What is more important: the religious faith of the candidates running for the Presidency or voters’ faith that this time they get it right and choose the best candidate to be the next President?
My mother always told me not to discuss religion. I am breaking with her this one time. The reason is the spotlight that has been thrown on the former Governor of Massachusetts and front-running GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. You probably have heard that Romney is a Mormon.
It was much publicized earlier this month when Pastor Robert Jeffress called Mormonism a “cult” at a political gathering. Jeffress told hundreds of congregants this at his Texas megachurch where he welcomed the opportunity to warn people about the “false religion.”
Following his cult comments, Jeffress introduced and then endorsed the current Governor of Texas and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry.
To his credit, Perry, an evangelical Christian, rebuffed Jeffress’ comments and said he does not believe the Mormon faith is a cult. This is no doubt good news to Jon Huntsman, the former Governor of Utah and another Republican Presidential candidate who is also a practicing Mormon.
The Jewish Journal summed up the religious questioning by Jeffress this way:
I guess no Jewish politician will ever get Jeffress’ blessing if he’s running against Christians. This is in the same spirit as the pastor’s laughable assertion a few years ago that “Mormonism, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism … lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell.” He has also stated that the Catholic Church represents the “genius of Satan.” If LDS Christianity has run afoul of Pastor Jeffress, it looks like we’re in good company: 14 million Mormons + 1.5 billion Muslims + 14 million Jews + 850 million Hindus + 1 billion Catholics, all condemned by the 10,000 members of Jeffress’ megachurch in Dallas.
Is The Oval Office For Evangelicals Only?
I haven’t studied Romney’s leadership plans enough to speculate on what kind of President he would make. However, I believe the covenant Romney has between his God and himself should not eliminate him from Presidential consideration.
Consider former President Jimmy Carter. By all accounts, Carter was and is a mainstream Christian. Most of the world holds Carter in high esteem. However, that did not make him a good President.
Frankly, I don’t care about a candidate’s spirituality as long as he or she believes in God. That signifies to me that he or she believes in something larger than himself or herself and his or her ambitions. Rather than worry over a candidate’s religious convictions, I want to know if he or she is the best person for the job.
I think this is what Thomas Jefferson believed when he argued for the separation of church and state. Two hundred years later, church and state sometimes seem inseparable.
In 1787 Jefferson wrote: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
The Mormon Church Is Hardly A Cult
I think what Jefferson was saying is that all Americans have the right to choose which religion to follow. By extension, even American Presidents have this right.
Before you write your letters of protest, let me add this caveat: I do not tolerate theological beliefs over secular solutions. That eliminates candidates who practice a religion built upon hate and intolerance. So, yes, I would eliminate a candidate who believes in radical Wahhabism or other extremist religions that really are cults. Just because you call yourself “Reverend” doesn’t mean you can pass out the Kool-Aid to the ignorant or unsuspecting.
Romney may make a fine President. I don’t think being a Mormon should disqualify him.
Out Of The Mouths Of Babes
Only a few times have I had an important vote.
The first time was when I was on the junior varsity basketball team in high school and voted for team captain. I sided with the majority and voted for a kid named Steve who was serious about winning and who didn’t mess with booze or drugs. Steve was the first kid to come to practice and the last to leave.
It turned out Steve was a Mormon. I can’t remember how I found out, but it wasn’t important. Steve only talked about winning and getting better.
Our high school had a great debate team, and I was part of a unanimous vote for our captain, a kid named Lern. I knew Lern was Jewish. I also knew what everyone else at our school knew: Lern was not only smart but spent endless hours looking up trivia. This was eons before Google. Lern was instrumental in our school defending its city championship in a televised program called “Reach for the Top.”
I also voted for our high school class president and valedictorian. I voted for the winner, Brenda, who was an incredibly focused and ambitious girl who made a great class president. Years later, Brenda was the evening anchor for CBC News, Canada’s largest TV network. I never did learn what her religious beliefs were. It still doesn’t seem important.
I am not saying that being school valedictorian and being the leader of the free world are the same. I voted for them because of their abilities. Their religion never influenced my vote.
Finally, ask yourself one question: If you needed double bypass heart surgery what doctor would you choose? I am certain you would pick the best doctor, regardless of his religious beliefs.
More Than Ever America Needs a Great President
What the United States needs now is a leader who can guide the country toward a better future.
Your next vote for President may be the most important one you ever cast. If you get it right, does it matter if he or she is Protestant, Catholic, Jew or Mormon? Who cares if he or she reads the spiritual writings of Joseph Smith? Let’s just hope he or she also reads the economic writings of Adam Smith.
I don’t know if John Kennedy was a good President or a bad one. Whichever he was, I don’t think it had anything to do with his being Catholic. I do think Richard Nixon was a terrible President, even though as a boy he is said to have been a devout Quaker.
A candidate’s voting record is fair game. So, too, is what he or she has said, and how he or she has lived life. I hope that no candidate is disqualified because of religion.
Yours in good times and bad,
Editor, Myers Energy & Gold Report
P.S. In case you are wondering about me, I was baptized Protestant.