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08 October 2011


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William R. Cumming

Personally think that JFK resolved the church-state issue for all times for all politicians. Not quite sure now of the formula but indicated if guided by the POPE to violate the Constitution would follow the the Constitution not the POPE! Such a pledge would satisfy me for most mainstream religions and I don't believe LDS are a cult although they do seem to have a fondness for polygamy. The weird thing is that on the Western frontier there was a shortage of women not a surplus so not sure what that belief represented.
At any rate Romney seems qualified, but not well qualified to me. But then I would argue that since George H.W.Bush no President was well qualified to hold that job largely due to complete ignorance of foreign policy and foreign affairs. And that if I may say so is what is killing the future of the USA. We fought and argued for an interdependent world for the last several generations, and now that we have it fail to understand it. To keep wallowing in our ignorance of other languages and cultures is amazing to me. But then anti-intellectualism in American also beyond my understanding. Thanks Richard Hofstadter.



You seem to be deaf. This is not a question of church-state relations. It is a problem of basic belief and the incompatability of certain perceived beliefs. To put it bluntly a Catholic is a Christian however misgiuded to many evangelicals, a Mormon is not. they would rather vote for a Jew. At least he is not seeking to disguise himself. The question is how many of such people are there? pl

John Minnerath

I think PL is correct.
For a long time I thought we were beyond the religious thing when it came to elections.
From what I've been reading and hearing, locally and nationally; I'm afraid it may come into play.


Should Mitt Romney be the GOP nominee, which is not assured, his religion will be an issue. Mormons have a few oddities and they will be amplified in an election. I suspect that his religion will matter more in the primaries.

His biggest problem is still the lukewarm support that he gets, which may have something to do with him being, one time or another, on both sides of every issue.


Well, we can only wait to find out, right?

What I think: if Romney were a not a major contender, primary republican voters would see his minority-religious views as a deal-breaker, compared to other candidates. They'd have weeded him out already, if he were not a frontrunner.

But his is now a front-runner. And I doubt his religion will now make a big difference. If he were to become the GOP nominee, then I also doubt his religion will make a big difference. It might only if the other republican candidates, in the dogfight to become the nominee, generate too much heat on this religious issue. But every major republican financial/political backer would realise this threat of a schism, and they'll be a strong push by those people to keep religion out of campaign.

Adam L Silverman

I think COL Lang is correct about this, the real issue is going to be how the various GOP and Movement Conservative components play Governor Romney's religion out. While the Evangelical movement/s (broadly encompassing the evangelicals, pentacostals, and fundamentalists) only make up between a quarter to a third of all Americans (depending on the survey and the year), they make up much more of the base of the GOP. And all the data on the Tea Party folks show that they significantly overlap with this group and skew older. So the issue that COL Lang raised is really can Governor Romney keep the GOP's core components together if he should come through the primary as the nominee. Its clear that he does not really inspire the base of the GOP much; if he did they wouldn't be flirting with anyone/everyone else they can think of all the time. What I think is really interesting is how much the current GOP base, especially those identifying as/with the Tea Party, have been marinating not in Governor Romney's fairly mainstream and ordinary (as presented by him) Mormonism, but rather in a largely obscure and extreme set of Latter Day Saints' teachings that Glenn Beck started promoting back in 2009. Beck mainstreamed ultra-rightist, Bircher, and Mormon extremist (as in so far to the edges of the Church of Latter Day Saints that he was removed from his position at Brigham Young University...) W. Cleon Skousen. Beck brought Skousen's The 5,000 Year Leap back from obscurity and promoted it to the top of the Amazon sales' list and the folks buying it up were the 9-12ers and the Tea Party folks. For a full rundown on Skousen, check out Alexander Zaitchik's article from September 2006 (I also recommend his biography of Beck. It is both interesting and an entertaining read):

William R. Cumming

Well PL I guess the Scientologists are next up? They are a recognized religion for federal tax deduction purposes as are the Mormons and Islam!


The resurgence of Know-Nothing Christian Fundamentalism virtually guarantees that Romney's Mormonism will be a significant issue in the 2102 campaign. I think it's quite significant that the "cult" smear has already surfaced. Even if it is no longer openly spoken about, you can bet that it will be on the minds of many voters during the primary season, and in Nov. 2012 if Mittens makes it that far.


If Romney is the nominee, it will be interesting to see how the Obama campaign will inject his Mormonism into the campaign which I have no doubt they will do.



"But every major republican financial/political backer would realise this threat of a schism, and they'll be a strong push by those people to keep religion out of campaign."

Sorry, that ship sailed out of the GOP harbor ten years ago.

An issue this raises, what if the splits cause no one to win enough delegates for the nomination from the primaries? How many vote rounds do the Republicans have to have before delegates are released and then draft movements can start?

A gentleman, such as Chris Christie, would be more apt to accept because he would only have to campaign 3+ months, the establishment would bear most of the fundraising responsibilites, and he would be in a stronger position in forming his adminstration saying to anyone pushing for political appointments, "Hey, I don't owe you, you owe me for pulling your political chestnuts out of the fire".

The TV execs would love the ratings this political reality show would bestow.

different clue

PL (and perhaps Adam Silverman can also help with this)... would Herman Cain retain Evangelical votes which Romney would lose due to Mormonism's unusual version of Christianity? Would Herman Cain lose other votes which Romney would not lose? Or would Herman Cain lose less votes for "racial" reasons than Romney would lose for "Mormon" reasons?

The reason I ask about that is that I really don't want to vote for Obama again if I don't have to. But if we get a Dominionist or an Armageddonite or a NARzi Republican candidate, then I fear I will have to vote for Obama again. So since Cain and Romney are looking like the biggest vote-getters on the Republican side, I would like to see either Cain or Romney nominated so that I would feel free to vote Third Party in the general election. So whichever one of those two might be more electable in 2012 is the one I would vote for in Michigan's Republican primary so as to have a Republican President I could live with (even though not enjoy) if a large-enough Third Party vote were to defeat Obama by default.

(If Cain did win the Republican nomination, it would be very interesting to watch the Obama camp slyly try to imply that only a racist would vote for Cain).

Adam L. Silverman

Different Clue:

I'm loathe to even suggest who for you to vote for, but I'll try to answer your question as best I can. As to Mr. Cain's religious views, I found a few references that indicate that he is an evangelical. According to an interview in Christianity Today Magazine (the same interview where he made the really offensive remarks regarding Muslims) it is reported that he is a member and associate minister at Antioch Baptist Church in North Atlanta. Here's the link to the interview:

So in that regard I would guess that he's religiously okay, though as I'm not any form of Evangelical, nor Christian, and certainly not part of any Tea Party group, your guess is as good as mine. I think the bigger issue here is that over two centuries since the Framers made sure there would be no religious tests for office by putting it in the Constitution, we have one whole political party, with a solid chunk of its base, that thinks that there is or should be a de facto religious test for office. Here are a couple of other links pertaining to Mr. Cain and his religion/religious beliefs:

Now as to the racial question: you're asking the wrong guy. I don't make decisions based on that or religious preference or gender or sex. My impression of the Tea Party, both of what I've seen in coverage of their rallies, meetings, etc and of the candidates that they've supported and of the folks that have emerged as their spokespeople, or that have tried to be Tea Party leader, reinforces the impression that there is an attempt to motivate and mobilize the older, whiter, and more religious demographic within the GOP. I honestly don't know how one can come away from watching the footage of the Tea Party rallies in 2009 and 2010, as well as remarks made, emails that have been released, and statements by candidates and now elected officials, and not have the impression that there is something racial going on here in terms of animosity towards President Obama. There are just too many African witch doctor, "lil Sambo" like caricatures, and a whole host of even more revolting imagery and language, both coded and non-coded, when referring to the President and his wife not to think there's an issue here (and don't get me started on the Fox News stuff, the talk radio stuff, and a whole host of websites. Personally I'm amazed there hasn't been more violence directed at the President). When you throw in the hostility, imagery, and language directed at Muslims and Hispanics, again often using coded language, it really appears that there is a concerted attempt to use the dog whistle approaches that Lee Atwater and others within the GOP developed in the early 1970s and that have been in use ever since. Just this past week there was a bizarre radio discussion on the Laura Ingraham show were she opined on how if Mr. Cain were to be elected he would really be the US's first African American president. Aside from the silliness of the whole discussion (which somehow started with affirmative action), now we're seeing a convenient reversal of President Obama as Other (other being African American) to Other (not being African American enough to be historical...). Here's the links (second is a hat tip to Zandar, who is bi-racial himself and has a few pointed thoughts on this):

Finally, as to third parties, etc. Despite halcyon remembrances of Ross Perot's candidacy, which was really as quirky as the candidate (and don't forget while he was at that debate with the charts explaining why NAFTA was going to hurt US jobs, he had just signed a deal to move his production facilities to Mexico if NAFTA passed. Shocked, I'm shocked...), a third party candidacy is never really viable in the US and should a third party candidate get elected president he or she would likely be the weakest president ever. The former is because the majority of Americans that register as an independent or no party affiliation really do identify with one of the two parties and tend to vote for that party's candidates the bulk of the time. What they don't want is to be objectively identified as a member of the party. The latter, an elected president who ran as a third party being very weak is the only outcome if they stay unaffiliated. With no party apparatus backing them, and no caucuses to look to for support in Congress, they've got no institutional allies. If you think President Obama has had trouble getting his own nominations for everything confirmed, which he has (some of this is GOP obstructionism through secret holds, not secret holds, the silent fillibuster - ie the announcement of one, without having to actually do one, and the inability even when he had 60 Democratic senators, or 59 plus Senator Sanders who is a real, actual socialist - get the smelling salts for Graywolf and Highlander..., to actually get them to stay together on the big things, as well as the White House deciding not to pick fights on behalf of their appointees), then imagine what a President without a party is going to have to deal with to get nominees approved? The only way this doesn't happen is if they basically align/caucus with one of the two parties, which is going to cause all sorts of popular angst in the form of "we elected you to be an independent, not rejoin the Democrats or Republicans the day after you were sworn in!!!!!!" Lets be honest if Tom Friedman is pushing it and it gives David Brooks any form of arousal its probably a bad idea. And having a compromise, partyless, bipartisan candidate come in and save the day is a bad idea. The beltway crowd, the political media, folks that have been dubbed the Village (the Village being DC and epitomized by folks like Sally Quinn - the best take down of this stuff is by Digby the Doyenne of the Liberal Blogosphere. You don't have to agree with her politics, but her evisceration of how bad the political reporting in the US is is absolutely spot on and priceless. She spares no one across the board. Matt Taibbi's book reviews of Friedman's books and his reviews of Brooks's columns are also hilarious and well worth the read too) they love this stuff. The rest of the US - not so much.

different clue

Thank you for you detailed and extensive reply.
It leaves me about as dejected as before. It sounds like Cain would run more aggressively on the "religious test" than Romney would, and that Romney would favor religious neutrality on the part of government more than Cain would. So Romney would be the less scary Republican President.

My last slender hope at the Presidential level
is that if several million disatisfied Democrats are visibly seen to enter the Republican primaries and all vote for Romney; that the Democratic Party leadership would understand just how many unhappy campers it has within its own party and that it would perform an emergency candidate-transplant; perhaps even decide to permit and facilitate a genuine unmanipulated primary season of its own. I will vote for Obama if I absolutely have to. I would just rather not have to do so.


Or perhaps, rather than the 3rd party president aligning himself/herself with one of the two party caucuses in congress, you might see a splintering of those "two party" caucuses as they seek to realign with the 3rd party president.

Adam L Silverman

Different Clue: I think they're aware. They can read the polling data. The questions that everyone has to answer are: is anyone the GOP going to run going to actually do anything better? Are they actually proposing anything that would work? Would putting a GOP president in the White House and giving them a divided Congress (Dems maintain the Senate, Republicans maintain the House) going to make any difference? Is putting a Republican president in the White House and giving them a GOP Congress going to bring positive or negative change?

Can you actually name anything that the Republican controlled House has actually passed, let alone proposed, that would actually make any economic improvements had it also been able to pass the Senate and be signed into law? The bulk of the stuff the House has been proposing or passing has been lifestyle stuff: restrictions on abortion, Planned Parenthood, NPR, stuff like that. For those pissed at the health care law, let alone process, as well as that for the stimulus, the budget which is still not passed, the FAA authorization that got held up, nominees for huge numbers of judicial positions and executive branch agencies (there's a reason Geithner hasn't stepped down, the President's team has figured out no nominee will be acceptable to the Senate Republicans and we can not not have a Treasury secretary during a severe economic crisis), and a good chunk of the debt ceiling debate (in which we had actually members of Congress, like Congresswoman Bachmann, not realize that raising the cap was to pay for stuff they'd already legislated into existence, sometimes several years ago, and were screaming bloody murder that increasing the cap would increase spending) there are some really obvious culprits. On many of these like health care and the stimulus, when no Republican in the House will even work with the Democrats on the legislation, acting like a parliamentary party, then why should Republicans expect to like the results? In the case of the budget, the bizarre Senate rules on holds, secret or otherwise, and no filibuster filibusters, have made every piece of legislation or nomination or even order of business into either a vote requiring a 60 vote supermajority or a 100 vote supermajority (if one senator can hold up all movement on a bill or nomination, then that item has effectively become an item that needs all 100 senators to move forward), led Majority Leader Reid to not bring a budget up before the elections and the perpetually pissed off angst machine made it impossible to move anything in what is now called the lame duck session in Congress after the election, but before the swearing ins. Now this doesn't speak well of Senator Reid's willingness to fight, even a loosing battle, if its the right thing to do, but again we get these outcomes for a reason. The Democratic Party behaves like its in a Congressional system, the Republican Party is behaving like its in a Parliamentary system, and the President, who was a legislator, seems to want the legislature to actually do its job so he proposes something, steps back, and lets the process take over. But when the process is broken because of partisan politics and institutional rule manipulation, then we get what we have. Do I wish the President was more forceful? Sure. Do I wish the GOP would behave like it did under President Reagan? Sure. Do I wish the Democrats would actually clue in to what they are facing and once clued in respond appropriately? Sure. Do I wish the media in the US wasn't basically owned by six major corporations and chased whatever shiny objects to maximize revenues? Sure (which is why I tend to get the news from the AP wires, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, McClatchy, BBC, the Guardian, and al Jazeera English - because the coverage is better!). Unfortunately we have none of those things. What we do have is divided government with one party making it clear they're playing for keeps and the other not quite sure what's going on in the partisan politics, but trying to actually govern combined with a preternaturally composed president all during a time of several crises. This comes back to the original question: if you vote for whoever wins the GOP nomination do you really think they'll be or do any better? And if so, are you willing to live with the outcomes if they get a Republican controlled Congress? Because if Congress is divided we'll get more of what we have now, which isn't much. I think the clue is to see what states that put Republicans in complete control over the governorship and the legislature are doing and if you think those are good or bad outcomes versus those where the governors and legislatures are Democratic, or mixed.

scott s.

Here in Hawaii there is something of an allegiance between conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, and LDS, at least on issues of common interest, typically called "social issues". For this group, I think Romney's problem is perceived insincerity rather than religion. However, outside of Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho LDS may seem too much "out there" for conservative Christians.

Yellow Dog

The Colonel's point perhaps resonates with me rather more than it does with many of you, because the Baptists with whom I was raised believed that almost all other denominations, not to mention other religions, were destined to burn in hell. They didn't even like other flavors of Baptists (which is one reason, among many, why I now call myself a Presbyterian).

I may be banned for mentioning this, but Andrew Sullivan has suggested that the GOP itself has become a kind of religion. I would suggest that if the evangelicals manage to overcome that "old time religion" enough to support Romney, Sullivan will very largely be proven correct - that the GOP has supplanted Christianity for many of these folks, whether they recognize it or not.

William R. Cumming

The assumption is that the USAs President can make a difference. I doubt it. But the possibility of up to 4 SCOTUS appointees by the next President is an amazing fact but true. If the Republicans control the Senate expert party line confirmations and further shifts right by the court. That court not the current one will be deciding the real fate of the National Security State the rest of the decade and determining whether democracy survives even as a vestige in the USA.

The economy is broken for at least a decade. That includes jobs and credit for the homeowner and small businessman and woman.

For some broad brush analysis again recommend Michal Lewis' new book "Boomerangge"!


I think that the French and German governments rightly consider Scientology an exploitative cult.

In Germany they are under observation by the Verfassungsschutz (something like an observation-only FBI), for starters because of ideas like that in a society organised along Scientology's ideas only "clears" are supposed to have citizen rights ... Sort of problematic.

IMO they are an not just slightly outlandish for-profit enterprise and ought to be taxed, just likes the likes of Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland and other frauds and quacks.


My take is that Southern Protestant Evangelical orgs have supplanted the GOP - it has become their Trojan Elephant. They insist upon one of their own (or, at worst, a near-equivalent) to become the GOP candidate - not Mormons, Papists, et al.

These people (Jefferies & his ilk) are so over-the-deep-end & around-the-corner over Romney's (a Mormon... & moderate to boot!) chances to win (votes split among Evangelical-sanctioned candidates) even ONE Southern primary, that support for him MUST be suppressed & Jesus must be brought to bear to keep the flock under control, even beyond Adult Sunday School.

I realize Rush & GB are pretty hard to tolerate... try listening to Christian AM radio in the Deep South to gain some insight to the new GOP.


As long as there’s an unspoken requirement that national political candidates have a religion of some kind, I don’t have any problem with asking them questions about their faith. It’s often said that Romney gave a “Kennedy speech” during his last run for the nomination, but he didn’t, really – he actually made a point of not separating church and state:

"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator.”

He’s got it wrong about the founding fathers, but let it pass. I know a number of Mormons. Fine people. But as far as what they believe, the evangelicals have something of a point for once, and the Mormon holy book is a sad read. None of which disqualifies Romney for the presidency in my view. But the man himself says religion matters. I see no reason not to discuss what he believes.


Its say's on the dollar bill... In "God" We Trust... Not In "God's" We Trust....

While there are theological differences with in the basic Christian Community. There is one thing they all believe in..... The Trinity and Jesus Christ is Lord....Not just a nice guy....

I rather have an anesthetist in office rather than someone who believes that they one day will rule over a planet. Yes Mormons are very nice up standing folk in many cases, though Mormons women are treated like second class citizens, they have a real religious attitude, especially towards Catholics.

I see the Mormon faith as Churchianity not Christianity.

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