The Intersection of Politics and Religion

Some folks seem concerned that one of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination for President is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Some others are trying to paint such concerns as wrong headed or mean spirited or something else bad. Well, while it is not good to apply a “religious test” as a qualification for a public office in America, it is possible that some religious beliefs could disqualify a candidate.

For example, suppose that a candidate was a devout worshiper of Zeus who believed that his god actually was physically in residence on Mount Olympus. Suppose that this person also denied any evidence that there were no gods found atop that mountain. He might be an otherwise trustworthy and competent individual, but it would not be unreasonable to question his connection to reality and have qualms about how that might affect his performance in office.

It is Mormon doctrine that Israelites immigrated to the New World a bit over 2500 years ago and kept sheep, horses, and other animals. That they built cities. There is no archeological evidence to support such claims and DNA evidence tending to refute them. Is it unreasonable to question the critical thinking of someone who continues to hold a belief in the face of conclusive evidence to the contrary? Isn’t good critical thinking a desirable skill for a President of the United States?

The question about any candidate’s religion is not whether or not he’s a “true Christian” (and the Mormon description of their god is sufficiently different from the Christians’ that it seems that Mormons aren’t Christians and Christians aren’t Mormons), but how his religion affects his world view.

Dan Miller writes at PJ Tatler

I consider Governor Romney a RINO and there are other candidates for the nomination I prefer; if he gets the nomination, however, I shall support his candidacy and vote for him; the alternative of another term for President Obama would be much worse. Should he be denied the Republican nomination based solely on the idea that Mormonism is not “true” Christianity, it would be very bad for the United States.

I tend to agree.

UPDATE–Those interested in a concise description of the theological differences between Mormons and Christians should read this essay by Richard John Neuhaus.

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