MaureenDowd.jpg

The Ugliness to Come

I am not happy at the prospect that Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party nominee in 2012. I regard with horror his embrace of Romneycare, his willingness to tout that tyrannical measure as “a model for the other states” and “a model for the nation,” his misrepresentation of what it means for the people of Massachusetts, and his statement in June of this year – well after the anthropogenic global warming campaign had been exposed as a scam – that

I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.

And I don’t buy the argument, made by a Romney supporter on this site, that statements like this one constitute “tepid lip service to warmism” on the part of a man who is opposed to government action in this sphere – for this amounts to saying, “Trust him. He’s lying.” No politician can say what he has said without, at the same time, recommending government action. The latter is implicit in the former. I would like to see the Republican Party nominate a candidate opposed in principle to the individual mandate, willing to denounce junk science, hostile to social engineering, and eager to roll back in every way feasible the administrative entitlements state — and I find it hard to believe that Mitt Romney is such a man.

It is one thing, however, to criticize Governor Romney on the basis of his record in and out of office and on the basis of the political stands he has taken. It is another thing to inject religion into the debate. I do not know a great deal about Mormon doctrine, and I am not much interested in exploring the details. I do know a fair number of Mormons, however. I have spoken at Brigham Young University on a number of occasions in the past, and I am scheduled to do so again on Thursday, 3 November (I will also be giving a paper at Yale University on Monday, 31 October). I am sure that there are scoundrels who are Mormons. Every other faith with which I am familiar has its fair share. But the Mormons I have met are an admirable lot. The men are manly; the women are feminine; and they are all thoughtful. I do not fully know how the Mormon Church does this. But my experience is that it forms men and women of good character – and that is the only regard in which I think it legitimate to weigh Mitt Romney’s religion when judging him as a potential Republican Presidential nominee. I wish that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, my own denomination, was as effective as the Mormon Church appears to be in the moral formation of its members, and I suspect that we have a thing or two to learn from the Mormons.

I was not surprised that Robert Jeffress, a Baptist pastor from Texas who is a Rick Perry supporter, injected the religious question into the debate. There is bad blood between Mormons and evangelical Christians; and, in the 2008 race, Mike Huckabee, to his shame, exploited those resentments. Nor was I surprised that the comedian Bill Maher raised the matter in his routine at George Washington University on Saturday night. He is notorious as an anti-religious bigot.

But I would not have thought that Maureen Dowd – who was reared a Catholic and is old enough to remember the anti-Catholic bigotry displayed by some evangelical Protestant ministers in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was a Presidential candidate – should have contributed to this. But contribute she did in yesterday’s New York Times.

I will not dignify her piece by quoting from it. To be frank, her willingness to stir this witch’s brew makes me sick. You can and should read it with care yourself – for it is a portent of the ugliness that is to come. If Mitt Romney is our nominee – as, I suspect, he will be – Barack Obama and those within the establishment media who made up what one member of Journolist so accurately described in 2008 as “the unofficial campaign” are going to do everything within their power to fan the embers of religious bigotry in this country.

I would like to think that this would have no great effect. To this end, we and others like us should do everything that we can to shame into silence not only those in our own midst, such as Robert Jeffress, but also the Bill Mahers and the Maureen Dowds of the world. If Governor Romney is to be found wanting by Republicans or by the American electorate, it should be on the basis of his record as a businessman, his political record as Governor of Massachusetts, and his public statements – and not on the basis of the faith of his fathers.

Herman Cain and Rick Perry, the time is now. You and your supporters could do yourselves and your country no end of good by denouncing Bill Maher and Maureen Dowd! The only legitimate questions are: what sort of man is Mitt Romney, what is his record of accomplishment, and what does he really think about the issues before the country. The theology of the Mormon Church is politically irrelevant.

  1. The Great Adventure!

    Great post as usual, but did you have to include the picture of the harpy?

  2. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    The Great Adventure!: Great post as usual, but did you have to include the picture of the harpy? · Oct 20 at 7:37am

    I could not resist — given the title.

    And yes, yes — even though you did not take me to task for this — I was naive in not expecting underhandedness of this disgraceful sort from Maureen Dowd. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  3. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    Incidentally, I owe my familiarity with the June 2011 speech of Mitt Romney to Stuart Crecque. One of the virtues of Ricochet is that I frequently learn things that I did not formerly know.

  4. Publius

    Maybe I’m just being hyper-semantic here, but that’s quite a few “I believe” statements for something that is allegedly settled science. It sounds like he’s making a faith-based case for his belief in anthropogenic global warming being such an issue that it requires a substantial global public policy response.

    I agree completely with Dr. Rahe on the proper response to anti-Mormon bigotry. Mitt Romney is running to be the head of the executive branch of the United States. He’s not running for chief theologian. One of his primary tasks will be to lead the defense of Western civilization at a time when it’s having an existential crisis. I’m not an expert in Mormon theology, but everything that I have come to understand about it is that it’s squarely in alignment with the Judeo-Christian values that are a cornerstone of Western civilization and American society.

    I’m not Mormon, but I’m just fine with having one as President. I’d just rather it not be Mitt…Nice guy, but I don’t trust him given his past campaigns.

  5. Matthew Moyer

     So the line of thinking is something like this:

    “Mormon beliefs are ridiculous and in no way represent the divine. Ergo, we are offended that they pray for us.”

    Could someone explain why Mormons baptizing non-Mormons into the Church is offensive if their ideas are recongnized as absurd? Isn’t it true that taking offense to their post-humous batisms lends the LDS some legitimacy?

  6. r r
    Paul A. Rahe

    The only legitimate questions are: what sort of man is Mitt Romney…. The theology of the Mormon Church is politically irrelevant. ·

    Doesn’t a man’s theology, or the theology of a Church to which a man belongs, have bearing on “what sort of man he is.”

    I think it is important to separate bigotry from inquisitive questions about a man’s theology… or philosophy.  But, doesn’t what a man believes about God, about the nature of the universe and man’s place in it, etc. have something to say about what sort of man he is?

    If people (mainly the media) had paid a little better attention to Obama’s theology, perhaps a few more bells had gone off about how he views the universe….  Maybe not, who knows.

  7. Matthew Moyer

     On a side note, I find it comical that so many atheists wind up on the left side of the aisle. If we accept as an article of faith in material evidence that God does not exist (as I do, by the way), the evidence eventually leads the rational person to recognize the legitimacy of the only organic and positivistic (that is, non-normative) scheme for social organization, the market. This leads me to believe that lefty atheists are rebelling childishly against religion rather than appyling the cold logic of empirical data to their own presuppositions. But I digress.

  8. The Great Adventure!
    Paul A. Rahe

    The Great Adventure!: Great post as usual, but did you have to include the picture of the harpy? · Oct 20 at 7:37am

    I could not resist — given the title.

    And yes, yes — even though you did not take me to task for this — I was naive in not expecting underhandedness of this disgraceful sort from Maureen Dowd. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. · Oct 20 at 7:39am

    Well, I guess we’ll let it go this time…

  9. r r

    One more quick thought.  I don’t think many here would claim that Obama’s participation in Rev. Wright’s church was irrelevant, nor proclaim the theology of that church irrelevant in Obama’s life.  Not to compare that church and the Mormons in any way, but I hardly think it is irrelevant that Obama sat in that particular church for 20 years, quite happily, and that the church he sat in had a very harmful theology.

    We don’t grant Obama a pass on this, and perhaps we should at least introduce the theology of the Mormon church into the discussion.  Of course, the media is incapable of doing this without bigotry.  But for us here on Ricochet, I would think we could have a civil discussion on Mormonism, what they believe, and how Romney is influenced by his church.

  10. Beasley
    Samwise Gamgee

    Paul A. RaheThe only legitimate questions are: what sort of man is Mitt Romney…. The theology of the Mormon Church is politically irrelevant. ·

    Doesn’t a man’s theology, or the theology of a Church to which a man belongs, have bearing on “what sort of man he is.”

    I think it is important to separate bigotry from inquisitive questions about a man’s theology… or philosophy.  But, doesn’t what a man believes about God, about the nature of the universe and man’s place in it, etc. have something to say about what sort of man he is?

    I strongly second this. Mormon theology and the background of it’s founders have some very unusual quirks that will likely cause a moment of pause for Midwestern evangelicals and aganostic independents. Republicans ought to educate themselves with it, because the media will not give Mitt the same pass they gave Obama in 2008.

     Despite the fact that Mormons are among the most decent, moral and patriotic Americans, this will not save their theology and history from serving as a significant albotross on our “most electible” candidates neck.

    Make no mistake, this will not become an issue before the general election. The MSM have no interest in this preventing Romney from becoming the nominee.

  11. Colin B Lane
    Samwise Gamgee: One more quick thought.  I don’t think many here would claim that Obama’s participation in Rev. Wright’s church was irrelevant, nor proclaim the theology of that church irrelevant in Obama’s life.  Not to compare that church and the Mormons in any way, but I hardly think it is irrelevant that Obama sat in that particular church for 20 years, quite happily, and that the church he sat in had a very harmful theology.

    We don’t grant Obama a pass on this, and perhaps we should at least introduce the theology of the Mormon church into the discussion. .. Oct 20 at 8:01am

    The fulminations of the lovely Reverend Wright that garnered so much attention were not “faith” statements so much as political rants.  This is not surprising since Liberation Theology is not so much about theology as it is Leftism posing as religion. I’ve never heard any Mormon asking God to damn America. If you can point to me a place where this is part of Mormon theology, then I would agree with you.

  12. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Samwise Gamgee: One more quick thought.  I don’t think many here would claim that Obama’s participation in Rev. Wright’s church was irrelevant, nor proclaim the theology of that church irrelevant in Obama’s life.  Not to compare that church and the Mormons in any way, but I hardly think it is irrelevant that Obama sat in that particular church for 20 years, quite happily, and that the church he sat in had a very harmful theology.

    We don’t grant Obama a pass on this, and perhaps we should at least introduce the theology of the Mormon church into the discussion.  . · Oct 20 at 8:01am

    If we focus on theology, we focus on what divides us, and we are apt to be scornful of others who do not share our religious beliefs. If we focus, instead, on a man’s public record and his public statements, we set aside sectarian divisions. What was objectionable about Barack Obama’s association with Reverend Wright was the latter’s political stands, not his theology or that of his denomination.

  13. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Colin B Lane

    Samwise Gamgee: One more quick thought.  I don’t think many here would claim that Obama’s participation in Rev. Wright’s church was irrelevant, nor proclaim the theology of that church irrelevant in Obama’s life.  Not to compare that church and the Mormons in any way, but I hardly think it is irrelevant that Obama sat in that particular church for 20 years, quite happily, and that the church he sat in had a very harmful theology.

    We don’t grant Obama a pass on this, and perhaps we should at least introduce the theology of the Mormon church into the discussion. .. Oct 20 at 8:01am

    The fulminations of the lovely Reverend Wright that garnered so much attention were not “faith” statements so much as political rants.  This is not surprising since Liberation Theology is not so much about theology as it is Leftism posing as religion. I’ve never heard any Mormon asking God to damn America. If you can point to me a place where this is part of Mormon theology, then I would agree with you. · Oct 20 at 8:17am

    Oops, you beat me to it. Sorry.

  14. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Samwise Gamgee: One more quick thought.  I don’t think many here would claim that Obama’s participation in Rev. Wright’s church was irrelevant, nor proclaim the theology of that church irrelevant in Obama’s life.  Not to compare that church and the Mormons in any way, but I hardly think it is irrelevant that Obama sat in that particular church for 20 years, quite happily, and that the church he sat in had a very harmful theology.

    We don’t grant Obama a pass on this, and perhaps we should at least introduce the theology of the Mormon church into the discussion.  Of course, the media is incapable of doing this without bigotry.  But for us here on Ricochet, I would think we could have a civil discussion on Mormonism, what they believe, and how Romney is influenced by his church.

    Agreed. We Lutherans believe we may vote for a “wise Turk” over a “foolish Christian” any day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t evaluate any particularities of the faith for how they would impact public policy or speak to the character or intelligence of a man. All part of the package…

  15. Beasley
    Colin B Lane

    Samwise Gamgee: (…)I don’t think many here would claim that Obama’s participation in Rev. Wright’s church was irrelevant, nor proclaim the theology of that church irrelevant in Obama’s life.  Not to compare that church and the Mormons in any way, but I hardly think it is irrelevant that Obama sat in that particular church for 20 years, quite happily, and that the church he sat in had a very harmful theology.

    The fulminations of the lovely Reverend Wright that garnered so much attention were not “faith” statements so much as political rants.  This is not surprising since Liberation Theology is not so much about theology as it is Leftism posing as religion. I’ve never heard any Mormon asking God to damn America. If you can point to me a place where this is part of Mormon theology, then I would agree with you. · Oct 20 at 8:17am

    Just becasue there isn’t an exact parallel doesntm mean this shouldn’t serve as a warning. Specifically since Romney needs to predominantly garner his support from conservatives who are far more likely to be religiously literate when compared to their liberal counterparts.

  16. Western Chauvinist

    From NYT, Prominent Pastor Calls Romney’s Church a Cult:

    ‘He also said that he believed Mr. Romney is a “good, moral person,” and that he would endorse him over the president. 

      If it comes to that, he said,  “I’m going to instruct, I’m going to advise people that it is much better to vote for a non-Christian who embraces biblical values than to vote for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces un-biblical values.”’

    You have to read all the way to the end of the article to learn this about Jeffress, naturally, given this is the NYT.  The narrative being built by the Left about evangelicals not voting for a Mormon is just as ugly as Dowd’s anti-Mormon bigotry, in my opinion.  Do you still think Jeffress should be shamed into silence, Professor Rahe?

    Also, I’m a little surprised to find Catholicism referred to as a “denomination” by you. I’ve always considered the Church to be the trunk from which the other forms (denominations) have branched.  Am I wrong or just nitpicking?

  17. Beasley
    Paul A. Rahe

    Samwise Gamgee:I don’t think many here would claim that Obama’s participation in Rev. Wright’s church was irrelevant, nor proclaim the theology of that church irrelevant in Obama’s life.  Not to compare that church and the Mormons in any way, but I hardly think it is irrelevant that Obama sat in that particular church for 20 years, quite happily, and that the church he sat in had a very harmful theology.

    If we focus on theology, we focus on what divides us, and we are apt to be scornful of others who do not share our religious beliefs. If we focus, instead, on a man’s public record and his public statements, we set aside sectarian divisions. What was objectionable about Barack Obama’s association with Reverend Wright was the latter’s political stands, not his theology or that of his denomination.

    All very true. But, Republicans are tearing into each others fiscal and foreign policies, not just because they think their will be better, but because at some point they must sell to the entire nation, and not just Republican primary voter. Theology will count in much the same way.

  18. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Western Chauvinist: From NYT, Prominent Pastor Calls Romney’s Church a Cult:

    ‘He also said that he believed Mr. Romney is a “good, moral person,” and that he would endorse him over the president. 

      If it comes to that, he said,  “I’m going to instruct, I’m going to advise people that it is much better to vote for a non-Christian who embraces biblical values than to vote for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who embraces un-biblical values.”’

    You have to read all the way to the end of the article to learn this about Jeffress, naturally, given this is the NYT.  The narrative being built by the Left about evangelicals not voting for a Mormon is just as ugly as Dowd’s anti-Mormon bigotry, in my opinion.  Do you still think Jeffress should be shamed into silence, Professor Rahe?

    Also, I’m a little surprised to find Catholicism referred to as a “denomination” by you. I’ve always considered the Church to be the trunk from which the other forms (denominations) have branched.  Am I wrong or just nitpicking? · Oct 20 at 8:23am

    Nitpicking, I think. Jeffress is better than Maher or Dowd.

  19. Beasley

    Some may say that this is below the civility level of Ricochet, but I would recomend that anyone interested watch the episode of SouthPark titled “All about the Mormons.” It’s a 22 minute history of the church. It is not flattering, but it is not fictional either. It cherry picks things many would refer to as absurdities, related to the church’s founding.

    These are the points that will be brought up the moment Romney is the nominee. And they will be points Romney or a surrogate will need to deflect. Not from Obama, mind you, but from whichever faceless 527 group decides that this will be their cause.

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In