Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Religion and politics

So my mother-in-law was asked by the local newspaper to write an editorial responding to some negative press about Mitt Romney and Mormonism. I guess this is because she is the wife of a local leader. She was frustrated by many of the comments made, and I have become so as well.

For example, she was asked to respond to this:

John L. Smith, a Southern Baptist who runs Utah Mission -- an organization that tries to convert Mormons -- told Christianity Today:

"Mormonism is either totally true or totally false. If it's true, every other religion in America is false. To be tolerant of Mormonism is to put evangelical Christianity at risk. And to put a Mormon in the White House would be to place a stamp of approval on that faith. “

I don't understand with voting someone into office says you are sanctioning their religion?

Like I mentioned earlier in my caucus post, it seems unfair that you can choose to not vote for someone simply because of his religion as a "Mormon" but you couldn't do that for any other minority card. Just today on Hannity I heard multiple people complaining about how unfair it was for the democrats to be making race an issue right now and that it has no place in our society. I would like to say Ditto for religion as well! If religion is such a key point, then how come we know very little about the religions of Clinton, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Richardson, etc?

Any thoughts?


Amber said...

I agree. And it's not just religion--it's the Right and the Wrong religions. No one would dare refrain from voting for someone because they were Jewish--or at least they wouldn't be so vocal about it. I've also heard Obama is Muslim--I am surprised that isn't a bigger deal than it is (especially because of all the anti-Arabic people). At the same time, however, you never know how many people may be investigating "Mormonism" just to learn more about Mitt. All the scruntiny may have a silver lining.

Jill said...

Erin - I am impressed that you are so politically active. It has inspired me to register to vote!

I don't know which candidate I like the best and I think it will take me a while to decide, but I agree that a person's religion should not be under scrutiny or consideration.

Abraham said...

Interesting post. I agree with your comments. Here are some other thoughts I had:
--It is interesting to me that Romney is targeted so much becuase of his religion, however, he is one of the few candidates--democrat or republican--who does not visit various churches on Sunday to preach (and, I can only presume, advance their political standing). Huckabee, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all get broad media coverage as they attend church. Romney's church, however, remains politically neutral and he would not be allowed to use the pulpit to advance his political agenda. I find that refreshing. For a church that people fear is trying to take over the country through Mitt Romney, I thinks it's ironic how uninvolved it remains. The LDS church respects the separation of church and state.

--I also observe a double standard when it comes to religion and politics with democrats compared to republicans. When a republican like Huckabee goes and preaches on Sunday and tries to garner the vote of the religious right, liberals are extremely critical and accuse him of violating the separation of church and state. However, when Obama, Edwards, or Clinton go down south and visit churches to gain support of the religious democrat base, no one cries foul play.

--Having said that, I want to mention Barack Obama. He is the one democrat who I've noticed is under attacks for religious reasons. His name is a Muslim name, after his father. Both his birth father, whom he barely knew, and his step-father were Muslim. In reading his biography, I gather that his mother was a wonderful free spirit type who could be described as "spiritual, but not religious." So Obama did not grow up associated with any church or religion, per se. As a community organizer in Chicago as a young man just out of college he worked with many different churches in the area--they provided a built-in organization to work with. In time, he found himself drawn to one of these Christian churches and he became an active member of the congregation there. Barack Obama has been attacked for being "Muslim" (he is not and, even if he were, what's wrong with being a Muslim?) and I expect that his political enemies will continue to appeal to people's fears to defeat him. They will continue to suggest that he is unpatriotic, that he is a radical Muslim who was planted here to take over our government. Besides that he's black (his birth father is from Kenya). This leads to the more recent attack on his religion that I've heard about. I received an email talking about the Christian church that Obama belongs to in Chicago. It basically said that it was an extreme black power church and Obama has been confronted with controversial remarks made by the pastor of his church. This is absolutely ridiculous and, again, it plays to people's fears. Just as I wouldn't ask a politician to speak for their church, I certainly wouldn't ask a church to speak for one of it's members. Can they seriously try to tell me that everything Obama's pastor says, represents Obama and his opinions? Ridiculous.

--Finally, I think there is a place for religion in the political setting. We live in a religous country and we do the nation a disservice if we ignore the topic of religion. So I think the appropriate interplay of religion and politics is a matter that should be thoughtfully discussed and pursued. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have both given speeches on this subject which I think are excellent and thought-provoking. I highly recommend them and am listing the internet links below. (Wow, this is my biggest comment ever!)