Thoughts here today on POLITICO about the ongoing MidEast flareup with its supposed roots in an amateur YouTube video, and a Cairo embassy tweet that Mitt Romney treated as a presidential pronouncement.
Archive for the ‘Religious Rhetoric’ Category
Posted in Campaign Trail, Conservatism, Political Rhetoric, Religious Rhetoric, tagged Controversies, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Mormonism, POLITICO, Religion, Republicans, rhetoric on October 10, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
There has been a boom of chatter in the media today, coming on the heels of comments from prominent Texas Pastor Robert Jeffress over the weekend. Jeffress, who is closely associated with Rick Perry, referred to Mormonism as a “cult” and explicitly said he does not consider Romney a Christian. And that while he considers Romney a “moral man,” he would prefer a Christian president to a non-Christian one. Jeffress is not backing down, continuing a media barrage and not issuing backtracking “clarifications.”
So here we go.
Comment was solicited promptly from the other candidates, including Perry, whose only response thus far was to answer “no” when asked if he believes Mormonism is a cult.
Michele Bachman refused to answer any questions in a CNN interview. Herman Cain, on ABC and then CNN later Sunday morning, revealed a bit more. Candy Crowley: “Is Mitt Romney a Christian?” Cain: “He is a Mormon. That much I know. I am not going to do analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity.”
Versus. This was not a dodge.
So what’s the upshot going to be? On POLITICO today, there’s an interesting debate over whether the anti-Mormon rhetoric could create a Romney sympathy vote. I said no — at least among hard core evangelical Christians. After all, isn’t it the position of the right wing that squishy moral-relativistic ideas like religious diversity are destroying civilization? And if Romney wants to play the victim-of-intolerant-theocrats card, the most he should hope for is a cameo spot in Bill Maher’s sequel to Religulous.
Maher had an insightful (and of course irreverent) comment on the matter on his most recent HBO program. In typical fashion, he asked: What is the difference between accepting latter-day revelation (e.g. Joseph Smith) and earlier-day revelation (e.g. Moses)? In the interest of intellectual consistency, there are only four positions one can take on the matter: 1) Accept the concept of religious revelation and allow for its variation across time and among faiths; 2) Accept religious revelation and do not allow for its variation; 3) Reject the concept of religious revelation; 4) Reject the relevance of the question.
Unfortunately, presidential politics places a limited emphasis on intellectual consistency. What we are witnessing and will continue to witness is a rhetorical criss-crossing of these four positions, particularly among those competing for Romney’s front-runner status. As epitomized in the Cain interview, people will take position 4 (the question isn’t relevant) but implicate positions 2 (Pastor Jeffress).
And wait for it: Just as some on the right respond to the Obama-is-a-Muslim conspiracy theories, “If he says he’s a Christian, I take him at his word.”