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It's an interesting article. And if you go to the original NY Times website, you can listen to a 5 minute interview of the reporter and Romney chatting as they drive around South Carolina.

I liked how Romney uses the religious prohibition of not taking the Lord's name in vain as an example of behavior he himself finds morally suspect but that he wouldn't try to regulate/prohibit as president.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/08/us/politics/08romney.html?em&ex=1171170000&en=f61b38675d7ba198&ei=5087%0A

It's an uphill battle for Romney but, in my opinion, he has a better chance than many people believe. He is smarter than most of his distractors realize. Unlike most of his rivals, not only has Romney been a governor but he also lost a campaign. That's an asset because losing a campaign teaches you a lot more than winning and running as an incumbent.

Romney's operation is first class. On the other hand, unless current trends are reversed 2008 is probably not the year for Republicans. I was also genuinely surprised at how many people were willing to declare on the NYTimes comment section that they will not vote for a Mormon.

In the past, Romney has demonstrated that he will not tow the orthodox line. Lately, however, I found his pandering to the religious right over abortion and gay rights disappointing. One should blame that on Romney's opportunism rather than his religion. He has been a Mormon all his life while his socially conservtive views only emerged during the last three years.

It's a long time until the elections but if current conditions persist then it seems to me that Romney's move to the right all but dooms his chance to win. Any Republican candidate will have to persuade a majority of independents, many of whom have become increasingly alarmed about the machinations of the religious right.

Of course, Romney will move to the center for the general election but that will increase his credibility problem even more, especially as we are living in an environment where one cannot control the message any longer.

I think it's interesting that the idea that members would vote for him just for the sake of voting for a Mormon isn't more openly debated and talked about. His record could be seen as objectionable in some ways by many "Hard Core Right Wing Members".

I think he's a great pick for the candidacy though and hope he can clear the hurdles in front of him. The idea that any of his Temple Oaths or Covenants would cause him to do anything un-American or objectionable is rediculous. I hope the rest of America can see it that way.

Why is that ridiculous, Simeon? Are you saying that Romney is not taking his temple covenants seriously? Or do you mean that Mormonism is a moderate mainstream religion?

It's easy to say that something is ridiculous but that's not really an argument.

Hellmut, I guess both. There's no doubt in my mind that Mormonism is moving towards being a mainstream religion. At least that's the way it is viewed much of the time and the image it would like to portray. As far as Romney's covenants, I'm just saying that he hasn't covenanted to do anything that would directly conflict with the presidency. There is no longer any Oath of Vengeance, and the Blood Oaths simply state that he'll die before he tells.

I suppose someone could make the arguement that if for some reason the church decided to take over the world he would be a dangerous ally as President, but I think that's a stretch. Nothing in the last 100 years or so gives any indication that the church is out for world domination. That's what I meant when I said it would be redicuous to think that.

Disbelief in the divinity of the church doesn't automatically mean it has evil intentions. Are we affraid that the church will use him as a pawn to convert the world through military action? What exactly should people be affraid of? Do tell.

I agree with you, Simeon, that world domination phantasies are ridiculous. That doesn't mean that there aren't more realistic and relevant concerns about the obedience obligation.

As I said before, I am not that worried about Romney because he has a track record of deviating from LDS policy. Mainstreaming is not necessarily an indication of virtue. It was mainstream to intern Japanese Americans, for example. It's mainstream to bash gays. It was mainstream to pay women less than men. Jim Crow was mainstream.

I guess mainstreaming is not enough to put my mind at ease. Liberal democracy is about majority rule under the constraint of minority rights. The problem is that the track record of the Mormon leadership is especially poor when it comes to respecting the rights of minorities. On the contrary, we defended Jim Crow on theological grounds until 1978 and apostles continued to preach against interracial marriage as late as 1994/95.

If Romney was constrained by the temple rites, then I would be concerned that he would use the presidency to discriminate against homosexuals. One could also be reasonably concerned that an orthodox Mormon president would use the office to constrain freedom of speech because that's a living practice of Mormon leaders.

There are any number of ways that an orthodox president can bolster the dominating aspects of the Mormon experience. Therefore, it is reasonable to be concerned about the obligations of Mormon politicians to their ecclesiastical leaders.

In the case of Romney, I am only concerned that he will use the presidency to discriminate against homosexuals because he is pandering to the religious right. His past demonstrates that the constraint of the temple covenant is limited. Harry Reid has demonstrated his independence even more conclusively. So did the Udalls.

It would be bigotted to oppose any Mormon categorically. It is entirely reasonable, however, to ask how Mormon candidates relate to the obedience obligation.

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