In a plenary address a couple weeks back to the Evangelical Theological Society, law professor and journalist Hugh Hewitt spoke about the religious affiliation of political candidates and to what extent this should be considered in the public debate (Melinda at Stand To Reason summarizes and comments here). In advance of his forthcoming book, A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every Conservative Should Know about Mitt Romney, Hewitt used Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as an example as to why evangelical Christians should not withhold their votes for a particular presidential candidate purely based on theological disagreement.

In the intervening time, the so-called “Mormon question” has received a great deal of media attention. (Hewitt says that yesterday was “a day of interviews about and with Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.”) Here’s just one example, Time magazine’s story, “Can a Mormon be President? Why Mitt Romney will have to explain a faith that remains mysterious to many.”

A number of people, including Glenn Reynolds, have wondered about the potential hypocrisy in examining Romney’s Mormonism so closely, while apparently giving a free pass to politicians like Harry Reid. But for Hewitt, the appropriate treatment of a Mormon politician would look more like the reception Reid has gotten than the scrutiny that Romney has gotten.

Hewitt’s argument goes like this: if the long knives are brought out by Christians to attack Romney on the basis of his religious commitments, it won’t be long before secularists attack Christians on similar grounds. This is a sort of “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” argument, and it is one that is shared by “Evangelicals for Mitt,” who note that most of the objections to Romney’s fitness for the presidency are on theological matters that are “absolutely irrelevant to the presidency.”

David French of “Evangelicals for Mitt” does address one of the questions I had coming out of the Hewitt talk, which was whether Hewitt’s claims that the religious and theological commitments of candidates should be off-limits was true for practitioners of all religions (or even strands of individual religions). French writes, “Let me be clear: I am not saying that theology is never relevant. When theology dictates policy, it is fair and proper for a voter to take that theology into account.”

These are not the types of theological issues to which evangelicals are taking offense, however. Says French, “The questions we receive deal with the Mormon view of the Trinity, the Mormon doctrine of salvation, the Mormon view of the afterlife, etc. Not only are these questions not relevant to the presidency (though certainly relevant if the Governor were applying to be your pastor), by even attempting to inject them into the debate evangelicals play a dangerous game. Do we think we can reject a candidate for theological reasons and then cry foul if the media or political opponents attack our own theology?”

This distinction between theological positions that bear directly on matters of public policy and ones that do not may indeed be helpful in distinguishing when it is appropriate to discuss faith commitments ad hominem. It would certainly seem to distinguish Romney’s Mormonism from, say, an Islamo-fascist faith which would attempt to impose and enforce Sharia law with government coercion.

Moreover, disqualification of Romney simply on the basis of his Mormon faith is a mark of a theocratic tendency which holds that only Christians are fit to rule. An apocryphal saying attributed to Martin Luther is his expression that he would “rather be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian.” We’ll get to more of what Luther actually did say about Islam in a bit. But for the moment, let’s reflect on how this sentiment bears on the conversation.

The idea is essentially that the office of government can be rightly exercised by those who from the Christan perspective hold heretical theological views. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The state possesses its character as government independently of the Christian character of the persons who govern. There is government also among the heathen.”

Acknowledging this truth does not mean that it is of no consequence whether the politician is or is not a Christian. It may simply be of no political consequence. “Certainly the persons who exercise government ought also to accept belief in Jesus Christ, but the office of government remains independent of the religious decision,” says Bonhoeffer.

Back to Luther.
As we have seen, “Evangelicals for Mitt” do acknowledge that theological commitments are sometimes relevant. Luther himself was disparaging in his view of the governance of the Turks, and these kinds of opinions seem to be at least superficially in conflict with the “wise Turk, foolish Christian” sentiment that is often attributed to him. Luther writes,

I hear it said that in Germany there are those who desire the coming of the Turk and his government because they would rather be under him than under the emperor or princes. It would be hard to fight against the Turk with such people. I have no better advice to give against them than that pastors and preachers be exhorted to be diligent in their preaching and faithful in instructing such people, pointing out to them the danger they are in, the wrong they are doing, and that by holding this opinion they make themselves a party to serious and innumerable sins in God’s sight. It is dreadful enough to have the Turk as overlord and to endure his government; but willingly to submit oneself to it, or to desire it when one need not and is not compelled—well, the man who does that ought to be shown what kind of sin he is committing and how terrible his conduct is (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 193).

Luther thinks that these kinds of wishes are sinful not only because they manifest disloyalty to the current rulers, which is a sin, but also because,

They make themselves a party to all the abominations and wickedness of the Turks; for he who willingly goes over to the Turks is their comrade and accomplice in all they do. Now we have heard above what kind of man the Turk is, that he is a destroyer, enemy, and blasphemer of our Lord Jesus Christ, a man who instead of the gospel and faith sets up his shameful Mohammed and all kinds of lies, ruins all temporal government and home life or marriage, and his warfare, which is nothing but murder and bloodshed, is a tool of the devil himself (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 194).

Since the rule of the Turk is so inimical to “temporal government,” those wishing for new overlords would undo their own designs, so that “the preachers must impress upon the people that if they do go over to the Turks, they will not have bettered themselves and that their hopes and intentions will not be realized,” (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 195).

In a passage reminiscent of the infamous quote of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus by Pope Benedict XVI in his Regensburg address, Luther writes,

If anyone asks why the Turk performs no miracles to confirm this new law, he says that that is unnecessary and of no use, for people had many miracles before, when Moses’ law and the gospel arose, and did not believe. This is why his Koran does not need to be confirmed by wasted miracles, but by the sword, which is more persuasive than miracles. This is how it has been and still is among the Turks: everything is done with the sword instead of with miracles (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 197).

In all this, Luther comes to a rather different conclusion than the one that is usually attributed to him: “I would very much regret the rule of the Turk; indeed, his rule would be intolerable in Germany” (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 198). To be clear, Luther does not advocate in this piece any kind of a “Christian” war to be fought against the Turk. He does speak about the need for a sort of spiritual “war” to consist of Christian proclamation of the gospel, repentance, and promotion of sound doctrine. But any military action would be the act of the civil magistrate, Emperor Charles, since “it is his duty, as a regular ruler appointed by God, to defend his own” (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 184).

Most, if not all, of Luther’s remarks against the rule of the Turk in Germany are based on his understanding that basic tenets and practices of Islam were in direct conflict and opposition to the proper discharge of the office of government. Irrespective of the truth value of Luther’s claims about Islam, we can see that his concerns are with those points of religious belief that directly bear in on governmental administration, and policy that undermines the function of government itself:

For although some praise the Turk’s government because he allows everyone to believe what he will so long as he remains the temporal lord, yet this reputation is not true, for he does not allow Christians to come together in public, and no one can openly confess Christ or preach or teach against Mohammed. What kind of freedom of belief is it when no one is allowed to preach or confess Christ, and yet our salvation depends on that confession, as Paul says in Romans 10 [:9], ‘To confess with the lips saves,’ and Christ has strictly commanded us to confess and teach his gospel (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 175).

In Luther’s opinion, the problem with the government of the Turk is that it infringes on religious freedom, as an aspect of its destruction “not only the Christian faith, but also the whole temporal government” (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 178).

It appears after all that the sentiment attributed to Luther in the “wise Turk, foolish Christian” quotation is perhaps not so foreign. Indeed, if the government of the Turk would respect Christian practice, allow religious freedom, and properly exercise the role of the temporal government, it would not be inimical to wise rule in Luther’s view.

How does all this relate to the Mormon question? The bottom line is that a politician’s religious commitments only become relevant as a litmus test when they threaten to undermine or destroy the proper exercise of government. This applies to Christians, Mormons, Muslims, (or anyone else) of a theocratic bent. Are there any of these kinds of tendencies or commitments in Romney’s Mormonism? If not, then Hewitt and “Evangelicals for Mitt” are right. The theological attacks and concerns from evangelicals about Gov. Romney’s fitness to govern should be muted, if not silenced.

I do wonder, though, how much evangelical concern about Mormons in politics is a contemporary expression of older worries about doctrines that presumably would bear directly on policy. At the time of his murder, Joseph Smith was running for president and had control of Mormon militia, which has been called largest armed force (public or private) west of the Mississippi.

One of the religious practices that differentiated Mormons at that time from the broader American culture was the practice of polygamy, which is, incidentally, one of Luther’s complaints against the Turks: “Mohammed’s Koran has no regard for marriage, but permits everyone to take wives as he will. It is customary among the Turks for one man to have ten or twenty wives and to desert or sell any whom he will, so that in Turkey women are held immeasurably cheap and are despised; they are bought and sold like cattle” (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 181).

There is no doubt deep suspicion on the part of many evangelicals about just how Mormon theological commitments might come to expression in making policy. The facile association between the depiction of polygamy HBO series “Big Love” and Mormon practice today doesn’t help matters. And “Big Love” has been taken by some to be a touchstone for a change in political opinion. Bryan Caplan, for instance, says that he “can’t imagine that a person could watch Big Love and not conclude that polygamy ought to be legalized.”

The LDS complains that “placing the series in Salt Lake City, the international headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is enough to blur the line between the modern Church and the program’s subject matter and to reinforce old and long-outdated stereotypes.” So the continuing perception of the relationship between polygamy and Mormonism certainly hurts Romney’s standing among many evangelicals.

I conclude by noting how Luther responds to Matthew 26:52, “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.” He says that as Christians, we should have nothing to do with promotion of the gospel by means of coercion. But in saying this he goes on to clarify his purpose in addressing these questions:

I say this not because I would teach that worldly rulers ought not be Christians, or that a Christian cannot bear the sword and serve God in temporal government. Would to God they were all Christians, or that no one could be a prince unless he were a Christian! Things would be better than they now are, and the Turk would not be so powerful. But what I want to do is to keep a distinction between the callings and offices, so that everyone can see to what God has called him and fulfil the duties of his office faithfully and sincerely in the service of God (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p. 166).

Evangelicals would do well I think to keep Luther’s concept of vocation in view, judging all political candidates not firstly on their religious creed but on the soundness of their view of the role of civil government.


  • http://myclob.pbwiki.com mike

    Re: “This is a sort of “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” argument”

    You assume there are no evangelicals in the democratic party or that anti-mormon evangelicals would only appose mormons in their own party.

  • http://myclob.pbwiki.com mike

    re: “which has been called largest armed force (public or private) west of the Mississippi.”

    You need to do a little more research, all Mormon settlements were EAST of the Mississippi.

    The statement is not even close to being true.

  • http://blog.acton.org/ Jordan

    Mike,

    Thanks for the clarification. You are right, at the time of Smith’s death the Mormons were east of the river. I was relying on my admittedly poor memory of a remark made by a professor of mine in a class lecture. But weren’t there Mormons west of the Mississippi in Missouri before they were driven out in 1839? If I do remember the remark rightly (and that’s a big “if”), perhaps that is to what he was referring.

    As regards your first comment about my assumptions, I wonder if you could clarify what you mean? Romney is Hewitt’s example, and Romney’s Republican affiliation seems to be incidental. I suppose Hewitt is addressing evangelicals he thinks would be inclined to vote for a GOP candidate…Democratically-minded evangelicals presumably would not vote for Romney, but not because of an anti-Mormon bias, but rather because of an anti-conservative opinion.

  • http://myclob.pbwiki.com mike

    Wow! Thanks for responding to me. It goes to show how much I don’t know… I forgot that Missouri was west of the Mississippi! However, I was write that at the Time of Joseph’s death the Mormons were all east of the Mississippi, and the number of Mormon males was no were close to the number of solders in forts east or west of the Mississippi. The whole thing is totally irrelevant, because the number of Catholics in Boston or Chicago were also larger than most forts, however the Catholics in Chicago and Boston at the time, were no more of solders than the Mormons in Nauvue. That’s my opinion, but I may be wrong.

    What I was responding to earlier was this:

    “Hewitt’s argument goes like this: if the long knives are brought out by Christians to attack Romney on the basis of his religious commitments, it won’t be long before secularists attack Christians on similar grounds.”

    You were saying that it doesn’t make any sense to ask why people (evangelicals in the Republican Party) have a problem with Mitt’s religion when athiest in the democratic party have no problem with Harry Read. I think this is an oversimplistic to assume there are no democratic evangelicals that should have had a problem with Harry Reid if they really hate mormons, or would have apposed Harry even though he is a democrat and they are republicans…

    I think the question is valid. Why do people think it is all right to be a Mormon in society, as long as you are not president. If Mormonism is evil, why isn’t it evil for Harry Read to be the minority leader? I think people who are asking this question, want everyone to settle down. We don’t have to freak out over the religion of the president. If Mormons can serve at the top of Harvard Business School, and at the top of Major Corporations, without the world falling apart, what is the difference between a president? If we are not worthy of running the presidency, what can we run?

    It sounded to me like you were saying that the Democrats are more tollerent, and that is why they had no problem with Reid. If you look at the polls, you will find that it is actually democrats who are less likely to vote for a Mormon, so I think you have to look somewhere else for your answer.

  • http://www.article6blog.com Lowell Brown

    The Mormons didn’t have a militia until they were driven out of Missouri, a traumatic experience indeed. The Governor of Missouri signed the infamous “Extermination Order,” authorizing the shooting on sight of Mormons who were not out of the state by a certain date. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extermination_Order_(Mormonism)

    “The law made it legal to kill anyone who belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state of Missouri. At least 60 Mormons were killed and dozens of women and girls raped, and countless others died from exposure in 1838 under the executive order and resulting forced evacuation from the state (See History of the Church Volume III, preface).”

    It’s no wonder the Mormons formed a defense force.

    Good post, however.

  • Kevin

    This puts me in mind of a nice little line in National Review a few months back. It was in the context of a comment on the polygamy of Romney’s ancestors. Noting that Romney has been married for forty-some years, it listed other potential GOP candidates—Gingrich, McCain, Giuliani—and concluded: The only one among them who has been married to only one woman is a Mormon.

  • Barrett Kalellis

    These arguments seem to me to beside the point, unless it is the case that a pious Muslim were running for office, and whose allegiance were first to Islamic tenets, which are incompatible with democracy.

    Mitt Romney is most likely a Mormon because his parents and other relatives were Mormons, and he grew up in this tradition. As far as convincing Americans to vote for him would largely depend on whether voters cared if he really believed in the myth surrounding Joseph Smith and the golden plates, and the angel Moroni and the “seer stones.” If he truly believed this tall tale, voters probably ought to question his intellect.

    This test holds true for whatever religious belief system might not affect the exercise of government, but might strain credulity and common sense. Rather than the cult of Mormonism, what about Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Tennessee snake handlers, Rastafarians, et al.?

    The bottom line should be that you probably should respect a person’s right to believe in whatever religion he is attracted to, but it does not follow that you need respect the religion itself.

    For example, I have no respect for Islam whatsoever. It is a cult that formed around the pathological crackpot Muhammad in the 7th century, and gained currency only by force of arms and the general benightedness and peculiar cultural and social practices of tribal Arabs in the region.

    Islam is an intolerant, noxious belief system, with a Manichaeanism inherent in “Muslims vs. infidels,” and dhimmitude for those wishing to live as abject slaves.

    Why should I respect this? And I am disturbed that a Muslim has been elected to the U.S. Congress from Minnesota, who holds these beliefs to some extent and is supported by foreign-based, jihad-sympathetic organizations.

    Candidates’ religious beliefs ARE important. In addition to indicating how intelligent, educated and discerning they may be, they also inform you about how they view the world, about what they think is important, about how serious they are, about what moral understandings they possess, and how they might regard others who do not believe the same things they do.

    Should there be a religious test for office? In some cases, probably so, as the quotations from Luther suggest. Believers and non-believers alike must weigh the implications of a candidate’s belief system against what they construe as both necessary and sufficient requirements for holding a civil government position.

  • http://lingamish.wordpress.com Lingamish

    I found the Luther-Turk information really interesting and it helps me show how a candidates beliefs do have a bearing on their governance.

  • Cori

    [quote]
    …As far as convincing Americans to vote for him would largely depend on whether voters cared if he really believed in the myth surrounding Joseph Smith and the golden plates, and the angel Moroni and the “seer stones.” If he truly believed this tall tale, voters probably ought to question his intellect.
    [/quote]

    Under the same note then any “Christian” who believes that Noah loaded of every animal (non-aquatic) into a ark and saved them… or that Moses parted the red sea… or any other unexplainable things found in the bible then they should also have there intelligence questioned?

    I don’t believe either of the preceding things are false being a Mormon and a Christian (FYI: _Mormons are Christians too.._), I have faith in the tenets of my religion and try to to judge others by the tenets of theirs. I am sure to anyone raised a a Catholic, Mormon, Protestant, Baptist, or any other religion you would find that most of the other religions would have beliefs that would be found to be different or even lubricious to you and me but to them it is a matter of faith.

    In closing I would like to have Mitt Romney or any other candidate judged not on their religion but on their stances on the issues. If I find that another candidate speaks better to my ideals I would vote for them. *I say vote on the issues not on religion…*

  • Barrett Kalellis

    Centuries of Christian theologians and scholars have dealt extensively with whether the Noah’s Ark fable is literally true, or simply a myth used to recount a possible historical flood, and the explanation of the survival of species, using the logic of ancient times.

    Today, not many people believe this myth literally, as well as other Old Testament stories.

    Joseph Smith and the golden plates are not taught by Mormon authorities as myth, however, but as a literal and historic truth that was supposed to be the basis for The Book of Mormon.

    Cori seems to suggest that if she follows a certain religion, then whatever the tenets of that faith be, she will believe them as true. I find this anti-rational.

    Of course, non-theists hold that all religious beliefs are supernatural and reject revelation outright. One should bring one’s own intelligence and reason to bear in the acceptance of any religious teaching. If not, it is simply “blind faith.”

    Regrettably, Cori misses the point of my comment, namely, that a person’s core beliefs do have a bearing on “their stances on the issues.”

    The world would have been a lot better off if it had a better understanding of the spiritual beliefs (or lack of) of Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini and Mao prior to their ascendency to power — even though, as they say, “Mussolini got the trains to run on time.”

    If a person seeks a public trust, the quality, sincerity and intensity of their religious beliefs tell us a whole lot about their character, and thus about how they would function in office.

    A recent example of a politician who “wears his religion on his sleeve” would be Bill Clinton. If people had understood this, they would have recognized him for the bounder that he is, and might have short-circuited the embarrassing scandals with which his name is now indelibly etched.

    In the case of Islam, the religious beliefs of Muslims are inextricably bound with a political ideology that seeks to dominate whatever society with which it comes into contact. As is becoming more clear every day, this presents a looming threat to the Western world and people should take some time to understand this mounting danger.

  • layne

    *”As far as convincing Americans to vote for him would largely depend on whether voters cared if he really believed in the myth surrounding Joseph Smith and the golden plates, and the angel Moroni and the “seer stones.” If he truly believed this tall tale, voters probably ought to question his intellect.”*

    Questioning the validity of Mormon founding is your right. However by the same token the secular progressives have every bit a much right to question your intellect for your belief that the earth was created 6000 years ago in 6 days, a man was born of a virgin, proclaimed himself to be God, healed the blind, sick, raised the dead, was killed by his peers, raised himself from the dead 3 days later.

    To the secular progressive they would also question your “intellect”, for believing in these so called myths surrounding Jesus Christ and the Creation story.

    It all boils down to a matter of faith. None of it can be proven. And none of these “Theological” issues has anything to do with ones fitness to serve in public office. The questions one should be asking is, “Would there be anything in the candidate’s background religious or otherwise that would indicate they would violate the oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution?”, Do the issues they espouse fit my world view of where the country should be led? Anything outside of these types of questions are a violation of the Constitutions prohibition on religious tests for public office.

    I suspect with Romney’s apparent candidacy we will be barraged with all the Mormonism we can stand from a media that is not to friendly to religious types of any sort. They really have no interest in the idiosyncrasies of the Mormon tradition. They see a wedge issue here between to brands of religion. And they want to exploit those issues to cause a rift in the Republican coalition.

    If you believe Romney’s belief in Mormonisms founding disqualifies him on intellectual grounds the same argument could be held for anyone who is a person of faith. Therefore lets keep politics and religion separated as much as possible. After all we are not electing our minister in chief. Otherwise the religious right might just find itself as Hugh Hewitt says being attacked on similar grounds by secularists.

  • http://webpages.charter.net/dcarlsen macfan1950

    “In the case of Islam, the religious beliefs of Muslims are inextricably bound with a political ideology that seeks to dominate whatever society with which it comes into contact. As is becoming more clear every day, this presents a looming threat to the Western world and people should take some time to understand this mounting danger.”

    I was following your argument for the most part until your final paragraph. You need to be *very* careful here–the true believers among the people of Islam may want to convert all others to their beliefs, but they do not propose violence as a mean to their end. Your reference should have refered to the radicals among Muslims. A true Muslim does not resort to violence, but desires to live peacefully among others.

  • virginia Brown

    There are many quotes from Martin Luther in this article. I would like to add one more: “The Kingdom of God is like a besieged city surrounded on all sides by death. Each man has his place on the wall to defend and no one can stand where another stands, but nothing prevents us from calling encouragement to one another.” I hate to see other Christians taking aim at Mormon Christians when we should all be defending the values and morals of Christianity against the onslaughts of today’s hate and violence. Let us “call encouragement to one another.”

  • Barrett Kalellis

    “…the true believers among the people of Islam may want to convert all others to their beliefs, but they do not propose violence as a mean to their end. Your reference should have refered to the radicals among Muslims. A true Muslim does not resort to violence, but desires to live peacefully among others.”

    This is definitely NOT true. If you have any understanding of the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sira, you should know that violence and submission are the very core of Islam. It is not simply the belief of a “few radicals,” but central to the “true Islam” preached by Muhammad, and as quoted by the jihadists.

    Muhammad offered three choices for infidels (non-Muslims): 1. Convert to Islam; 2. Pay a hefty poll tax to the Islamic state (jizya) as “protection,” and live in “dhimmitude” or in humiliating subjection; or be at war with Muslims (and be killed).

    This has been, and continues to be, the historical pattern of the intolerant Islam religion since its founding in the 7th century. They seek to dominate whatever region they are in. In fact, it is commanded by the Qu’ran, which they regard as Allah’s final word on the subject.

    Islam as a “religion of peace, etc.” is just the jihad sympathizers trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

    But don’t just believe me, do some reading and studying on the matter.

    You might start here: http://www.jihadwatch.org. Or read Robert Spencer’s “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades),” or Brigitte Gabriel’s “Why They Hate,” or Andrew Bostom’s “The Legacy of Jihad,” and many others.

    Or watch the recent documentary, “Islam: What The West Needs To Know,” now available on DVD.

    Please…. It will be worth your while.

  • macfan1950

    *”If you have any understanding of the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sira, you should know that violence and submission are the very core of Islam. It is not simply the belief of a “few radicals,” but central to the “true Islam” preached by Muhammad, and as quoted by the jihadists.”*

    What you tell me is quite different from what I’ve heard from many Muslims. Most of them are trying to build bridges between the World of Islam and the West. They especially speak of working together with the people they call “The people of the Book”–Muslims, Jews and Christians. Nothing is said of domination–only making the world a better place together.

    So, I’m interested in what part of the Koran you refer to above. I recently purchased a copy to study (the Penguin Classics edition, translated by N. J. Dawood), so feel free to refer me to the actual section number, it that’s appropriate.

  • Barrett Kalellis

    If you go to http://www.jihadwatch.com, as I suggested, you will find ample discussion and references to specific sections in the Qur’an and other sources that spell out a true Muslim response to infidels.

    Scholar Robert Spencer also cites these passages in his books, “The Truth About Muhammad,” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.”

    There is a books section on this site which lists many other tomes on Islam in English, so you can peruse these as well.

    *By the way, Spencer’s November 14 address to the Heritage Foundation is being broadcast this Sunday, Dec. 3 on C-SPAN’s Book TV at 3:30 p.m. EST.* Many of your questions will be answered in his presentation.

    I would be very careful about forming your beliefs based simply on what Muslims tell you. There is a tradition called “taqiyya,” (deception or concealment). This was sanctioned by the Prophet who taught that lying to protect Islam was a duty. There is another doctrine called “kitman,” (mental reservation), which allows a Muslim to tell the truth, but not the whole truth, with an intention to mislead.

    You must remember that Islamic spokesmen in this country probably feel constrained to downplay or deny aspects of their religion that unbelievers might find unpalatable.

    Not every Muslim is a terrorist, even though warfare against unbelievers is not a twisting of Islam, but is repeatedly confirmed in the Qur’an, the Hadith and the rulings of every school of Islamic jurisprudence.

    Then too, a large number of Muslims, particularly those who are not Arabs, have scant acquaintance with what the Qur’an actually says, since it is written (and must be read and recited in prayers) in the difficult, classical Arabic in which it is written.

    The worldwide movement of hardline Wahhabism, funded by the Saudis, has made deep inroads in otherwise peaceful Muslim communities by preaching violent Islam as the “true Islam” and calling Muslims back to the full observance of their religion.

    According to Spencer, it is true that many Muslims in the U.S. and around the world want nothing to do with today’s global jihad. Many are trying to create a viable moderate Islam that will allow coexistence with non-believers. But this moderate Islam does not exist to any significant extent in the world today.

    I hope this helps.

  • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy

    This article is very very interesting, and I can’t wait to see how all of this will work out. Both in the media, in churches, and — most importantly — in the voting booth!

  • Harm

    When referring to the Mormons militia it was a legal military body, known as the Nauvoo Legion. However this was after the Mormons had been attacked in Independence and after the Extermination Order signed by Gov. Boggs.

    In regards to the variances of faith. Every sect inside of religion, and especially inside Christendom have differences. And the point being made of Christians beliefs, versus Mormons beliefs etc. I believe it’s important to remember that the idea of Sin itself, make many Christians the oddity of the “progressive” world.

    The real importance of Mitt Romney’s religion is how that religion will affect and influence his governing should he be elected. It’s important to not that The “Mormon” religions 12 Article of Faith states

    “We believe in being subject to Kings, Presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.”

    I bring this out because a forgotten aspect of Mormonism is that of the organized sects of Christianity the Mormons support and sustain the right of the Boy Scouts of America (a pro-American org. if any exists) to select their own leaders. They also support the defense of Marriage along with so many other churches. Lastly the Mormons believe the America is blessed by God and that the Constitution is as inspired a document written by man as any, except scripture.

    I bring these out simply because the idea of whose on whose side? I think when looking to see who is governed by what. That actions do speak lowder than words and that a Religion that promotes all these things, cannot have given a man like Mitt Romney a foundation shakey enough to be discounted as a Presidential candidate. Ye Shall Know Them By their Fruits. Lets judge Gov. Romney by his. And may God Bless America in this next presidential election so that we get the candidate that is right for America, right for our Constitution, Right for Christians, Freedom and Security.

  • http://TheProudDuck.blogspot.com TheProudDuck

    Barrett Kallelis suggests that Romney may be Mormon because it is his family tradition, and may not necessarily believe Mormonism’s historical truth claims. Certainly there are many Mormons exactly like this, whose Church membership is a matter of praxis, and who either don’t give the founding stories much thought, or have to find ways of reconciling their Mormon faith with their skepticism of what is indisputably a story that borders on the fantastic.

    But I’m not at all sure that, even if Gov. Romney is in fact a true believer, that this would call his intellect into question. The Catholic insistence that religious experience be consistent with reason is not universally shared among American Christians. Certainly many thousands of American Christians would declare that they have experience a personal conversion that operates independently of what reason reveals, or even trumps it.

    I’ve noticed that many of the evangelical Protestants who most strenuously oppose the possibility of a Romney candidacy are hard-core young-earth creationists. That is, they subscribe to an ideology — forced upon them by their belief in Biblical inerrancy — that is at least as absurd as the silliest stories in Mormonism. (And just as, as James pointed out, a person who sins in one point is as guilty before God as if he’d broken the whole law, it shouldn’t matter if one’s religion requires the acceptance of one factual absurdity or ten; the demonstrated intent to reject reason is the same.)

  • Barrett Kalellis

    Reason versus faith is an age-old controversy. I suppose that it is a question not of kind but of degree. The criterion of “intellect” is the perception that the believer throws reason over the side when it comes to his beliefs. I think voters should be able to delve into how deeply rooted a candidate’s beliefs are, and what exactly these beliefs entail, and whether they might have some bearing on their behavior in office. For this reason, I think Americans should sternly raise questions about letting devout Muslims have access to the levers of U.S. government.

  • Jordan Taylor

    There are a few things about your arguments that are completely inconsistent. First of all we all seem to accept that the fact that Mitt Romney is a mormon could very well cost him the presidency. Why then if romney doesn’t even believe what his religion is founded upon would he hold to it?? This could cost him his political career and yet he mantains his faith.. that alone should be respected. Also your assertion that reason must trump faith is absurd. As has already been well stated almost every significant event in christianity appears absurd from a logical standpoint.

  • http://- Trevor Hinkley

    Ever read the Book of Mormon?

  • macfan1950

    Trevor, who are you asking and what is the purpose of your question?

  • Jared

    It was an interesting article but there was one error I would like to pick up on. The article described Mormons as separate from Christians. I would like to emphasise that Mormons are in fact Christians. ‘Mormons’ is just a nickname that has been given to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (taken from the Book of Mormon, a book of scripture that Latter-Day Siants use that testifies of Christ)

  • Ken

    Jared, agreed that a Mormon person may be a Christian, and that a Christian person may be a Mormon, I would ask permission to ask about the faith/teachings/doctrines, rather than about the individual people, to ask whether or not Mormonism is Christianity: If Christianity teaches that God is eternally God and that God is not something any person or being can become; and if Christianity teaches that Christ and the Father are One in essence (Deity) and not merely in “one in purpose”, and that Christ literally means “Annointed One”, that is, one in whom the Father (I AM, the Eternal One) dwells bodily (i.e. Incarnation); and if Christianity teaches that the distinction between Creator (eternal God/Deity) and Creation (non-deity,temporal things that did not always exist) is a crucial distinction, in that the Creator is to be worshpped and the creation is not to be worshipped, and that God was never as man is and that man will never become Deity as God is; and if Christianity teaches that the true church is a corporate Body (composed of individual believers) that has always existed on the earth independent of any denominational structures or labels and never was completely apostate/vanished from the earth and in need of restoration/reestablishment through Joseph Smith and Brigham Young because the true church never completely disappeared because God has never left Himself without a witness and the gates of hell would not prevail against the called-out-ones (ekklesia/church); and if Mormonism teaches the opposite of all these things, then how can what Mormonism teaches and what Christianity teaches both be Christianity? I do not question your good intent or your good will or your heart or your sincerity or your devotion, I only desire to point out that IF the statement “Mormons are in fact Christians” implies that “Mormonism is in fact Christianity”, that I would strongly disagree with the implication. Sincerely, Ken

  • David

    Ken,

    You base your conclusion on the definition of Christianity that *you* give. Why should yours be the definition we accept? Was it the definition the early Christians (of the First & Second Centuries) accepted? If you say yes, what evidence do you have?

  • Ken

    David, very good questions! 1. I don’t see it as “my” definition (although I agree with it and believe it); I see it as accurately derived from the Scriptures, both OT (Old Testament / Covenant) and NT (New Testament / Covenant) as they have been accepted for centuries, and consistent with the Scriptures, i.e. generally referred to as Orthodox Theology (agreed to among Eastern Orthodox and Western Orthodox / Roman Catholic and Reformation / Protestant / Anabaptist groups, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, etc.) and believed by many people for many centuries; I also recognize that just because many people over the centuries have believed certain things, it does not necessarily prove those beliefs to be true, but neither does it prove them to be false. I don’t believe that my definition should be the one that is accepted, I believe that what the Scriptures teach, as from the Apostolic writers and their scribes (secretaries if you will), is what should be accepted. If my faith differs from theirs, I am open to receiving correction. It is more important to me to believe what is right, than it is for me to be right about what I believe; more important for the faith itself to be right, not for me to be right. 2. I quite honestly do not know to what degree (if any) the early Christians accepted the definition I stated; I do believe that what I stated is consistent with what the Councils agreed to accept as Scripture and to include in the Canon. I also believe that 300 to 400+ years is not a very long time between the historical source events and original composition of the letters (epistles) to the compiling/canon of the documents and/or to the earliest manuscript copies discovered so far of those documents. (Any discussion of what was excluded from the NT Canon and why it was excluded, would be a fascinating one.) Your question seems to me to be about the validity of the NT Canon as it now stands (i.e. What is Scripture (dependable) and what is not?), and it is a totally valid and honest question. I think of a related question: If we cannot be sure of the accuracy / thoroughness / completeness of the NT Scriptures (either in the original Greek or in translations or both) as compiled in the Canon, then could we be sure of the accuracy / thoroughness /completeness of the OT Scriptures?”, since much of what I believe about the Eternality and Nature of God/Deity and about the person of Messiah/Christ has as its source the Jewish OT in Moses, Psalms, and Prophets, also quoted by the writers of the NT in their letters.

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