What I'd like to say is that the conversation surrounding Mitt Romney's mormonism has bothered me. About a week ago some pastor in Dallas said Mitt Romney, as a Mormon, was part of a cult. He went on to suggest that Christians should vote for a real Christian (in this case Rick Perry) over a cult member (Romney).
Since then almost every person who has commented on it has repudiated this pastor, conservatives included. I just watched a video with Karl Rove where he basically suggests we shouldn't even talk about this. I've been similarly dissapointed that Herman Cain seems unwilling to deal with the issue, suggesting he's not running for "theologian-in-chief" when asked about it.
Here's what bothers me about all this:
- The suggestion that a candidates religious perspective doesn't matter or shouldn't be an issue we are allowed to ask about is incredibly naieve. Everybody is religious. What I mean by that is everyone has a certain view of God, man, and the world. Some people haven't thought about theirs, but they all have one. As President of the United States, you make decisions based on your views of God, man, and the world. So your view of these things, i.e. your religious perspective or worldview, is of utmost importance. To say "I'm not running for theologian-in-chief" or the like is essentially to say "I'm not going to talk about how my religious views affect my decision making." But they necessarily do affect your decision making! So either a.) you're just not thinking about it, in which case you're making decisions based on something, but it's not God's truth, or b.) you know you actually make your decisions on some worldview other than the Christian one but don't want to admit that because it would alienate evangelical votes you're hoping to keep.
- This pastor has done nothing wrong by suggesting that mormonism is a theological cult. Agree with him or not, it's not inappropriate for a pastor to boldly express his convictions, even if it steps on toes.
- Mormonism is not Christianity. This is a necessary distinction. Mormonism does not preach the gospel. Everyone in this discussion seems to make it sound like we shouldn't even be allowed to make a judgment on that. The fact that Herman Cain, a professed Christian, doesn't seem to have the balls or discernment to be clear on this is troubling to me.
- Everyone around this discussion, partly because of the pastor's own comments, seems to be assuming that if I have questions about a candidate's faith it means I'd vote for Joe Shmoe Christian over Mitt Romney. So any questions about religion are written off as "irrelevant." That's simply not true, and assuming so precludes us from asking important questions about how worldview impacts a candidate's decision making. Personally I'd vote for Mitt Romney over a Christian with no political experience or expertise. But that doesn't mean religion is irrelevant, it just means it's not the only relevant data point.
- It reveals to me that what so many conservatives really care about is winning. Shut up about religion, it doesn't win, is the attitude. Let me just tell people I'm a Christian so I can corner the evangelical voting block, but if you ask me to really spell out how that affects my life you're irrelevant or something.
Such an attitude is killing the possibility for intelligent discussion about how religion should affect policy, since we know that religious views already do. But when those religious views that necessarily exist in many of these decisions go unstated, they are assumed and unproven, and often may not be in line with God's truth. Grudem's Politics According to the Bible is a good example of making these implicit religious assumptions explicit and bringing them in line with what God says is truth.