Thursday, December 06, 2007

Incoherent Gov. Romney:

From Romney, my second least favorite candidate (behind Edwards):

"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.",2933,315486,00.html

This is just incoherent. The "very religious test" the founders prohibited in the constitution is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Asking a candidate to discuss how his religious beliefs might affect his execution of his constitutional duties as president does not violate the first amendment, Gov. Romney.

Also, this quote just affirms for me what I think of Romney: 1) he's not being forthcoming, that is he doesn't want to answer questions about his faith because he knows it will hurts his candidacy if he told the truth or 2) he's not very thoughtful and doesn't understand these issues very well. Both of these personality traits disqualify him for me. We've had enough of that weak sauce for the past eight years.

In the words of my favorite political figure, Bradley Whitford: "He's a hairdo!"


Jeff said...

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" - Article VI, Section 3. That's what Romney's referring to. Interestingly, it's the only time religion was mentioned, or even alluded to, in the original Constitution.

Also interestingly, many state Constitutions were (and still are) in flagrant violation of this requirement - they often required a belief in God to serve.

The point Rom-Rom was trying to make was this: a candidate's religion should be important only insomuch as it affects the values a candidate uses to make decisions. Furthermore, the values that the CJCLDS teaches are pretty much the same as most religions practiced in America. And that's something I agree with wholeheartedly. I have no tolerance for anyone who would withhold their vote from an otherwise agreeable candidate because of theological differences.

kenny said...

Jeff, thanks for the clarification on Art. VI, Section 3.

Nevertheless, a candidate being asked to explain his religious beliefs is not the same as there being a law saying something like "only WASPs may serve as President," and it appears to me that Romney is simply trying to insulate himself against having to answer questions about who he really is. People's decisions flow out from their core beliefs, and so people have a right to know what those core beliefs are--you don't get a free pass because it's your personal faith. So let him explain how his beliefs as they relate to how he'd be president are acceptable or desirable to voters.

Jeff said...

Yes, but do his beliefs that Jesus was resurrected and hung out in America for a while, and that the Garden of Eden is somewhere in Missouri, and that people can be baptized after death, etc. really matter? What matter are the policy stances he takes, whatever influence his faith has on them. And if you happen to agree with a candidate's policy stances, how do the arcane metaphysical issues that separate any of the world's religions really make a difference?

Kenny said...

Maybe they do; maybe they don't. But I'm not just going to take take his word for it, which is what he's wanted us to do.

This accompanied by his reputation for standing for little but getting himself elected + some evidence of such things, like switching sides on abortion, makes me not trust a candidate who says "I don't want to tell you about what I believe."

Further, the irony is that he's trying to get people to vote for him because he's religious. He wants--needs--the religious right. So he wants credit for being religious, but doesn't want to have to explain any of his religion? Just seems like more expediency.

Jeff said...

I notice you read the Post's "On Faith" section online too.

I agree that it's fair to ask how a candidate's religion - or lack thereof - would affect their decisions. But what's relevant is how a candidate's religion affects their values, not the theological specifics. Two Mormons could believe the same things but have wildly different values, even if both claim to get these values from the same place. (Ask Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch.)

That having been said, you're right to say that Romney's running as the "religious candidate" opens him up to theological critiques. I just don't understand why the theological squibbles between denominations/religions is more relevant than the differences in values, since the latter is not related to the candidate's views on arcane points of theology anyway.

Jeff said...'s worth noting that right after I finished typing that last comment, the radio at the coffee shop I'm at began playing George Michael's "Faith." You can't make this stuff up.

Kenny said...

I agree with you, Jeff, that what's important is the candidate's values (although I think there's at most a fuzzy line between 'values' and 'beliefs') if by that you mean 'what kind of things he'll value and act on as president.' What's important to me and a lot of Evangelicals I know is not whether Romney's Mormon doctrine and Evangelical doctrine are harmonious because we know they are not. What we want to know is how Romney's Mormonism would affect his presidency.

To some extent, I think he effectively addressed this in yesterday's speech when he said Mormon church officials wouldn't be telling him how to act as president, and that as president he would represent all Americans, not just Mormons.

At the same time I think he doesn't quite understand what Evangelicals want from him, particularly when he tries to find common ground by saying "I believe Jesus is the Son of God, savior of mankind." Every Evangelical knows that the Mormon conception of Jesus is totally different than the Evangelical conception. So when he tries to curry favor with Evangelicals by citing this, I see dissimulation.

And it's this dissimulation, not his Mormonism, that's a problem for me. So it's not the doctrinal points that I'm interested in per se as I consider him as a candidate, but how he handles them, which tells me about what kind of guy he is. At the same the question of 'how will your faith affect your presidency?' is a relevant question because, as I've said on your blog, we've seen that a president's religion can very much affect his presidency.