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Aug. 11, 2011

Theology versus policy

Roman Catholic, Quaker, Methodist, Episcopalian. Throughout history, presidents of the United States have been associated with various religions which have consistently played a role in how Americans vote. But up to this point, no president has openly declared himself to be Muslim, Jewish, Mormon or Buddhist. However, in the 2012 presidential race, two candidates who have openly declared themselves as Mormons have the potential to break the cycle. But this change raises the question – are Americans ready to put religion aside and elect a Mormon for president?

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (L) and Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) greet each other prior to marching in a Fourth of July parade in Amherst, New Hampshire. Courtesy of Getty Images
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (L) and Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) greet each other prior to marching in a Fourth of July parade in Amherst, New Hampshire.
Mormon Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are both front runners in the 2012 presidential election. But both are determined to quell media controversy in the face of their religious views. Romney, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church), has avoided speaking publicly about religion, but has implied that his beliefs will not affect his decision making abilities. Huntsman, who is also a member of the LDS Church, has openly stated that his religion does not control his life and that he is more spiritual than he is religious.

Ultimately, neither candidate wants their religion to interfere with their public appearance, but it may be too late. A Gallup poll taken in June 2011 found that roughly one in five Americans would not vote for a presidential candidate who was Mormon. These public opinions have certainly raised concerns for Huntsman and Romney and their futures in the presidential race.

Personally, I believe any individual running for office should have their integrity, leadership, knowledge and religious affiliation looked upon equally. Religious views will inevitably influence opinions and views on various topics, especially when dealing with controversial issues. Although the Constitution states that religious affiliation cannot keep a candidate from public office, it doesn't mean that a president's religious views, whether Mormon or Christian, will not cloud their judgment in some shape or form.

If a candidate is able to push his or her religious views aside and deal with issues both professionally and reasonably, then any religious background is more than acceptable in my eyes. Better yet, maybe the key to a successful presidential candidacy is simply keeping religion out of the race. This year's Republican contest could be America's religious litmus test.

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  • Alumnus on August 12, 2011 at 2:41 AM
    No, I'm not "ready" to elect a Mormon to the presidential office, because Mormonism is such a horrendously obvious sham that I don't think anyone with sufficient mental capacity for the job would be a Mormon.

    Really, a guy reading golden tablets that only he is allowed to see? Hahahahahahahaha.

    Give me an atheist candidate, please. *Then* we can talk about being "ready" to put "religious affiliations" (and, hopefully, religion altogether) aside.
    • M.D. Hillyard (View Email) on August 12, 2011 at 1:54 PM
      Eleven other individuals saw the plates. Gwt your facts straight.
  • Shash Nahalin (View Email) on August 12, 2011 at 4:22 PM
    @ Alumnus your raise a fair question. Why indeed should we believe the testimony of just one man. In fact the "Book of Mormon relies not only on the record of an ancient people, but also on the separate testimonies of Three and Eight Witnesses published in the back of the book's original 1830 edition and in the front of its more recent editions."
    Read more here:
    • Alumnus on August 13, 2011 at 1:14 AM
      Hah, this hardly lowers Mormonism's ranking on the BS meter. Sorry, but I refuse to vote for anyone gullible enough to buy this nonsense.

      You see, while standard Christianity and the majority of other modern religions have the benefit of the exact origins of their holy texts being somewhat obscured by history (and thus the belief can be written off as cultural more than anything else), Mormonism's origins are very well-documented and so obviously nonsense that I'm perpetually amazed at how many people believe it.
  • Murdock (View Email) on August 12, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    1. You write: “Romney . . . has avoided speaking publicly about religion, but has implied that his beliefs will not affect his decision making abilities.”

    Actually, as part of his prior campaign for the presidency in 2007-2008, on December 6, 2007 Mitt Romney gave a major speech on the subject of religion and government and discussed the role of religious faith in the decision-making of the President. Here is a URL to a NY Times article about that speech: 2007 romney speech faith faith in america&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=2&adxnnlx=1313183572-MYLmKv+YZoxcR8DSQQKELA

    2. You write: “Although the Constitution states that religious affiliation cannot keep a candidate from public office, it doesn't mean that a president's religious views, whether Mormon or Christian, will not cloud their judgment in some shape or form.”

    A. Your phrasing “whether Mormon or Christian” is incorrect. Mormons are Christian. Before writing on the internet about a religion, it is best to know the basics about it. Here is a website with the basics of the Mormon faith: In the meantime, here is just one of many similar verses from the Book of Mormon:

    "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

    2 Nephi 25:26.

    B. Why do you write that candidates’ religious views might “cloud their judgment?” The word “cloud” has a negative connotation. Candidates’ religious views might “inform” or or “enlighten” their judgment.

    • Alumnus on August 13, 2011 at 1:34 AM
      I'd love to see how religious views, which are by definition not in any capacity based on the observable universe, could better inform you about solutions to problems *in the observable universe.* You know, like the type of problems that I expect the politicians I vote for to be able to solve?

      (They can't).
  • Fred Barrett on August 12, 2011 at 7:41 PM
    Aluminus; There is no question in my mind that you are totally uninformed. That is what is scary in our society today. Atheism is in fact a religion whether you would admit that or not. You are pumping out untruths about the LDS Church and that in itself would cause one to question your foolish comment.
    I have been before where you are now, and the only word I can use to describe that condition is ignorance a word not to be confused with stupid or stupidity. I am sure you are stupid but I do perceive that you are trying to be cute and funny.
    Our nation is in such bad shape financially and otherwise that we need a man of integrity and if you would inform yourself you would discover for yourself that Mr Romney is a man of integrity. The public records bear that out. Please I beg of you inform yourself for the benefit of our freedom and the stability of our once greater nation. No offense intended here but this is a government of of the people, for the people, and by the people that is rapidly moving toward a progressive socialist government which will control the people rather than the people controlling their government.
    • Alumnus on August 13, 2011 at 1:26 AM
      "No question in your mind," sure, but I wouldn't put much store by that as in your mind there's also no question that there exists some all-powerful invisible man who judges us after we die, despite the complete lack of any observable evidence for such a preposterous claim. Russel's teapot, anyone?

      I do love how you're trying to work the "socialism" angle into your response though. Keep regurgitating what Faux News tells you to think, bud - I'm sure it'll really help you to be taken seriously.

      Hint: Obama isn't a socialist, he's a right-leaning centrist. The government now (and, indeed, the Republican party itself) is more conservative than it has been for the entire history of our nation. Don't worry yourself with historical facts, though; oh no, we're certainly drawing closer to a totalitarian communist state every day!
    • I Would I like Your Reasons, Please on August 17, 2011 at 11:43 PM
      That was just hypocritical AND arrogant. One combination that certainly leads nowhere.

      I disliked your second paragraph. Not only is it pointless to even try insulting someone else here, but it also weakens your own arguments. Your excessive focus on retorts to the Alumnus makes it hard for other to agree with you.

      Fred, you don't present any solid logical facts, but string together a cacophony of weak accusations. Not only that but your ending statement just derails your entire argument...

      Overall, I give your rhetorical approach a 2/10. Maybe even less since you basically threw out logical arguments in favor of severe logical fallacies like ad homonym and ad populum....such a shame

  • Captain Hindsight on August 14, 2011 at 9:10 PM
    Let this be a lesson: never write an article mixing both religion and politics. You will always be viewed as wrong.

    Also, it brings out the crazies. Just sayin'
    • Freshman on August 23, 2011 at 4:41 PM
      I agree completely. They're two of the most polarizing topics and there are such extremists in both that anything with religion AND politics will most certainly "bring out the crazies."
      Just one thing to add though: "???," "Murdock," and others have a point in that Mormonism IS Christianity. And "Roman Catholic, Quaker, Methodist, Episcopalian" are all denominations of the same religion.
  • ??? on August 15, 2011 at 1:58 AM
    "whether Mormon or Christian"

    you are aware, I presume, that Mormons are Christians?

    I assume somebody stating they would not vote for somebody because they are Muslim would be accepted with the same type of pragmatic arguments? or would they be dismissed as a backward racist?
  • RightisRight on August 15, 2011 at 10:06 AM
    Let's just be honest, if the poll question was "are you willing to vote for a mormon to be president" and it was asked in June of 2011, then the question is literally "will you vote for Mitt Romney to be president?" Seriously, who else is the question asking about. If 1 in 5 won't vote for Mitt, it looks like he's got the Presidency wrapped up with 80% of the popular vote.
  • Grant on August 28, 2011 at 7:14 PM
    I think it's sad when people cannot have real dialgoue and instead choose to try and hurt or cause doubts to other individuals beliefes. Before you state your opinion you should look at both sides the good and the bad and then be the judge. Anybody who says "Mormons are follish" should look at the history and what they went through for there beliefes. I served a mission for two years. Why on earth would I have gone for two years to teach what I beleive to be true if it was'nt? I had to give up everything I had but yet I gained so much. Before somebody makes conclusions on what Mormons believe, why dont you ask them personnally, I am sure you will be inspired.
    • Alumnus on August 29, 2011 at 7:41 PM
      What does "what they went through for their beliefs" have anything to do with validity of those beliefs?

      I have no doubt that there are a vast number of people who have fooled themselves into actually believing that nonsense, but no amount of faith, no matter how convincing, can change the fact that it is, indeed, nonsense. Indeed, I'd say most organized religions are nonsense, but Mormonism in a notably more obvious way than most others.

      So, to answer your question:
      "Why on earth would I have gone for two years to teach what I beleive to be true if it was'nt?"

      The answer is overwhelmingly simple - because you *believe* it to be true. There are also people who devote their lives to trying to convince us that the earth is 6000 years old; are we to assume that is true, as well, simply because people believe it?

      The thing about "truth" is that you must establish it through physical evidence - belief alone is meaningless.
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