May 29, 2012

"Will a Mormon president treat constitutional clauses as divine injunctions?"

"If so, what grounds will we non-Mormons have for interpreting with secular arguments what is presented as God’s will? For that matter, what right will the Supreme Court have to treat the document as anything less than a divinely inspired covenant? Does the First Amendment actually separate church and state, or does that not count, since it is merely an amendment, not the original word of God? But why, then, did a mere amendment change the first inspiration that made slaves less than full persons?"

Garry Wills, he's not anti-Mormon. He just has questions. A lot of questions. Can't blame a man for asking questions, can you? I'd say you can. This is an effort to smear Romney with some really silly insinuations. Why would the fact that the President is a Mormon — even assuming Wills states the belief correctly and Romney himself holds that belief — affect what the Constitution means, what non-Mormons will be able to think about what it means, and how the Supreme Court would interpret it?

In any case, isn't the belief that the framers of the Constitution were divinely inspired fairly common? Where does it get you... other than to profound reverence and dedication? What's wrong with that? The President is supposed to be dedicated to the Constitution. The original Constitution is structured around the existing institution of slavery, but what's the point of bringing that up? Wills is asking questions, not making arguments, which let's him be very slippery. He knows that the part of the Constitution that liberals care about is all in the amendments, and perhaps he'd like to separate the good part of the Constitution — the amendments — from the bad part — the part with slavery... and all the structural safeguards that conservatives would like to see enforced.

104 comments:

chickelit said...

Harrumph des Willens

Scott M said...

Couldn't these questions also be asked of a Christian? Doesn't the bible basically say (Romans 13, I think) that the authorities placed over you are there because God put them there?

I'm paraphrasing, of course.

gerry said...

Our resident liberal asked loudly one day of me (so that all others might hear it and my response), "What do you think of a president who believes that in the afterlife he will be the master of his very own planet?"

I responded, "I don't care. I'm tolerant of others' religious beliefs, even if they attended a church where the minister proclaimed "GODDAMN AMERICA!"

Paul said...

Come on Wills... Kennedy was Catholic. Remember, "no Popery" and how they worried about Kennedy obeying the pope instead of the Constitution?

Well I'd perfer a Mormon (I'm Catholic) over a 'God Damn America' president any day.

Matthew Sablan said...

Assume that Wills is right (I'm going to tentatively say he is not). The Constitution has a built in amendment process, so there is no reason to assume that anyone who thinks the document is divine would not say: "But, none of the amendments produced via this divine instrument are equally valid."

Also "since recognized black rights" is pretty awkward to say about a church that was allowing blacks to minister before the Civil War. It's like he doesn't understand the complicated nature of the faith and relied on the interpretation of a college student who couldn't answer his questions, and instead of figuring it out, Wills decided to shoot off his mouth.

Wills never even says: "Then I looked it up and confirmed this crazy belief is true."

This is lazy. No wonder I've never heard of him before.

LYNNDH said...

Wasn't this debate put to rest with JFK? Dems with short memories
and no brains.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

"The original Constitution is structured around the … institution of slavery"?

machine said...

Can Man amend the word of God?

Tom Spaulding said...

Harry Reid will be glad to answer all of those questions, as soon as he passes his Mormon Budget, to go along with his Mormon ReidCare health bill.

I Callahan said...

I foresee a comment by Crack Emcee.

Pete said...

Matthew Sablan,

Wills is a Catholic, hate-America first liberal. He wrote a book about John Wayne's America that had some good parts in it but was ultimately poisoned by his America hatred. No one listens to Wills because nothing he says is important.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Man, it's like it's 1960 all over again.

Simon said...

Garry Wills wrote a book called "Why I Am Still A Catholic"; these days, he displays the same level of self-knowledge by swimming laps around his pool while angrily insisting that he is still not wet. One can't put much stock in his acuity.

edutcher said...

The issue is less what he thinks than what his SCOTUS appointees (as many as 4, possibly) think.

Scott M said...

Couldn't these questions also be asked of a Christian?

Or a Jew?

Or a Hindu?

Or a (cough) Moslem?

Simon said...

machine said...
"Can Man amend the word of God?"

Sure. Open any Bible, and check for an imprimatur. If it doesn't have one, compare the table of contents with that of one that does have an imprimatur. Apparently man can delete whole books if he has big enough cajones and followers who don't ask too many questions.

karrde said...

Re-write the article, but write Evangelical Christian everywhere the word Mormon appears.

Does the article make any more sense?

Try it with Catholic in the place of Mormon.

Then try it with whatever combinations of words covers Attended Church under Jeremiah Wright, in place of Mormon.

Does the original question make any more sense when asked this way? If not, why not?

EDH said...

Gary Wills,

"You've got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls."

Carol said...

Wait, what? "Divinely inspired" - ? I never heard that one.

Seriously, who has said this?

Pettifogger said...

I'm not saying what is so, but I have questions. Given Ann's rebuttal and the rebuttals of the other commenters, I wonder if Wills raises his questions not because he really wonders about them, but because he is a partisan hack. I'm just raising questions, you know?

traditionalguy said...

Becoming "entangled in Mormonism" seems very scary, and you know that Mormonism is super weird and Romney seems weird too when you hold your mouth just right...Oops, that was only a question.

Since Constantine was converted in 315 AD, the Christian Church became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

The Christians never opposed the Government before that, but they opted out of Emperor Worship which made them tolerated traitors, and sometimes human torches on feast days.

Then the Calvinists and Luther rebelled against the Pope's version of the World Court that could make and break Kings.

The Calvinists then threw away the authority of all Governments unless they ran it themselves by a vote, hung any blasphemers, and out of stubborness gave up Charles I to Cromwell's Army for beheading.

Then everyone really wished the Anglican Charles II would come back and let life resume.They had such an orgasam of joy that they and named Charles Town SC after him.

But he soon died leaving a Catholic heir, which the Glorious Revolution replaced with his Protestand daughter Mary and her husband William of Hanover ( a German). They founded William and Mary College in Williamsburg.

And the citizens of Williamsburg Va. later saw common sense in getting rid of the German King George who was letting Parliament arrange to rule over North America for their private profit as if it was their conquest in the French and Indian War rather than English citizens organized as colonies overseas for 150 years.

All went well after that until Obama I declared his Imperium.

CatherineM said...

If he were a Muslim, would he be questioning the possibility of Sharia being imposed, or would he call out anyone who suggested such a thing?

Simon said...

edutcher said...
"The issue is less what he thinks than what his SCOTUS appointees … think."

Yep. Preach it! I don't care about Romney; I care about who gets appointed to the court, because if the wrong people get sent up there, it doesn't matter what Romney thinks, or any of us think. Legislatores nos regunt, sed curiae legislatores regunt.

BarryD said...

So wait.... Am I supposed to be AGAINST a President who treats the Constitution as divine injunction? Because I'm really not seeing it.

If that's what a Mormon President would do, then let's get ourselves one, and right now!

Ann Althouse said...

""The original Constitution is structured around the … institution of slavery"?"

I only mean to say that the Constitution dealt with the existing conditions and didn't resolve the problem, but worked around it in a few ways, the most notorious one being what Wills referred to fairly deceptively, which was the 3/5 solution, determining how slaves would be counted in allocating representatives by population.

I'm sorry if my word choice made it seem as though I meant to say that the whole constitutional scheme is built on slavery.

Larry J said...

LYNNDH said...
Wasn't this debate put to rest with JFK? Dems with short memories
and no brains.


It's not necessarily that the Dems have short memories, they just have different standards when it comes to themselves verses Republicans. Why? SHUT UP! [/sarc]

EMD said...

Tom Spaulding and Paul Zrimsek possess very accomplished wit. They also possess MadMen Yourself avatars.

Coincidence?

RKearns said...

I'm sure that our MSM will ask the same about other Mormons who happened to be successful in their choice of careers. "Will a Mormon quarterback (Steve Young) treat the playbook as divine injunctions?" "Will a Mormon general manager (Danny Ainge) treat the Boston Celtics as divine injunctions?"

Mormons are normal people. Some of use even read Ann Althouse, for Pete's sake!

Seven Machos said...

Can Man amend the word of God?

Read the Pentateuch. Note the same law twice and three times. Is it the same law?

AJ Lynch said...

Garry Wills is still around! I thought he croaked long ago.

damikesc said...

Harry Reid will be glad to answer all of those questions, as soon as he passes his Mormon Budget, to go along with his Mormon ReidCare health bill.

Difference is nobody thinks Democrats are actually genuine with their beliefs.

You'd think it'd offend SOME of them...but it doesn't appear to.

David said...

That the constitution is divinely inspired is a useful heuristic to stop people from monkeying around with it too much (just like the amendment process itself).

n.n said...

An individual's faith (or perception of reality) will influence their outlook and decision process. However, this is true whether you are Mormon, Catholic, Muslim, or atheist. This is not an interesting or significant insight. We have no ability to infer intention other than through action. In the meantime, Utah is notable for its exceptionally sound economy, despite a large and progressive influx of both migrants and illegal aliens, the liberal ideas they tend to field, and over 60% of the land controlled by the federal government.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saint Croix said...

I would think slavery would be exhibit A in the case that the Constitution was not divinely inspired.

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." Jefferson.

Of course God works in mysterious ways. And I do think it's entirely possible that God was helping Jefferson along as he wrote the Declaration. There are some self-evident truths in that document that led to the abolitionist movement.

Michael Haz said...

Garry Wills? The Garry Wills who was convinced George HW Bush took a secret trip in a jet fighter just before the election? That discredited doofus?

Garry Wills? The arrogant nitwit who wrote a buok called What Jesus Meant without so much as securing an interview?

Ignore him and his machinacions about Mitt Romney.

Fen said...

I just stepped in to hear Rev Crack preach to us about cults. Did I miss it?

n.n said...

The First Amendment does not establish a separation of church and state. It only serves to bind Congress from establishing a national religion and preventing their interference to practice religion.

As for divinely inspired or motivated, that is a given, both in the establishment document: "Nature's God... endowed by their Creator", and the organizational document: "Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States ... in the Year of our Lord ".

America is only secular to the degree that is founded on classical liberal ideas which are tempered by Judeo-Christian principles. It is assumed that citizens are capable of self-moderating behavior in order for them to enjoy optimal liberty.

Fen said...

Maybe someone here can call me stupud, just to move things along for Rev Crack until he arrives?

"Fen, you ignorant slut"

Mkay. Better.

Seven Machos said...

Fen -- I agree. Crack's schtick is getting old. One very interesting thing I note here is that a lot of leading Biblical scholars will refer to the priestly writers of the Old Testament in shorthand as "the cult." Assuredly, that's what it was.

The fact of the world is that the world needs cults, just as it needs heroes. Nihilism and existentialism are the defaults of all serious thought. We absolutely must have big, meaningful ideas if we are to have any civilization. Cults bring us those ideas.

Are the ideas true? It doesn't much matter. The trick isn't getting rid of cults, but ensuring that the cults produce beneficial results.

n.n said...

Saint Croix:

Slavery persisted due to an original compromise... among men. There is no reasonable argument to be made for ending it at the time of America's establishment or organization. Not before opposing interests were capable of marshaling sufficient forces and resources to confront those who would choose to preserve it.

As for God's role, presumably it was to help those who helped themselves. Whether it was God or nature's order, certain outcomes are predictable, and human consciousness, both individual and cooperative, has finite influence upon it.

Seven Machos said...

The First Amendment does not establish a separation of church and state. It only serves to bind Congress from establishing a national religion and preventing their interference to practice religion.

You have to read the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment together. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States...

If Delaware were to go Unitarian, as it could under your interpretation, you'd have a pretty clear violation of the 14th Amendment.

n.n said...

Seven Machos:

Exactly. It is most meaningful to judge any faith or philosophy by the principles it engenders. There is often, however, a need to share a faith in order to accept its principles. This is why America is such an exceptional experiment. Its principles engendered by the Judeo-Christian faith are especially tolerant of non-believers and wholly compatible with both the natural order and individual dignity which it embraces as an underlying tenet.

Fen said...

I would think slavery would be exhibit A in the case that the Constitution was not divinely inspired.

Nah. Religion is man's interpretation of God, and men are imperfect creatures.

The Constitution was based on Judeo-Christian law. And then it EVOLVED as our culture did. Originally just for the merchant class, then for all white men, then to include all black men, then women.

To complain about it not being all-encompassing back then is like complaining that it doesn't include Animal Rights now. Baby steps. The concept is silly to most now, but in x number of decades, our culture will have EVOLVED enough to require another ammemdment protecting the liberty of animals.

And the well-spring of all this Liberty gradually extended to all? A Constitution grounded in judeo-christian law.

I dare someone to do better.

Quayle said...

All this fuss, and they still won't look at the canonized Mormon scripture.

(Pr they looked and it didn't support their smear so they're ignoring it.)

I cite from section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the writings and claimed revelations of Joseph Smith, and a fully canonized book in the Mormon body of scripture (along with the Bible, and Book of Mormon):

1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

...

[then skipping down]

9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

Fen said...

Seven: One very interesting thing I note here is that a lot of leading Biblical scholars will refer to the priestly writers of the Old Testament in shorthand as "the cult." Assuredly, that's what it was.

Good points. In my more cynical moments, I sometimes wonder if Christianity was just a play to usurp religious power from the Jews for Rome.

The Catholic church sure made out well. Hell, they're still a player on the world stage today.

n.n said...

Seven Machos:

That is only partially correct. The Fourteenth Amendment would still not restrict the establishment of a state religion, but it would preserve the right of individuals to practice their religion. In any case, I only remarked on the First Amendment and a common misconception that it establishes a "separation of church and state." It does not.

Seven Machos said...

I sometimes wonder if Christianity was just a play to usurp religious power from the Jews for Rome

The Christian church was a tiny sect for 300 years. It's unlikely that anyone thought that far ahead.

It seems more likely to me that, if Jesus was not, in fact, the Son of God, then the religion was a Hellenization of Judaism, and a philosophical break from some of its tenets. The Hellenization seems especially important to me. Greco-Roman literature is filled with half-man/half-god figures who died tragic deaths.

chickelit said...

The Hellenization of religion is especially important to Titus.

Seven Machos said...

n.n. -- It's hard to argue that the very act of establishing a religion does not in itself restrict other religions.

I like your sentiment. I agree with your interpretation of the First Amendment. But I don't think it's compatible with the Fourteenth. I add that the 14th Amendment is terribly ambiguous and it needs tweaking and narrowing, written as it was at an emotional and weird time in our history.

roesch/voltaire said...

The comments are interesting, and the questions and even Mormons ask these questions are they smearing Mitt?: "Mr. Wills,
I think your article is an interesting one, and the subject you raise, in fact, is debated among Mormons themselves. I am a retired attorney and law professor and have had this discussion with many fellow Mormons over time. For example, when some of my Mormon (or non-Mormon) friends say they are strict constitutionalists, I usually reply by asking them which one--the original one, or the one after all the amendments. This includes, of course, the question of whether the Constitution was improved by adding the Bill of Rights and the Thirteenth Amendment on slavery. Because you have different Mormons with different views on the proper interpretation of the Constitution, you have many Mormons who are Democrats (Harry Reid, for example) and many who are Republicans (Mitt Romney). For your information, and to be exact, Mormons accept as scriptures revelations given by Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith and collected in a book called the Doctrine & Covenants.

starboardhelm said...

Good Lord. Another Romney / Kennedy Clan parallel (minus the cronyism, nepotism, boozing, whoring, rapes and murders). Wasn't it a concern back when Humpin' Jack Flash was running for office that the Pope would have too much influence on his policy? Catholics r baaad, Mormons r worser?

Simon said...

Althouse said...
"I'm sorry if my word choice made it seem as though I meant to say that the whole constitutional scheme is built on slavery."

Heh. Well, I thought it was odd wording. I thought "oh no, she's turned into a Crit!"

Fen said...
"The Catholic church sure made out well. Hell, they're still a player on the world stage today."

The gates of hell shall not prevail against her. There's a story I've heard from, IIRC, Fr. Robert Barron. So Barron notices that in the video where Pope Benedict greets the crowds after his election, Francis Card. George is standing off to one side of the loggia with this odd expression on his face, and Barron asks him what he was thinking. And George replies that he was just thinking that when Cæsar put St. Peter to death at the bottom of the monolith a bowshot away, none was mightier than Cæsar, and few were more powerless than a fisherman from Judea who preached an incredible story of a carpenter from Judea who had met the same fate a couple of decades sooner. Yet today, where can you go to see the successor of Cæsar? Where can you find the Roman Empire that he governed? Cæsar is dust; his line is extinct; his empire is ashes. Yet the successor of Peter is standing ten feet from me; you can find the Church that Peter governed and which he governs today through his 264th successor on behalf of that carpenter. I really like that image. The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone of a supernaturally mighty edifice!

Richard Dolan said...

"In any case, isn't the belief that the framers of the Constitution were divinely inspired fairly common?"

I've never heard that suggested seriously before, and doubt very much that, as beliefs about the law and its sources go, it is "fairly common." Whether it is a common view among Mormons, I have no idea and see no reason to care. Assuming it was divinely inspired, nothing about how it should be interpreted changes. It's still a text-bound exercise.

Saint Croix said...

The Constitution was based on Judeo-Christian law. And then it EVOLVED as our culture did. Originally just for the merchant class, then for all white men, then to include all black men, then women.

So if this was a poll I guess you'd say God works through evolution.

I'm not sure I agree with the evolutionary thesis, at least in regard to morality. We do seem to have acquired more knowledge over the centuries. Theoretically this should make us better. And yet we are still filled with ego, hubris, pride, arrogance, deceit, violence. Name the sin, we still have it. We got rid of slavery and brought back infanticide.

Sometimes I think it's a wash.

Hagar said...

Richard Nixon - the mad bomber of Cambodia - was a Quaker.

Bob Ellison said...

"For example, when some of my Mormon (or non-Mormon) friends say they are strict constitutionalists, I usually reply by asking them which one--the original one, or the one after all the amendments."

Don't get stuck on stupid.

Seven Machos said...

Bob -- Agreed that Roesch makes a terrible argument there. Just embarrassing.

ZZMike said...

Where was everybody while Harry Reid was Majority Leader?

Maybe it is as one of you suggested, that Democrat Mormons are good, while Republican Mormons are bad.

Just as rich Democrats (of which there is no end) are good, while rich Republicans are bad.

We can simplify that belief by eliminating variables:

Democrats are good; Republicans bad.

Pogo said...

Garry Wills is a Screwtape among Catholics.

Saint Croix said...

I'm still thinking about God and evolution.

When we talk about progress or evolution, I suspect we are talking about our lives getting easier and easier, due to technology and increased knowledge. But I would think this would make us less moral, not more. It would make us less righteous. It would take us away from God.

The Framers were more religious because their lives were harder. People who suffer look to God. People whose lives are easy don't need God. We forget about God.

An easy life makes you soft, weak, shallow, and selfish. It corrupts you.

Doing the right thing is hard. It costs you.

That's why I applaud single moms. Even if they have no idea how hard it's going to be, they're doing the right thing.

The American revolution was hard. The suffering was incredible. The odds were next to impossible.

So maybe it was divinely inspired.

But today, with our easy lives, I don't know. We push buttons and our enemies disappear. The ease of that, our lack of suffering over it, all of this disquiets me. It's like going to a doctor's office, take a little nap, and when you wake up your pregnancy is gone. My concern is that technological advancement has made our selfish desires easier and more cost-free to us. And this isn't a beneficial evolution but something closer to the opposite.

Beta Rube said...

Raise these issues the next time Keith Ellison runs for re-election at your own risk.

Michael K said...

""The original Constitution is structured around the … institution of slavery"?"

It was structured to minimize the power of slavery by allowing only 3/5 of a vote for those persons enslaved. That reduced the southern state's power by reducing the population that was used to assign the House of Representatives numbers.

It is widely misunderstood. The 3/5 was the result of a compromise.

Dave said...

"damikesc said... nobody thinks Democrats are actually genuine with their beliefs"

Really? NOBODY? So all those black churches filled with Democrats aren't "genuine?" All those Democrats faithfully attending Shabbat services in their synagogues aren't "genuine?" How about all the Roman Catholic Democrats? Shall I go on?

Is your faith "genuine" enough to retract this demonstrably false statement? After all, there is something about "false witness" in most "genuine" faiths.

poplicola said...

Althouse said,
"I only mean to say that the Constitution dealt with the existing conditions and didn't resolve the problem, but worked around it in a few ways, the most notorious one being what Wills referred to fairly deceptively, which was the 3/5 solution, determining how slaves would be counted in allocating representatives by population. "

The choice was no United States as we know it, and probably either a monarchy or more likely, a colleciton of colonies to be picked off by Britain, France and Spain over the next 20 years or so, or leaving slavery out of the argument to get the support of the slave states for the Constitution.

The 3/5 rule was a means to restrict slavery and reduce the representation in Congress of slaveholding States. Had slaves been counted fully for the purpose of apportionment then Virginia and Georgia, with huge slave populations but low voting populations, would have had more unrepresented strength in Congress than the "free" states. By only fully counting free people, the Constitution gave more power to abolitionists.

Ben G. said...

A brief correction to tradguy above regarding tbe Glorious Revolution - Charles II did indeed die, and his brother the Duke of York ascended as James II a staunch public Catholic. There were concerns about this among the Anglicans and some Dissenter groups causing the Exclusion Crisis - wanting the crown only to go to Anglicans. This controversy was contained by figuring that James and his queen, given their ages and previous kid producing troubles,would not produce a male heir FOR JAMES II, not Charles II. When that male kid did happen(James Francis Stewart aka the Warming Pan Imposter and Young Pretender), the stuff hit the fan. James II's staunchly Anglican daughter Mary (married to William of Orange a Dutch Calvinist not a German)and her husband were offered the crown by a group of concerned English nobles and thus the Glorious Revolution ending with the Battle of the Boyne. The German House of Hanover doesn't come in until after Queen Anne (James II's other Anglican daughter who was married to a German).

traditionalguy said...

Ben G ...Thanks. You must teach History. You cleared up things very well.

Alex Ignatiev said...

Garry Wills is a perfectly fine historian.

He's a shitty constitutional scholar, and highly disingenuous. But he does fit in well with the Kennedy hagiography crowd, so it's surprising he would trot out this sort of religious bigotry.

Henry said...

Oh, Jesus H. Christ, he's basing his whole editorial on the uncertain assertions of an 18-year-old student.

Maybe it's a composite student. Or an imaginary student.

Does anyone notice how these strange anti-Mormon insinuations (our own Crack Emcee revels in them) echo a kind of anecdotal "true Scotsman" fallacy.

I have a Mormon friend who served a mission in Brazil and speaks fluent Portuguese (strangly like Wills stand-in). He's also a huge liberal and Obama supporter.

But he doesn't count. A true Mormon loves haggis.

EB said...

I grew up in the 60-70s deep south. Racial humor was pretty common. But in my teens my sister told me a Jewish joke. I didn't find it funny and was more confused than anything and asked her to explain because there were very jews where we lived and we were heard about the various stereotypes of Jews. She tried for a short while to give me the necessary background before walking off in a huff and I'm sure reminding herself to never take me to a party.

But the point is that my total ignorance in the prejudice against Jews made me immune to those jokes.

It seems like Dems like Wills have a similar problem. Prejudice against Mormons is not fully understood and they need to educate everybody on why they should hate them.

In my life I have worked and been friends with a few Mormons and all have been nothing but kind to me. I'm older though and know more about the Mormon church but still, it will take a lot for me to fear a Mormon President.

Ben G. said...

Tradguy - thanks. I don't comment often, but 17th C Anglo stuff is my current field of study. Unfortunately, my state won't let me teach history although I've been working in the field for over 25 years, as I haven't taken enough college credits in the education field (I dropped them when I realized they were crap as an undergraduate). Hopefully, states will begin to moderate their requirements for public instruction. I would love to do it in a few after I leave my present history career.

Laika's Last Woof said...

Is the Amendment process not just as much a part of the original Constitution as the part about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?
Mr. Wills' thesis is self-contradictory.

Unknown said...

"...let's him be very slippery." Should be "lets", no?

Good post drawing attention to this lazy, slimy attack.

Fen said...

Fen: The Constitution was based on Judeo-Christian law. And then it EVOLVED as our culture did. Originally just for the merchant class, then for all white men, then to include all black men, then women.

Saint Croix: So if this was a poll I guess you'd say God works through evolution.

Perhaps. Frank Herbert says a God would have to allow Free Will just to avoid going insane from boredom :)

The entire Evolution Vs Creation is kind of irrelevant to me. Humans are going to worship *something*, and I'd prefer it be a God in Heaven than a God on Earth. And I'd prefer they worship a God of mercy and forgiveness, given the other choices human civs have made.

I'm with Puddleglum: "suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things like sun, sky, stars, and moon, and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones. And if this black pits of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it's a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow. As for me, I shall live like a Narnian even if there isn't any Narnia."

Hagar said...

It's possible, but not tactful to describe Prince George of Denmark as a German.

Fen said...

Ben thanks for dropping in. Good read.

Fen said...

Unfortunately, my state won't let me teach history although I've been working in the field for over 25 years, as I haven't taken enough college credits in the education field (I dropped them when I realized they were crap as an undergraduate). Hopefully, states will begin to moderate their requirements for public instruction. I would love to do it in a few after I leave my present history career.

You should get your story to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.com - he hammers that point home every few weeks and could use more examples.

Ben G. said...

Hagar - you are correct. I can only plead the troublesome nature of the northern protestant European ruling families from intermarrying - and writing without notes. Although it is interesting that the Act of Settlement precluded some 40 or so English Catholics from rightully (religion excepted) assuming the throne - as ballsy as the original Glorious Revlution really.

Fen said...

The 3/5 rule was a means to restrict slavery and reduce the representation in Congress of slaveholding States. Had slaves been counted fully for the purpose of apportionment then Virginia and Georgia, with huge slave populations but low voting populations, would have had more unrepresented strength in Congress than the "free" states.

I'd really like to see the arguments from then. It seems obvious that slaves shouldn't have a vote because their owner orders their choices. How did we lose that argument? Was our side drunk?

bwebster said...

"I love the Constitution of this land. But I hate the damned rascals that administer the Constitution." -- Brigham Young. Heh.

Henry said...

I'd really like to see the arguments from then. It seems obvious that slaves shouldn't have a vote because their owner orders their choices. How did we lose that argument? Was our side drunk?

Read this.

It's all horsetrading.

Synova said...

Is there someone, for reals, that believes that the Constitution is divinely inspired?

Sounds blasphemous to me. And a clear violation of the Revelations, which state that words *shall not be added* to the book. (Which lets all the "God told me so" "special revelation" people out, too, stupid Robertson!)

Synova said...

"damikesc said... nobody thinks Democrats are actually genuine with their beliefs"

Dave: "Really? NOBODY? So all those black churches filled with Democrats aren't "genuine?" All those Democrats faithfully attending Shabbat services in their synagogues aren't "genuine?" How about all the Roman Catholic Democrats? Shall I go on?

Is your faith "genuine" enough to retract this demonstrably false statement? After all, there is something about "false witness" in most "genuine" faiths.
"

When Republican politicians or voters have "beliefs" they are scary beyond all reason... for the simple reason that we're to assume that those beliefs are real. When Democrats politicians or voters have "beliefs" they are warm and fuzzy and not threatening at all, because we're to assume that those "beliefs" are comfortable social events.

I will hazard to say, however, that the question of black churches is a middle ground of frightening True Believers, but since blacks have little to no influence on the Democratic Party the fact is conveniently ignored.

Beleifs are like Patriotism... icky and frightening fanaticism if held by conservatives.... comfy and non-threatening window dressing if held by liberals.

In reality, I suppose, there are True Believers on the liberal side of things, True Patriots, too. But don't thump the Bible or wave the flag too much around your friends, it's gauche.

Synova said...

My second word verification word looked like Hebrew letters... I'm serious! Good thing it didn't count.

Martin said...

They're REALLY desperate.

JAL said...

@ Synova Sounds blasphemous to me. And a clear violation of the Revelations, which state that words *shall not be added* to the book.

I think that is many evangeliclas problem with Mormons to start with ... adding to the Book by having more {and reputedly *better*} books.

But compared to how Obama views the Constitution ....

That being said, the comments over at the original article are worth looking at. Wills assumed his bright student represented the position of the Mormon hierarchy? (Also ... the mission work is two years, dude. Did your guy flunk Mormon Mission Work 101?)

Bill said...

Synova: "Is there someone, for reals, that believes that the Constitution is divinely inspired?"
"Sounds blasphemous to me. And a clear violation of the Revelations, which state that words *shall not be added* to the book."

Yup.

'What can you expect, they ask, of a sect ... [whose] official newspaper The Deseret News solemnly proclaims on its masthead, "We believe that the Constitution of the United States was Divinely Inspired", but fails to explain why the Almighty changed His mind on the Eighteenth Amendment?'
-- Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire (1968)

The Mormons added a whole 'nother book to scripture, so adding words wasn't an issue.

Joe said...

So, his fear is that a president might take the constitution seriously.

That IS horrible.

JAL said...

@ Paul 2:22 Come on Wills... Kennedy was Catholic. Remember, "no Popery" and how they worried about Kennedy obeying the pope instead of the Constitution?

Maybe Wills isn't old enough to remember that? Apparently not.

Synova said...

"I think that is many evangeliclas problem with Mormons to start with ... adding to the Book by having more {and reputedly *better*} books."

Well, yes.

It seemed such an odd thing to say was a common belief.

"But compared to how Obama views the Constitution ...."

If it's not in the context of a doctrinal argument over salvation or who is a Christian or not, I'm far more concerned with what a religion teaches about character, and the Mormons seem to emphasize responsibility. And I'd rather someone who was brought up to respect the Constitution as something to adhere to, than, as someone mentioned, someone who was brought up to distrust America.

What is there to chose in that?

Synova said...

The thing is, really... if there is prejudice against Mormons, it's mostly the good sort. Sure, there's some Prop 8 chaffing, but mostly the attempts to gasp, "Oh, noes! Funny undies!", are attempts to manipulate Fundie Protestants who have been raised to view Mormonism as a cult. (It's right up there with the concern trolling, "Oh, by the way, did you know Cheney had a gay daughter," by Kerry.) It's trying to frighten the rubes.

But when one despises the rubes, it's not surprising if the thrust doesn't go home.

I can, without spraining anything, happily (well not *happily*, but you know what I mean) concede that Mormons are cultists going straight to hell, (after all, isn't nearly everyone?) and vote for Romney because I believe he's a decent guy, even if not my first choice, and certainly better than what we've got.

Unknown said...

How about Artur Davis as Vice President?

Micha Elyi said...

Is there someone, for reals, that believes that the Constitution is divinely inspired?

Sounds blasphemous to me. And a clear violation of the Revelations, which state that words *shall not be added* to the book.
-Synova
(10:00 PM)

The book being referred to is not the entire Bible but just one of its books, Revelation - to which you yourself just added an "s", Synova. The Bible as we know it did not exist at the time John penned Revelation, therefore he could not have been referring to the entire Bible in that passage but only to the Book of Revelation. A few hundred more years would pass before the Catholic Church compiled and authorized what became known as the Bible. (The redacted Bible protestors against the Church use today wouldn't exist until another millineum had passed.)

Finally, even were some work of man was "divinely inspired" (as some believe the music of Bach to be) that does not mean it is Scriptural, divine moral instruction, or even a part of God's public revelation that must be accepted by all believers.

A knowledgeable and faithful Catholic can clear up these and other misconceptions about Christianity. (Rest assured, Garry Wills is not such a Catholic.)

Synova said...

Micha, there is disagreement as to whether "adding to the book" is only Revelation or if it's the whole scripture. Yes, I understand that Revelation was written before whatever canonical conventions there were that decided which books got in and which didn't.

And yes, I understand that Catholics are not anywhere near as strict about this as Evangelicals tend to be. After all, there is the Pope and all. I also understand that I was raised in one of the most strict of strict denominations, and this was the basis of their teaching that the Charismatics were wrong. It is also the basis for a pastor from a less strict denomination to condemn Falwell from the pulpit for daring to say what sin it was God was punishing us for on 9-11.

Personally, I think that a whole lot of very terrible error in the Christian church would be avoided if more pastors and other smarty-pantses would be a little bit more concerned about the error of presenting their own notions as the word or will of God, so I *choose* to favor the more strict interpretation.

Synova said...

I mean, seriously... how silly is it to insist that it's wrong to add to Revelation, but quite all right to add to Matthew or to just add some new stuff elsewhere, write a new book?

I've sat next to too many people in too many pews who were taking any excuse to view the pastor, a human subject to human whim, as a spiritual authority with *authority* over the congregation to think that this is a harmless error.

It's never harmless.

Thucydides said...

We have lots of questions too:

What happened to the $800 billion in stimulus money?
Why is U3 unemployment still over 10% even when we were told by this administration that without the Stimulus, unemployment could rise to 8%?
Why did clearly unsuitable companies like Soylendra get $500 million in taxpayer dollars?
Explain the purpose of "Fast and Furious"
Why is the First Family taking hugely expensive foreign vacations at a time when so many americans can't make ends meet?
How did America's credit rating get downgraded?
Why is the Democrat controlled Senate not passing or proposing a budget after more than 3 years?

Eyes on the prize, people

Micha Elyi said...

"damikesc said... nobody thinks Democrats are actually genuine with their beliefs"

Really? NOBODY?
-Dave


Really. Just look around you. How many Democrats fingered Bill Clinton for being a liar and hypocrite? Uh huh, "nobody" to at least within five significant digits in a country of 300 million people.

So all those black churches filled with Democrats aren't "genuine?" All those Democrats faithfully attending Shabbat services in their synagogues aren't "genuine?" How about all the Roman Catholic Democrats? Shall I go on?
-Ibid


Please do, if you've got more Democrats to incriminate. C'mon, do Christian or Jewish Democrats fully respect the commandment against covetousness. (There's no exception clause excusing coveting as long as Caesar accomplishes the actual taking, sorry Democrats!) Nor did Jesus of Nazareth instruct his followers to render the poor unto Caesar. Other examples of lack of genuineness among Democrats abound. As I wrote, just look around you.

Alan said...

Our resident liberal asked loudly one day of me (so that all others might hear it and my response), "What do you think of a president who believes that in the afterlife he will be the master of his very own planet?"

I have a higher opinion of that kind of president over one who thinks he can be master of THIS planet.

damikesc said...

Really? NOBODY?

Pretty much, yes. Democrats fairly regularly give speeches in churches. Not an unheard of situation. I have a hard time thinking of a Republican giving a major speech at a church.

...yet Republicans are the "religious" party and Democrats are not. Why is that?

Clinton mentioned God far more than Bush did --- but Bush was the "God nut"? Why is that? Obama cited God more than Palin has --- who is the "religious nut" in the eyes of the Progressives?

So all those black churches filled with Democrats aren't "genuine?"

The pols who go there --- no, they are not genuine in the slightest. Their own supporters clearly demonstrate that they don't feel they are. I don't see a reason to dispute what people who LIKE somebody think of their authenticity.

All those Democrats faithfully attending Shabbat services in their synagogues aren't "genuine?" How about all the Roman Catholic Democrats? Shall I go on?

No, they are not genuine. The people who VOTE for them recognize that. Why is it so hard to follow?

As a hint: If you're a Catholic and you support abortion --- then you're not a genuine Catholic. End of story. Catholicism has a pretty clear hierarchy of church beliefs and "pro-choice" isn't on that list anywhere.

Is your faith "genuine" enough to retract this demonstrably false statement? After all, there is something about "false witness" in most "genuine" faiths.

Democratic pols don't believe what they preach.

That isn't limited to religion, mind you. They don't believe ANYTHING they peddle to the rubes who vote for them.

They are no better at "global warming" than they are at religion at living with what they believe. Nor are they any better with taxation, equality of pay, racism, sexism, etc.

submandave said...

Matthew, WRT "allowing blacks to minister before the Civil War", the same folks who like to hear you say "black" when you say "thug" always make a similar equivalence between "slave" and "black", neglecting to consider that there were also free black people in America before the Civil War (many actually owning other blacks as slaves). The Constitution doesn't distinguish between black/white, but slave/free. This is not to ignore the fact that the slaves were black or that free blacks weren't most likely looked down on by free whites, but that a lot of the racial animosity between whites and blacks was a byproduct of punitive actions during Reconstruction to benefit former slaves, often at the punishment of all whites, even those poor whites who never owned slaves.

Ann, I agree the 3/5 compromise is the most notorious accommodation to slavery in the Constitution's original text, but it is also one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented as well. Many people, and most blacks, will tell you the 3/5 compromise encoded that slaves (blacks) weren't of the same worth as free people (whites), but this simplistic emotional representation is contrasted by the fact that had slave-owning States had their way the slave (black) would have counted the same and had non-slave-owning States had their way they wouldn't have been counted at all. I would never argue that many, if not most, free people (whites) of the times believed slaves (blacks) to be inferior, that has nothing at all to do with the comrpomise.

SGT Ted said...

Bitch, please.

Liberals dont give a shit about the Constitution, except as a barrier to be overcome to inflict their authoritarian ideas on the rest of us.

Christopher Taylor said...

The US Constitution did not at any time reduce slaves to less than a whole person. The 3/5ths compromise was not about a slave's value as a human but a way to control their use for congressional power.

Some states, especially southern plantation states, wanted to count slaves for their numbers to determine how many representatives they got in the House. These slaves wouldn't be represented in any way whatsoever, they were just padding the numbers of people so they'd get more power in congress. Other states wanted to exclude them in this count entirely for that reason. The compromise was just a way of getting the constitution out, and had nothing to do with persons or value.

Sad but all too typical of the left, whose understanding of the constitution is second or third hand at best.

D. Jordan Walser said...

Synova said...

Micha, there is disagreement as to whether "adding to the book" is only Revelation or if it's the whole scripture. Yes, I understand that Revelation was written before whatever canonical conventions there were that decided which books got in and which didn't.


I guess I can see how people could interpret what John wrote as referring to the whole Bible- after all, the man was a prophet/apostle, and I am sure the Lord could have directed him to write that line so that it would refer to the future Bible, not that Book of Revelation. Granted, I think that's a bit of a stretch, but its plausible. But you have to admit as well, that the other interpretation, that what John wrote is what it actually claims to be, an admonition not to add to the Book of Revelation, is at least as plausible as your own interpretation?

I can see your point about the dangers of pastors claiming to speak for God- that can lead to all kinds of apostasy and danger. But I just don't see where the Lord ever said, "From here on out, no more scripture. You have what you have, use it well, good bye." He has, through out history, sent prophets and directed his people, and I don't see why that would change. That's my personal belief, and I am sticking with it. :)

Back on topic, one of the reasons LDS (Latter Day Saints, or Mormon) believe the Constitution is divinely inspired (as mentioned above, this is separate from thinking it is actually scripture) in large part due to its protection of freedom of religion. We believe that with out that protection of religion, it would have been impossible to start our church, or, as we view it, restore the true Church to the earth. Thus we believe that God had a pretty good hand in its crafting (yes, even the amendment process!), and that protecting the constitution is going to be whats best for this land. And, also like has been mentioned above, isn't the President suppose to support the Constitution? When did that turn into a bad thing?

Erin said...

@Sylnova


I find it worth pointing out that the statement in the Book of Revelation that says that the book should not be added to nor taken away from (paraphrased, obviously) appears in another place: the Book of Deuteronomy. So does that mean all of the books in the Bible that fall after Deuteronomy (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel 1&2, etc) are false?

I don't think you'll find a Christian that agrees with that.

I would say that that's a pretty good argument for not dismissing the LDS Scripture out of hand, since the Bible is translated so many different ways, so many different times.