Watching Politics From the Pew: Who Cares if He Is Mormon?

Each week in Watching Politics From the Pew, Benjamin Bartlett offers a thoughtful Christian perspective on the latest political happenings in the news.

At this point, I really don’t understand how anyone can still manage to convince themselves that the United States of America is a Christian nation.

Sure there are some old traditions and phrases and songs that stretch back to our Christian heritage.  And yes, most (but certainly not all) of the great men and women who shaped our country historically at least claimed the Christian faith.

But we are well past that point now and its time we Christians viewed ourselves as a key voting bloc and influencer of our country’s direction rather than actually being a Christian nation.

Take the recent debate regarding whether a Christian can vote for a Mormon.  It’s silly.  It doesn’t make sense.  We all know that leaders can lead without being Christian.  And we all know that there is nothing wrong with only voting for Christians if that’s what you prefer.  Why does anyone need to argue about it?

The ugly fact is that we like to vilify people who don’t agree with us, and one of the most powerful ways to vilify someone is to act like you are personally offended when they say something you don’t like.  It is in Romney and Huntsman’s interest to be offended by pastors who say Mormonism is a cult.  It is in the interest of pastors who support Perry to act offended by the idea that a Mormon could lead them.  It is in the interest of Democratic leaders to be offended that anyone could talk about religions using language that suggests exclusivity.  It’s a big game.

I tire of it because in a multicultural society, the goal of government isn’t to iron out these sorts of questions.  The goal is to create a happy, healthy, safe, just society in which people can look for truth in safety.  It is in everyone’s best interest to pursue that goal together in the government.

I do not expect everyone to agree.  But I do expect, once in a while, to see substantive debates that flow from common agreement about the core goals we all have.  Is that really so much to ask?

Romney and Huntsman are Mormons.  If you honestly don’t think you can vote for a Mormon, don’t.  But there’s no need to throw a fit because you think our country is going to be led by immoral people who don’t follow the true God.  That’s been going on for much longer than you or I have been alive.

About Ben Bartlett

Ben Bartlett lives in Louisville, Ky., with his wife and two terrific kids. His degree is in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy from Michigan State University, and he has a bunch of education from a bunch of other places with nothing official to show for it. He has taught high school speech and debate, worked for a congressman in Washington DC, and worked in the health and energy industries. He is interested in how pop culture, history, politics, and theology interact with the inner and community lives of individuals... which is weird because he now works as a business analyst. Few things make him happier than reading, discussing, and recommending books.