Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that anyone can hold office in government and, “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office.” Socially, however, it seems you can’t get anywhere politically without faith. That’s why we often see people at meetings like the Value Voters Summit, a virtual cesspool of sincere and phony candidates playing the Christian card to win votes. Yet at the same time any criticism of one’s faith is paradoxically labeled as “bigotry” and having “nothing to do” with holding office. This happened to Mitt Romney recently.
POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK
Last week Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, at a Perry campaign even in Dallas, called Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith a “cult,” urging “true Christians” not to vote for him. Now, one shouldn’t take such criticism of the Mormon religion (or any faith) as a disqualification, but people do have the right to take another’s faith into consideration even if they think it is bad (this would apply to Jeffress’ own weird religion too).
As a former Mormon for 18 years of my life, I think there are issues with the faith that do deserve scrutiny and criticism. Jeffress, by saying that true Christians shouldn’t vote for Romney, made an error by insinuating that Mormonism is non-Christian, which is untrue. Not only is Christ the focal point of Mormons but the religion is fundamentally “American” (Mormons believe the Garden of Eden was in present-day Missouri). But like sausage, a religion is not pretty to look at in the making. Therefore one must know of the faith.
Mormonism was founded by a young 25 year-old man named Joseph Smith in 1830, about four years after being convicted in a Bainbridge, N.Y. court as “a disorderly person and an impostor,” admitting in court to orchestrating phony gold-digging excavations and claiming to have “necromantic” powers. Living in what was called the “Burned-Over District” (from the endless waves of revivalism), Smith easily claimed to have found the Book of Mormon (a lost testament of Jesus Christ), in an unknown language on golden plates buried in upstate New York. He was able, with a “seer stone” given by God, to translate them into 16th century English, despite living in the 19th century. Smith said, “I shall be to this generation a new Muhammad” and paraded with his slogan, “Either the Al-Koran or the sword.”
Other bizarre mainstream aspects of the faith include: All leaders of the church are “Prophets” chosen by God and members must follow his word; Black people are a cursed race derived from the seed of Cain, and thus can’t be in the priesthood (reversed only since 1978); The wearing of “magic underwear” to inhibit sexual deviancy; Baptism of the dead (which makes Hitler a Mormon); Native Americans are actually a lost tribe of Israel; And the meddling in politics like the California referendum on gay marriages.
PUT UP OR SHUT UP
So with all of these bizarre beliefs and tampering in politics, Romney honestly can’t claim that questioning his religion has nothing to do with the election. Romney and the other conservatives in America are trying to have it both ways by running on their religious backgrounds while simultaneously claiming that criticism of faith is off the table. Politicians need to keep their faith out of the mix or face tough questions about it, even if it is just the traditional Virgin Birth and water-into-wine storyline.