Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Mormon Thing

By Alan Caruba

Article VI, U.S. Constitution: “…No religious test shall ever been required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

First things first—I know very little about the Mormon faith system and, frankly, I don’t care. I may or may not have friends who are Mormon, but since I don’t ask and don’t select my friends on the basis of their religion, I don’t know if they are or not.

The simple fact is that virtually any religion you can name has aspects that seem odd to those not born into it, cause others to drop out of it, and provide rich material for those who mock of all religion. I personally feel more secure around people who have a religion—any religion—than around those who have none, but that’s just me.

So when the media, as usual, seized upon some obscure Texas pastor’s comments about the Mormon Church as a “cult” after he introduced the hapless Gov. Rick Perry at some event, the whole Mormon thing raised its ugly head again as various members of the chatteratti and various ink-stained wretches tried to raise the issue of Mitt Romney’s religion. It is also Jon Huntsman’s religion.

The question, generally stated, is whether Romney could be a good President as a Mormon? It is an idiotic question, the kind that was raised back in the 1960s when John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, ran for office. For my part, I would take Romney any day over the present occupant of the Oval Office who claims to have been a parishioner and close friend of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a racist and America-basher of the first order.

For deep dish conservatives concerned about Mormons serving in the White House, Stephen M. Studdert, a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, recalled that he “truly admired the Latter-day Saints. His administration included more members of the Church than any other American president ever.”

Among those close to Reagan during his eight years as the greatest president of the modern era was Richard Wirthlin, his chief strategist. Terrel Bell served as Reagan’s Secretary of Education, Angela Buchanan was Secretary of the Treasury, and Rex Lee was Solicitor General.

Reagan’s White House included Jon Huntsman, Jr., currently a former governor of Utah and a candidate for the GOP nomination. The national security advisor to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft, is now an elder statesman. Suffice to say there were many others. No one recalls that any those Mormons served with anything other than dedication and patriotism.

Still scared of Mormons? Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah was first elected to the Senate in 1992. John Doolittle formerly represented California’s 4th Congressional District. Jeff Flake represents Arizona’s 6th District. Mike Crapo is a Senator from Idaho. A former Senator from Utah, Jake Garn, has previously been an astronaut. Anyone caring enough to check will find many other Mormons who have honorably served in Congress.

One of the most respected members of the Senate is Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican. Indeed, all the Congress critters named to this point have been Republicans, but the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, is also a Mormon.

You can even go back to Eisenhower’s administration and find that Ezra Taft Bensen served as Ike’s Secretary of Agriculture for both terms.

History buffs will tell you that Leroy Eldridge Cleaver who, after a past that included thirteen years as a guest of the California penitentiary system for narcotics possession and assault, became the face in the 1960s of the Black Power movement. After renouncing the movement, Cleaver joined the Church of the Latter-day saints in the 1970s. And, yes, God does work in marvelous ways.

All of this is to say that, despite the misgivings of some Texas pastor and others, Mormons have an admirable record of serving their nation and doubtless, if elected, former Gov. Mitt Romney will do so as well.

© Alan Caruba, 2011


TexasFred said...

For me, it’s not so much about Romney being a Mormon, it’s more like he’s a used car sales guy, the one that says *Trust me* and goes on to tell you how the car was owned by some little old lady that only drove it to Temple and then to Golden Corral once a week.

In other words, and this is strictly MY opinion, Mitt Romney is not someone that I could trust, he strikes me as being a smarmy bastard, Obama Lite.

We have very similar posts today..

Alan Caruba said...

Fred, I read your comments on your blog--proof that great minds think alike! :-) Actually, I just think Romney wants to be President because he thinks he'd be good at it.

After two and a half years of Obama, I am prepared to accept almost anybody in the job except for a whack-job like Obummer.

Dave's Daily Day Dream said...

Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Evangelical Christians,etc.!!

When the time comes to run for office, there will always be those who demonize whatever the candidate might be. They have hope that it will mark the person as someone "different" somehow.

We really don't need any one kind of faith in office, we need men and women of experience, integrity and courage.

BTW, the pastor was not from an obscure church, he is rather well known. He speaks from his world view, which is Biblically based. The truths he proclaimed don't seem to be of much relevance to the campaign, but they could be important to some. I would have rather heard him speak about Mr. Romney's lack of a true conservative mind set. Oh dear, but that would have stirred up something about separation of church and state. What a mess!

Will Harmon said...

Constitutionally, religious background is clearly out as a consideration for POTUS as you pointed out. Altruistically, I think religious beliefs shouldn't be part of the equation for selecting a president. Emotionally, I have difficulty getting over the hurdle.

The door is either wide open or completely closed, it can't be cracked open just a little. That means the US presidency is open to Christians (mainstream or Mormon), Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, Marxists, communists (in my view Marxism and communism is its own religion), etc.

I've seen enough of the kind of leadership muslims provide throughout the Arab world and enough of what a Marxist can do in 2-1/2 years in the White House to know I don't want either of those. The progressives have pushed God so far out of public life that He may never get back and were an atheist elected to POTUS, it would probably seal the deal.

It's a scary prospect. But the founding fathers were much smarter than any politician who has come along since. They were certainly smart enough to know that people's core values (influenced either by religious upbringing or a lack thereof) affect their thinking and ultimately their policy decisions. Apparently the founders figured the issue would get resolved one way or another. Maybe in their minds, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the right to assemble covered it. Presumably the press and the voters would vet the candidates thoroughly enough to see just how much their religious morals and core values affect their thinking and policy decisions.

Although the press is currently asking Herman Cain if he will release his medical records (in violation of HIPPA) they didn't see fit to press Obama for birth or scholastic records. Clearly, we can forget about relying on the media to do the job.

As it should, it finally comes down to the voter to make the final determination of fitness for office, and I think the voter will ultimately rely on personal conviction belief, bias, and emotion, irrespective of what the Constitution says.

scott adie said...

The only sure way to determine if someone's religious beliefs shape political policy is to examine their record. Even then it may not be clearly determined.
I have my own opinions and misgivings about the Mormon faith but it's underpinnings of honesty and integrity may be valuable constraints on Romney's behavior and policy if he were to get elected. I just don't think he's the right guy for the job. He's a poser in my opinion and his voting and legislative record clearly mark him as a RINO.