November 26, 2006

"Can Romney endure the media exposure that awaits him? What if his great-great grandfather was a bigamist? And what about that underwear?"

And that's from the so-called Moderate Voice. Steel yourself folks. There's going to be a lot of this sort of thing in the coming months.

Here's a substantial article from the Dallas Morning News:
No Mormon presidential candidate has ever posed a real threat – until Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The buzz about his potential 2008 candidacy has been growing for several months now, especially as the star of the early Republican favorite, George Allen, has dimmed. Given that prominent conservative evangelicals like columnist Cal Thomas and the Rev. Jerry Falwell have stated that Mr. Romney's faith should not be a barrier to the presidency, Mr. Romney might be the first Mormon candidate whom mainstream evangelicals can support....

[C]onservative Christians' opposition to Mormonism, while historically a reaction to Smith's violation of cultural taboos, is also rooted in theology....

The LDS church's professionalism and skillful image management worry many conservative Christians. The Mormon church has tried to position itself in the mainstream by conducting a careful marketing campaign....

For conservative Christians, this rebranding of Mormonism as a mainstream Christian faith is a threatening and duplicitous move, especially considering the church's high conversion and birth rates. They have continued their efforts to marginalize the LDS church. In October, Dr. James Dobson himself – considered by some observers the most influential figure on the Christian right – said on national radio that he doubted a Mormon could earn evangelical votes. Some view Mr. Romney's candidacy as the latest – and most aggressive – step in the Mormon PR campaign to convince Americans that Mormonism is just another denomination of Christianity.

"There is the perception that, if Mormonism is legitimized at that level, many American Protestants will become Mormon," says Greg Johnson, an ex-Mormon who now leads efforts in Mormon-evangelical dialogue.

Mr. Romney, who has balanced the Massachusetts budget, reformed health care and stuck to his conservative social beliefs, is aware of this perception. Over the last few months, he has made several efforts to meet with conservative Christians and convince them that he shares their most sacred moral and social positions – such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage – no matter his theology....
And here's a piece by Andrew Sullivan in the London Times:
Romney has proven himself a competent executive, he is a red governor from a blue state, he’s a fiscal conservative, a health policy innovator — and he’s good looking in a generic all-American way. The one problem is that he is now, and always has been, a Mormon. This would and should be irrelevant, except that his primary campaign must necessarily appeal to the Republican base on evangelical Christian grounds. When a political party has become a religious organisation, as the Republicans have under Bush and Rove, it’s hard to nominate a heretic as leader. Mormons insist they are Christians but not many other Christians easily agree.

Many evangelicals are keen to look past the issue, arguing that private faith and public office are unrelated issues. But this is a little rich coming from people who believe George W Bush is divinely guided. And the more the actual doctrines of Mormonism emerge, the deeper the awkwardness could be. All humans can become gods? Jesus returned to earth after his resurrection . . . in America? Moreover, the secrecy of the Mormon leadership, its insistence on mandatory tithing, and accusations of cult-like practices are likely to stir at least some controversy among the very religious right whose support Romney badly needs.

Personally, I have no interest in someone’s private faith in his or her pursuit of public office. Romney, to my mind, should be judged on his public record. The trouble is: this is not what the religious right has come to expect in a leader. They look for a religious figure in a political leader, “one of them”.
There is going to be a lot to monitor on this story. There's the usual way social conservatives and social liberals import religion into their struggle, but the addition of a distinctive new religion is making everything old new again. It could get really ugly. And make no mistake: Sullivan's move is an ugly one. He doesn't like social conservatives and the way they use religion, and he sees an opportunity to drive a wedge into them by raising questions about religious doctrine and prodding people to feel hostility toward Mormons. He thinks this is justified because -- he asserts -- the Republicans have won power by styling themselves as a "religious organisation." They've used religion to their advantage, so they deserve to have it used against them. But stirring up hostility toward one sect? That is a dangerous thing that goes far beyond the targets you think you're aiming at.

IN THE COMMENTS: Shaun Mullen, author of the Moderate Voice post, drops by, hangs around, and eventually provokes me to say "Does Joe know you're screwing up his blog?"


Brian Doyle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian Doyle said...

How is Sullivan's "move" ugly? Why should he have to justify pointing out that there are significant theological differences between Protestants and Mormons?

There are people in this country whose votes are largely predicated on religious ideas. That's fine, but it's hardly ugly to predict theological differences will affect Romney's candidacy.

Just because Sully clearly relishes the idea of Jesus-freak vs. Jesus-freak tension, it doesn't disqualify him from making the observation.

I'm Full of Soup said...

The news story used the word "threat". That tells you all you need to know about the MSM.

verification word is from the movie Borat = ismfszrt

sean said...

Doyle, if Sullivan has "no interest" in anyone's personal religious beliefs, why is he posting pictures of Mormon underwear? Come on, that's not credible.

Anonymous said...

Doyle wrote:
How is Sullivan's "move" ugly? Why should he have to justify pointing out that there are significant theological differences between Protestants and Mormons?

Well, as Mr. Sullivan says, when you play by the rules of theoconservatism, you've got to take the consequences. He just can't argue it's 'Christianist' dirty pool to point out that John Kerry's views (and voting record) on abortion don't conform to Catholic doctrine, then turn around play the same game with Romney.

Sullivan is entitled to write what he wants, but it's equally fair comment for Professor Althouse to ask if he's being a little hypocritical.

Victor said...

Again, sounds quite familiar.

THink of this in the broader context of the war against "islamofascism" and the hubbub we had surrounding this word.

It sounds like we did exactly what Prof. A is accusing Sullivan of doing.

(word verification: NIXOJ)

Ann Althouse said...

Doyle: Have you ever taken even a cursory look at world history? It's quite shocking.

Craig: I would also note that the attack on Kerry was that he tried to win favor by calling his attention to his religion but was not following his own religion. The attack on Romney is different. This is an attempt to weaken him by saying he is a member of a particular group and laying out the reasons why people should feel revulsion toward that group. That is a terrible, terrible thing.

Brian Doyle said...

And, Doyle: I don't think Sullivan is predicting so much as he is trying to make it happen.

Right, because doctrinally entrenched evangelicals and Mormons are taking cues from Andrew Sullivan.

it's equally fair comment for Professor Althouse to ask if he's being a little hypocritical.

That doesn't seem to be what Ann is "asking." She's objecting to his calling attention to the potential hesitancy of Protestant Republicans to nominate a Mormon.

The problem is that the wedge is not of Sully's creation. He's just glad it's there because it will probably impede a vociferously anti-gay Republican from getting the '08 nomination.

Brian Doyle said...

Doyle: Have you ever taken even a cursory look at world history? It's quite shocking.

World history is shocking? Or my ignorance of it? It's not clear.

Why don't you specify what about world history supports your case that Sully is fomenting religious strife?

Charles Giacometti said...

Nothing ugly at all about what Sullivan wrote. The Republicans have used religion as a wedge for almost thirty years. They have defined American religion in the most narrow terms, and have millions of members of their party who don't even consider Catholics to be Christians. Only a partisan like "Althouse," as opposed to the sober (ok, maybe not sober) Professor Ann Althouse would fail to recognize the truth in what Sullivan wrote.

Romney comes in with a slightly different faith from the rapture-longing Republicans, and Sullivan merely points out that the relgiously intolerant Republicans will likely eat their young over this. And Sullivan is the ugly one?

"Althouse" and Ann Althouse have spent too much time by themselves on this family weekend, and they are no longer thinking straight.

By the way, speaking from Massachusetts, Romney's track record here was atrocious, from either side of the political spectrum. Aside from raising every fee and tax he possibly could, his only other accomplishment was abandoning the office and losing the GOP's grip on the governor's office for the first time in 16 years. He is now trying to make up for it with a last-ditch effort to use the "activist courts" to disrupt gay marriage before his term expires.

So screw religion. The salient point should be what a dismal failure Romney is. However, while "Althouse" and Ann Althouse were sleeping, the Republicans have taken three decades to ensure their ranks are as intolerant of religious difference as possible.

reader_iam said...

Althouse, I think DTL actually--and rather pithily--summed up the approach, or at least the attitude, in yesterday's thread (note bolded portion):

I'd like to see religion exposed for the fraud that it is.

The more that religion can be associated with loonies, the easier it will be to persuade rational people to abandon it.

I used to have nothing against religion, but the actions of religious people over the last few years have turned my adamantly against it. I assume they wanted a fight. I'm happy to return the favor.

I myself find some real irony buried there, but still.

Charles Giacometti said...

Seven, there is nothing conservative about Bush and the majority of today's Republican leaders. I would be thrilled if Bush were a real conservative. He wouldn't have made any of the stunning blunders that he has.

So why the quiz?

My point was about religious tolerance. There are indeed millions of evangelicals who do not consider Catholics to be true Christians. So who knows that they think of a Mormon?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Those who believe that George Romney's membership in the Mormon Church was not "an issue" might want to peruse contemporary accounts from that time. I definitely recall questions being raised about the church policy at that time forbidding anyone not white to serve in higher positions in the church.

Romney's candidacy, however, self-imploded quickly enough on its own.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Althouse. We really don't want to go there.

I didn't vote for Romney because he tends to be too far to the right for my taste. Religion? Doesn't matter to me. End of discussion. I didn't vote for his opponent last time either, because she was a State House hack from Central Casting. A foretaste of '08?

I grew up in a heavily Mormon area of Southern California, and part of my wife's family spent several generations in Utah. They were Catholic Scottish and Welsh miners. We both have the same attitude toward Mormons based on longtime, actual experience of living among them. That is, they're great people. We admire the social structure of the LDS church and the way they take care of their members. We have found that when government structures have heavy Mormon representation things tend to be well-run and honest. We do not, however, agree with Mormon theology. There are many, many religious groups whose theology we disagree with, but we live with them and their members in daily life, and I, for one, have never suffered in this country because of anyone's religion.

Mormonism is not now a threat to the Republic. At one time it was considered to be. Read the history of how the Mormons were chased from pillar to post and their leader eventually assassinated. They migrated to Utah under almost Biblical conditions to escape intolerance in the United States. The United States shortly then came to them, and the LDS church eventually reconciled its practices with mainstream American life.

I fear latter-day Jacobins much more than the Latter-Day Saints. And titles that include words such as "the Mormon Question," make me shudder at what Final Solution the author may have, however unconsciously, in mind.

SteveWe said...

Seven: W.F. Buckley, Jr.

Everyone Else: When pundits and commentators slice and dice the electorate on religious backgrounds, it looks impressive, but is really hogwash. The Republican party is not just a bunch of evangelicals voting their beliefs. Think about it. Do you think there might be some Catholics voting R because they are against abortion? Maybe there are some Jews who vote R because they see the Dems distancing themselves from a pro-Isreal policy? And how are the pundits going to use their Ginsu knives to divvy the Buddhist and Taoist voters?

Sully is full of it -- and it's nonsense. Romney's rise or fall will be based upon his track record and exposition of policies that he backs. I remember seeing a lot of papist quarters in the lead up to the Kennedy/Nixon contest. I don't think they made a difference one way or the other (the Chicago machine made the difference that "counted").

Harry Eagar said...

Professor Althouse sez: 'But stirring up hostility toward one sect? That is a dangerous thing'

That is only too true, but you're rather late to the party, Ann.

Charles Giacometti sez: 'There are indeed millions of evangelicals who do not consider Catholics to be true Christians. So who knows that they think of a Mormon?'

I know. Calvary Chapel, which claims to be the fastest growing sect in the country, has a program, 'To Every Man an Answer' (on a radio near you, I guarantee, wherever you are) that goes into great detail about what evangelicals think about Mormons.

If I had to reduce it to one word, it would be: devils.

I would correct Giacometti, though. They do not consider Catholics are not 'true Christians.' They do not consider they are Christians at all.

And they specifically and emphatically preach that evangelicals should cut themselves off from non-Christians, even members of their own family.

I have no opinions about either Sullivan nor Romney, but to leap on Sullivan on Nov. 26, 2006, for mentioning this just shows that Professor Althouse hasn't been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Ann and Reader_iam are on to the real story here, I think, but I'm not too sure the people commenting are interested.

Having read Sullivan for far too long, I've come to the conclusion that he believes that conservative white Christians and islamic fundamentalist terrorists are morally equivalent.

At the same time it is apparent that he wants to foment a war among white Christian conservatives. Words will have to do, as they appear unlikely to accomodate him and prove their moral equivalence with the terrorists by shooting each other.

Anonymous said...

Please disregard my prior comment. Hit the wrong button and can't delete it because those little trash cans don't appear here (for me at least, probably due to my using the beta version of new blogger.)

Anyways, the Sullivan comment was uncalled for and I retract it.

Anonymous said...

On his blog today, Sullivan writes:

People will want to know about secret handshakes, secret rituals, tithing, and so on. Would part of his presidential salary go to the LDS church, for example? Does he tithe already?

I see. Is this supposed to mean that we are all now in the business of deciding which charities Presidential candidates should be allowed to donate to?

Actually, his comments pretty much speak for themselves - quite revealing.

Frankly, I'd be more interested ine Teresa Heinz's tax return. After all, when Geraldine Ferraro ran, her husband was forced to reveal his return. And I don't think we should encourage double-standards for female candidates.

Brian Doyle said...

I do think that the onus is on the Defenders of Marriage to prove they are not stupid, homophobic people. They may be Christianist, racist and evil too, but that's on a case-by-case basis.

If straight people can get married, so should gay people. There is no slippery slope to polygamy. No one, straight or gay, need be entitled to marry multiple people as a result.

Unknown said...

Let's not forget that the theocrats on the right (including George W. Bush) have already said that atheists are unfit to serve as President. Heck, even his father said that atheists shouldn't be citizens.

So now it's war. After all, George W. Bush wanted to be known as a divider, not a uniter. He has gotten his wish.

What comes around goes around.

I think it's a wonderful thing if we start exposing the Mormons and loony things in which they believe.

The partisan moderate said...

I used to really enjoy listening to Andrew Sullivan and reading his blogs. Even when I disagreed with him, I felt he made strong arguments in favor of his positions. Now he is pretty much a one issue voter who is completely disingenuous about it and acts like he still holds the same positions on various issues.

Furthermore, some of his praise is downright silly. After Milton Friedman died, he put a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger and wrote that Arnold was one of the last Friedman devotees in the Republican party. I suspect that this had less to do with Arnold's governing and more to do with his support of gay rights. Arnold has increased spending in California and increased the minimum wage. While Arnold may or may not be an excellent governor (I haven't examined his record in CA) he doesn't appear to have held true to libertarian principles.

In addition to unequivocally supporting politicians who are supportive of gay rights (regardless of their positions on any other issues), Sullivan is completely merciless in his attacks on any politician or blogger who disagrees with him on that issue. It is disappointing that one of the most intelligent and articulate voices on public policy, has turned into an attack dog.

Fitz said...

"Nothing ugly at all about what Sullivan wrote. The Republicans have used religion as a wedge for almost thirty years. They have defined American religion in the most narrow terms, and have millions of members of their party who don't even consider Catholics to be Christians"

Your missing a certain historical & philosophical depth and breadth. People of faith and church goers generally split their tickets between the two camps prior to 1968. It was the cultural revolution of the 1960’s that drove believers into the republican camp. The new left was/is so radical it cant posit a sexual ethic, thinks abortion is a constitutional right, and insists on destroying marriage as archaic & patriarchal (or have you not been to college)

Regardless of long standing theological differences, church goers will continue to vote for the party that’s not dominated by the advocates of radical social change.

Republicans didn’t have to court religious voters, - the democrats drove them into that camp.

Anonymous said...

People are overreacting. If some Mormons want to enter the public spotlight like Romney, of course the whole Mormon enterprise will come in for some knocks. Welcome to my (gay) world. The Mormons have some ideas others find funny, including the underwear.

(I say let's have it out. My irreligious attitude will be vive la difference.)

Sullivan posted a complaining e-mail about his sacrilegious/disingenuous/whatever underwear post. If everyone got off the hook by screaming sacrilege, what kind of world would this be? (oh. um...) Some people are going to be easily offended. On another topic on this blog someone named Ann said something about how 'those who are most easily offended shouldn't be the ones driving the outcome.'

I want to apply that sentiment here too.

Anonymous said...

Back in the real world, my family will be gathering for Christmas lunch under the old rule that there are three things you don't discuss at the dinner table: sex, politics and religion.

Which is just as well, because we range from highly socially conservative Mormons, through me (an openly gay Catholic) to flaming Red, atheist serial divorcees.

Ann Althouse said...

Harry Eagar: "Professor Althouse sez: 'But stirring up hostility toward one sect? That is a dangerous thing' That is only too true, but you're rather late to the party, Ann."

You are flat-out wrong and should apologize. I've been consistent about religion on this blog. I happen to teach a course in Religion and the Constitution, and I'm very aware of what I am saying on this subject. Perhaps you've been stirred up by that idiot Glenn Greenwalk and think you understand something about what I've been saying for the last three years. But you don't.

Brian Doyle said...

I think you mean "that idiot Glenn Greenwald.

Don't apologize, Harry. She just gets cranky sometimes.

Unknown said...

Jakemanjack - When you can't actually debate the issues - you have to stoop to homophobic attacks.

Typical for someone with an IQ of 80.

sean said...

A number of people apparently consider it shocking and intolerant that some evangelical Christians don't consider Catholics to be true Christians. Isn't it equally shocking and intolerant to be what Andrew Sullivan and some of the commentators here claim to be, a conservative who doesn't consider George Bush to be a true conservative? Or is having doctrinal standards, and using them to exclude people, shocking and wicked in religion, but commendable in politics? I don't understand.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"This is an attempt to weaken [Romney] by saying he is a member of a particular group and laying out the reasons why people should feel revulsion toward that group. That is a terrible, terrible thing."

I would be concerned that such a rule - even if warranted in this particular case - is execessively broad. Pointing out that a particular politician is a member of a group which holds certain beliefs -- the Mormon Church, the Stonecutters, People for the Soviet Way, Catholics, the Federalist Society, whatever -- and stating that the belifs espoused by that group are unacceptable doesn't seem especially troubling. The principle assumption that it makes - that is, the most likely point of failure - is that the person's membership of a group expresses fealty to their ideas. An attack under that rubric may be erroneous (for example, because the group may not hold perfectly homogenous views, e.g. the Federalist Society), it may presume too much (for example, that a Catholic actually follows Cathlic doctrine) or it may certainly be couched in unacceptable terms, but I'm not sure that it's an invalid method, per se. If Romney -- who is undisputedly a charming, charismatic politician, and by all accounts a very nice guy -- were a member of the Communist Party, and Sullivan laid out all the reasons why the views and history of the Communist Party were anathema to America at large, would that be out of bounds? If I'm nominated to a Court of Appeals judgeship, would it be out of bounds for NARAL, PFSW, the usual suspects, to run commercials pointing out that I'm a self-confessed acolyte of Justice Scalia's views, and to ask if one really wants someone who looks up to the author of various scary quotes that they'll flash on the screen? And if that's okay, what's the difference?

Unknown said...

Ann - I think you're hoping that this is an idealized world like 1960, where a person's religion is supposed to be irrelevant.

But that's only fair if both sides play by the rules. If Romney were running against a candidate who was an atheist, I can guarantee you that he would be running thousands of ads pointing that out.

And the best defense is a good offense. So it's best if we start attacking him now, before he is the nominee.

Personally - I think anyone who regularly practices a religion is not qualified to hold elective office. That's my personal opinion and I'm allowed to have it. None of our Presidents for the first 100 years ever went to Church. And we had better Presidents back then.

Shaun Mullen said...

Hi Annie Pooh:

Thanks for the drive-by-hit hit on The Moderate Voice post. I wrote it. You took it out of context to suit your own ends.

While I'm not surprised, I'm kinda sad. But it is so much easier to flail than think something through.

Your readers can judge for themselves:

Best, Shaun

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I'll also inform the historians who document the church attendance by Washington et al., that they were wrong.

Except you would be wrong. As Washington got older, he was connected with no Church.

Try to rewrite religion all you want. You'll just be wrong.

Unknown said...

Here's another article about George Washington. He didn't even take communion, which should tell you a lot.

Almost all historians consider Washington, like the vast majority of the founding fathers, to be Deists. Deists, who George W. Bush, considers to be unfit to serve the Presidency.

Simon said...

As you will surely have noticed, Ann linked to your post in her original post, so yes, readers can judge for themslves. Do try to avoid dragging through the mud the good name that Joe built up for TMV, by careless reading, would you?

The Exalted said...

sullivan pointing out that the GOP might have become too much of an evangelical party for a mormon is an "ugly move?" what?

how in the hell is sullivan going to influence the acceptance of a mormon candidate by evangelical republicans? he's a british gay man.

this blog gets sillier and sillier.

Titus said...

As a resident of Massachusetts I have watched Romney closely over the past 4 years.

I don't think his religion will be as much of a problem as his outright flip flopping on social issues.

When he ran for governor he was ardently pro-choice, like many northeast republicans-if he wasn't pro-choice he would not of likely won. All of Massachusetts other republican governors over the past 12 years were also pro-choice.
Also, he was a strong supporter of gay rights when he ran for governor. He was endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans, walked in the gay pride parade and in his acceptance speech spoke specifically about equal rights for all gay people.
He was pro-choice and pro gay rights only 4 years ago.
Now, he is trying his hardest to be the social conversatives darling. He is now strongly pro-life and can't stop talking about gay marriage.
His obsession with the gay marriage issue is so 2004. This seems to be the only issue he constantly speaks about.
He is trying very hard to run away from "Massachusetts values" and I don't think the public will buy it. Especially given his previous statements regarding abortion and gay rights. I am sure there are pictures out there somewhere of him at the Gay Pride Parade in Boston which won't help him in many parts of the country. Bonus points for any of the "op research" people who can find him at the parade with a Tina Turner and Cher impersonator.

Joe Giles said...

Thomas Jefferson attended worship services. In the US Capitol.

Somebody tell Barry Lynn.

Unknown said...

Fine. What I meant to say was that none of the Presidents for the first 100 years were regular Church-goers. Yes, they probably stepped foot in a Church. But there's no evidence that they actually believed the hooey-balooey they talk about in there. And I'd be interested in one of those Presidents that you could classify as a true Christian - i.e. believed in the divinity of Christ.

I've been in Churches for weddings, but I'd call you a liar if you started telling people that Downtown Lad goes to Church.

Unknown said...

Thomas Jefferson attended worship services. In the US Capitol.

I've attended worship services too. That doesn't make me a believer. And it didn't make Jefferson a believer.

Shaun Mullen said...

Ann has replied to be me privately, but has not posted her response to me in the comments section of her own blog. Or maybe Blogger is acting up again. Oh, well.

Anyhow, my advice for Ann remains the same: Stop flailing.

I discussed some of the issues that Mitt Romney will draw, most of them frivolous and unworthy of discussion, in the context as a preview of Things to Come, not a knock on the Church of Latter Day Saints or their underwear.

Chill, Ann, chill. Go play with that squirrel in your yard.

OhioAnne said...

I read all of this and have one response....

Hillary must be wondering why she paid 30 million for all the free publicity that Mitt Romney is getting.

I wonder if Andrew will get a thank-you letter from him?

Jakester said...

Well, this kind of inter-religous conflict stuff is why I am a secularist when it comes to government. Cons, who always brag about their "superior" knowledge of History, seem to forget all the strife that occurs between different faiths in Christianity alone. The 30 Years War anyone? Just recently someone from the "Word of Life" mega rich church, which owns aboout half of Schroon Lake in Adirondacks of NY, torched a local protestant church down the road in Pottersville over doctrinal differences. Religion, with the selected us vs the heathens nad infidel mindset, is inimical to democracy!

Anonymous said...

Shaun from Moderate Voice:

That was a pretty juvenile comment you just left. How old are you anyway? By the sound of it, about 10, I'd guess.

When Joe Gandelman was sole proprieter, I thought the Moderate Voice was well-written, balanced (as opposed to strident), and interesting. I visited it daily, or more often, for quite some time.

These days, the site lacks coherence, most of what seems like a multitude of contributers sound more like the shrill hawkers of patent medicine of a century ago than anyone interested in a genuine discussion of topics of today, and the writing, as you have just demonstrated, has greatly deteriorated as a result.

Joe Giles said...

Thomas Jefferson. The same guy who wrote a guide to the Gospels to convert Indians.

Jakester said...

Downtownlads uncomfortable truths, that our founding fathers were not braindead religious dupes like our Chimp in Chief, always upsets there carefully constructed web of lies. Our founding fathers were not radical atheists too, they realized that the bulk of stupid people needed to herded in line with all the fire and brimstone stuff. No one in the rest of the world takes any of right's religious nonsense seriously. They want a gun toting, SUV driving, ass kicking, meat eating, pervert and bum hating Jesus. They spend all day talking about war and power and guns then think they can fool people with all the pro-life hypocrisy, Maybe Cons are too stupid to appreciate irony. They want religion as long as it supports their ingrained obseesive prudery. After all, almost all religious leaders opposed the War in Iraq, but did our pious Chimp take notice?

Timekeeper said...

Sullivan has been banging this drum for quite some time now, starting about a week after the president announced his support for the Federal marriage protection thing. The problem is that the two groups he is equating are NOT equal, and never have been (nor are they likely to be at any time in the near future.)

Witness the response his post about Mormon underwear (complete with pictures) generated. He had a rather polite e-mail explaining why the post was offensive, and a request to remove it. If he had posted pictures of Mohammad, Islamic fundamentalists would have issued a fatwa against him, and the same leftists who are cheering him on would attack him for his insensitivity towards other cultures.

Ann Althouse said...

Shaun: You really don't come across as moderate at all. As for replying to you privately rather than here, I saw your private email to me first and didn't yet see that it was also a comment here. What I responded privately was:

What "ends" are you referring to? Preserving civility and opposing
bigotry? Yes, I did. You should be glad I wasn't harsher to you as I
believe was justifiable.

And why are you acting like I didn't link to your post? People can go
over there and see how far you went. You went seriously wrong when you posted the photograph.

You really don't sound too moderate. You sound insulting and
mocking... and unconcerned about religious persecution.

Does Joe know you're screwing up his blog?

reader_iam said...

Downtown Lad thinks everyone is either venomously anti-gay, or has a low "IQ," whatever that is, or both.

... while being shockinly underinformed, often, about the subject matter about which he makes sweeping statements.

None of our Presidents for the first 100 years ever went to Church.

What a hilariously shallow, unnuanced and imprecise statement.

The kicker: DTL apparently doesn't even read the sources that HE cites. talks about Washingon's own diaries, and entries that indicated church attendance on occasion.

Of course, Washington wasn't an ardent churchgoer, much less believer, as we would use that term today. But he likely wouldn't be in DTL's spiritual/political/philosophical camp, either.

In any case: The original italicized statement was just stupid, whether it came from a man of vastly elevated IQ or not.

John Adams--who surely would have opposed the religious right*, at least in my view--was Unitarian, and active in his congregation in Quincy, Mass. One would assume that would imply attendance on at least one more occasion than ZERO. **
Should we go on?????

(*Deist; didn't believe in the divinity of Christ; didn't believe that God intervened in individual lives.

**Seemed to have believed that regular church attendance was good for developing the moral sense.)

Shaun Mullen said...

Annie Pooh:

I did not send you a private email. Somebody copied me in on your screed.

It is a beautifully sunny day here on the East Coast. I have just come in from a bike ride.

Do you have a bike? If so, I'd suggest you get on it and pedal away your demons.

reader_iam said...

I forgot to add this:

The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard Paine say what he will."

John Adams, with regard to Tom Paine's "Age of Reason."

Of course, it's always important to remember that Adams was a man of politics.

OhioAnne said...

To answer the question in the topic heading: "Can Romney endure...", the answer is "only time will tell.

However, the answer to the unspoken question: "Will he be surpised by the crap that is thrown at him?" ... the answer is "no". I suspect the only thing that he will be surprised by is what someone fails to throw at him that he expects to see.

After my last post, I looked up his history to see where he served his LDS mission. Apparently it was Paris, France. Now I know the difficulty I faced in serving a mission in a predominately Catholic country (Chile) but the difference is Chileans LOVE Americans (or, at least, did in the early 1980's).

Oh, and Shaun, be a good boy and thank Ann for the traffic she's sending your way today.

reader_iam said...

Sorry, not really following this blow-by-blow in "real time." Haven't read every comment, but just a fyi:

Over at TMV, someone in comments did complain abot Shaun's post (I'm not saying I agreed with the complaint, just giving context) not being in line with some TMV policy statement.

Later in the comments, Joe e-mails a comment saying he didn't have a problem with the post.

That's a a very brief, drive-by summary, I concede, and I got there early and so don't know what's transpired since. Go over and read for yourself, anyone who's interested.

The point is: I think Joe's aware of the post, to answer a question posed here.

john(classic) said...

So..has anybody asked Harry Reid what kind of underwear he prefers?

(This is all Clinton's fault for appearing on MTV!)

Ann Althouse said...

As to my statement about Shaun's "private email." I mistook it for private email for some reason. Why is Shaun acting like that was some nefarious move of mine? He's a really strange character. It seriously detracts from Joe's normalcy image.

Simon said...

The sad thing is that leftie rhetoric has gotten so shrill lately that I honestly have no idea if Jakester's comment is the real deal, or a sharp parody thereof. I mean, that is how they talk!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the guy wanted that email public so he could flaunt it around like a red badge of courage.

And where does this "Annie Pooh" crap come from? Before I noticed his picture, I thought he was just a juvenile. He looks older than my father, so maybe he's just an old-fashioned misogynist. Then again, who cares? It only helps his reputation, such that it is, for his name to be mentioned at all.

Ann Althouse said...

You need to know that the blog comments all come to me in email form, mostly with a "no reply" email address. When I see email that doesn't have a "no reply" address, I tend to see it as private email.

My preference would have been to write the response here (and to expose the emailer's writing).

Fitz said...

I’ve always found this argument about the Founding Fathers rather silly. Its like some revisionist attempt to re-write history.

They were (for the most part) natural law deists philosophically while publicly professed Christians.
The natural law refers to a world designed by the creature in the natural world and discernable to man through reason. The Deist advises a higher power/ intellect who set this watch in motion.
This, approach of enlightenment thinking rested well philosophically with a Christian God of intervention and salvation through providence.

It’s a approach not very different than most people who back away intellectually from that revealed in scripture but still wont take the leap into nihilism.

Whatever the “actual” beliefs of our Founders (we may never know because they {as most of us}went to their graves questioning) We can be certain it was a mile wide of any post modern secularist – nihilist /counter cultural anti-moralistic gay babble.

The partisan moderate said...

Gerry, I do remember what you said about me and I didn't appreciate it then. You have called me or insinuated that I was a liberal a number of times without ever visiting blog.
I am pretty clear about my opinions on my blog and in my description of the blog.

Please visit my blog before classifying my opinions. I furthermore don't appreciate you lumping me in anyway with Shaun at the "moderate voice".

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The partisan moderate said...

No, I am saying that you would get a better idea of my politics from the blog as many of the subjects I have commented here are not on political issues. Furthermore, since you have either misinterpreted or not read most of my postings, you might gain a better appreciation for the nuances of my arguments:) Give your obviously rudimentary knowledge of politics, you might even learn something:)

It is obvious that you persist in name-calling and labels at the expense of actually looking for evidence. You are under no obligation to visit my blog, but I would appreciate it if you didn't attempt to label me until you did.

And yes it is fairly clear that you have not read most of my postings as well.

Jim Treacher said...

"Sullivan driving a wedge? Does he have a large evangelical following about which we've not previously heard?"

Yes, they're called journalists.

The partisan moderate said...

Gerry says, "if one takes a liberal position a vast majority of the time, and rarely takes a conservative opinion that makes one a liberal."

Gerry, please name me all the liberal positions I have taken. Anyone who goes to my blog and reads the description of my blog,
will realize the absurdity of Gerry's claim that I am a liberal.

Gerry, ironically, you actually provide strong evidence against your point, "Nearly all, from my experience, of those who call themselves moderate are as far left or far right as most liberals or conservatives".

The fact that you believe that I am a liberal when I specifically state on my blog that I am a Republican demonstrates how far to the right that you actually are.

I guess in your warped sense of the political spectrum, anyone who is to the left of Alan Keyes is a liberal. In that case, I plead guilty.

David said...

I'm surprised the comment thread has gotten this deep without anyone noting that, when Ted Kennedy was in trouble running against Romney in '94, the Democrats didn't hesitate to make an issue of Romney's Mormonism:

Are we ready for a Mormon president? (Alex Beam, Boston Globe, 7/21/05)

I agree with Wolfe, but I think it's not just Republicans who are sharpening their knives for a Romney run. Democrats gleefully smeared Romney when he ran for the Senate against Edward Kennedy in 1994. Capitalizing on Romney's leadership roles in the church -- he was president of 14 Boston-area congregations -- the media trotted out a succession of accusers, some anonymous, who asserted that Romney and the Mormons were antiabortion, anti-single mother, and anti-gay. Of course, those comments could be made about almost any mainstream faith in the United States.

Kennedy's nephew Joseph, then a congressman, gave a speech asserting that the Mormon faith excluded blacks, which it does not. Little Joe then apologized publicly, ensuring that the allegations played through a second news cycle.

Anonymous said...


Good call, that was my mistake... that was terrible wording. It's just that "I mean no disrespect" doesn't summarize Sullivan's response very well, because he used that line to specifically refer to the photo issue.

As for the trogdor/"trolldor" thing: I, like (I assume) many of your readers, avoid Glenn Greenwald because his commentary often descends into irrelevant personal snipes. You aren't helping your case by imitating his style.

Anonymous said...

People should really give more thought to what they call themselves and others. When you choose and use vague, non-descript words, people will find it hard to remember you and what you say.

The partisan moderate said...

Gerry, once again please refrain from commenting on one's political leanings without providing at least a few shreds of evidence. It is quite easy to make unbacked assertions.

Anyway, I have no plans to further debate this issue and I think it is best that I ignore you to the extent possible.

The partisan moderate said...

The moderate partisan, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

Anonymous said...


again, wrong.......our founders were conservative christians and our constitution was based on natural law - try reading some David barton who is not only brilliant but is gifted with a powerful memory and can spontaneoulsy recite about every early document associated with the Federalist papers or our constitution. Just search David Barton and visit his site.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Flattery in your case is mockery of your begging for traffic to your blog..oh please althousans visit my blog- it's so intersting that is why I call it "moderate".

Could you be more lame?

The partisan moderate said...

the moderate partisan said.. "what could be so lame".

Oh, I don't know copying someone else's screen name and then listing nothing under your profile so you could try act like an internet bully. Furthermore, I wasn't trying in this case to do anything other than establish that Gerry was mischaracterizing my politcs. BTW, my previous post was sarcastic in nature although I guess in retrospect I shouldn't have expected someone of your intellect to realize that.

Ann Althouse said...

Alexandra: You can't copy and paste long things like that. Provide a link. A brief quote plus a link is fine.

altoids1306 said...

from the so-called Moderate Voice
My sentiments exactly.

I have just come in from a bike ride.
Hahaha. Seriously, what are you trying to prove? (And bike ride?! On the east coast ?! As if your liberal credentials were ever in doubt...)

reader_iam said...

Something to ponder from my blog partner, Callimachus, who has researched this topic extensively and writes often about history in general and our founders in particular:

"One Sunday morning, as President Jefferson was walking to church service, prayer book in hand, a friend accosted him and said, "You going to church Mr. J. You do not believe a word in it."

Jefferson replied, "no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The
Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good
morning Sir."

(Of course, he never denied that he didn't believe a word of it.)

reader_iam said...

(That was from an e-mail exchange.)

Charlie Martin said...

Besides everything else, what's funny about the "underwear"? I'll grant it's a little old-fashioned looking, but it's a tee shirt and boxers for crying out loud. Observant Jews wear prayer shawls, many devout Catholics wear scapulars, Tibetan Buddhists often wear red threads representing an initiation, Freemasons wear aprons during rituals. About the only religious group I can think of who don't wear special ritual garments are Gardnerian Wiccans, and that's because they don't wear anything for rituals.

The "underwear" looks a helluva lot more practical than phylacteries.

KCFleming said...

Democrats attacked Romney's religion when he ran for Governor (by Catholic Ted Kennedy no less). Now, Democrats attack his religion and try to blame Republicans for it.

Once again the Party of Tolerance demonstrates that when encountering their chosen terminology, one can be certain that the actual program, policy, or belief is precisely the opposite in meaning.

That's what happens when you use 1984 as a guidebook rather than a cautionary tale.

P.S. I am willing to bet that the only thing moderate about Shaun Mullen at TMV is his fiber intake.

Harry Eagar said...

Professor Althause, I haven't read your blog for three years, just a few months. And I have nothing to say, today, one way or the other about your opinions about religion or even religion in politics.

Perhaps I misunderstood the thrust of your post, which I took to be about sectaries declaring unbelievers unfit for public office.

I just had my research assistant, Mr. Google, do a check. I find no posts of yours about that subject connected to the search words 'Calvary Chapel' or 'evangelical.'

There are people in this country who have been reading other people out of politics for a long time based on private religious opinion -- Reagan's antipathy to atheists is well known. I am old enough to remember people questioning whether a Catholic could be president.

As far as I can tell, this was a non-issue for you until Sullivan brought it up. I promise you, it has not been a non-issue for the Assembly of God or Calvary Chapel or a number of other cults I could name.

I apologize if I misunderstood.

kentuckyliz said...

I'd like to throw out a new bone here. I'm wondering if the popularity of Stephen Covey (a Mormon) might have helped the Mormon image too? Eminently reasonable, good character and self-management, agreeable to any faith perspective, and de-emphasizing/disregarding any theological differences there may be.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Shut the hell up, you fucking cunt. Really, Althouse...just how stupider and more vacuous do you have to prove yourself to be?

I'm Full of Soup said...


Don't you usually post under the name of addadicktome?

What do you do when you are not using vile language against a woman? You nitwit.

Clayton Cramer said...

Downtownlad's bizarre claims about religion and the Founders just amaze me. There were some politicians of the time who were theologically pretty liberal for that period (Jefferson, for example)--although today they would be the conservative wing of churches such as United Methodist or Presbyterian. Jefferson, for example, was such a liberal that he proposed replacing the death penalty for sodomy with castration.

However: if you look at the constitutions drafted by the various states during and after the Revolution, it is pretty clear where the bulk of the population stood about religion. Most state constitutions either directly excluded non-Christians from holding public office, or granted the legislature authority to limit holding office to Christians, and in some states, only to Protestants. Massachusetts' 1780 Constitution went so far as to not only allow the legislature to pass mandatory church attendance laws, but actually required the legislature to do so.

I've gathered together a collection of quotes from state constitutions, from state constitutional conventions, from Congressional debate, that will make Downtownlad's brain explode. This was a profoundly religious nation, and whatever Jefferson and Madison might think in private, both attended church in the District of Columbia on a regular basis--church services that were held in the chambers of Congress.

Repeatedly, Congress passed laws that clearly demonstrate that the First Amendment's establishment clause meant something substantially to the people of that time, than it does to the ACLU. For example: Congress by statute provided for one section of each township in Ohio Territory to be reserved for support of whichever church the majority of the township selected. I also quote from the New Jersey Constitution of 1776 which shows that "establishment" had a much narrower meaning than the ACLU's misinterpretation.


Clayton Cramer said...

Excellent post.

One thing I've noticed about leftists is that they just make stuff up."

Well, let's be careful. Among academics, just making stuff up is more the exception than the rule. Michael Bellesiles just made stuff up, and apparently, so did Ward Churchill, to suit the political agenda that they were promoting. They can get away with this for a while, because the academic community lacks sufficient political diversity to spot the outright frauds.

What is the bigger problem isn't "make stuff up" but the emphasizing of certain facts, and leaving other facts out that might render the argument less persuasive. This isn't really lying, but by leaving facts out, it turns what should be a scholarly paper into a polemic.

Now, there are a scholars out there who have sufficient integrity that they don't let their current political beliefs drive what they find. They make an honest effort to present all sides of the historical evidence. But increasingly, the outright frauds (like Bellesiles and Churchill) and the misleaders have become major forces in the history profession. Realistically, what's the alternative? Academics would have to admit that the pursuit of truth isn't necessarily coincident with their political goals.

Anonymous said...

According to reliable sources, the Mormons have donated vast sums to pro-PLO Bir Zeit University: over a half-million dollars in 1976, over two million in 1979, and a new library in 1984. Other Arab communities and institutions in Judea and Samaria have also received large contributions from the Mormons.

Nafez Nazzal, a member of the PLO and professor at Bir Zeit U., directs courses at the current Mormon BYU training center at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. According to former teachers at the center, the students are getting an "unbalanced picture of Israel."2 Attempts to present a more objective perspective were rebuffed.

All this seems to indicate a shift away from professed support for Israel\

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Dancewater said...
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Simon said...

"First of all, Calvary Chapel is NOT a SECT, nor is it a CULT."

I can buy the argument that it isn't a cult, insofar as it lacks the charismatic leadership that tends to be the hallmark, but how is it not a sect? It seems to be such almost by definition ("a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith; a religious denomination; any group, party, or faction united by a specific doctrine"). Or are you dissenting because you think "sect" is a term conveying a certain opprobrium?

knox said...

If I had a nickel for every nasty, intolerant comment stating that religion makes people nasty and intolerant...

Cousin said...

It seems to me -religious organizations- can be treated differently than belief. When the two become conflated, as with the LDS (or Scientology or the Catholic Church) things get complicated. I don't care about Romney's ancestry, but if he didn't SCREAM in protest when the LDS was trying to convert my great grandparents (who died in the Holocaust but apparently in Mormon theology this isn't a problem), I find that relevant.

garage mahal said...

The Left, committed to the idea that purportedly right-wing Christians are incredible, mindless zealots, is clearly raising the Mormon issue because they hope to derail the most prominent conservative in the field right now

Except the fact that we are on a conservative blog, reacting to a blogger on a moderate blog, talking about pictures posted on a conservative blog, about a conservative candidate.

Whom on the Left are trying to derail Romney? You just made all that up, didn't you.

Anonymous said...

Sullivan wrote: "And the more the actual doctrines of Mormonism emerge, the deeper the awkwardness could be. All humans can become gods? Jesus returned to earth after his resurrection . . . in America? Moreover, the secrecy of the Mormon leadership, its insistence on mandatory tithing, and accusations of cult-like practices are likely to stir at least some controversy among the very religious right whose support Romney badly needs."

Sullivan's prejudice is evident form the distortions in his description of Mormon beliefs. Mormon leaders aren't "secret", they just live in Salt Lake City. If Mr. Sullivan wanted to meet them he could arrange an interview, and they all live in regular homes scattered around the area and shop in regular supermarkets and drive regular cars. Tithing is not "mandatory". The only person who knows a member's tithing status in his congregation are the bishop who heads the group, since all donations are made in sealed envelopes that are mailed or passed to the bishop personally, not during services.

Sullivan's "accusations of cult-like practices" is disingenuous. He passes on the gossip without wanting to be blamed for spreading it. He is so unspecific that the reader is left to make up his own wild imaginings, which has been the case throughout the persecutions of Mormons for 150 years, where the fantasies and fears of every person who could make a buck off of hying the fear of Mormons, including journalists, professional clergy and politicians, ascribed to Mormons every weird belief or behavior they had ever heard of, the more lurid the better. The fact that those fantasies have nothing to do with the sober-sided Mormons who make BYU the most sober campus in America has not detered those who profit, like Sullivan, from creating targets for prejudice.

Sullivan making fun of the idea of Christ appearing after his resurrection raises the question, does Sullivan believe in Christ's resurrection, and so is making fun of Mormon beliefs on the same basis he would make fun of any Christian's belief in the resurrection? Since the New Testament includes several references to Christ's post-resurrection appearances at various locations, including his ascension from the Mount of Olives just before Pentecost, what is theologically problematic for a Christian in believing Christ could appear anyplace He wanted to on the earth He created? Mormons believe Christ made a post-resurrection appearance to people who lived somewhere in Meso-America--around southern Mexico's Chiapas State and Guatemala--NOT within the US of A. Exactly how that is less likely than his making post-resurrection appearances in Judea and Galilee is not explained by Mr. Sullivan.

As for the Latter-day Saint belief in the potential for human beings to become like God, it is an idea that is called Theosis and that was part of the doctrine of the early Christian church in the First Century and is quite actively preserved today within the Orthodox churches (which my mother, a former Russian Orthodox member in Japan, attested to), though for unknown reasons it has been neglected by the Roman tradition and its Protestant offspring. The Orthodox writings cite numerous references in the New Testament and the early Church Fathers, such as Irenaus' famous couplet, "God became man [in Christ] so that man could become god." C.S. Lewis understood the New Testament as promising that those who were redeemed through Christ's atonement would become shining beings whom we, in our present state, would be tempted to worship. He said that Christ's injunction in the Sermon on the Mount to "Be ye therefore perfect" is "not theological gas", and that He offers the sole means for us to fulfill His commandment. Those who reject the idea reject the teachings of Christ and John and Paul and Peter about the reward that awaits the faithful.

The point is well made by many of the commenters that the so-called enmity between Evangelicals and Mormons is being hyped, NOT by dedicated Christians, but by secularists who hate the idea of ANY religious people having political influence, and thus want to provoke interreligious warfare so that religious people are forced to retreat from the public square.

While some Evangelicals are intolerant of any religion that differs from their own, secularists are particularly intolerant of Mormonism, because it particularly affirms the reality of God, angels, and divine action in the modern world of technological wonders that were supposed to awe all religious believers into embracing materialism. Secularists like Sullivan are especially perturbed when religious belief does not interfere with the ability of believers to be outstandingly successful in the realm of politics, which secularists feel should be free of the taint of religious believers.

Aaron S said...

Of interest: