The newest salvo in the burgeoning religious “war” in our country comes from an AP article about a story that will appear Sunday in The New York Times. In the article, Huckabee apparently asks:
…”Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”
The article… says Huckabee asked the question after saying he believes Mormonism is a religion but doesn’t know much about it. His rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is a member of the Mormon church, which is known officially as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The authoritative Encyclopedia of Mormonism, published in 1992, does not refer to Jesus and Satan as brothers. It speaks of Jesus as the son of God and of Satan as a fallen angel, which is a Biblical account.
A spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Huckabee’s question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith rather than clarify doctrine.
Scary stuff all around.
First of all, so what? That Gov. Huckabee asks that question is fine. It is reasonable and rational and there isn’t a thing wrong with it. It is not intolerance to ask questions about other religions. It isn’t intolerance to think or debate or doubt or celebrate or believe. This is actually called religious pluralism.
Second, political reporters better get very serious about learning theology before they report on theological points that candidates are making. If they don’t, they will report things as big news that aren’t big news. And they may miss big news in the process.
What Huckabee asks is hardly beyond the pale. It is, actually, a logical extension of Mormon theology’s belief about man’s “pre-mortal” existence.
Third, we ARE edging close to religious bigotry in this presidential race. Except Mitt Romney isn’t the victim. Mike Huckabee is. If Mitt Romney isn’t required to face a theological grilling about his religious beliefs, why should Mike Huckabee be subjected to that grilling?
The answer isn’t that Huckabee was a pastor and Romney wasn’t. In the Mormon church, Mitt Romney has been ordained to the office of High Priest and bishop of his local congregation. Why isn’t anyone asking Mitt Romney if he believes his chuch is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole world”? [Doctrine and Covenants [1:30]] Or why isn’t he being asked if he is in agreement with Mormon teaching that the Christian church was corrupted after the death of the apostles and became the “Church of the Devil.”?
He isn’t being asked these things because the answers do not matter in a presidential race. They are positions of theology, not positions of policy. Let’s get back to policy.
I have enormous spiritual concerns about Mike Huckabee’s presidential run. I fear it will do great harm to the already politically-corrupted name of Jesus.
But I also respect his right to run for office and to be treated as an equal citizen not subject to religious tests. Unless things calm down a good bit and we get back to debates about policy he stands at risk of being a victim of hateful religious intolerance.