frisk

We don't want another shallow president, if we can help it. On the other hand, do we know for sure that anyone else is deeper? I'm guessing that Rudy is, but will someone who is knowledgeable about this question please help us out?

Are you joking? The man makes the average US Senator seem thoughtful and substantive. Did you see him try to justify filing a suit against the line item veto on his deep concern for the Constitution? IANAL, and I have a better grasp of the law than Mr "Illegal immigration is not a crime" does.

In November 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected in a landslide. In December 1980, Giuliani changed his registration to Republican. Anything else you need to know about him?

David Frum put the question directly, "What does it say about this guy that he believes this stuff."

A rather more pertinent question is what does it say about David Frum that he is supporting Rudy Giuliani.

And its pretty funny to watch a Catholic making fun of another persons religion. Not to mention a Jew. They don't really do that stuff to a babies penis, do they? It must be an urban legend.

Well, if you don't need or want my approval, and the approval of millions of Americans just like me, then why the whining.

Let me get this straight. You have no problem at all with supporting a man who is the nearest thing to an atheist to ever run for President, and is an abortion loving liberal to boot.

But you get your panties in a bunch at the thought of a Mormon President?

I'm starting to see why conservatives have the moniker of "The Stupid Party."


Yes, from this field, emphasis on "from this field," I favour Rudy. I want someone with an ornery, serious side. I want some savvy, I want a guy with some serious smarts, I want a guy who isn't an embarrassment.

Dear God, man! And you are supporting Rudy Giuliani? The man who spent the entire 1990's sucking up to the liberal Democrats? The man who is under the impression that illegal immigration is not a crime? The man who endorsed Mario Cuomo? The man who campaigned alongside Bill CLinton?

Rudy Giulaini makes George W Bush look like Albert Einstein. And as for "embarrassment", his personal life makes the Clintons look clean and respectable. Did you somehow miss the recent story of how the the NYPD acted as chaffuers for his mistress? Of how the NY taxpayers picked up the tab for his jaunts out Long Island to "meet" her?

What, if anything, are you thinking? Or are you simply paid to write these interminable and absurd paens to Rudolph on every available blog?

John-I don't think that you'll find anything that the majority of Christians have switched 180 on,

I guess you missed the part where Christians about two hundred years ago decided that slavery was un-Christian, overturning two thousand years of contrary precedent.

Dan, you are hands down the most ignorant person posting here. And long-winded on top of it.

Not all "religions" are within the pale. I suggest, however, that Mormonism should be.

Red, I do not see that Wiccan = Muslim = Mormon, when it comes to president or neighbor. If I have any worry about Romney on that score, it is that I do not see how he ran Massachusetts on his "values" and worry that the same will be true if he becomes president.

Is anyone here saying that Huckabee is the most clearly defined Christian running in this and therefore the only candidate worth mentioning. (Maybe Clint is saying that.) But in this thread, I am asking, is that how politics works in America? Maybe it is and that is why Huckabee is gaining notice. I wish Huckabee's "values" as seen by his record as governor were more to my liking. Or I wish Guiliani had "values". And on the whole, I wish I knew who I would vote for in that bunch.

Kate, not sure what you're talking about. I have said little about Huck's Christianity or Romney's mormonism. That's other people's cup of tea. I prefer to address political issues, in which Huck has a consistent conservative record that none of the other candidates can match.

When the liberal media was ripping Rudy apart as a "NAZI," was that because he was "sucking" up to them and the liberal establishment?

I don't mind being branded "long winded." I'm Irish American, it comes with the territory.

I take it you're a little worked up because an intellectual critique of Mormonism unsettles you. I can understand that. And in a way I sympathize. But not to the extent that I'm willing to whitewash the tenets of Mormonism. I'm not willing to whitewash the tenets of any faith, my own included. I Minored in Theology.

Go read FIDES ET RATIO. Go read Benedict XVI's speech at Regensburg. You're argument isn't with me, although I was certainly brusque in my comments. I didn't know that I was supposed to wrap my comments in a Kofi Annan like sheath of inoffensiveness.

I have too much respect for the readers here to to worry overmuch about trifles. The people here are robust thinkers, they're well practiced in separating their own ego from the subject discussed. Perhaps you need some more practice.

There really isn't anything newfangled in my comments. faith cannot be severed from reason. Nor orthopraxis, from orthodoxy. A cursory survey of the history of Western thought shows the felicitous AND enriching exchange between true philosophy and true theology. The Church has defended the mind of man against all assaults, for an attack upon the mind of man is an attack upon God's creation, the jewel of his creation. And finally, BELIEVING CANNOT BE SEPARATED FROM THINKING. For "to believe is nothing more than to think with assent.... Believers ARE ALSO THINKERS: in believing, they think and in thinking, they believe.... If faith does not think, there is no faith, for without assent one does not really believe."

Those that seek the truth in good faith will find it, though some with great difficulty. And that's not me, that's Thomas Aquinas. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from the same source, they cannot contradict. There is no "leap of faith," there is only the confident stepping forward in the glorious light of faith AND reason. We are wary of heresy because we treasure the truth, for we know it is "the truth that sets us free." We are mindful that though people have rights, "error has none." We are mindful that tolerance is but an expedience, not a final value in and of itself. We are confident that doctrine, dogma if you will, is but truth embattled, challenged, critiqued, THUS sharpened, honed, made ready for intellectual combat. Protestants know all of that, without a doubt Catholics do. 2,000 years worth of ferocious intellectual attack upon Christianity has left a sword in the hands of Christians.

What are we supposed to do, throw it away, just because it offends some delicate egos. I don't think so. A person who is a Mormon embraces certain creeds, certain philosophical positions. Christians were told to "always have a ready defense" of what they believe. And we do. But part of that defense requires holding to what is true, and shunning what is false.

I don't know of a single Christian Church that accepts the claims of Mormons. I don't know of a single Christian denomination that credits any of their claims as truthful. Now that's the truth.

That's awfully blunt, to be sure. But that's the case. Towards individual Mormons I withold nothing from them that is their due, thus I am not bigoted. Towards Mormonism as a creed, I am mindful that "error has no rights."

Draw from that what you will.

You ARE very "long-winded." Instead of playing at theology, why don't you just tell us why a Mormon shouldn't be president, if you can? Also, how long do you expect to continue this Holy Joe posturing? If Hillary is elected next year, in part on the strength of anti-Mormon prejudice, will you be writing equally long-winded posts explaining why we're better off with a president who, at least, isn't a member of a despicable "cult"? Or would that be a stretch even for you?

58: Clint, apparently politics isn't your cup of tea, either. It takes real ignorance to portray Huckabee as a serious conservative.

No one is proposing to establish the Church of Latter-Day Saints as the official religion of the US if Romney is elected. Maybe I am wrong and that will be part of "The Speech". If, Dan, you withhold nothing from any individual Mormon than is his due, then in America a Mormon may run for president and perhaps be elected, because of reasons beyond his religion.

David: do you ever analyze or think about things, or do you merely make odd statements attacking people? I can assure you politics is not my tea because I'm an American and I drink American drinks.

Your logic is impeccable, sir. I'm just blown away. I will remain silent from now on.

David: please do unless you have something substantive instead of sniping to say.

Huckabee...I'll go out on a limb and suggest that he won't catch fire in South Carolina, either. David Frisk 11/24

Consider your limb

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