Mormon president debate getting as absurd as gay marriage tiff

WORLD magazine, a Christian pub, has a point/counterpoint debating whether a Mormon can be president. I’m reading the dueling viewpoints, and it seems to me that the whole “can Mitt or Jon be a Mormon and be president” debate is getting as old-fashioned and absurd as the debate over gay marriage in a secular society. Opponents of both positions are moving toward extreme examples to justify positions that seem hysterical upon inspection.

Take the Mormon/prez debate in WORLD. (read) The pro side can basically be summed up in two ways: “He’s running for president, not pastor, who cares if I don’t think he’s a Christian”; and I restrict my choices if I put a theological requirement on my vote.” Both are common-sense positions that over time gain strength ad adherents. Correct, humane positions tend to grow in popularity.

The anti-Mormon-as-a-prez guy, Wallace Cole Smith, takes the exact opposite position, that a vote for Mitt is a vote for Mormonism, legitimizes the anti-Christian religion, and unless Mitt renounces LDS beliefs, Christians should not support him.

Who would extend those same reservations to orthodox Jewish candidates, or Muslims who seek office? Would Warren Cole Smith urge we vote against a candidate who shares the traditional yet odd Christian belief that God is going to rapture millions of people in a single second and ignore the consequences? Would Cole Smith vote against a candidate who shares the pessmistic Christian belief that deadly unrest in the Middle East is a sign of the End Days?

Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review Online has pointed out that many evangelicals won’t vote for Romney because they don’t think he’s a Christian, while many liberals won’t vote for him because they think he’s too much of a Christian. Warren Cole Smith and other Christian conservatives seem locked in a strange netherworld that I believe is getting smaller and zanier.

In regards to absurdity and the gay marriage debate, let’s look at a column from the Mormon Times’ media columnist, Lane Williams, (read) a professor at BYU Idaho. I worked with Lane at BYU a generation ago and I enjoy reading his columns but when making a key point he leaves out a critical part of a column that quotes gay marriage advocate Howard Chua-Eoan, published in Time. (read)

Williams, I assume, is displeased that gay marriage is now legal in New York. He links to Chua-Eoan’s column and includes portions of it where the author expresses frustration that even with the new law, he still can’t be married in certain New York churches. At that point, Williams ominously asks, “Is this writer demanding that government compel religions to violate their beliefs? Would a religion still be allowed to say homosexuality is sin under his view?”

Well, no, not even close. If Williams had wanted to, he could have included this later part of  Chua-Eoan’s column where Chua-Eoan assuages Williams’ fears: “The state cannot force a church to change its beliefs. Even gay people realize that is wrong.”

In other words, Williams creates an argument with evidence that does not warrant it. But he does cleverly use his writing skills to create fear in his core audience that churches may one day be forced to allow gay marriages. It’s an irrational fear I hear often in priesthood lessons every sabbath. In the unlikely event government orders the church to conduct gay marriages in temples, I’ll be glad to join with Williams and others in opposing that, but I’m not as worried as some.

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24 Responses to Mormon president debate getting as absurd as gay marriage tiff

  1. Tom says:

    Great stuff Doug, thanks.

    One point however, you wrote: “………locked in a strange netherworld that I believe is getting smaller and zanier”. It seems to me that just the opposite is true in that the strange netherworld of zanies seems to get bigger every day – especially those days when the State Legislature is in session.

  2. Steve says:

    I agree enthusiastically with the column except for this out-of-place statement: “many liberals won’t vote for him because they think he’s too much of a Christian.” This statement is as paranoid and absurd as the evangelical position on Mormonism that the article rails against. Liberals won’t vote for Romney or Huntsman because they’re too conservative, not because they’re Mormon. Expecting a liberal to vote for a conservative candidate just to prove they’re not prejudiced against Mormons is truly a fringe position to take. It’s like expecting conservatives to vote for Hillary Clinton just to prove they’re not misogynists.

  3. brenda says:

    The very BIG difference between voting for a Mormon and voting for a candidate of any other religion is that the adult Mormon candidate has taken a solemn oath to devote every talent and resource they may ever achieve in their life to the service of the church’s effort to return zion to Earth. What’s more, this hypothetical candidate believes that they can become a god in eternity in return for faithful service to that oath and to the church. Consequently, whatever oath they take on a Bible to defend the Constitution is of far less importance to them and has consequence for only one lifetime as opposed to eternity.

    People who want to vote for Mitt or Jon thinking that they are the best choice for the US’ future should do so but they should do it mindful of the fact that the LDS and their eternal godhood will always be their first concern.

    • Chris Britton says:

      It’s funny how people strike fear in others using Mormon “doctrine” that they don’t even understand or even interpret correctly.

      If you are a mother or a father does your family not come before your work? I wouldn’t doubt that every evangelical christian out there, while at church, wished everyone in the world would find Christ and the happiness they have found. I know that through prayer and devotion they covenant with God every week if not every day to help bring the Kingdom of God back to earth as soon as and as quickly as possible. To a believing Christian their God is the MOST important thing in their lives and they’ve dedicated ALL to him and his cause. This does not disqualify them for political office in this Mormon’s mind, although I know they are following a man made Christianity that has fallen into corruption. They are not there (in political office) to preach but to run the govt.

      I have the same commitments to my family and my God. I make those covenants in church and in the Temples. Those commitments surpass my love for this country but also enhance my desire to follow it’s laws and constitution.

      You God fearing “Christians” have all said that you love God more than your wife and children, but because of that love toward God that heightens your love, devotion, respect and honor for them.

      When God comes that’s when he will be running things. In the mean time we need to do the best we can around the world with the govt’s we’ve been given and become good influences within them. If our Gods (of any religion) demand something different than our govt posts require of us then, in this Mormon’s mind, that’s when we quit our jobs and follow our first love.

      Amen

  4. Bob Becker says:

    Good post, Doug, though I’m afraid I’ll have to sign on to both Tom and Steve’s caveats.

  5. Zion Wordsmith says:

    Good Points Brenda,

    I may add, that with the Church of Jesus Christ, a
    “Gathering” of the 10(ten) Tribes Scattered, must
    Surely come to pass. {moreover-Materilize}.
    On this the American Continent.
    With the [New JueruSalem] already restored on
    American Shores,,,I do affirm that Zion is more
    A “People”, more then it is a Geographical, Domaine
    and Demographic.

  6. Steven Brown says:

    Thanks, Doug Gibson, for this article. According to Linda Seligman (2006), Carl Jung points out that there are systems of thinking that we gain through more than one generation of influence. We should always question what we believe, especially when going to the voting booth.

    Seligman, Linda (2008) Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Systems, Strategies and Skills Second Edition Pearson Education, Inc. 98-99

  7. D. Michael Martindale says:

    Brenda, you’re spouting the same zaniness that Doug is talking about in the article.

    • LMA says:

      I agree. Brenda’s claims are exactly like those who, 50+ years ago, explained why you couldn’t vote for a Catholic for president.

  8. Stephen M. Cook says:

    When an acknowledged Atheist finally runs for president on a major ticket, the outcry from all of the religionists will be amusing.
    Perhaps we should start with an acknowledged Agnostic, as VP?

    The random Christian would never, ever, ever vote for an Atheist; they are terrified of them. It is a fact that most of our sitting presidents were decidedly Humanist, if only secretly so.

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      Well, in California we voted for a Buddhist for Governor.

    • D. Michael Martindale says:

      I’d vote for one if I liked his politics.

    • Bob Becker says:

      Yup. Atheists rank absolute lowest on poll questions asking “would you vote for a [religion] for president?” About half the population in the lastest poll I saw said “no.” Ranked way below Mormons. Ranked below Muslims. Dead last.

  9. Bob Becker says:

    \It is a fact that most of our sitting presidents were decidedly Humanist, if only secretly so.\

    I don’t know if you can establish that on the record. I rather doubt it. Not sure in any case how you’d establish that a President who said he was a believing Christian [i.e. believed in the basic tenets of most American Christian faiths, including the divinity of Jesus, the Resurrection, etc.] that he wasn’t really. You could make that case for a handful of them. Jefferson, certainly, Madison, probably. Possibly Washington.

    But most? I doubt it.

  10. Canadian says:

    “Who would extend those same reservations to orthodox Jewish candidates, or Muslims who seek office?”

    It seems that the popular media would. During the debate as to whether President Obama is a Muslim or not, many were throwing accusations that he secretly was rather than saying “Who Cares”.

  11. Howard Ratcliffe says:

    “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” James 1:8 Zionism, Masonry and Mormonism are man’s attempt to re-create Heaven on Earth. The Emerald tablet of Toth-Hermes begins “That is which is above shall be that which is below” (As Above, So Below). When Eve defied God, led Adam to do the same and Cain killed Abel, the entire race of Man was cast East of Eden (Nod) and the only way back to the “Garden” was guarded by the 4-faced Cherubim guarding the Tree of Life.
    US Presidents have one single obligation to “Support and defend the US Constitution”; the problem lies in their Occult (Hidden) obligations and oaths.
    Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Waite gave Corporations equal rights as human beings, clearly violating the Bill of Rights. Bill Clinton violated the Posse Commitatus provision of the Consitution by using National Guard soldiers to set fire to Branch Davidians. George Bush Jr was quoted “The Constitution is just a damn piece of paper”. Barack Obama conducted the 2010 Census under White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and started the Libyan War without Congressional approval; all examples of clear violations of the Constitution.
    Examples of being Double Minded are US Presidents attending Bohemian Grove in late July called “High Jinx in Hades” or being members of the Council on Foreign Relations whose written goals are to end National Sovereignty.
    July is named for Julius Caesar, stabbed by traitors within his own government; Marcus Cicero said “A nation can survive its fools and ambititious but not is traitors” Jesus said “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Mat 10:36)
    When Presidents swear to defend the Constitution they should also be aware God is witnessing their left hand is resting on His Word.

  12. LDS Radio says:

    I agree…BOTH discussions are getting absurd. Neither makes the church look good. Therefore, both must end.

  13. No way will I vote for a Mormon for President. If Romney is selected as the GOP candidate then I will write in my vote for Pawlenty, Bachmann, Santorum or some other person who has orthodox religious beliefs.

    • LMA says:

      It was in defense of orthodoxy that Jesus Christ was crucified. “Orthodoxy” is nothing more than man-made thought, ossified by the passage of time. This is not to defend all that is unorthodox, but only to say that orthodoxy as such is not a basis on which to make personal religious (and from there, political) decisions.

      Besides, WHICH orthodoxy do you mean? Rick Santorum is a Catholic, Michelle Bachman and Tim Pawlenty are both evangelical Lutherans. Did you know that Lutherans follow Martin Luther, who was well known as a particularly vicious anti-Semite? Yep, it’s true. The Lutherans disagree with the Catholics about a host of issues, including priesthood organization, ordinances (the sacrament, confession, little things like that), the role of Mary and other saints, and, well, you get the idea. The list goes on. So exactly WHICH orthodoxy does it take to get your vote?

      Now I know that you’re tempted to say, well, there might be differences between Catholics and Protestants, or between this brand of Protestant and that brand of Protestants, but none of them believe what you Mormons believe. And, to some extent that’s true. On the other hand, you’ve been told a bunch of stuff about “what Mormons believe” that turns out not to be true. They turn out to be lies told supposedly in the service of our Savior, which lies should make you realize that they are not being told for a holy purpose at all. Where there are differences, the differences are all, every one of them, explainable in terms of the word of God, which is all the “orthodoxy” anyone should need.

    • LMA says:

      … oops, I should have looked at your website, Nick (clicking the link in your name here). You haven’t been TOLD the lies, you’re TELLING them. My mistake. “Sub-Christian cult” indeed.

  14. Andrew H. says:

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have a great respect and love for this country. Why? Because that very church that some here try to derail, teaches us that this country was brought about by the divine hand of God. We enjoy freedoms and rights that many in the world envy. As LDS, we believe in those same protections given us by our Founding Fathers for all citizens. We believe the right to believe in God or not to believe. It would be contrary to Mitt’s or Jon’s faith to force “mormon” doctrine on any, plus you have the checks & balance system of our government. The presidency is not a dictatorship! We, as “mormons” have fought and died for this country. We are active in our governments with varying degrees of political opinion. We believe in the American way. We believe in honoring and sustaining the law. We believe in honor, family, freedom and dignity. We refuse to go hide in a hole in Utah because of our beliefs.

    Mitt or Jon would be proud to place their hand on the Bible to swear an oath to this country, to uphold the law as the highest office of the land and it would not be contrary to their faith, but a re-enforcement of it.

  15. Fred Barrett says:

    Isn’t this the approach the liberals use against the conservatives, especially when the conservative desires to restrict the ability of the liberal to tax and spend? The tax and spend seems to be more important to the liberal than the security of our nation. The debates going on in D.C. today kind of reminds me of the debates myself and my 7 siblings had when we attempted to dump the blame on the other in order to escape the coming punishment we were about to receive. Politics, religion, or sibling debates seem to have many similarities don’t they.

  16. Cory says:

    It is true Mormon’s make some pretty important promises to their God in the temple.

    One of the things the Mormon God has said is that he raised up the founding fathers and inspired them to write the Constitution to create a land of liberty.

    Thus any Mormon worth his or her salt feels an obligation to protect and defend the Constitution.

    That is why you see so many of them run for political office, join the military, become police officers etc.

    There’s no hidden agenda or sinister plot. They love their God and they love their country and those two things are not incompatible in any way for them.

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