Mitt Romney Endorses God

By Joe Bob Briggs | 12/06/2007


You’ll learn more about the Mormon Church from the “Landmark Moments in LDS History” Collectors Plate than you will from Mitt Romney’s 21-minute speech to a stacked house yesterday at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. I counted exactly one reference to Mormonism (“I believe in my Mormon faith and endeavor to live by it”), unless he gets credit for the sly mention of Brigham Young when he’s enumerating a trilogy of people persecuted for their faith. (The other two are Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams—interesting choices, because one was cast out by the Puritans, and the other was the leading exponent of church/state separation. What’s the subliminal message here? That the evangelicals are too puritanical and theocratic? That that’s how we ended up with Utah in the first place?)

After all the buildup for this speech—it’s just like Kennedy’s speech to the anti-Catholics in 1960, it’s his opportunity to answer critics who say Mormonism is a cult, it’s a chance to make Mormonism seem reasonable to those who think polygamy wasn’t such a good idea even in the 19th century—it was basically (and this is extremely odd coming from a Mormon) a plea for ecumenicism. This is not likely to make either the Mormons or the evangelicals he’s courting very happy at all.

Of the two ways he could have gone—religion is nobody’s business and should be kept out of politics, or I answer to God first—he chose some sloppy muddled middle way that argues that we’re a God-fearing nation, but let’s not get too precise about the nature of that God. And as to Mormonism, he doesn’t even come close to describing or defining it at all.

Here’s the arc of the speech, as far as I was able to follow it:

The founders of America sought the blessings of the Creator. The reason they did that is that you can’t ensure morality without religion. “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” (The atheist Christopher Hitchens would disagree. In fact, he’s posted a challenge on his website to name any principle of morality that is practiced only by religionists. But we digress.)

Romney then quotes JFK, to get that out of the way. He then states that the leaders of his church (he never uses the full name of the Church of Latter-Day Saints) will never exert authority over presidential decisions because the actual presidential oath of office is, to him, “my highest promise to God.” (This is actually a major departure from mainstream evangelical belief, which holds that the highest promise to God should derive not from the Constitution, but from the Bible.)

He follows up his “highest” belief with the assurance (to this audience, at least) that “Jesus is the son of God and the savior of mankind.” But then he says that “The President is not a spokesman for one faith, because he will need the prayers of peoples of all faiths.” This is the first time he gets real applause—the audience was a little nervous up till then—and then he enumerates the many faiths in America and lists what he loves about each one. This part bears repeating, both for the categories of faith he chooses and what he praises them for. In order:

Catholics: “I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic mass.”

Evangelicals: “[I love] the approachability of God in the prayers of the evangelicals.”

Pentecostals: “[I love] the tenderness of spirit among the pentecostals.”

Lutherans: “[I love] the confident independence of the Lutherans.”

Jews: “[I love] the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages.”

Muslims: “[I love] the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims.”

Well, okay, he’s a little lame on the Muslims. “Frequent” prayer? Whatever. He then summons a vision of upright steeples scattered throughout the towns and cities of the nation, all pointing to, presumably, the same God in heaven. You couldn’t have stated it better at a World Council of Churches Ecumenical Conference.

And yet . . . I doubt Mitt Romney is an ecumenicist. I doubt anyone he’s appealing to is an ecumenicist. And ecumenism is something that the secular world doesn’t care about at all, because they start from the assumption that we shouldn’t be talking about God in the first place. I also can’t help noting that one category on that list seems out of place. Look at the six “faiths” again and ask, What’s wrong with this picture?

Lutherans, right? Why are the Lutherans a separate category? Apparently he gave some considerable thought to the matter, along these lines: Well, they won’t like being called evangelicals, and they certainly wouldn’t want to be thought of as pentecostals. But if you give the Lutherans their own category, then what about Anglicans? They’re probably not crazy about the evangelical label either, at least not the High Church devotees. At any rate, the reason he has this problem in the first place is that he feels compelled to break the Protestant category into three different groups: Evangelical, Pentecostal, Lutheran. And why would he do that? Because it confuses which category the MORMONS belong in!

Either consciously or unconsciously, Romney is saying, “The Mormons really don’t fit into this whole Catholic/Protestant/Jewish/Muslim template we have, but look at it this way—we’re not any weirder than the Lutherans or the Pentecostals!”

One thing that is weird, though, is those who would create “a new religion of secularism.” “They’re wrong,” says Romney. Secularism bad. Ecumenism good. This is exactly why the founders said don’t get entangled with religion in the first place. But Romney soldiers on for another ten minutes, basically using the old “religious heritage” argument—meaning that it’s all the various religions that give us our morality, and that many faiths all believe the same things (equality, service, liberty of the individual). “Liberty is a gift of God,” he says, “not an indulgence of government.”

And then at the climax of his speech, he points out how lucky America is, because the cathedrals of Europe stand empty and the Asian continent is racked by the “theocratic tyranny” of radical Islam, but America is still a land where Reason and Religion are joined as allies. Here he’s become John Bunyan, reeling off the eternal verities of Liberty, Equality, Freedom, Reason, Religion and—to enormous applause—“our nation’s symphony of faith.”

In other words, a thoroughly un-Mormon speech. And a thoroughly American one. He could be an instructor at Union Theological Seminary. For that matter, he could chair the Dalai Lama’s next seminar. Yawn.

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Comments(38)

Perdix0168 | 11:22 am on 12/07/2007

I'm no fan of Romney's, but I have to wonder this: Is there ANY way he could have addressed the concerns over his Mormanism that would have been satisfactory to Briggs? The prejudice is there, and probably stronger than the prejudice that Obama and Clinton encounter for their race or gender. It therefore has to be addressed. If his speech went about it in the wrong way, what should he have said instead?

Toby | 10:11 pm on 12/09/2007

Did you not read the third paragraph?

David | 01:21 pm on 12/07/2007

I'm not a big fan of Romney's either, especially when he names secularism as a religion that he commences to attack in the midst of a speech that is somewhat about religious tolerance.

My bigger questions are "Why the speech?" and "Why did everyone give him all the free publicity?" Mormons are not Christians, in my view, and unlike other evangelicals, I am comfortable with qualifying the statement that way. At the same time, so what? If a guy takes comfort in a religion that I'm not comfortable with, what's the big deal?

The fact that we now have national figures standing up (with a lot of free help) to speak thusly indicates both how shallow our faith had become and how far politicians will go to pander to it. The "secularism" that Romney hates so much seems to be one of the only ways out of this, but I guess he doesn't get votes by pandering to that crowd.

Perdix0168 | 02:26 pm on 12/07/2007

David wrote:

"The "secularism" that Romney hates so much seems to be one of the only ways out of this, but I guess he doesn't get votes by pandering to that crowd."

***************

I agree. He seems to be saying "don't discriminate against Mormons. Discriminate against this minority instead." Still, I think the political climate requires that he address the religious question somehow.

Anonymous | 11:38 pm on 12/19/2007

I'm curious about one thing -- what is the definition of a "Christian"? Is not Christianity a religion that is centered around the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and believes that he is the savior? I'm a little confused here (but I'm just a simple Mormon, so cut me some slack) -- my church believes in Jesus Christ; we worship Jesus Christ; we use his name in our prayers; we take the sacrament in his name; his name is used in the title of our church; we teach about him in Sunday School; we believe that he is the son of God, and suffered in Gethsemane to atone for our sins, and died on the cross (and was resurrected) so that all mankind could hope for the resurrection; I taught people about Jesus Christ for two years on a church mission -- I taught straight out of the Bible, and used the Book of Mormon to supplement it; and etc, etc, etc.

And Mormons aren't Christians? Please, enlighten me.

Anonymous | 10:01 am on 1/25/2008

The problem is which Jesus? The Word made flesh, through which all was created, or the brother of Satan? The Savior whose sacrifice was sufficient for all who believe, or the one whose death simply paved the way for earning your way to godhood? The Cornerstone of the Church that will never fall, or the failed messiah that could not do what joseph smith did?

it is not enough to believe in Christ. Once must believe in Christ as He revealed Himself, not the farce invented by a conman.

sledog | 01:18 am on 2/05/2008

Well said. Also you could add "Which God is God?".

Anonymous | 09:15 pm on 4/06/2008

You also believe that one day YOU will be GOD of your own planet Earth! THAT IS NOT CHRISTIANITY!~!

Teddy Bear Mohammed | 02:01 pm on 12/07/2007

My question for any overtly religious candidate, when it comes between obeying their holy book or the constitution, which do they choose.

PortlandWes | 02:35 pm on 12/07/2007

Some people say, a candidate's faith is their own personal business. NOT WHEN YOU ARE PRESIDENT OF THE USA!!
- If a candidate believes that Jesus will return any day now to take "the saved" to heaven and destroy the earth, will that person value the quality of life on earth for future generations?
- If a candidate believes that an attack on Israel will usher in "the rapture", will that person be anxious to give it a kick start by provoking surrounding nations (like Iran) into WWIII?
- If a candidate believes that the earth was created 4,000 years ago, will that person scorn a scientific community that doesn't believe that?
- If a candidate believes that he is one of the few that is "elect" or "saved", will that person mostly consult those of like mind, and ignore those who aren't?
As a former evangelical with a Bachelor of Theology, who used to believe some of those things, I fear we will be so polite as to not ask the tough questions about a candidate's faith, and that could be a disaster for all of us (and for the world). The administration for the last seven years has given us a hint of what that disaster could look like.

Doug | 07:27 pm on 12/07/2007

Um, like, he's like not gonna win.

Alden | 08:40 pm on 12/07/2007

How many Democrat candidates could give a sincere definition of their faith without the crowd laughing them off the stage? Come on Hillary, we want to see you try.

Perdix0168 | 08:57 pm on 12/07/2007

Of course a Democrat can't define faith. Since God is clearly a Republican, how could they?

Jennifer | 09:56 pm on 12/07/2007

...I love the nutritious salads and rubbable bald heads of the Buddhists...

...and I love the sassy style of the atheists...

...and I love the musky aroma of candle wax, rusty metal and
discount-store nutmeg given off by zaftig pagan girls.

Stop Simplistic Thinking | 08:51 pm on 12/13/2007

PRICELESS, JENNIFER

stauf | 12:08 pm on 1/08/2008

Auesome, the perfect point

Raquel | 12:47 am on 12/08/2007

How can anyone deem this Stepford robot a presidential candidate?

Apart from that I am so sick and tired of politicians thumping their chests about their faith. Isn't the soul of freedom to worship the freedom not to worship, if that is the person's wish?

Well, Mitt, old boy, the irony of all this is that it's all this concern over religion that's gonna do you in.

Josh | 03:17 am on 12/08/2007

"...and I love the NPR-listening and fair trade coffee of Quakers."

And Jennifer...on your last "I love," I was on the verge of wondering if you might know where I could meet some of them. With a few tweaks that'd be a sketch of the ideal "womyn" in my fantasies. Then again, see how I opened this post and it makes that rather obvious.

Interestingly, I once had a family member think I went Mormon when I actually went Quaker; I laughed hysterically as I thought about the Quakers who jones for fair trade coffee and other such beverages. I also had a good laugh because that didn't seem to match my goatee and flannel from those days...or many of my other cultural tendencies, which by no stretch of the imagination could match those of the Mormons I've known.

Jennifer | 12:16 pm on 12/08/2007

"I was on the verge of wondering if you might know where I could meet some of them..."

You might want to consider taking a vacation to Salem, Massachusetts sometime during October. The later in the month, the better your chances.

Anonymous | 07:00 am on 12/09/2007

I'm no fan of Romney either. For the uninformed,Mormons are poly theists. They also believe that Satan is Jesus Christ's spiritual brother! Mormons are not Christian period. Someday Mitt looks forward to having his own planet to rule on forever after he attains "godhood." Oh Perdix 0168,you're correct that God is not a republican neither is He a democrat! Vote for Mitt if you must but don't link him to historical Christianity either!

The Dudester | 04:19 pm on 12/09/2007

It isn't what some one thinks that sanctifies a person, but what they do for the least among us. Original Sin the appendix of doctrines, not in the Bible. The Jews don't believe in it, but Augustine sure did. I think he was projecting.

How many unbiblical and useless doctrines do most mainline denominations bear witness and that divide us? Paul talks of three types of Christians; so why aren't there three denominations? Why is one part of Germany Lutheran and another Catholic? Religion is just another tool that the powerful use to divide us.

When personal or organized religion becomes about control, image or performance it ceases to be healthy. It seems shame is the whipping stick in most churches, but only God has the right to shame anyone. Romney didn't mention the Orthodox Catholics. The two most memorable and moving services I have attended was a Roman Catholic Good Friday Mass ending without the Eucharist, but a light shining on a rough hewn beam with some big nails sticking into a it and an Orthodox Catholic Easter Service with the parade of icons, incense, and priests that looked like they were in the Temple in Solomon's day.

As bodies of the catholic church all sects and cults of Christianity fail systematic theology. What is that all about, Jesus was a Jewish carpenter who tutored fisherman about the good news! And at first, they didn't even get it! We'd better hope God curves the test!

I am not going to vote for Romney or any of the other GOP candidates because his and their positions and policy views are bad for this country. This country needs to go down a different path to go forward. As far as I know only two candidates are offering this option - Obama and Edwards. My dark horse candidate who is not running - Nancy Pelosi.

Anonymous | 06:59 pm on 12/09/2007

Hey Dudester,what options? Obama and Edwards are big gov. liberals! Neocons like Bush have shredded the Constitution. You libs have done a good job of it too. Oh boy! Obama,Edwards,and Pelosi more "nanny state" politicians. Ron Paul is the only one who wants to follow the Constitution. Yes he's in the GOP,but he really is a libertarian. Oh by the way original sin is real. When Adam fell he plunged all of humanity into sin! If you trust in Christ alone you have nothing to worry about. Or is this too an "unbiblical" and "useless" doctrine?

The Dudester | 08:44 pm on 12/10/2007

So is this how you discuss politics and religion .... by putting loaded biased labels on people so you can marginalize them. Your next trick was to proclaim the person to be a member of that group, because you want it to fit. Well I question if you really know them, but I know you don't know me. I hope you don't go through life making straw men and women so you can knock them down. It defeats the idea of community and it doesn't further the debate any.

So Anonymous, if I had to choose between being a tax and spend (democrat, green, reformer, or radical) or being a tax cut and spend republican .... hmmm! I would choose! I think anyone taking the later is irresponsible and wants to lead this country to bankruptcy. It isn't just the Constitution these politicians have failed to follow, to protect and to defend. Well, I feel both parties have issues to answer to the American voter now and in the future. It is irresponsible and morally perverse to continually mortgage our future, our children's future and our children's children's future to live in the now. We are consuming our young and those not born.

I am confused about the nanny reference, where you dropped by one? Or are you repeating something heard from one of those conservative talking heads who seem to be busy trying to lay all the blame on the neocons or the Democrats so the conservatives look good for next year. Bush became President and was re-elected by more than the votes of neocons. His support in both Houses was impressive with Blue-Dog Democrats, Conservatives, Republicans. So the Conservatives are just as guilty as the neocons, maybe even more. They were both drunk on power, so it was damn the Constitution full speed a head. This country is going down the wrong road so putting a leader on steroids will only make it worst. Of course you might be referring to some rational clear-eyed consensus builder on the Right, but I don't see one running. Senator Hagel or former Senators Edward Brooke or Mark Hatfield are center to right of center and have integrity.

Your support or name dropping of Rep. Paul is puzzling. He wants an economic policy that would insure the poor stay poor and their numbers increase, the middle class gets smaller and the rich and powerful get more of what they want. He wants to further reduce regulations and safe guards. When Jesus got up in the Temple and proclaimed 'the acceptable day of the Lord', he was referring to the Jubilee, the righting of economic and property injustices. Please read John Howard Yoder's classic book The Politics of Jesus. Jesus was a threat spiritually and politically to the Sadducees and Pharisees. So why would I want to see this country go further down an unjust path for the weakest among us. If more deregulation is so good for us why do we have more homeless now and more below the poverty line, while the wealthy are richer? Bush and the Conservatives have erased all the gains under the Clinton Administration which had reversed the increasing trend from the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

25 years ago a CEO made roughly 80 times more than an average worker in his company, but today it is 800 times. Now that wouldn't be too bad if the average worker made at least ten times more, but that isn't the case. Real wages have been relatively flat adjusted for inflation. The powerful and wealthy will always seek to gain more power and wealth at any cost to others. Whether it is doing unsound mining practices to maximizing profit or convincing the masses that the Corporations and wealthy investors need their risk socialized so they can capitalize their profits. So you want more of this with Rep. Paul. Come on. He is a nice guy and he seems to mean what he says and does what he says he will do, but it is what he stands for economically I can not abide.

Original Sin is an Original Catholic Church theological device to keep Christians feeling guilty and only the church an make you feel better. It was formulated by St. Augustine. The Hebrews believe men and women have the capacity to do good and to do evil (the bad and really bad). If you want to literally interpret the Scriptures you will need to explain two creation stories (Man and Woman co-equal participants in Creation vs. Woman created from Man's rib ); order of creation is different in both stories; where did all those other people came from since God only created Adam and Eve; two conquest stories (12 tribes came into the promised land by way of the back door (avoiding as much conflict as possible) vs. literally destroyed every living thing even the trees (how do you build anything if there is nothing living); the mathematical term Pi is three (if you can make a circle with Pi equal to 3, then I will be your biggest fan). Jesus calls Herod a fox, so is he or does he behave like one? Now if you can get your head around that then why can't you understand the creation stories were not about literally being true, but a very powerful statement by the Jews that God (and only God) was the creator and sustainer of all life. Why can't we believe in the mystery of God and the wonder of Holy One's activity.

Adam and Eve were bound to fall, because God gave them free will. It is a Hebrew concept. Free will is biblical and Original Sin isn't. Original Sin dates to about 350-400 years after Christ.

Your last point exactly, so why do you need Original Sin? If you trust in Jesus why would Original Sin appeal to you? Do you want to feel depraved all the time or only on Friday and Saturday nights so you can feel better on Sundays?

Anonymous | 02:23 pm on 12/11/2007

Dude you're trying to tell me that you're not biased? FYI the GOP is loaded with neocons. Tax and spend is bad. So is borrow and spend. Ron Paul is the only real conservative in both parties. As to the "nanny state" reference why are you confused? If you think the government is going to take care of everyone in every way you are sadly mistaken. What gains were under Clinton? The surplus? That money belonged to all taxpayers and we should've been refunded!I guess the "idea of community" to you is that we shouldn't have any ideas contrary to yours. The "year of jubilee" to you is more statism. If you think that man is basically good,then we really have no more to discuss. But then you condescending libs know whats best. Do I know you? No. Do you know me,or the politicians you are salivating after? No! But you do know something about them otherwise you couldn't make a rational decision to support them. You don't want debate,you want agreement! You libs amuse me you keep warning us about "big brother" gov,and rightly so,but you sure love "big nanny" gov. Oh! By the way,a nanny didn't drop me. But it sounds like you've been heavily indoctrinated! As to being guilty yes we are in the presence of a Holy God. But we've been declared righteous in Christ.

the other Doug | 11:00 am on 12/12/2007

Woah! More demons here!
Find a storefront, fast!

Nate | 01:03 am on 12/16/2007

Dudester,
I just wanted to help you out with your confusion of the theological concept of Original Sin. Check out Romans 5 and it should be pretty clear. A proper exegesis of Romans 5 in a Bible University class changed my life and outlook on many things.
Hope this helps!
Nate

The Dudester | 01:13 am on 12/18/2007

Nate,
I believe a person needs to investigate where and when ideas and doctrine originate. As we look around, observe if our brothers and sisters all agree, if they don't why. My self I am not a Rabbi or theologian ... just a baptist that believes in the authority of scripture, reason, and the wonders of nature. History and geography can be invaluable teachers.

I am aware that through church history issues were encountered that prompted religious leaders to act. Also, I am aware that Christians fell in the trap most bureaucratic institutions fall into and they used similar methods to solve increasingly more complex problems. They raised tradition and doctrine up to the same level as Scripture. Wealth and tradition have been sore spots for the catholic church. Jeffrey Burton Russell's book Prophecy and Order helped me see & understand some of the development of church group dynamics. As well as, they adopted some practices of those who persecuted them before Emperor Constantine. They increasingly used persecution over the years trying to control and chasten the faithful, including using persecution on the the Jews and Atheists to increase the flock. It seems to me 'Original Sin' was more of a self analysis of the depraved behavior of church leaders. I might be projecting!

It was the prophets of Original Sin, Luther and Calvin, and their followers who persecuted the Anabaptists by taking them out into Lake Geneva, then tying weights to them, saying since you like baptism so much here is another, pushing them in to drown. And these murderes were following the Elect? What they wanted was control and power at all costs. Murdering people physically or spiritually for what they believe is denying a person's free will, their God given rights, their community, and most of all their God given gifts for what? Some doctrinal purity that isn't even in Scripture .... So it is really about what? for whom? by whom?

What is important for me to do is to look at what I consider to be a priori. Sometimes I have found doctrine to be a logical extension and in this case it is not. The Apostle's Creed is a logical extension, where 'Original Sin' is not implied nor inferred by the OT or NT.

So I ask questions to try to get at the truth. Why is it the early church did not believe in 'Original Sin'? Or should I say did not profess it? Why is it that the concept came from a different location dealing with certain heresies? Why is it as time goes on the rhetoric about total depravity by some Christian leaders increases in intensity and volume? Is this related to control and power?

Who benefits from the doctrine? Does it clarify anything? Does it negate anything? And who benefits form that negation? Why is it most people who have a high view of Original Sin have a low capacity to understand the dynamics of societal sin or an extremely slow reaction on being motivated to confess participation or deal with it. Maybe when we are up to our eyeballs in water an evangelist will talk about stewardship and faithfulness to God's creation even then they probably will fail to understand sustainability. Along as they are raking in millions why would they be considered. The early Christians had a rule of thumb as not to let evangelist from mooching. They could only stay around a community as long as it took fish to go bad. Whewee!

If we look at the two great commandments, where the first being loving God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second being equal to it to love our neighbor as our self and if that is done all the commandments are fulfilled. How can personal sin be separated from societal sin? The vertical and horizontal axes of relationship are inseparable and are organic, to remove one from the other invites death.

If God did not give us free will with no expectation to be responsible for our actions (accountable), (this being the negative of the O.T/Hebrew point of view), then we can not respond out of faith. We are totally depraved locked into our straight-jacketed will which precludes us from responding. We are quicken by our depravity. We can not act freely on the gift of God through Jesus Christ. If we can respond, then we must have had free will from the start. This is absurd and contradicts the premise, so 'Original Sin' is pointless!

So if we have free will and are expected to be responsible (stewards of creation) with the gifts God has given us, then we can be restored to God by responding to the supreme act of love in Jesus Christ out of faith. This, I believe, is a rudimentary view of justification by faith, which we must again respond in our best steadfast faithfulness to this wonderful gift by being responsible (sharing our faith, our hope, our love, and our peace and standing for justice) to others who share our faith and those who do not in spite of adversity. During this walk stumbling and getting up to continue in our pilgrimage to Glory. In this struggle God makes us righteous. I believe this is a rudimentary view of sanctification. I got there without needing your superfluous 'Original Sin'.

Romans 5 affirms what the Hebrews already knew to be true and were called to testify as a light to the world. As Scripture says Jesus fulfilled the vision portrayed in the OT. Romans 5 does not form the framework for the doctrine of 'Original Sin' dreamed up by a platonic saint to deal with a dilemma in his day. It sure does show how much Calvin was projecting his own spiritual inadequacies. I gather that by the fruits of his spirit - fear, hate, mayhem, and death.

We don't have to follow him dwelling in total depravity, but rather we have positive choices. We can roll up our sleeves and be responsible change agents for God in Jesus Christ spreading the Word, love, hope, peace, and justice.

Don Gozdowski | 08:56 am on 12/12/2007

To Whom it may concern. I'm a big fan of satire. As a Theologian, I find religious satire a delight, and I look forward to the weekly installment of the Godstuff video. That being said I guard my heart and mind from "sound bites" no matter what camp they come from. Laugh at someone's religious teaching if you must, but then tell me why that teaching does not equate with sound doctrine. Chapter and Verse if you please.

Anonymous | 10:37 am on 12/12/2007

Anonymous,
The idea of community is mutuality, respect, free flowing discussion, and a sense of solidarity. Normally in community two or more sides discuss things without the expectation or need for the other side(s) to agree. After the discussion they still appreciate the person, but not necessarily agreeing. Name calling and labeling are not respectful behavior in community. The same goes for people who have to marginalize or set people against one another to appear to win an argument. It isn't winning that counts .... it is the process.

I understand your need for duality. It is normal for those who are locked into things being two sided debated. TV and Radio does it, too! We hear the Republican, then the Democrat talk OR the liberal view, then a conservative view; however, life isn't that neat. It must be frustrating wanting me to be a liberal so bad. You have been conditioned to believe this is a them against us world. The reality is much larger there are all types of groups of thought other than neo-cons, conservatives, and liberals. Just within feminism there are 7 or 8 different types, which influences how they view the world and find meaning.

I enjoy listening to liberals. They go on and on about injustices, then if someone disagrees about something the others will seek agreement .... just like conservatives. The difference between a liberal and conservative politically is the meanness factor. Conservatives will work to defeat a member of their own party (I see this primarily in the GOP, but a Blue Dog will switch parties or vote for the opposition), if the person does not agree with what they want as a group, even if it means they will lose the election. They did that with Nelson Rockefeller, Senator Percy of Illinois, Senator Brooke of Massachusetts, Senator Hatfield of Oregon. All three were successful politicians. The liberals within the Democratic Party will a varying degrees just not support the person or just not go to the polls. Sad, if one chooses to be an active member of a party, it would seem that a person would understand you can't have your way all the time. This behavior goes back to what we learned in Kindergarden or before. getting along with are classmates.

I suppose you are correct about bias. If one has a bias towards diversity, it still is a bias. I find monocultures as limited and leading to intellectual incest. This explains to me the rise and fall of that duality you believe in .... liberals and conservatives. One will be on top, then the other. What a merry-go-round and the country still flounders.

I suppose if you say it enough to your self that the GOP is loaded with neo-cons then it must be true. It must be hard to believe that in retrospect Bill Clinton looks like a Boy Scout compared to Dubya. Wow! I hope you hear this. I found Clinton to be what he said he was a Centrist, but he disappointed me in several areas. I read Shrub in 2000, which was about Dubya. He scared me then what a man like him would do as President. He and his Administration have been an embarrassment politically, legally, socially in every way for this country to put it mildly. The horrors he has imposed in our name on the rest of the world is tragic and embarrassing for us.

If major change is needed to progress and grow, then that eliminates the GOP candidates. They are retreads in thought and behavior. I realize you support Rep. Paul and he is a breath of fresh air in the GOP. I enjoy listening to him. However, for me his policies are more of a throw back to era that did not work. We got regulation, because of the Robber Barons of the mid to late 1800s. This was seen as needed by both political parties. Roosevelt and Taft were in the GOP. It is the other side which is interesting to me, because we have two who articulating the needs of the middle class and the plight of the dispossessed. They are saying the right things, but there is not much of a track record.

My other bias is I am a Christian who understands sin, that is why I believe there needs to be a countervailing power to be an advocate for those who are powerless in a system that recognizes and does the bidding of the wealthy and powerful. Two big names in twentieth century American Christian ethics Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr that I have read and I recommend to you. Moral Man and Immoral Society is a classic by Reinhold and by H. richard Christ and Culture and The Responsible Self.

Statism not sure what you mean by that Webster says it is concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry. Now when Jesus proclaims in the Temple the acceptable day how is that
statism? I gave you a quote out of the Bible ... it is biblical! You can look up and find out if I am correct or not. It appears you choose not to do that and threw on a label to try to discount my argument.

The remark "The surplus? That money belonged to all taxpayers and we should've been refunded!' is interesting. I sent my Senators a letter back when Dubya was playing the surplus scam on us. If the surplus money is ours, isn't the national debt ours to? Are you going to send me a bill for the national debt? At the time my share of the national debt was around $20,000. Dubya has been real effective and now it is up around $30,000. I guess I should have had him as my investment counselor instead of TIAA-CREF.

"Do I know you? No. Do you know me,or the politicians you are salivating after? No! But you do know something about them otherwise you couldn't make a rational decision to support them."
I think this is a left handed compliment .... maybe?

Nanny gov is that a term used where you live, because I haven't heard it here. Head Start, Social Security, the American with Disabilities Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, Interstate Highways, Family Leave Act, the EPA, ..... are a product of that nanny government. So you want all those things to go away? Let corporations pollute your air and water without recourse? Architects have increasing become aware that buildings constructed under
the ADA are more user friendly to all. Amazing.

I said "The Hebrews believe men and women have the capacity to do good and to do evil (the bad and really bad)". then you wrote "If you think that man is basically good,then we really have no more to discuss." Where did you get what you wrote from what I wrote. Is it possible you are forcing what I say into some predefined ideas in your mind, because I can't get from what I said to what you said about me?

Clinton reduced government to the size that existed under the Kennedy Administration. Did Ford, Reagan, or Bush Sr. do that? However, in your defense, with all the mud slinging going on during the Clinton Administration with accusations about murder, etc. who could hear any good news. Family Leave Act was passed in the first month of his Administration. He appointed a disaster expert ahead of FEMA. Normally he filled members of his Administration with well qualified persons from either party. Senator Cohen from Maine Secretary of Defense. He did balance the budget with cooperation from the Congress. He left with a road map to paying off the national debt. His management style was one of result performance driven expectations loyalty was only expected not demanded. Ethical problems of his Administration were limited in scope and number.

Contrast with previous administrations with major scandals under Reagan and Bush Sr. Oliver North maintained he had a right to lie to Congress. This shows how simplistic and uninformed he was. If someone lies to the Congress they are lying to the people of the United States, likewise when GE defrauded the government (some have said the government had it coming), but they defrauded the American people. We should be mad. Well, I won't list Dubya's because his seem to be so numerous one would think they were counting the grains of sand on Miami Beach.

Getting back to Rominey. I liked his father, but then he came back from a visit to Vietnam in 1968 and said he thought he had been brainwashed (refering to the activity of American diplomats and military), well who wants a President to says that. He does have that sophisticated look. The pundits say he appears to be comfortable in his own skin. He flip flops with the best of them. I just don't like labeling someone as incapable because they are Mormon. They are enough past and present statements and actions by him to find reasons not to support him. His statement on faith & church in America was unfortunate.

The Dudester | 10:39 am on 12/12/2007

OOPS! Sorry I forgot to type in my name.

Anonymous | 04:59 pm on 12/12/2007

Look Dude there is no point in me going further. If you want to know where I'm coming from I'd suggest two websites. Lew Rockwell and The Chalcedon Foundation. Pay particular attention to the blogs at Chalcedon. You mentioned Social Security, it is unsustainable and will fail. Ron Paul stands for freedom all the others are big gov. people. Yes dubya has increased the size of gov. So will Hillary. By the way we still don't know who was on Hillary's health care commitee do we? Every program you mentioned,the federal gov. has NO mandate to provide them. So what if the Hebrews thought that man has the capacity to do good? God says otherwise in Scripture. Men are totally depraved until or unless the Holy Spirit regenerates them. Call me a Calvinist and a Libertarian and you would be accurate. Look at the sites I suggested.

The Dudester | 08:53 pm on 12/12/2007

Social security is sustainable to about 2048, if adjustments are made now it will weather the demographic problem at that time. Medicaid is in trouble in the next 5 to 10 years.

Well, Ron Paul, Libertarians and Free Marketers worship the market and trust ultimately in its power. God, in their view, has no place in the market. Ron Paul talks about the concept of freedom, so he and those like him can further enslave us in their delusion. They don't want you or me to have 'fair trade', but 'free trade' on their terms, that is not freedom. They want to maintain the status quo. 'Free trade' is just another pyramid scheme

I went to the Chalcedon site and saw the anti-Science propaganda. Sorry I can not abide this nation sliding into another Dark Ages or as a Christian turning my back on gifts from God. Science and Religion are not at odds unless someone tries to make it that way. For example, Science seeks to understand the how and when of nature and does not say whom or why it started. Even if Science could conclusively prove when the Big Bang occurred. They could not infer the why. The scientific method is a tool to get at truth. Just as the early reformers in the beginning of the Reformation used literacy criticism on the Bible to enhance greater understanding that greatly enrich Christendom. These two incidents the Reformation and Biblical Criticism are the main reasons Roman Catholicism has been playing catch up to this day. Astronomy without science is astrology! Take away Economics from business one would have chaos in the economy. And on and on with every part of science. A scientist does not talk in absolutes, so why are people afraid of science. I think it is the fear of the unknown and the lack of understanding, and the gossipmongers to misrepresent science for their own purposes.

I am not sure about Hillary's committee. I will look into it, thanks for the heads up, but I wonder if this is a propaganda corruption of the story about V. President Cheney's secret energy policy committee. I do remember public committee hearings, but I do not know if the committee members were the same. Also, I do remember first hand experience being a telephone surveyor for a local company calling to Florida and telling people things that were not true trying to get people's reaction. This is push polling and I came to find out later it is unethical. You probably remember the push polling of the Bush's campaign in South Carolina GOP primary in 2000 used against McCain. 'If you knew that Senator McCain had fathered a baby with black woman would you be more likely or less likely to vote for him.' Of course he didn't, it was Senator Strom Thurmond.

You mentioned the idea the Federal Government has no mandate. Well have you read the U.S. Constitution's Preamble?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Also, American polity permits it. American polity is that the majority rules, but respects the minorities rights.

Hebrews are the people who wrote it and they canonized the Old Testament at the council of Jamnia 90 AD, because after the destruction of the Temple, expulsion of Jews, fear that Christians were misusing their scriptures. Their interaction with God, their behavior and history are documented in the Old Testament.

Well, we get down to the bottom line. Any version of Calvinism is heresy. Free will for example one passage talks about it - Ecc 15:14-15. I am not saying sin does not exist. I am saying God loved so much we were given the freedom to choose good or evil, even after being re-borned by faith in Jesus Christ.

The other heresy of Calvinism is the idea of the elect. The Bible recognizes and cautions us that we can lapse and fall away. This theme runs through out the Old Testament and New Testament. Why would Paul encourage us to work out our salvation and that we must be viiligant and persevere.

Another heresy of Calvinism is predestination. Its logic is circular at best. And a religious tool to enslave parishioniers which leads to further evidence of his being a false prophet.

He persecuted those who would not do what he wanted or disagree with him in Geneva. from 1541 to 1546, John Calvin caused 58 people to be executed and seventy six were exiled. His victims ranged in age from 16 to 80. The most common capital offense was the opposition to infant baptism. In Calvin's time it was punished either by drowning, a drawn out and slow burning at the stake, or beheading. All this was done in public, with city residents compelled to watch the butchery. The executions were spaced out so as to exert a continuing policy of fear and terror. Others were killed for advocating local church autonomy; opposing the tie-in of church and state: and preaching that Christ died for all sinners (unlimited atonement). Press censorship continued in Geneva until the eighteenth century.

So I am perplexed you want freedom, but you want to be enslaved by the 'free market' not 'fair trade' which empowers the seller and the buyer and finally Calvinism which leads people away from the Bible and Christ.

I am a fervent American Baptist who believes in biblical authority, so if you can show me that Calvin is who you say he is and he did not commit religious persecution, child abuse, and atrocities I will listen.

I did go to the sites, but I feel I can agree we disagree I will hope that as you read and understand Church History you will see John Calvin for who he is. If I could contrast him with another person in Church History to offer some relief in defining Calvin further, it would be Roger Williams. The founder of American religious liberty/freedom from the state to direct religious piety. In Jesus one can not murder people or persecute people in love. I believe we are called liars when we say we love God, but do not love our brothers and sisters. So I will go no quarter concerning Calvin for all the reasons stated previously. No matter how our conversation proceeds I hope the best for you in what ever you do. May God be with you.

Doug | 04:53 pm on 12/21/2007

Hey Dudester and Anon, you're both bugging the piss out of me...oops, see I told you! Now I've gotta go change shorts. While I'm away, why don't the two of you exchange snail mail addresses and become pen pals? For the record, Dudester, your theology is a bit sketchy and seems to me like you picked up most of it from a book (notice, not the bible) and your supposed history of Calvin and Luther is a freaking joke. But that's okay, after my abduction (when I'd recovered from the cavity probes) I had secret knowledge also. Okay, that's it; now shut up.

Anonymous | 05:53 am on 12/22/2007

Thank You Doug! You can't communicate with someone (dudester) who has all the answers! I'm outa here! 'Bye!

The Dudester | 12:23 am on 12/27/2007

Doug you are so insightful when you elucidate. Your comments do not offer any facts or even Scripture; however you accuse me of being sketchy! I suppose if you are not familiar with church history you can argue from ignorance or use that novel never used before alien abduction routine as an excuse. I was rotflol!

Doug if you want to believe in Calvin's theology that is your freedom to do so. OOPS Free will, I forgot you don't believe in it. Now, Doug I realize you have no choice, you are sealed in Calvin's theology. Maybe you could pull a MacGyver or use that alien trick again.

The 'for the record' and 'now shut up' comments are classic autocratic authoritarian diatribe. Notice I did not use the BS phrase. Sure makes life easier, when a person can name call and marginalize others. No wonder Anonymous likes you so much! Maybe you two ought to be pen pals.

People not understanding and acting on God's wonderful gift of free will given to us from the beginning of the arc of time is like being cattle led around by a nose ring.

Logical aid -
A. We are created in God's image?
B. God's has free will OR God's will is/can be bounded by God (self-restraint) OR 3. God's will is bound by some power other than God?

There are eight possible answers. They are TFF, TTF, TFT, TTT, FTT, FFT, FTF FFF
1. If TFF, then God has free will, but the Eternal One does not have the free will to exercise self-restraint. This is a contradiction.
2. If TTF, then God has free will and has the freedom of self-restraint without any external controls
3. If TFT, then God has free will, but the Eternal One does not have the free will to exercise self-restraint. This is a contradiction. Plus is bound by some other power. Again a contradiction.
4. If TTT, then condition 2 holds with God, but being bound by some other power. Again a contradiction.
5. If FTT, then God does not have free will, but has the freedom to exercise self-restraint. This is a contradiction. Now add that God is bound by some other power and we have an even greater contradiction.
6. If FFT, then God is not free PERIOD and is bound by some other power. Hence this other power is free to bound God making it a god like figure. This refutes OT and NT, hence a contradiction for people of faith.
7. If FTF, then we have a condition like 5 a contradiction.
8. IF FFF, then God does not have free will nor does God have self-restraint. This would infer God can not make a decision and like Aristotle's understanding of God as a 'unmoved mover'. God exists as a passive deity, but can not initiate an action such as Jesus. We know he can as people of faith, so this can not hold.

In Summary Condition 2 holds as being the only valid and true statement.
Given we are created in God's image and Condition two holds where God has free will and has the power to exercise self-restraint, therefore we have free will.

Doug | 04:57 pm on 1/17/2008

Jiminy crickets dude! I was joking. Lighten up.

Doc | 01:06 am on 2/07/2008

I'm thinking 'Dudester' has waaay too much time on his hands. Here's the deal, Dudester. We don't care THAT much!

Shazbot | 05:07 pm on 1/04/2008

21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matt. 7)

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