A Presidential Cultist

A citizen may have many good reasons to avoid voting for Mitt Romney, but his adherence to a religion some look upon as a cult is not one of them.

Romney has been taking fire from Christian conservatives, like Bill Keller and Frank Pastore, who claim that the election of a cultist to be president of the United States would be an irrecoverable disaster and would cause the country to incur God’s wrath. Keller has said that a vote for Mitt is a vote for Satan.

Romney is also the target of some unfounded criticism from secularists, represented by Christopher Hitchens and Jacob Weisberg. These men are making clowns of themselves by claiming that you just can’t trust a Bible literalist, or somebody who is so irrational as to believe in Mormonism’s whoppers, to use Weisberg’s phrase. Their argument is that anyone dumb enough to believe that stuff is too dumb to govern.

Keller, Pastore, Hitchens, and Weisberg (they really do all belong together) need to go back to college and retake American History 101 99R before they are allowed to say another word about Romney’s religion. There they will learn that America already has elected a cultist to be Commander in Chief.

Dwight D. Eisenhower grew up in a home where his parents were devout followers of the Watchtower Society, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their home in Abilene, Kansas served as the Witness meeting hall for 19 years, beginning when Dwight was 4. When Eisenhower was admitted to West Point, he came into conflict with the Society’s beliefs about war and patriotism and became something of a lapsed Witness. He was still nominally a Witness when he was elected in 1952, although he later became a communicant of the Presbyterian Church. But he still thought enough of the religion of his youth to swear his second oath of office in 1957 on his copy of the New World Bible, like the one pictured above. The equivalent today would be for Mitt to swear on his triple combination, and I will confess that the prospect of watching Keller and Pastore squirm while he does it brings me an unseemly pleasure. And it should go without saying that their hysterical predictions about the hellish future of our country presided over by a cultist are ridiculous. The eight years of Ike’s presidency were characterized by a booming prosperity and unquestioned American hegemony.

As for the secularists, well, what can you say? How does their record of making fact-based, rational decisions compare to the record of Eisenhower or Romney? Weisberg edits a money-losing online ‘zine that depends on Bill Gates’ deep pockets and the backing of the Washington Post Co. in order to meet payroll for 40 employees. His magazine once bit hook, line, and sinker on a blatantly obvious and preposterous hoax and published a story about monkeyfishing. He has no standing to lecture anybody else about believing whoppers.

Eisenhower instructed that the words “under God” be put into the Pledge of Allegiance. In his memoirs, he often wrote about praying to God and getting answers when planning the invasion of Normandy and later as president. He believed that God guided him. That is precisely the kind of talk that puts people like Weisberg and Hitchens over the edge, because they feel it leads to irrational actions. So ask yourself: If the chips were really down, and you absolutely needed one person to make something happen, who would you want standing by you – Christopher Hitchens, or the supreme commander of Operation Overlord, the guy who planned D-day, conquered the Nazis, and liberated Europe?

Romney would be smart to start making a point of this. Whenever he is asked how his religion will influence the way he will govern, he should say that he plans to govern just like his cultish, snake-handling predecessor in office, Ike Eisenhower. That ought to drive all the right people crazy.

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Please note – This thread is meant to provoke discussion about the merits of considering a candidate’s religion as a qualification for office, and about the place of religion in public life. I won’t allow it to become a forum where True Believers either promote or denounce individual candidates or parties. Offending comments won’t be deleted, but they will be edited for maximum comic effect and the commenter will be held up to public ridicule.

Comments

  1. I will confess that I have been guilty of making sport of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past. I’ve lately come to appreciate them more. Mr. and Mrs. Eisenhower raised a remarkable family. At the time Dwight was serving as president of the U.S., another son was CEO of one of the largest banks in the midwest, another son was managing partner of a large law firm on the west coast, and yet another son was president of Johns Hopkins University. Do you know of any Mormon families who can come close to that achievement?

  2. Mark – I’m guessing not many?

    I agree that, if Romney felt that he needed to make a point about religion at all, he should bring this up. I feel slightly less ignorant after reading this, as I had not been aware up until this point that Eisenhower was a Jehovah’s Witness. More power to him, a couple of my cousins are JW’s. That said, knowing this does not diminish any of my respect for him and or the faith I’ve held in him as a leader.

    My only issue with Romney making this an active part of his campaign rhetoric, is that while it is good (at least in my eyes) that he is a religious man, we are not electing him to a religious office. We are not electing him to an office where he may do much of anything towards promoting his religion. When and if I cast my vote for Romney in 2008, it will be to elect him as my president, and not as my prophet.

    Other than that… I have no quarrels with this particular argument.

  3. John Williams says:

    Excellent post… please forward a link to the Slate magazine guy.

    But in fairness, I think Romney is more Mormon than Eisenhower was Jehovah’s Witness.

  4. Actually, as a voter I certainly can take into consideration the religious beliefs of candidates. For example, Huckabee’s biblical literalism is, for me, a complete disqualification. Brownback’s fanatical Catholicism is also a disqualification for my vote. I consider Giulani to have the morals of a greased pig. I certainly can and will take into account Romney’s beliefs. The government cannot impose a religious test, but I can.

  5. Yes, you can CB. But if that is your only test, then it’s just as if your test was racial or ethnic or related to hair color or eye color. In other words: stupid and bigotted.

  6. MCQ – I don’t think you can make a fair parallel between skin color/ethnic bigotry and religious bigotry. People can’t change their race — it’s not much easier to change ethnicity — but a person certainly has complete control over what s/he chooses to believe as an adult.

    I am no expert on politics, and I haven’t followed Romney or any of the other candidates too closely, but I think it is completely fair to allow a voter to consider a candidate’s choice of religion, and I don’t see anything in CB’s statement that indicates he is considering religious beliefs exclusively (I know, that’s why you said “if” — but come on…)

    Great post, Mark. I think I remember hearing about Eisnhower’s JW background in my 99R class at Bodunch Community Kollege — GO ARTICHOKES!

  7. I’m much less concerned about the content or details of a candidate religion than I am about the effect the religion has on a president’s decision making process.

    As a good example, Ron Suskind’s NYT’s article ‘Without a Doubt’ asserts than a certain president’s faith led him to see himself as a man on a mission from God, demand unquestioned confidence from his followers and reject other points of view. I don’t know if this is true or not, (what circumspection! what delicacy of conscience!) and I certainly don’t want to be held up to public ridicule. But generally I would find that kind of application of religious faith disconcerting regardless of the candidate or the religion.

    BTW, Mitt really likes Ike.

  8. Mark,

    I’m curious, what did leftists back in Eisenhower’s day say about his religion?

  9. Mark IV says:

    Cbiden, # 4,

    Huckabee has a record from serving as Governor of Arkansas for two terms and as president of the national governor’s association. That record should provide a lot of information as to his political instincts and tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. Shouldn’t that record inform our decisions about him, more than his views on the bible? To put it another way, if we allow a candidate’s opinion of the bible to be dispositive one way or the other, are we ourselves not taking a very narrow view?

    And by the way, your remark about the greased pig came very close to triggering the automatic ridicule clause of this post. Are greased pigs any more immoral than the ungreased variety?

    Norbert, # 7,

    You have a good point, but I think the real question is: Is this candidate open to advice and information that may be unpopular? I’d be surprised to find a Messiah complex any more common among religious candidates than among irreligious ones. Overbearing ego often seems to be the order of the day.

    Dan, # 8,

    No idea – maybe I need to retake AmHist 99R, but I don’t think religion was a factor at all. I do know that Eisenhower was relatively apolitical and both major parties tried to recruit him as a candidate.

  10. I think Slate is a great magazine.

    It seems to me that the whole debate regarding religion in public life, which is now centering around Romney, is really at a boiling point because of George W. Bush. As we all know, Bush has tried to present an image of himself as having been guided by God in his decisions in office. For the group of people who think those decisions have been pretty bad, it’s probably hard to avoid asking how other religiously-guided political leaders would make sure that they got the good stuff — or nothing at all — from their divine communications.

  11. Aaron Brown says:

    “And it should go without saying that their hysterical predictions about the hellish future of our country presided over by a cultist are ridiculous.”

    How so? As soon as something terrible happens on Mitt’s presidential watch (e.g., a terrorist attack or whatever), which isn’t inconceivable in this day and age, Keller and Pastore will claim they’ve been vindicated. And it won’t be obvious they’re wrong, at least to those who are sympathetic to their thesis.

    On a different note, critically examining the content of a candidate’s religious beliefs is fair game, in my book. If Mitt is being unfairly judged unfit because of his Mormon beliefs and commitments, Mormons should certainly defend those beliefs and commitments as compatible with good governance. We shouldn’t pretend, however, that scrutiny of our religious beliefs is somehow politically inapproriate. It isn’t.

    Aaron B

  12. Mark IV says:

    J. N-S,

    I like Slate too, it’s just that I find Weisberg’s double standard ironic and funny.

    Has GWB portrayed himself as being guided by God more than other recent presidents? I honestly don’t know, but I’m guessing you do.

  13. Steve Evans says:

    Aaron, scrutiny of our religious beliefs might be politically appropriate, but not negotiation or adjustment of those beliefs in light of the political scrutiny. The part of the religious scorn which I loathe is the implication by political critics that there is something wrong with Mormonism. It’s one thing to evaluate a candidate’s belief set and say, “because candidate X believes ____, I think that makes him or her a poor candidate.” Ir’s quite another thing to say, “candidate X believe ____, which is just bizarre and untrustworthy, and how could that person ever be a candidate.”

    Not that anyone is saying either of those things, of course.

  14. Mark IV says:

    Aaron,

    When people run for office, they usually have decades of work behind them that reveal their preferences, attitudes, and abilities. I think that record should be examined and judged, and that judgement should carry more weight than their views on how the earth came to be, for instance. When people disqualify somebody soley on the basis of religious belief, I think that’s taking the lazy way out.

  15. Aaron Brown says:

    O.K., except that I can imagine a scenario where candidate Joe Superfreak is a member of the Church of Hale-Bopp Consciousness (which teaches unconditional pacificsm, advocates polygamous marriage with pre-teens and predicts the End of the World by 2010) and I say, “Gee, if Joe really believes this bizarre stuff, I wanna know about it, cause I think I may not want to trust him to support public policies that I find important.”

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. Perhaps Joe has beliefs that differ from that of his Church, or I have somehow misunderstood the political implications of what he’s saying. But if so, he needs to make his case. There’s nothing wrong with my asking, indeed, demanding that he do so, nor with my remaining very skeptical unless he steps up to the plate and puts on a very convincing show.

    Actually, I’m not positive I’m seeing where you’re drawing the line in your comment. Care to restate it?

    Aaron B

  16. Mark IV says:

    But wouldn’t Joe Superfreak already have a record that would show his position on various questions? I’m saying that what people have already done is a better predictor of their future actions than professed beliefs.

    Also, we need to keep in mind that irrational or outlandish beliefs are pretty evenly distributed across the population, and are not restricted to religious people. I would find a candidate who professed a belief in the dialectic of History just as frightening as Joe Superfreak.

  17. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 12
    Mark IV, I would say yes, he has. Much more. However, I don’t have time at the moment to provide documentation to support this assertion. Maybe somebody else does.

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Yeah Aaron, there’s no line in there. Now that I read it, that was one of the most stupid comments I’ve ever written. Never mind.

  19. Steve,
    Have you watched The Daily Show recently? The last two segments that (the very un-funny) Samantha Bee has done have been about Romney’s religion with the basic thesis being, “they’re weird.” She equates talking about the weird aspects of our religion with “funny”.

    I guess the idea is that if you say it often enough people will believe it.

  20. Mark, it’s my sense that GWB has indeed been far more explicit and emphatic about feeling his decisions to have been guided by God than other recent presidents. But, as with Mike, I don’t have time to document this right now. Others have done, though.

    Rusty, I read the Samantha Bee segments a bit differently. I thought she was satirizing the media’s obsession with unusual aspects of our religion — I though the punchline was supposed to be how stupid it was for a reporter to be worrying about someone’s underwear, for example.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    Rusty, that’s actually what I had in mind.

  22. I am going to get a large bumber sticker that says….

    Presidential Cultist

  23. JNS,
    You could be right, and if executed well that could actually be funny (like if Colbert or Stewart had done it). But Samantha Bee is terrible.

  24. Has GWB portrayed himself as being guided by God more than other recent presidents?

    That’s what the Suskind article was all about I linked in #7. It’s an interesting read.

  25. Norbert,

    OK, I went back and read your link – that is interesting, and answers the question I posed in # 12.

    But wouldn’t it be better to address this tendency in terms of management style rather than religion? The idea that one is somehow set apart and smarter than others and therefore doesn’t need input from others is not held exclusively by religious people. Most analyses I have read of the failure of HillaryCare in the first term of the Clinton administration place most of the blame squarely on the smugness of the planning committee, closed door meetings, unwillingness to hear contrary views, etc.

    If we focus only on religion, we miss all the other cases where that behavior is on display.

  26. To paraphrase others: If a candidate has a record of decisions that shows how s/he has acted and reacted in the past, then that track record is the most important indicator of future action and should be held as worthy of intense scrutiny. Lacking that type of record, which Romney clearly has, a candidate’s beliefs (political, social, religious, etc.) are fair game – specifically because there is no “objective” record to show now those beliefs will (or even might) influence his/her decisions. Questioning Romney’s Mormonism doesn’t qualify as reasonable, simply because he has an extensive business and political record that can be examined – and so do other Mormon politicians in both major parties.

  27. To steal a phrase from Dave Barry, “Presidential Cultist” would be a good name for a band.

  28. I love Samantha Bee.

  29. Re: #11
    So because 9/11 happened on GWB’s watch, does that mean God is finally exacting his wrath over the Episcopalians?

  30. Mark:

    I agree. It probably is more about style than religion. Suskind seemed to feel, because of what his sources said, that it was religious.

  31. MikeInWeho says:

    re: 29 GWB is a United Methodist, I think. He was raised Episcopalian but went apostate.

    re: 25 I agree with you, Mark IV. Smug arrogance is not the exclusive domain of the religious. The issues I have with GWB have much more to do with his personality and management style than his faith. The fact that he justifies it all with references to his “higher father” just adds insult to injury.

  32. Aaron B.(#15),
    Call me crazy but if Joe Superfreak actually was unbalanced I doubt it would all be completely compartmentalized into this Hale-Bopp thing. There would undoubtedly be more legitimate reasons to dismiss him than Hale Bopp. The fact is, everybody compartmentalizes their beliefs to some degree. For this reason, I believe we are much better off as an electorate focusing on a candidates record, position, and so forth.

  33. Mike,

    GWB does not strike me as being that Evangelical to be honest. He is a Methodist after all not a member of a non denominational mega church.

    He may be a southern Methodist but he is still a Mainline Protestant Christian. I am not sure how comfortable GWB would be at a Benny Hinn revival

    My Biz partner is Southern Methodist and there is world of difference between his religious beliefs and practices then some of our actual evangelical christian workers

  34. “take into consideration”= bear in mind, consider, allow for

  35. I think y’all are missing the point. Everyone’s religious beliefs look crazy from the point of view of one who is unfamiliar with them or an unreconstructed rationalist. Hitching your evaluation of a candidate to that wagon is a slippery slope where all candidates are eventually disqualified based on their irrational belief in… people rising from the dead (egad!) as just one outlandish example.

  36. #8 [W]hat did leftists back in Eisenhower’s day say about his religion?

    I don’t know about “from the Left” but (from http://www.seanet.com/~raines/eisenhower.html ):

    “Both Eisenhower and Stevenson were vigorously challenged by some Protestant[s]…for their religious ties. The association of Eisenhower’s mother with the Jehovah’s Witnesses was exploited to make the GOP candidate appear as an ‘anti-Christian cultist’ and a ‘foe of patriotism’ (Roy, 1953).”
    — — —
    But if what’s menat by Left is “leaning secularist,” an applicable factoid mabye is (this from Wikipedia’s “List of United States Presidential religious affiliations”)?:

    Franklin Steiner categorized [Benjamin] Harrison as the first President who was unquestionably a communicant in an orthodox Church at the time he was elected.
    — — —
    Finally (maybe just a legend? but– ), it’s said when he took his innaugaral oath Eisenhower used “Jehovah” but press reports edited his word choice to “God.”

  37. MikeInWeHo says:

    I dunno, bbell. There’s a significant Evangelical branch within the United Methodist church (and many of the other mainstream denominations as well). Maybe it’s different in Texas, but many Evangelicals don’t belong to mega-churches.

    Bush uses a lot of Evangelical-code language in his speeches, associates closely with prominant Evangelicals, and is clearly identified by that community as one of their own. So my money says he’s very much a contemporary Evangelical, who happens to worship at a U/M congregation. What do your Evangelical bible study friends think of him? Needless to say, I don’t have many of those. :)

    Hilary Clinton, now THERE’s a true United Methodist!

    And BTW, the vast majority of Evangelicals would be extremely uncomfortable at a Benny Hinn revival. I, however, would not. He rocks.

  38. They do not consider GWB to be very evangelical Christian.

    I still consider him a Mainline Southern Protestant. His current congregation in DC is quite moderate and high church

    B Clinton was very much Baptist. He also used quite a bit of Evangelical type language. If you go back and read some of his speeches esp in front of black audiences they are much more religious then anything GWB says. Remember his bible carrying?

  39. MikeInWeHo says:

    Totally, I remember ol’ Bill well and miss him desparately. IMO he and Jimmy Carter are more Christian than GWB will ever be, but THAT of course is an explosive threadjack…..

    Maybe you’re right about GWB. Who knows. At the very least, he has successfully pandered to the Evangelicals (at least until now). Of course, we could debate at length what exactly constitutes an “Evangelical Christian.” It’s not as if there is universal agreement about that.

  40. Mike,

    All politicians pander. Ever hear ol Hillary speak like a black southerner in the South? Al Gore does it to.

    Repubs pander to:

    Evangelicals/cultural conservatives
    Gun owners
    Big business
    militay retirees and families

    etc…

    Dems Pander to
    Blacks
    Unions
    Abortion people
    Gays
    Liberal women

    etc….

  41. John Williams says:

    I’m reading a new biography about Hillary Clinton called “A Woman in Charge” by Carl Bernstein and so far it seems like Hillary’s Christian religion played a prominent role in her life.

  42. MikeInWeHo says:

    Oh man I know, bbell!!! I’m not sure who does it better (although I lean toward Bill Clinton as the all time champion).

    I’m intrigued by how some socially conservative Christians simply can’t get their minds around the fact that some liberals really are sincere people of faith. I suppose many LDS must deal with that re: Harry Reid, but it also applies to somebody like Jimmy Carter.

  43. I see running for President as a decathlon. You can be weak in some events, but I hope to see above average in most or all events.

  44. I will NOT vote for a hypocrite. A “true” mormon can not be a warmonger. If one is going to claim mormonhood, one must at least follow the Just War ‘Commands’ as explained in the BoM and D&C.

  45. Wow.

  46. Re #44:

    Looks like I need a new bumper sticker for my car:

    “Mormon Warmonger”

  47. #44 – e42 – I agree

  48. Isn’t the strong heirarchy and ‘follow the prophet’ rhetoric of our particular cult a big issue that makes it different from American Protestantism and possibly JWs?

  49. ed42 (44),
    See, that’s a problem. I think strong anti-war arguments can be made from LDS scripture, and perhaps should, but where you declare that a “‘true’ mormon” cannot support war, you lose all credibility. Period. There are true Mormons who unconditionally support all war, others who oppose all war, and most fall somewhere in between.

    If you don’t want to vote for Romney, please don’t. If you don’t want to vote for him because of his views on war, great. That is a totally legit position. But it’s wrongheaded for you to declare that he isn’t a true Mormon—or that he’s a hypocrite—because of he apparently disagrees with you.

  50. Carlton says:

    Warmonger Mormons aren’t True Mormons and should be stabbed through the heart by the real True Mormons during sacrament meeting.

  51. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 48 Mormonism is quite distinct in any number of ways, mostly for the good imo.

  52. Do I really need to reference both the Anti-Nephi-Lehis AND those who died in wars to protect them? War is much more complicated than “always” and “never” – so a President should be able to differentiate unique situations and respond accordingly. I like diplomacy; I admire diplomacy; I dislike diplomacy; I despise dimplomacy. I never like war, but I don’t despise it out of hand.

    In that light, I don’t want a President who blindly uses the military as a bully, but I also don’t want a President who won’t even consider war as an option. I also don’t want a President who can’t see the difference between traditional warfare and what America did to the British so long ago – which is what is happening to America now, from strictly a military perspective. Sure, I want a president to err on the side of caution, but I want a realist just as much.

    Also, part of being President is being Commander-in-Chief. I don’t want a staunch pacifist president. Period.

  53. I have not read all the posts on the thread, so I may be treading old stuff…

    Romney could have short circuited the whole debate if he had left the Republican party and become a Democrat.

    1. He was pro-gay rights

    2. He presided over the first state to provide universal health care.
    3. Mormon views of abortion are much more closely aligned with the Democratic views, albeit right of center, than the religious right.

    If he had done this, he could have said “I see the light!” with few questions asked, pointing to the above. People on the left would not have worried about Jesus coming to Missouri or whether there are 3 or 3 in 1. The question would have remained whether he could lead without being too much influenced by his Church, but, then he could have pointed out that he left the Republicans to move to the center, away from the culture dominated by religious obedience and conformity.

    As a Democrat he could have been extremely electable. As a Republican, he might do OK, but it is doubtful that any Republican, let alone a Mormon Republican, can win

  54. #53:

    1. Romney has always been against discrimination. But he has never been in support of same-sex-marriage.

    2. I don’t think you’d want to call it “Universal Health Care”. In a lot of cases it’s more of a mandate, similar to the requirement to get car insurance. Definitely not a single-payer system like many that talk of “Universal Health Care” want. It’s also good to point out that it’s one thing for a state to attempt this, and quite another for the country to do so.

    3. I think you mean “What Bob W considers to be Mormon views”. Unless you believe that most Mormons would not identify themselves as pro-life? Not all the religious right differs from Mormons when it comes to rape, incest, and life of the mother exceptions. The majority of abortions are abortions of convenience, and those are against Mormon theology. I understand how someone can be pro-choice based on our theology, but I don’t agree with it nor do I get the impression that many other Mormons do.

    BTW, what exactly is wrong with a culture dominated by religious obedience? Whatever happened to the song “Choose the right?”

  55. Stephanie says:

    I believe very, very strongly that religion has no place in politics. It drives me crazy because I live in a very, very religious community, where everyone votes for the Conservative Party based on the very mistaken idea that the political right is automatically morally right. You get all these people voting solely based on the “life issues” (abortion, same-sex marriage, etc). And in my opinion, that is socially irresponsible and just plain stupid when you consider the tiny fraction of current campaign issues that actually fall into that category. Debating the legality of abortion in the year 2007 is ludicrous.

  56. Aluwid - says:

    …everyone votes for the Conservative Party based on the very mistaken idea that the political right is automatically morally right.

    Or you could be more charitable in your perception of their motivations and intelligence and state that most vote for the “conservative party” because it represents their top issues better. It doesn’t hurt to give your neighbors the benefit of the doubt.

    And in my opinion, that is socially irresponsible and just plain stupid when you consider the tiny fraction of current campaign issues that actually fall into that category.

    Or it reflects the fact that those voters feel that the moral issues trump the issues that apparently are more important to you.

    Debating the legality of abortion in the year 2007 is ludicrous.

    I completely agree, the government should just change all abortion laws to match *my* point of view and then everyone should just stop wasting time talking about it :-)

    Aluwid – “Mormon Warmonger”

  57. MikeInWeHo says:

    Aluwid,

    I suspect what Stephanie meant is that she feels her conservative-voting neighbors are being a bit naive and manipulated by whichever Conservative Party she is referring to. I don’t think she is doubting the sincerity of their moral values, which I suspect she shares herself. We’re assuming she’s writing from the U.S., but perhaps not. She may well be in the U.K., where debating the legality of abortion in 2007 would indeed be as ludicrous as debating women’s suffrage or slave holding.

  58. Debating the legality of abortion is a bit ludicrous in the US as well. We have enough jurisprudence on the subject now to know that its legality is not legitimately debatable. Debate the morality of it all you want.

  59. Stephanie says:

    I think that the people in this area are both naive and misguided. If they are so Christian, why do they spend so much emphasis on issues that involve how their neighbors govern their lives? What happened to judge not? You would think that people who were familiar with the pure and simple teaching of Christ would put more energy into taking care of those in need. Placing the so-called “moral issues” above everything else is stupid. Is whether or not gay marriage is legal going to affect the number of people who live that lifestyle? It’s doubtful. Does it affect the sanctity of my temple marriage? Not in the least. Is out-lawing abortion going to decrease teen pregnancy rates? No way. Out-lawing abortion is tantamount to a band-aid on a stab wound.

  60. Hey Mike,

    My point is that it’s a copout to just assume that people disagree with your politics because they are “stupid”, “misguided”, or “naive.” Having said that I must confess that I feel the same way about many liberals, namely that they are misguided and/or naive. So, in addition to my warmonger status we can add hypocrite. I’m guessing this is a common trait, because the only thing that keeps others from agreeing with me is just their low intelligence, right? That sure is a lot easier to say then to realize that different people parse situations differently and they are just as informed and intelligent as you are.

    Also let me point out that many pro-lifers consider themselves akin to the abolitionists so you using the example of slavery is appropriate. Except we’re on the wrong end of the time-line. Perhaps in fifty years abortion will be included with slavery as one of the gross misdeeds that our descendents won’t believe we actually allowed.

    MCQ,

    Hopefully we’ll get another Conservative Justice on the Supreme Court and then after a few years we’ll have plenty of jurisprudence to return the matter to the states to decide via their own legislatures. I’m sure you’ll be just as eager to shut the book on the discussion then as you are now.

    Stephanie,

    Is whether or not gay marriage is legal going to affect the number of people who live that lifestyle?

    Yes. We are social creatures and follow each others examples. This is true in particular for youth who are looking at adults around them and modeling their lives after them. I don’t believe legalizing same-sex marriage will have an impact on the rate of homosexuality in our current generation but I have no doubt that the increased rate of acceptance of homosexuality in a culture results in a higher number of individuals with same-sex attraction that would have instead developed into heterosexuals in a culture that taught that homosexuality was wrong.

    Does it affect the sanctity of my temple marriage?

    No, but it does have an impact on how society views marriage, how it views homosexuality, etc. Perhaps these factors don’t matter to you but apparently they do matter to a lot of your neighbors.

    Is out-lawing abortion going to decrease teen pregnancy rates?

    Probably not, but that isn’t the goal behind outlawing abortions. The goal is to let the developing child be born. Outlawing abortion will have an impact on that. Again, perhaps this doesn’t matter to you. But it matters to many others. So don’t call them stupid, they just value things differently, or view things differently, then you do.

  61. I don’t agree with Aluwid on some of his points; I do on others. I do agree wholeheartedly that we need to be very careful blaming others’ different perspectives on them being less intelligent and more naive than we.

    One of my favorite quotes of all time: “An extreme liberal is just an extreme conservative with more friends.” The conservative says, “I’m right; everyone else is wrong.” The liberal says, “Everyone is right, except for those who don’t agree with that.” It’s the same narrow-minded position, just with different conclusions.

    I find myself often on this blog agreeing on one thread with people with whom I disagree on other threads – and sometimes that happens in the same thread. I really like that, frankly, since it tends to mean that real thinking is going on with both sides.

  62. Stephanie says:

    Probably not, but that isn’t the goal behind outlawing abortions. The goal is to let the developing child be born. Outlawing abortion will have an impact on that.

    What you’re not understanding here (and perhaps I’m not making myself sufficiently clear) is that abortion is a symptom of a social sickness. It is not the cause. Treating the symptoms of a disease will not cure the illness. In my opinion, abortion is the result of careless attitudes towards sex and ignorance of the intrinsic value of life. People say that abortion devalues life, but I think that abortion happens because people haven’t been taught to value life in the first place. And is it really so surprising, when we live in an age where the president of the most powerful country in the world will send the young people of his country into war, sacrificing not only their lives but also the lives of many, many civilians, all with the goal of making money?

    Maybe if young pregnant women, or young women with babies were not harassed in public by total strangers there would be less abortions. Maybe if society did not look upon unwed mothers with such scorn there would be less abortions. Maybe if parents loved their daughters more unconditionally there would be less abortions. Maybe if society valued mothers in general more and didn’t portray motherhood as 20 years of guaranteed slavery. Maybe if more men were willing to take responsibility for their part in the whole process there would be less abortions.

    Ultimately everyone is responsible for his/her own actions, but other things factor in and only God can judge us.

    Don’t get me wrong. I believe that abortion is wrong, and completely tragic. But I do not think that out-lawing it will make your country a better place. And it will not stop abortion. Abortion will continue whether it’s legal or not, in the same way that it happened before it was legal.

    but I have no doubt that the increased rate of acceptance of homosexuality in a culture results in a higher number of individuals with same-sex attraction that would have instead developed into heterosexuals in a culture that taught that homosexuality was wrong.

    The problem with your statement is that you are making the assumption that people who struggle with same-sex attraction are capable of developing into heterosexuals. I’m not convinced that they are.

    Listening to an acquaintance describe his struggle with sex-sex attraction as a teenager was heart-breaking. He said he prayed and cried to not feel the way he did. You may say he did not have enough faith or he didn’t try long enough, but it is not for you to judge. I’m aware that anecdotal evidence is not evidence at all, but I’m sure that many people have shared this man’s experiences.

    Again, I understand that the Lord has forbidden us to act upon feelings of same-sex attraction, and abide by this principle in my personal life. I kind of think that if same-sex couples wish to be legally joined together, then they should be afforded that privilege. I am unconvinced that it will make a difference, because same-sex couples will exist, whether they’re married or not.

    Freedom to believe (or not believe) what we want is a very important part of democracy. For that reason, we cannot allow any place for religion in politics. Furthermore, politics will not change the moral direction of a nation. The only thing that will really make a difference is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the testimony of which comes to us through the gentle promptings and whisperings of the Holy Spirit, not through legislation. Attempting to force others to adhere to your moral standards through laws will only make them bitter against religion.

  63. Stephanie,

    What you’re not understanding here (and perhaps I’m not making myself sufficiently clear) is that abortion is a symptom of a social sickness.

    The same could be said of thievery, spousal-abuse, murder, etc. Should we decriminalize those as well? Let’s go back to the example of slavery that was mentioned before. There are some undercurrents behind why slavery existed that could include the economic structure of the South, the general viewpoint of whites towards blacks, etc. Perhaps rather than forcibly freeing the slaves we could have spent years altering the economy, changing the white perception of blacks etc. But how many black men, women, and children would have been forced to live in slavery while we worried about treating the “social-sickness” that was underneath slavery instead of just cutting off the practice itself through the force of law? Do their rights matter? The same can be said of abortion, how many millions of children will never be born because we are unwilling to say that we will not allow it?

    And it will not stop abortion. Abortion will continue whether it’s legal or not, in the same way that it happened before it was legal.

    Laws never completely stop crimes from occurring, otherwise we wouldn’t need the justice system. But it does decrease how often they happen. If abortions of convenience were outlawed we would see a sharp decline.

    The problem with your statement is that you are making the assumption that people who struggle with same-sex attraction are capable of developing into heterosexuals. I’m not convinced that they are.

    Not exactly, I don’t doubt that there are some individuals that will develop same-sex attraction in pretty much any environment. The presence of gays in Iran, where the consequence could be death, emphasizes that point.

    What I’m saying is that we will have individuals that could have developed into heterosexuals instead developing same-sex attraction due to our cultures attitude about sexuality. Consider the difference in the rate of male bi-sexuality between our present society and that of some ancient cultures. (e.g. Greece). Sorry guys but if you had been born into that society then it’s very likely you would have learned to enjoy the intimate company of both genders. Whereas because you were born here in our society you end up developing a heterosexual attraction (in most cases).

    My concern is that our changing attitude toward sexuality will have the effect of increasing the number of people that will have to make the choice between their default sexual attractions and their religious morality. It seems to me that we are doing our youth a huge disservice.

    For that reason, we cannot allow any place for religion in politics.

    Nice attempt to stack the deck in your favor. Look, I believe in God, I believe that the LDS church does in fact contain the correct teachings that reflect his will for us here on earth. That makes it very logical for me to base my morality on my religion, because who could be the better source of what is right or wrong then God?

    When you start talking about not allowing religion into politics I think you are forgetting that alot of the moral qualities that you are counting on are also based, for me, on my religion. For example, compassion, justice, love and concern for others, etc. So, when you say that we should take religion out of politics I don’t think you really mean it. I think what you’re really saying is that anytime my, or your neighbors, religiously influenced morals cause us to hold political stances that are against your own we should put our religious feelings on the backburner. Sorry but I don’t play that game. Our country should have no official church, but I have the right to allow my religion to color my politics just like you have the right to do the same, or not if you prefer.

  64. Stephanie says:

    Aborted fetuses, if they actually have spirits, will be exalted. That, to me, is not tragic at all. What is tragic and devastating about abortion is how it affects the lives of those who do it. Thus, my only motivation for ending it would be to reinforce the value of life and the necessity of taking responsibility for the results of your sexual activity. These are things that involve the parent far more than the fetus. Therefore, my approach to dealing with such an issue would be wholly focussed on the mother rather than the fetus.

    Homosexuality is quite visible in North American society and is not going anywhere. Whether they’re married or not will not change this, seeing as it has gained a considerable amount of visibility over the past 10 years without gay marriage being legalized. And while it may be too soon to tell, I’m fairly certain that you will find that the legalization of gay marriage has not really affected countries that have implemented it.

    The problem with your argument for religion in political thinking is the underlying assumption that certain characteristics such as compassion and love come from religion. Obviously everyone has the right to think what he wishes and to based his political decisions upon whatever he choses, but that does not make it logical.

  65. Aborted fetuses, if they actually have spirits, will be exalted. That, to me, is not tragic at all.

    So will all children that die under the age of eight. Think of the implications.

    Obviously everyone has the right to think what he wishes and to based his political decisions upon whatever he choses, but that does not make it logical.

    Logic does not exist in a vacuum. The evaluations necessary have to come from some unprovable belief structure (i.e. religion). How can you decide what would lead you to a good result if you cannot conclude what a good result is?

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