Sunday, December 16, 2007

Separation Anxiety

Of course Mormonism is a non-Christian cult. Of course it is. Not in the Jim Jones sense. It's not a sociological cult. It's a religious cult, that deviates from the essentials of the historic Christian faith and preaches another gospel. In the sense that it preaches Jesus as the brother of Satan -- in the sense that it teaches another way to salvation, of works rather than solely of grace. Either all other Christians are wrong, and egregiously wrong, or the historic tenets and even the watered-down public pronouncements of Mormonism are wrong. There is no compromise in terms of doctrine.

My response to all that is, so what? If it matters, it matters only to one's private conscience. Maybe you'd never vote for a Jew, who would reject Jesus as a dupe, a fool, a madman or a liar. Maybe you'd never vote for a Catholic, who has more than one mediator between God and man, additional to the Man, Christ Jesus. Maybe you'd never vote for a Mormon, Romney, say, who thinks that he can be the equal of Jesus, and god of his own planet. But if you think theology so deeply informs one's judgment regarding public policy, I remind you of one Jimmy Carter, worst president ever.

On the other hand, some other candidate has a right to his own views on the matter. That Huckabee declines to pronounce unambiguously on Romney's Mormonism is his own business. He sidesteps the issue by saying he's not running for president of a seminary. An answer most politic. The more direct answer is that Huckabee does think Mormonism is a cult, as do I, and as you must, given the active definition. Christianity is a cult of Judaism. So what? It happens to be the correct cult? I agree.

Huckabee advertises himself as a Christian leader? He is technically accurate. In the context of the campaign it is certainly a jab at Romney. So? It will matter to some, and work for Huckabee. It will matter to others and work against him. That he's being coy about it is as much political savvy as dirty politics. It's not dirty at all, in my eyes. Just maybe a little shifty, a little Arkansan. He's appealing to prejudice? Well. He hardly needs to appeal to it -- it seeks its own level.

There is the doctrineless, generic God of the American public square. This god has no actual reality. He is Santa God.That's fine. Then there are all the specific idols, ideations that we bundle up and strap to our backs like a papoose. Sometimes the image may happen to approximate a rough caricature of the real God. Good for that happy religionist. We should mostly keep our mouths shut about God, though. We can get a better picture of Jesus, but even he is hard to get right, as Huckabee would have us remember. Point being, the political debate platform really isn't suited for parsing the finer points of theology. On the politician's platform, we expect to hear Providence called sometimes by the name God, and shouldn't expect to hear any more on the matter, from that place.

In ancient times God displayed his wrath at blasphemy in a more forceful manner than in this dispensation. When Elijah contended with the priests of Baal, the LORD did send fire from the heavens to consume his enemies. Now, we must look to the polls to see who meets with disfavor. Evolution at work. Given the wrath of which God is capable regarding fools, the most certain of verities is that pols should shut the hell up about God. If you want to know what to think about God, ask me. I have all the answers, and they're always right.

Some Dimocrat YouTool queries of the GOP candidates as to their "belief" in "this book, this one right here, the Bible, that I'm holding in my hand, which has five digits and is attached to my arm as a part of my human body here on planet Earth in the Solar System." And the suits all line up to parcel out an answer about how they all believe that it is indeed a book in his hand, praise Jesus. Some of them have less belief, as Giuliani, who isn't thoroughly literal. Some have more belief, as Romney, who has a small shelf of bibles and books of mormon and pearls of great price. None of them quite have the right answer, though.

Not in some other, but in that context, the question was unbelievably inappropriate. On a chat show, in an interview, for some article, in a speech to donors it can be God God God, rah rah rah. These may be public forums, but they are not the very altar of politics, as the debates are. Krauthammer gets it right. After a perfect summary of the relationship between policy and religion, he says:
In this country, there is no special political standing that one derives from being a Christian leader like Mike Huckabee or a fervent believer like Mitt Romney. Just as there should be no disability or disqualification for political views that derive from religious sensibilities, whether the subject is civil rights or stem cells.

This is pretty elementary stuff. I haven't exactly invented hot water here. The very rehearsing of these arguments seems tiresome and redundant.

But apparently not in the campaign of 2008. It's two centuries since the passage of the First Amendment and our presidential candidates still cannot distinguish establishment from free exercise.
He's not wrong to single out the candidates, in contrast to the media hacks and the half-bright fame-seekers soaking up their 27 seconds in the spotlight. The canditates claim to be leaders, and their judgment counts. Not one of them had the guts, character or clarity of thought to answer that moronic bible question with the most statesman-like answer: "None of your damn business."


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