Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Christian wedge?

One of the most remarkable aspects of the modern American religious right is that it has brought together conservatives of religions and denominations previously thought to be enemies - notably Protestants and Catholics (and to a lesser extent, Jews, hence the historically strange term Judeo-Christian tradition) - on the basis of shared policy goals (on abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc).

Mitt Romney's presidential ambitions have highlighted another potential crack in the religious right: evangelical Protestant distaste for Mormonism.
As Governor Mitt Romney mulls a race for president in 2008, his strategists expect their ''family values" candidate -- who opposes gay marriage, abortion, and some forms of embryonic stem cell research -- to find a natural base of support among religious conservatives. ...

But an examination of the views of powerful Christian right groups suggests that, even as some of these voters might appreciate Romney's lifelong commitment to his church, the governor's Mormon faith could become an obstacle for others among this same group, who make up a large and vocal segment of Republican primary voters.
The Southern Baptist Convention website categorizes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a ''cult" that is ''radically" different from historic, biblical Christianity.

A faith guide issued by the influential Christian right group Focus on the Family declares that ''God cannot be identified ... with the Mormon religion's notion of god." And each year, evangelical organizers behind the National Day of Prayer bar Mormons from speaking at their proceedings.

...Scholars say Protestant evangelicals who form the base of the Republican Party have more profound theological conflicts with the Mormon Church [than those between Protestants and Catholics]. (Despite his efforts to improve the dialogue between Mormons and Protestant evangelicals, Johnson said he doesn't believe Mormon beliefs are a ''Christian doctrine.") [**] ...

Even Joseph Smith Jr., the self-proclaimed prophet who founded the church in 1830, made a bid for the Oval Office. His campaign in 1844, the year James K. Polk beat Henry Clay, ended with his murder in June at the hands of an anti-Mormon mob.
Unfortunately, I don't see this conflict having any actual practical effect on the strength of the religious right. Romney probably won't be nominated (gay marriage ban or not), but conservative Mormons won't abandon the religious right because of that. This marriage of convenience is too strong for anything as trivial as, you know, religion, to break it up.

**For example, Google "mormons not christians".


Blogger Razib said...

in 1992 (i believe) an anti-gay measure in idaho failed because mormons voted against it because the evangelical group pushing it had also peddled anti-mormon videos. also, mormons tend to be far more equivocal about school prayer and such things on the federal level because their own beliefs are so heterodox. for example, orrin hatch opposes school prayer (he was raised mormon in pennsylvania).

8/31/2005 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Oh, that's very interesting. Good to know that splits on the religious right can matter, though I suspect that evangelical groups have become more savvy about not alienating allies since 1992.

This makes me ask though, whether Mormons favor school prayer at the state level, eg in Utah?

8/31/2005 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Razib said...

whether Mormons favor school prayer at the state level, eg in Utah?

i honestly don't know, but church-state separation is a very sketchy affair in Utah :) my high school was 50% mormon, and of these i'd say 90% were republican, but i became aware of the school prayer opinions because my friends (conservative mormons all) opposed it my evangelical friends favored it. this is an area where mormons are nearly half the population (school age is a higher frequency obviously!), not a majority....

8/31/2005 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Ah... very interesting. Perhaps the recent memory of vicious persecution is enough to exercise the understanding of the importance of church-state separation...

8/31/2005 11:35:00 PM  
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