Is America ready for a President who is not Christian? — UPDATED

It may surprise a few people, but the GOP frontrunner for 2012 isn’t one.

Jimmy Akin helps make the distinction:

I’m well known for holding the position that abortion is the black hole political issue of our time. Given the number of people it kills every year, it outmasses virtually every other issue in play.

But it’s possible that other, equally important issues can arise.

One of those, for me, is the core doctrine of the Christian faith: the nature of God.

Don’t want to take my word for that? How about the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s:

Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names, for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”. The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin” [CCC 233-234].

How might this doctrine become a political issue?

In various races, we might be asked to vote for candidates who are Mormon.

While they may be very nice people and may even share many values with Christians, Mormons are not Christians. They do not have valid baptism because they are polytheists. That is, they believe in multiple gods. This so affects their understanding of the baptismal formula that it renders their administration of baptism invalid and prevents them from becoming Christians when they attempt to administer the sacrament.

Read the rest. It’s fascinating stuff.

UPDATE: Deacon Scott Dodge — who hails from Utah — has written a thoughtful response to Akin’s piece and concludes:

It is certainly no great secret that Mormons do not believe that God is a Trinity of divine persons. However, given that many Catholics are practically-speaking modalists, I fail to see how orthodoxy in this regard informs how we vote. So, I am certainly not disputing that the LDS do not share our belief in God, something I very recently dealt with in a post responding to Glenn Beck’s speech to the Israeli Knesset (Beck being a Catholic who became a Mormon). Neither do Jews or Muslims, who can easily see Mormonism as kind of the logical conclusion of Christian theology. Besides, since when do we as Catholics living in a religiously pluralistic society look at political candidates to cement our theology? Ronald Reagan’s non-church-going biblical apocalypticism was downright odd, but it’s really beside the point. If you’re a Catholic, the criterion proposed by Akin can logically extend to any non-Catholic candidate…

..One of the lovely and frustrating things about living in the U.S. is that we are free to vote for whomever we wish using whatever criteria we choose. However, for Catholics to apply such a narrow-minded religious test is to fail in our duty to seek the common good. While Mormonism certainly fails the test of Christian orthodoxy, it is not like Gov. Romney is saying he is one thing while actually being another. Stated simply, he holds his LDS beliefs conscientiously and in good faith. So, whether you choose to support Mitt Romney for president or not, I would hope that religious bigotry is not the basis for your choice.

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10 responses to “Is America ready for a President who is not Christian? — UPDATED”

  1. I hate to say it, this post is “much ado about nothing.” The idea that LDS folk do not meet the orthodox definition of Christians has been common knowledge for many years. The LDS baptismal formulary is NOT accepted by Roman Catholic Christianity and that affects how LDS folks are treated if they start our Roman Catholic RCIA process or try to marry a Roman Catholic person in a Roman Catholic setting. In both cases, their previous Baptism does not count.

    What I find even more fascinating is that while LDS folk have been state governors, United States Congressional Representatives and even United States Senators, none has ever been elected president or appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

    When I discussed this isue with with some public college students recently, many seemed to suggest that an atheist would have a better chance being elected to the presidency before a member of the LDS community. And none of them gave an atheist a chance either.

    What is even more interesting is when you note that the Republican Party has two LDS members who are considered serious candidates (Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman) as well as two candidates that are Roman Catholic (Bobby Jindal and Newt Gingrich) who no one thinks have even a remote chance of success.

  2. Is America ready for a President who is not Christian?

    We already have one in the White House. Quite aside from BO’s vicious proabortion agenda, and his willingness to shut down the entire Federal government over funding Planned Parenthood, there is the issue of his assault on Christianity itself.

    He promotes (vigorously) all things Muslim, while minimizing all things Christian.

    He has allowed a veteran’s cemetery in Texas to scrub all mention of God from prayers for the dead, a scandal that is still being debated.

    The larger question is why we elected a candidate, a United States Senator, who stood with his hands folded in front of his crotch during the National Anthem while all other candidates stood with their hands over their hearts? See the video here:

    [This comment edited for offensive content. This kind of crap is why I shut down comments in the first place. It’s beneath you, Gerard, and you know it. Stick to the topic at hand. Be sane, be respectful, or be gone. Thank you. Dcn. G.]

  3. In response to deaconorb,

    Nobody considers Huntsman a “serious candidate”, Mitt Romney certainly is (unfortunately). And as for Bobby Jindal he is not even running for President, though Herman Cain who is running for President is a Catholic – but certainly in the “remote chance of success” camp. You also left out Rick Santorum who as a Catholic would have the best chance, but still a long shot.

  4. I have no problem with Romney’s religion. I don’t understand it, but I doubt people are going to be converted because he’s president. Romney was governor of Mass and I don’t recall seeing any spike in conversions. (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong there.) I’d rather have a Morman than an atheist – and despite what Obama claims, I firmly believe he’s an atheist. The few Mormons I’ve met have been upright and compassionate. The details of their belief structure is between them and God. It will have zero impact on the country in my humble opinion.

  5. Re “647. . . ” #3

    –Skip over to Deacon Scott Dodge’s blog where he discusses this issue in great detail:

    –Actually, between those two, I have more personal respect for Jon Huntsman that Mitt Romney. The fact that Huntsman’s campaign is faltering may not be an issue about his personal integrity so much as he and his staff’s inexperience in REALLY understanding the political process.

    –You were correct in citing Herman Cain and Rick Santorum but — as you also note — they are long shots.

    –Finally, consider that the most devout president we have had in the modern era was Jimmy Carter; most folks do not know that he quietly taught Sunday School in a small Baptist Church near the White House during those weekends that he was in Washington. He was trampled in the 1980 election by an inactive (“un-devout”) Disciples of Christ Republican who had been adopted by Christian Evangelicals. The 1980 presidential election was religiously ugly; but so was the presidential election of 2004.

    Bottom line, as my students also suggested, the American electorate does appreciate a candidate who was shaped by a Christian upbringing but they are not convinced, yet, that an LDS candidate can meet their expectations.

  6. Re “manny” #4

    President Barak Obama is a baptized member of the United Church of Christ. These folks are the twentieth century variant of the Congregationalist Movement: the movement that brought you President Calvin Coolidge; all those quaint New England white clap-board churches; and the abolitionist movement (Harriet Beecher Stowe — of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame — was the daughter of a Congregationalist pastor deeply involved in abolition of slavery).

    The thing you have to recognize about the UCC folks is that they are short on dogma and long on social justice. They couldn’t care less about the perpetual virginity of Mary (Roman Catholic Dogma) or on the importance of the Rapture (which some fundamentalist identify as dogma) nor do they have a well developed sense of Christology.

    Organize a “Crop-Walk” program or build a Habitat for Humanity home and the UCC folk are right there with all the human and financial support you will ever need. I am embarrassed to say that our local UCC congregation — smaller than any of the three Roman Catholic congregations in our town — provides more human and financial resources for these types of community projects than we do.

    You certainly remember they got a lot of mileage with that television commercial campaign pointing out that while some churches turn-away “long-haired-hippie-wierdos,” divorcees, single-mothers, bi-racial couples the UCC congregations do not do that at all. And, of course, you do remember that President Obama’s parents were bi-racial.

    Best I can tell, President Obama fits a consistent traditional image of a UCC member. The fact that he rejected Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s un-Christian political ranting only emphasizes that image.

  7. There is no religious requirement for president of this country, unlike some countries in other parts of the world. It took a very long time for a Catholic to become president—and as far as I know, no person of the Jewish faith has been elected president yet. In the long run—what difference does it make what faith (or lack of it) a president has? It makes no difference to me, but apparentlyl does for many folks. I want a woman or man as president that is capable of running this country—-and his faith or lack of it,has, IMO, nothing to do with that ability.
    As for our current president? If he says he is a Christian, why should I doubt it? The UCC is a church I could attend and feel very comfortable.

  8. Deaconnorb, why did it take ‘O’ 20 years to rebuke him?

    PS: I am confused. Are you an atheist or do you believe in God?

    It makes all the difference in what a man or women believes. Where do our morals come from? How do we know right from wrong? It is from God who tells us how we are to live, TEN COMMANDMENTS for starters. Yes there is SIN in ourselves and we can only overcome it by turning to God. When we turn away from God we become just like the lord of the flies story.

  9. josephw:

    Re your comment why did it take ‘O’ 20 years to rebuke him (Jeremiah Wright).

    I too wondered about the nature of the relationship between Obama and Jeremiah Wright.

    Certainly, Obama does not share the ranting style or angry rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright. When the issue came to a head in the 2008 presidential election, I went back to the book I had purchased a few years before when Obama came on the national scene. I remembered reading about his three-year stint (1985-88) as a community organizer in Chicago. I was surprised to learn that he had been hired by a Catholic priest, Fr. Thomas Kaminski, and worked with Catholics in a program that had originally comprised eight Catholic parishes.

    I must say here that I have great respect for community organizers. Most of the community organizers I know are nuns, priests, and lay people who are part of programs like Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

    The part of the book that I found interesting is Obama’s description of his encounter with Jeremiah Wright. It gave me an insight into the relationship between the two. It was obvious to me that the man seen ranting and raving in the pulpit on videos was not how Obama experienced him personally. It seemed to me that it was almost a very warm father-son relationship.

    This may explain why Obama maintained a 20-year personal relationship with the pastor who facilitated his conversion to Christianity.

  10. IMO, josephw, there is no reason for a leader of this country to belong to any church or faith. It isn’t, as I said above, a requirement, like having to be a certain age and a citizen of this country (and I expect there are other requirements) but having a stated religion isn’t one of them. There are many folks who have no faith but have a spirituality about them, and know right from wrong, by following one rule—some call it the Golden Rule, others by a different name. But it works.

    As to my beliefs? Those are private.

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