Thursday, February 14, 2008

Religion politicized

Re this editorial (subscription required), a slew of letters (A15) has come in, arguing all sides of the issue of what the role of religion is in selecting a President. A sampling:

  • R. S. in Sandy, Utah, says that Mormons "espouse traditional values" and "center their lives in faith and family"; that Americans or political parties would discriminate on the basis of religion surprises him. "I want a color-blind, tolerant, inclusive party that will work for conservative principles. (Somehow that sounds like a contradiction in terms.) However, they can't pay clergymen to preach venom-filled sermons...The party I want would rise up in indignation at...thinly veiled bigotry..." His next words ring like a threat: "Just imagine the next 20 years of presidential elections with Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and California dependably in the Democrat column."
  • Says Rev. Richard J. Neuhaus, Editor in Chief of First Things, NY: "[We] should not underestimate the number of people who would not vote for a Mormon for president. Nor, I wrote, should we arrogantly dismiss these people as bigots." (That sounds even more inclusive!)
  • Robert G. in Boston is even more vehement than R. S., slamming "the strident and intolerant extreme right wing of the Republican Party." (That may exist, but the adjective load is quite heavy.)
  • H. L. in Oakland, CA, seems decidedly in favor of substituting "rationality" for religions including Mormonism, evangelical Christianity, and Islam which, one would presume, are by that logic irrational: "All of these people have highly irrational (one might say delusional) and often dangerous ideas that shape their views on morality and the nature of the world and could adversely influence their ability to lead a nation." (Two out of three ain't bad.)
  • Gordon H. in Lexington, KY, appeals to statistics: "Comparing the 21% of respondents who were "very uncomfortable" with a Mormon presidential candidate with the 20% who felt the same way about an evangelical candidate, I wonder if the story really is more about religion in politics than about the Latter-day Saints."
  • Declan M. in Phoenix expresses my views beautifully (emphasis mine):
Mr. Romney's campaign had many problems that had nothing to do with his religion. However, those of us who questioned his credentials because of his faith didn't do so from bigotry. We did it because he belongs to an organization that turns its back on science, history and common sense. We did it because someone whose world view is based on willful ignorance, self-delusion and the repression of women doesn't deserve to be our president.

1 comment:

Aurora said...

Hannah, great post. A lot of people have been hanging onto the fringes of the church for lots of reasons. I guess what's going to happen is that lots of these will get shaken off sadly...There is going to be a remnant left; a remnant who knows what they believe and aren't swayed by every wind. Those of us who don't drop off with these masses will have some tough times ahead but it's better to be in the hands of God than spinning out of control with no anchor.