Category Archives: Values

Values Vs. Theology

After making a nice effort to fact-check the ludicrous accusations being thrown around by some anti-Mormons on its discussion forum, Slate has now reverted to form– deliberately obtuse and mockingly dismissive of religion. The latest iteration comes in Slate’s coverage of the recent endorsement of Romney from Bob Jones III, who operated the famously fundamentalist college that bears his name, and is the grandson of its founder.

Slate’s blog-bite coverage in full:

Losing his religion: Check out Bob Jones’ official “endorsement” of Mitt Romney:

Asked whether Romney’s religion was a stumbling block for him, Jones replied, “What is the alternative, Hillary’s lack of religion or an erroneous religion?”

“As a Christian I am completely opposed to the doctrines of Mormonism,” he said. “But I’m not voting for a preacher. I’m voting for a president. It boils down to who can best represent conservative American beliefs, not religious beliefs.”

Wait, what? I thought the whole point of an endorsement from Bob Jones was that he—or any other fundamentalist Christian university president, for that matter—does pick based on religious beliefs. No one cares what Bob Jones thinks of the health-care plan or tax cuts or plan for Iraq. They want to know who worships the best God! It’s like a master chef recommending a restaurant even though he hates the food.

People always discuss Romney’s beliefs as a weak spot. Who knew he’d be our nation’s last defense against a pagan Giuliani or Clinton administration?

In other words, “I, Slate writer, can’t think of any reason why any religious leader or follower would care about anything besides theology! What’s up with this wacky guy- endorsing someone from a church he doesn’t believe in? These Christians just keep getting crazier and crazier!”  Clearly, Bob Jones III has conducted himself in a way unbecoming of a Christian stereotype. Continue reading Values Vs. Theology

What Mitt’s Mormonism Does Mean

Mitt Romney has an identity problem. Newsweek says “voters can’t connect with a candidate they feel they don’t know.” The Chicago Tribune asks “Who is the Real Mitt Romney?” Each publication goes on to try and pin Mitt Romney down, explaining the man in terms of his ancestry, career path, and, most often, his religion. (At one point, Newsweek suggests that Romney’s m.o. at his private equity firm was essentially Mormon– “make good choices because you’ll have to live with their consequences.” Right. Because Catholics and Baptists prefer to make stupid choices).

Despite their attempts to understand the man, both pieces, and scores of other stories just like them, conclude that Romney is inscrutable– an enigma wrapped in a religion wrapped in an enigmatic religion. If you examine these kinds of pieces closely, this conclusion is a bit shocking. For all the people that have set out to understand Mitt Romney as a human being via the interpretive lens of his religion, you would think someone would either find the religion helpful in some way, or that everyone would eventually abandon the approach as useless. Instead, the parade marches on, every week bringing a new story with the same formula: “Who is this guy? Let’s consult his religious beliefs to understand him. Hmm, we conclude that he’s a mystery.” Do journalists have fun asking questions they know they can’t answer, or are they just enjoying the tease?

The repetition of these inquiries reveals one thing: that regardless of whether it sheds any light, the religion angle brings lots of heat, so it’s going to remain a juicy part of the narrative. This is disappointing, because hidden under the analysis of obscure doctrines and superficial cultural flavor, Romney’s Mormonism actually does reveal something very important about the man. Continue reading What Mitt’s Mormonism Does Mean

The Kinsley Manifesto: You Can’t Believe in the Bible and Be My President

Michael Kinsley has raised the bar. Starting out on the trail blazed by his former Slate colleague Jacob Weisberg, Kinsley has pulled out a blowtorch to slash and burn great swaths of new acreage. Where Weisberg posited (against all evidence) that people who believe in prophets are incompetent rubes, Kinsley argues (against all history) that you can’t even believe in the Bible and be qualified for the presidency. The war of secularist escalation continues, and before long, it’s going to claim some victims.

All of this from a new Time Magazine op-ed titled God as their Running Mate. For a writer as well-respected as Kinsley, the ubiquity of flat-out cheating in this piece is lamentable. Continue reading The Kinsley Manifesto: You Can’t Believe in the Bible and Be My President

How to Write an Article on Mitt Romney’s Religion

The text for this course is this excellent article by Linda Feldmann in the Christian Science Monitor yesterday– “Mitt Romney, proudly, quietly Mormon.” Now, Feldmann hits all the familiar canards- the Kennedy speech, the polls on Americans’ hesitancy to vote for a Mormon, the quotes from a prominent evangelical or two. But what is refreshing about this article is the author’s willingness to treat Mitt Romney on his own terms. That doesn’t mean she gives him a free pass. It means that this writer, singular among all others that have covered this issue, believes Mitt Romney to be a human being, rather than a religious automaton.

The result of that belief is a story that shows Mitt Romney the Sunday School teacher, the counselor to the downtrodden, the administrator of church groups, etc. It’s a character that is flawed but three-dimensional, and a member of a faith that has an impact on lives beyond just teaching a few hard-to-believe things that Joseph Smith did. What so many have missed in trying to explain Romney’s faith is that he interacts with Mormonism as an actual person. Continue reading How to Write an Article on Mitt Romney’s Religion

Hillary’s Inspiring Faith vs. Romney’s Creepy Cult

Ask the casual observer of politics what Mitt Romney believes in, and, if they’ve been reading the Romney coverage in the mainstream press, they will likely list the following: Jesus Christ will return to Missouri, alternative scriptures, possibly some polygamy, maybe a bit of racism, perhaps a pinch of support for Hamas.

You can ask the same question about Hillary, and you’ll likely get a very different answer. Those that read the New York Times will respond that Hillary believes in forgiveness, charity, social consciousness, and personal redemption.

That is because the Times has published an article dealing with Hillary’s faith in exclusively glowing terms, with not a doubtful or negative word about this woman that is portrayed as extraordinarily faithful and Christian. Continue reading Hillary’s Inspiring Faith vs. Romney’s Creepy Cult