“Wise Mormon vs. Foolish Christian”
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“Wise Mormon vs. Foolish Christian”

November 14, 2007 @ 8 Comments

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Mitt Romney“I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian,” so goes the saying wrongly attributed to Martin Luther, 1 a saying that’s not too far removed from the present presidential pursuit of Republican Mitt Romney, a Mormon. Would Romney be a wise “Turk,” a ruler wiser than the other “Christian” candidates?

A number of evangelical leaders have recently endorsed Romney’s candidacy, but there are also many who say they won’t vote for a Mormon because his religion is a cult. Richard Land, a prominent Southern Baptist official, says that he needs to assure evangelicals that his Mormon religion would not dictate his administration’s policies if he wants their support. National Review says that he needs to refocus voters away from his religion with a major policy speech just as John Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, did in 1960.

Should my vote then as an evangelical be based on a candidate’s view, for instance, of the hypostatic union or justification? Jordan J. Ballor of The Acton Institute, in a well-balanced analysis of this issue, says no, and concludes that “evangelicals would do well…. to judg[e] all political candidates not firstly on their religious creed but on the soundness of their view of the role of civil government.” Still, Joel Belz of World Magazine says he’s not persuaded that Romney would tell the truth because his “religious upbringing, of all things, suggests that the truth is a negotiable commodity.”

Ballor contends that the criteria for choosing a president should not be his religious beliefs, but rather his loyalty to the rule of law according to the American Constitution, such that he would not “threaten to undermine or destroy the proper exercise of [American] government.” Thus, a Communist, a neo-Nazi, or a Muslim would not qualify as president because the fundamental tenets of these three candidates are contrary to the Declaration of Independence’s “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and to the Constitutional guarantee of the freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. But would a Mormon be disqualified as well using this criteria?

suleyman_i.jpgRepublicans have less than three months to decide whether to make Romney their nominee. Should they do, the rest of the nation has about a year to ponder the question of who would be a better civil magistrate: “a wise Mormon” or “a foolish Christian”? (No, I’m not implying at all that the Democratic nominee would be “a foolish Christian”!)

Would the religion of a president have any bearing on his policies? If so, can you think of specific examples of religious doctrine that would affect a president’s government policy?

Notes:

  1. Contrary to this misinformation, Luther was very concerned about Islamic rule, “I would very much regret the rule of the Turk; indeed, his rule would be intolerable in Germany” (Luther’s Works, vol. 46, p.| 198).
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Nollie says:

I agree that one cannot separate his religious views from his other views in life.

However, I also believe that the U.S. has very strong constitutional safeguards (checks and balances) against abuse by any of its government’s branches, one of them in the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This is evidenced by the fact that however religiously conservative a president is, it’s still extremely hard for him to push his conservative agenda through.

As well, a U.S. president is constantly under close scrutiny, and I believe that the first priority of someone who becomes president is to uphold the Constitution. For if he doesn’t, there is ample mechanism for the people to remove him from office.

No, I’m not equating a Muslim and a Mormon in terms of religious beliefs. The quote about a "wise Turk" is to illustrate that a presidential candidate who pledges to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States should be considered a viable candidate in view of his other qualifications and views, and in spite of his religious beliefs.

Again, this is NOT an endorsement of Romney or any other candidate. But soon, we have to make our own choices.

Irma Crow says:

Well, at least America will be blessed if Mitt Romney becomes the president. His belief that the garden of Eden is not in the Middle East but here in the State of Missouri will be official. We will then be closer to heaven than any other country in the world.

Seriously, I have already watched several of the Republican’s and Democrat’s debates these past weeks, and although I am a Republican (my husband too), I have not decided yet who to vote for this coming election.

One thing I’m sure of is, I don’t want a woman president for the U.S. because we call this country the Fatherland. In the Philippines, it is OK to have a madam president because we call it the Motherland. OK ba?

Bot says:

There is no religion which reveres the U.S. Constitution more than the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS). I believe Mitt Romney would do a better job of upholding the U.S. Constitution than any other candidate. He believes it to be divinely inspired.

Nollie says:

One of my professors at Westminster Seminary, Dr. David VanDrunen, was the 2004 recipient of Acton Institute’s Novak Award, an award given annually to an outstanding young scholar who demonstrates “theology’s connection to human dignity, the importance of the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and economic freedom.” If I had known that Sirico was in the Philippines, I would have come to one of his lectures.

The answer to your question is, unfortunately, yes, as I think about Kennedy being a Roman Catholic, a church that most American evangelicals don’t see as a cult. On the other hand, I don’t know of any Mormon who ran for U.S. president other than Romney (excluding “nuisance” candidates).

Albert says:

Kuya Nollie,

Last week, I had the opportunity of listening to a lecture given by Robert Sirico, a Roman Catholic priest and the founder of the Acton Institute. He was in the country and delivered lectures in different places in the Metro. I could say that he is an extremely brilliant man. Now your quote from the blog entry of a person from the Institute gave me the impression that conservative evangelicals in America view Roman Catholic political candidates differently from Mormon ones? Is this really the case? Thanks. :D

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