The questioner who asked “Do you believe every word in this book?” said that that question will tell us “everything we need to know” about the Republican candidates. I think he is right, although I’m not sure if the way I assess the answers is the same as the questioner’s intent.
Giuliani was courageous and said that Jonah and the whale is an allegory. I like him – not simply pandering to voters (although I’m not suggesting he never does that – just that in this instance, he knew what many people wanted to hear, but didn’t give it to them).
Mitt Romney changed the question, hoping we wouldn’t notice. Mike Huckabee’s answer was really good. He said no one takes “pluck out your eye” literally, and said that we should focus on love your neighbor and not get caught up in the other stuff until we’ve got those basics sorted out. He also said that anyone who thinks they have God all sorted out has a God that is too small. He has a degree in theology, and here put it to good use.
He hasn’t always done that consistently, e.g. in a statements about Islam. There he not only talked about a ‘theocratic war’ (!) but said that he would not allow for ‘sanctuary cities‘. Perhaps this refers to a Republican plan I’m not aware of, but it sounds to me like the language of the Bible, which had cities of refuge. So is he saying that it is a war over God, and to win it he will disregard the Bible? I’m not sure what he meant. At any rate, the overall feel of what he said on that occasion troubles me.
Romney will give a speech later today about faith and the presidency. Many are thinking about Kennedy’s famous speech, and the Bad Idea Blog suggests that Republican voters will not be happy with a speech from Romney that mirrors Kennedy’s. As we wait to see what happens, let us remind ourselves that the question that will tell us all we need to know has already been asked. The good news is that some of the Republican candidates had the honesty and intelligence to say “I don’t take it all literally. No one does. Some parts are more important than others”. The bad news is that no one said that judging candidates by such a religious test is unconstitutional, and ultimately shouldn’t matter even if that weren’t the case, since people who say they believe the Bible (and perhaps even say they believe every word) base very different sorts of policies and practices on their alleged literal interpretation.
Romney’s speech is live-blogged here. Street Prophets has added a post about Romney’s “Kennedy Moment”. See also earlier posts by the LA Times, The God & Culture Blog, The Washington Post and Mother Jones on both the earlier debate and more recently Romney and anti-Mormon fundamentalism. Notes From Off-Center has a post on Huckabee and science. Peter Wall has some thoughts on Romney pandering to Evangelicals. Nathan’s Blog thinks the candidates reek of insincerity, and the New York Times also covered Romney’s speech, as has Randall Balmer. More recent posts have appeared at Levellers, Mainstream Baptist, Melissa Rogers, On Faith, and multiple posts at Street Prophets. The text of Romney’s speech is at Real Clear Politics. Last of all, thanks to Find And You Shall Seek for sharing this humorous picture.
Finally, for no real reason, those of you exasperated by the way religion is discussed in relation to the presidency may want to learn more about the Church of Google. Regardless whether you accept its theology, is there no some truth in saying that the internet will have a hand in choosing our next president?