Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God on the Campaign Trail

We're 18 months away from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and the race for the presidency is getting more muddy by the minute. By the time you finish reading this blog, I predict at least three new candidates will throw their hats into the proverbial ring.

One thing we can safely predict, however, is that religion will play a crucial role in this campaign. A prime Republican darling is also Mormon -- a faith that some conservative Christians consider a cult. Democrats are working hard to prove they're also a party of faith -- a label that Republicans have monopolized for the last couple of decades. And, to my knowledge, at least three candidates have already been forced to answer faith-centric questions.

Before he even announced his candidacy, Barack Obama was being accused of being a closet Muslim and attending a radical Indonesian madrassa as a child. Both were slam-dunk falsehoods, apparently. Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a fairly liberal but undeniably Christian denomination.

Fellow Democrat John Edwards had even more problems. Two campaign staffers resigned after they were accused of being anti-Catholic. Both women -- Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan -- got in trouble for blogging on religion: Marcotte said the Catholic Church punted "compassion" (i.e. abortion, in her view) so women could "bear more tithing Catholics," and McEwan used the term "Christofascists," to refer to conservative Christians. The Catholic League, a conservative Catholic activist organization, launched a nationwide blitz to push them out of the Edwards campaign.

Over on the Republican side, Mitt Romney is dealing with questions about his Mormon faith. The former governor of Massachusetts has done well so far, pundits say, poking fun at his faith's polygamist past by saying "marriage is between a man and a woman ... and a woman, and a woman." Still, with Romney campaigning as a social conservative, there is some question whether the GOP's evangelical base will support a candidate who shares their political views but doesn't share their doctrine.

Most Republican candidates will make their obligatory pilgrimage to Colorado Springs' Focus on the Family to meet with James Dobson. Those meetings are typically private, but I'd be fascinated to hear how a Dobson/Romney summit goes.


Anonymous zen said...

It will be interesting to see how Conservative and/or Evangelical Christians handle Romney, because you are right -- traditionally these groups have viewed Mormonism as (at best) a heresy and (worse) a hellbound cult.

But I think in the minds of idealogues like Dobson and Wildmon that's a secondary issue to the abortion debate.

Will Conservatives & Evangelicals be told to look the other way, will they excuse the "heresy", will they rally around Romney if they feel he is their next best shot at overtuning Roe v Wade?

My guess is absolutley yes, because in the minds of the pro-life idealogues overturning abortion is the single greatest mission of the faith.

To them it doesn't matter WHO works to overturn it, only THAT it is overturned. If that means dancing with the devil to accomplish the mission (i.e. the end justifies the means), then yes ... Conservatives and Evangelicals will be encouraged by their leaders to embrace Romney as one of their own.

1:43 PM  
Blogger my_take said...

Religion has always played a role in politics, and it always will. Just like anything a candidate uses to get elected, they will emphasize it when it helps them, and stuff it back in the closet when it’s doesn’t, depending on whom they’re talking to. As for Romney, I think his Mormon faith will be a factor, at least until he diffuses it. Remember, John Kennedy had a similar problem with his Catholic faith. Certainly Romney’s job is a bit tougher in that Mormonism, unlike Catholicism, is very pseudo Christian, if Christian at all. Their beliefs are very different when compared to mainstream Christianity. Some are, for example; God once being a man like us; Jesus and Lucifer being brothers; and that they (ie, good Mormons) are also working our way to Godhood, and will also have their own planet to populate, creating more men who will become Gods, and the process goes on and on. It will be interesting to see how this will play out, and how the popular Christian leaders will handle it. I agree with Zen in that Romney’s social conservatism may trump religious differences in those circles. However, among mainstream nominal Christians (ie, most of the population), I think they would rather have a nominal Christian, like themselves, which is what we seem to get every time, abortion notwithstanding.

8:14 AM  

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