Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Romney sniffs at social conservatives

posted by Mark Silk

Either Mitt and his advisers are blowing smoke or they don’t understand the religious dynamics of the Republican Party. I’m guessing the latter.

In a piece in the Boston Globe a few days ago, Sasha Issenberg reports that looking toward 2012, the Romney camp has decided to forgo the 2008 strategy of trying to win over social conservatives, i.e. evangelicals.

“You’re not really going to alter your main message to accommodate this
tiny group,” said Carl Forti, who served as the campaign’s national
political director. “You’re going to acknowledge that there’s this small
group of people and move on.”

OK, let’s be charitable and assume that Forti is referring only to those GOP primary voters who say they absolutely wouldn’t vote for a Mormon. According to a 2006 Rasmussen survey, that’s over half of all evangelicals. The same year, a Pew survey found that four out of every 10 Republicans was an evangelical. So basically that “tiny group” represents 20 percent of GOP voters.

But it’s worse than that. Just because a lot of evangelicals allow as how they would vote for a Mormon doesn’t mean they will. And in 2008, when the choice came down to Romney and an evangelical–namely, Mike Huckabee–evangelical voters overwhelmingly favored Huckabee, and (as John Green and I have shown) cost Romney the nomination.

What Romney & Co. don’t seem to grasp is that their big mistake in 2008 was to try to appeal to evangelicals by pretending to be one of them. That was kind of like Messianic Jews (i.e. Jews for Jesus) trying to persuade Jews that they too are Jews. Ignoring religion altogether, which appears to be the current Romney strategy, may be better than what he did last time around. But with all those evangelical voters out there in GOP primary land, that alone isn’t going to cut it. He’s got to pick up the gauntlet, acknowledge the distinctiveness of his faith, and force the “social conservative” base of his party to confront their bigotry.

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posted July 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm

As a Mormon Republican, I have to strongly agree with this, article’s last sentence. Romney has nothing to lose from voters who are already not voting for him; so, he might as well force the base to acknowledge the issue. Mormons believing differently is **not** the issue; it’s whether or not someone who believes differently on religious issues should be allowed to represent the base. Despite having nearly-identical political and social perspectives, there is a genuine fear that Mormonism is not part of the Judeo-Christian Family, but a cult.
If a cult is defined as any organization that asks for money, and unfailingly follows a charismatic leader, pin the tail on the donkey, because we do. We pay tithing and try the best way we know how to follow Jesus.
There are also many differences that we have that are simply not found in the Bible. None of them include anything that breaks the law, or is exciting enough to make a PG-13 documentary.

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Donna Diorio

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I am always amazed that a Jew is allowed to believe in everything under the sun – from Buddha to atheism, just don’t dare believe that the historical Jew Yeshua of Nazareth was Israel’s Messiah as He said.
If religion is capable of turning a Jew into a non-Jew, it is really funny that it ONLY applies in cases of faith in Yeshua.

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Mark Silk

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm

There’s some history having to do with the separation of Christianity from Judaism and a millennium and a half of ill will and intermittent persecution that might help you to become less amazed, Donna.

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posted July 8, 2010 at 11:40 pm

I must have missed the part where Romney pretended to be Evangelical. What I saw was a decent man simply saying he believes in Jesus Christ.

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posted July 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm

If you are a fundamental, evangelical Christian, why is never voting for a Mormon, bigotry?
Wasn’t Mormonism fundamentally a rejection of Protestant, and other, sects? Which is fine, it’s a free country. But why should there be any compulsion for religions acceptance of Mormonism by those Christians that feel strongly about it?
I find forced, pressured, non free will methods, physical and otherwise, immensely more repugnant than the honestly held opinion. You know, for example, long dead Governor Casey, a pro-life Democrat and persona non gratta by the DNC.
Anyway, Mitt is in trouble because he is a poor politician. He is dull as dishwater, boring. He drips puddles of desperation. He has tried to be his fathers son, to out Ted Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Mr. Christian, Mr. Conservative and now when Republicans hold their leadership in contempt as elderly, idea-less hacks, he runs to the same, toxic, party elite.

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posted July 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm

me too Jane! I never saw Romney as pretending to be an Evangelical. I saw a man of faith who preferred to keep it private, where it belongs in my view.

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Mark Silk

posted July 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Let me clarify what was a bit of hyperbole on my part. Romney did not say he was an evangelical, but he represented himself to evangelical leaders as being very like them–accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, for example. Yes, Mormons do that. But, in my view, it was a mistake for him to emphasize doctrinal similarities when evangelicals have their eyes fixed on the very real differences.
As for Paul, if you don’t like the word bigotry, how about prejudice? Of course you’re entitled to vote your prejudices. (Or your bigotries…it’s a free country.) But

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Grumpy Old Person

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:55 am

Well, we’re getting used to hyperbole from the ‘right’.
And as for your contention, “or they don’t understand the religious dynamics of the Republican Party”, please let me take this opportunity to remind you that America is not a theocracy. Not YET, at least. And thank gawd for that. The world does not need another Iran.
“when evangelicals have their eyes fixed on the very real difference”
Jut replace the word “evangelicals” with ‘Muslim extremists’ and perhaps you’ll understand why I think this way.

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Grumpy Old Person

posted July 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

“According to a 2006 Rasmussen survey, that’s over half of all evangelicals.”
How very, very sad that sooo many evangelicals have simply forgotten or ignored that there isn’t supposed to BE a ‘religious test’ to hold public office. They seem to (again) wanat to impose one.
How the mighty have fallen indeed!
CAPTCHA: “the buchanan” – now THERE’S a telling clue.

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Grumpy Old Person

posted July 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

Donna Diorio,
“I am always amazed that a Jew is allowed to believe in everything under the sun”
And I am always amazed that self-described “Christians” WILL believe in almost anything under the sun, including talking snakes and donkeys.
CAPTCH: “1970 clamored”
Is CAPTCHA prescient, or what?

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Donna Diorio

posted July 16, 2010 at 10:23 am

Mark Silk: I am well aware of the history, Mark, and I’m still amazed at the special place in hell that is reserved for Jews who believe in the Israeli Jew, Yeshua. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck as a Christian aware of the underlying issues.

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Mark Silk

posted July 16, 2010 at 11:13 am

Amazed, Donna, or dismayed?

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Raymond Takashi Swenson

posted July 20, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I agree that a better way for Romney to address fears some people have about a Mormon president is to turn that point into a positive. That should not be difficult.
Romney could point out that Mormons by and large have the personal characteristics that most religious Americans believe are desirable. They tend to be monogamous and chaste within marriage, have more children, work hard but put their families before careers, make regular sacrifices of time and money, including fasting one day a month to donate the food money saved to feed the poor, donate their time to lead and teach in the church, donate their time to help people move in or out or repair a house or even another denomination’s church. Mormons support education, and are represented in academia at twice their percentage in the population. Mormons serve as volunteer missionaries all over the world, living with and learning the languages of 150 nations.
Mormons are patriotic: Mormons believe in sustaining the law and elected leaders. BYU has the largest ROTC program in the nation, and there are large Mormon contingents at the military academies, including the #1 ranked cadet at the Air Force Academy this year, who served a two year Chinese-speaking mission and is a Rhodes scholar. The Army’s primary interpreter brigades are Utah National Guard units.
Mormons believe that every person has a right to worship in whatever way they choose. They believe that government has a duty to protect freedom of religion. They believe that Church leadership can only be done through “gentleness, and meekness, and love unfeigned,” and that any attempt to abuse a leadership position in the church is condemned by God.
Mormons believe that marriage and the family are fundamental parts of God’s plan for mankind. They believe that every person born on earth is a literal child of Heavenly Father, and has infinite worth in God’s eyes.
Most of all, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the World, and that God has provided the means to let every person who ever lived on earth hear and embrace that message, if they wish. Mormons believe that most good people will receive an eternal reward that is heavenly, in the presence of Christ, no matter their religious affiliation.
Mormons believe that when someone needs financial assistance, it is important for him to contribute to the extent he can, to maintain self-esteem and confidence. And Mormons will work alongside people receiving aid, on projects to raise food for the needy.
One of the major differences between Mormons and other denominations is that Mormons have no career clergy. All leadership and teaching positions are filled by unpaid people giving freely of their time, sometimes as much as 20 hours a week. That is the case for the bishop who heads each local congregation, and for people who belong to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Mitt Romney was a bishop and then the president leading all the Mormon congregations in Boston. While building his own business, he was donating his free time to lead worship services, provide aid to the needy, and counsel married couples and individuals with personal concerns. He literally has more years of experience as a Christian minister than Mike Huckabee.

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posted July 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I wouldn’t call the Mormon church’s well-funded political assault on equity for gay and lesbian families much of an advertisement for “family values.” You all don’t value MY family.

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