Mitt Romney said WHAT?!?!?

RomneyFlagThis is, methinks, why God created weblogs.

There’s quite a bit of buzz out there right now in evangelical circles about a series of informational videos that are up and running at CitizenLink.org — which is part of the wider kingdom linked to an activist by the name of James Dobson. The videos feature clips of recent webcasts with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

Right now, everyone is asking — will Dobson endorse either (gasp) Mitt Romney or (gasp!) John McCain? It is in that context that the following blog item by Michael Scherer appears at Time, with the pushy headline: “A stealth Mitt Romney endorsement from the religious right’s powerbrokers?”

The clip on Rudy Giuliani is harsh (note that reference to dancing in drag). No surprise. The McCain video says voters have no way of knowing what the senator will do next. No surprise. Then the video on Mike Huckabee is surprisingly critical. No surprise?

After praising Huckabee’s social views, both Perkins and Tom Minnery, a policy expert at Focus on the Family, hammer the former Arkansas governor for his foreign policy views. Minnery suggests that Huckabee does not understand the cause for which American troops are dying in Iraq. Then Perkins suggests that Huckabee lacks the fiscal and national security credentials needed for a conservative presidential candidate. “The conservatives have been successful in electing candidates, and presidents in particular, when they have had a candidate that can address not only the social issues, [but] the fiscal issues and the defense issues,” says Perkins. “[Huckabee] has got to reach out to the fiscal conservatives and the security conservatives.” Ouch.

Now hang on, here comes the buried lede.

So what about Romney? He comes up roses. “He has staked out positions on all three of the areas that we have discussed,” says Perkins. “I think he continues to be solidly conservative.” Then Minnery defends Romney from criticism that he is too polished and smooth. “Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith,” Minnery adds. “But on the social issues we are so similar.”

Now wait just a minute. Romney said what?

There was, of course, the quote in the big religion speech in which he said:

“What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history.”

Yes, here we go again. But let’s focus — oh ye comment-link clickers — on the journalistic fact here that must be chased. Where in the heck did Romney acknowledge that “Mormonism is not a Christian faith”? Did Scherer realize how controversial that statement is for millions of people on both sides of the issue?

What did Romney say and where and when did he say it? Or are the Dobson folks grasping at straws as they prepare their flock for an endorsement?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00368463715994694203 FrGregACCA

    Some conjectural background for journalists and others who, understandably, are scratching their heads:

    Perkins, et. al., may not even realize it, but I think what he is saying is that Romney acknowledges that Mormonism is not EVANGELICAL. In these circles, the word “Christian” is constantly used to mean only “Evangelical Christian”, as in “born again”.

  • Dcn. Michael D. Harmon

    So, the Mormon depiction of Jesus matches the Roman Catholic view? Or is it the Eastern Orthodox view?

  • Dan diOrio

    I tell you what I use to consider myself part of the “religious right” being a Roman Catholic myself. However seeing how evangelicals like yourself have treated Mitt Romney, a TRUE conservative in ever form it is clear that the religious right is made up of nothing but bigots.

    Mike Huckabee is DONE. It is McCain v. Romney. If you want a candidate who is going to nominee pro life justices, and support the ban on Gay Marriage you better vote for Mitt Romney. A vote for Huckabee at this point is nothing more than a vote for McCain.

  • supernovia

    I would be curious to see the statement they gleaned that from. If you want to know whether or not Mormons are Christians, you first have to decide what a Christian is. Mormons believe in the biblical Christ, but they aren’t Evangelical Christians, nor are they based in or split off from Catholic or Orthodox views.

    Maybe the better question for the religious is not whether or not Mormons are Christians, but whether or not God want us to quarrel over it. Besides, calling yourself a Christian is one thing. Behaving like one is another.

  • Stephen A.

    The article’s attempt at bringing up the Mormon v Christian debate is transparent, and I don’t think most people want to go there again. As some of the comments here show, it’s all about the POLICIES, not religion.

    Personally, I can’t see evangelicals voting for McCain, who has consistently voted with liberals and has disparaged Republicans over and over again in a (successful) attempt to win praise from the NY Times and liberal talking heads like Chris Matthews.

    Also, I believe “thou shalt not bear false witness” should have some relavance to McCain’s campaign tactics lately as well. Disgraceful.

    It will be intersting to see how the MSM cover this race from a religious point of view now that it’s basically a two-person race. If it’s focused on policy, Mitt wins. If it’s focused on his “minority” religion, then the media wins, and they get to distract the voters from the policy issues.

  • Rathje

    Well, that’s surprising.

    I know that Mitt’s tried to downplay the religious divide before, but I have a hard time believing he said that – even in a secret meeting with evangelical powerbrokers. Mitt is cut from a mold of Mormon that is very concerned that it be identified as “Christian.” A small number of Mormons are not too concerned with the issue. But the majority are and I’m pretty sure Mitt is one of them.

    Hopefully, this was just a mistake on Minnery’s part of him hearing only what he wanted to hear, or a bit of a Freudian slip.

    A more upsetting alternative is that Minnery is deliberately forcing the issue. He’s throwing out a polarizing statement and daring Romney to contradict him. And how can Romney contradict him without alienating a voter base he desperately needs at an incredibly vulnerable juncture in his campaign? After losing in Florida, Romney really needs this endorsement. If he goes public contradicting Minnery, will he endanger the endorsement?

    If that’s what is going on, it’s an incredibly slimy move on Focus on the Family’s part.

    Or perhaps Mitt really did say it, in which case, he’s just sold his birthright for a bowl of political pottage. I guess I can’t put it entirely past him, but it just seems really, REALLY unlikely.

    Why on earth wasn’t Romney’s campaign asked to confirm that statement?

  • Scott

    Mitt believes in Jesus Christ as his physical and spiritual Savior. The overall meaning of the word Christian is to be a follower of Christ as such Mitt is Christian.

    Those who follow the Nicean Creed have named themselves ‘Christian’. Some use the term to include all followers of Christ. Others apply the term exclusivly to mean only Nicean or Trinitarian Christians.

    Mitt considers himself part of the ‘inclusive’ definition of Christian. He knows there is nothing to be gained by arguing over a definition. His faith in Christ is steadfast.

  • http://buddhateach.blogspot.com Robert

    Glynn Young, supernovia, King, Stephen, Deek, et al:

    Interesting to hear which political candidates you love/ hate and why, but how is this relevant to the issue at hand? As tmatt says–

    But let’s focus — oh ye comment-link clickers — on the journalistic fact here that must be chased. Where in the heck did Romney acknowledge that “Mormonism is not a Christian faith”? Did Scherer realize how controversial that statement is for millions of people on both sides of the issue?

  • Steve

    Dcn. Harmon says:

    So, the Mormon depiction of Jesus matches the Roman Catholic view? Or is it the Eastern Orthodox view?

    Because, of course, it’s only the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical Protestants who get to be Real Christians? Forgive me if I see a false dilemma being implied here.

    In many ways, the Mormon depiction of Jesus matches that of other Christian churches. I think Mormons tend to lean slightly more towards the Eastern Orthodox view of the trinity, but of course the LDS interpretation has unique points as well, as do they all.
    At any rate, differences in the specifics of theology, where for example Mormons differ from Catholics or Evangelicals or Lutherans or whatever, are not IMHO sufficient to throw the LDS out of the Christian ballpark entirely. To quote David Steinmetz,

    Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque to the immaculate conception. There is scarcely an issue of worship, theology, ethics, and politics over which some Christians have not disagreed among themselves.

    You might just as well make the same argument that Catholics are not Christians (and sadly many do this, too) by stating the same leading question about them, and of course Catholic theology differs on many points from the Protestants, which is why they are separate churches, and yet (most of us) agree they’re all some sort of Christians. Same goes here. Undeniably there are differences in view and belief in some details.

    The LDS differ from other Christians only in that they tend to belive additional things about Jesus, since they have other scriptures (such as the Book of Mormon) which provide them with further information. This information complements the Biblical beliefs which they share with the whole Christian world. (from FAIR.org wiki)

  • Steve

    Sorry… while FAIR.org may also be relevant to this post, I mistyped the reference in my comment above. It should have been fairlds.org. The hyperlink is correct, though.

  • supernovia

    Steve – I’ve looked. I saw the statement days ago and searched to find the source. I don’t see one.

    If I were Mitt and they asked me whether or not Mormons were Christian, I would ask them what makes a religion a Christian faith and say where we agree and disagree. Then let them draw their own conclusion.

    I still think it’s a silly argument, particularly as it pertains to a presidential election.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    I just jumped out of my morning class and, whoa, things had gone nuts here.

    I have deleted a bunch of comments that were all about politics, with ZIPPO content about the journalism issues here. I am sure I did an imperfect job and will return to spiking duties later.

    Focus on the question, folks.

    And thank you, Robert No. 8.

  • Joe

    This seems standard MO in journalism of ‘if it bleeds, it leads.” In Romney’s case they throw down the knife and see if he falls on it. It’s becoming a bit tiresome to still read of his mormonism, but hey, who said the presidential vetting process is not robust.

  • str1977

    I think Tmatt’s conclusion that the supposed Romney quote was based on the quote about religions and faiths is plausible.

    But of course, Tmatt’s call to focus on journalism is not heeded and he has deleted not all of such comments: he has deleted the political ones but not the standard Mormon (I guess) postings that protest a little too much how they are Christians, interspersed with a couple of jibes at those mean believers in the Nicene creed.

  • Matt

    It seems an important distinction that the reporter did not actually claim that Romney said this, but only reported without comment (and in quotes) Minnery’s claim that Romney had said this. Was it the reporter’s responsibility to criticize Minnery’s claim?

  • Dennis Colby

    Christianity Today has covered this:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/januaryweb-only/105-23.0.html

    Romney’s campaign, not surprisingly, denies he ever said any such thing, and Focus On The Family refuses to explain themselves.

  • Steve

    Sorry if I veered too much into a tangent on one facet of this issue, although it does illustrate what tmatt said about “how controversial that statement is for millions of people on both sides of the issue.”

    One of the things that perhaps gets people to react so strongly is when incorrect statements or unflattering stereotypes are quoted and re-quoted in the media. Most readers don’t follow all the references back, they just read each article. A few hours later all most readers remember are the various statements themselves, not how they were quoted or from whom.

    So I think it is, at least to some degree, the responsibility of a journalist to point out where these statements are coming from, if they are contested by the group they’re spoken about, and if it’s objectively possible to determine, if they’re true. Otherwise, after n+1 quotings and re-tellings, they all take on the semblance of truth because it’s “something I hear ‘everyone’ saying, it must be true.”

  • Dennis Colby

    Christianity Today tackled this issue. Romney’s campaign, not surprisingly, denies he ever said any such thing, while Focus On The Family refuses to explain themselves. I couldn’t post a link to the story, but it’s easily found via Google.

  • Sarah Webber

    Did Scherer realize how controversial that statement is for millions of people on both sides of the issue?

    So we are back to the founding principle of this site: does he really get religion, or not? That is, is he stupid (excuse me, uninformed) or just spiteful and wanted to see the argument boil up again?

  • Asinus Gravis

    After looking at all of the comments by Minnery and Perkins on Focus on the Famiuly on both Democratic and Republican candidates, I concluded that both Minnery and Perkins are incompetent political commentators.

    The comment on Romney’s not being a Christian is not the only misrepresentation of the positions of the candidates. For example, Obama is hit for not taking any position on the issues, and then later for taking radical positions on issues.

    The journalistic issue here is the credibility of Minnery and Perkins. They are horribly biased. They misrepresent the views of the people they discuss. They obviously stack the deck in favor of one candidate only. I’m pleased to see that Tmatt is not giving them a free pass on their nonsense.

    From what I have seen in recent years Focus on the Family is far from a reliable guide to anything, except what one segment of the Religious Right is currently thinking and scheming.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    What did Romney say and where and when did he say it?

    I think this is an important question. I think that interpretation is almost impossible to avoid, but it is less dangerous when some direct quotation is given. Then the reader can make up his or her own mind.

    I suspect that it is the use of the term ‘religion’ that caused the confusion. At what point do you say that different groups are part of different religions? Did he mean something like “My Mormon religion teaches differently about Jesus than the Christian religion of Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox”? Or something like “My Mormon religion teaches differently about Jesus the same way the Protestant and Catholic religions teach differently about Jesus from each other”? Or even “My Mormon religion teaches differently about Jesus than Calvinist and Lutheran Christians teach from each other”? Some statements imply conflict at the level of salvation. Others don’t.

    I suspect that Romney used the word “religion” to mean something more like broad church bodies. I often hear the term used that way on the street. The journalist who thought Romney was acknowledging something uses the term in a more thoughtful fashion. If that journalist made a mistake, it was probably in reading an undue amount of precision into Romney’s speech.

  • Dcn. Michael D. Harmon

    I wasn’t making any comment about Mitt Romney’s suitablity to be president. In fact, he is my preferred candidate, and has been since he first announced.

    I was asking what it means to be Christian according to historic standards of the faith. In view of some of the comments here, it would be perfectly acceptable, because “Christians” have differed over the years about “everything” related to Christ, to say that I think Cartman on South Park is the perfect image of Jesus.

    And because I call myself Christian, therefore I am one, even though my definition of who Christ is has nothing whatsoever to do with the historic faith.

    Sorry, but that definition is utterly senseless.

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    How on earth Minnery gets “Mormonism is not a Christian faith” out of “I believe in Jesus Christ” is beyond me. And that’s the only statement he made concerning his (and by extension his church’s) actual Christianity. To say others may have different beliefs is semantically null.

  • http://buddhateach.blogspot.com Robert

    I suppose there are two definitions of “Christian,” and both valid in their own realm.

    From a human rights standpoint– Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example– people to whatever religion they claim to belong to. If Mormons say they are Christians, then we call them Christians. It has nothing to do with doctrine and even less to do with God– it’s a safeguard against religious persecution.

    But it’s also reasonable– from a doctrinal or religious point of view– to say that a Christian is someone who belongs to a group that other Christian groups agree is Christian. So from this point of view, a non-Trinitarian believer in Christ is not a Christian, because the vast majority of Christian bodies hold the Trinity to be an essential doctrine.

    Perhaps this is what Minnery refers to as an acknowledgement. It logically follows– for him and for most Christians– that to say Christ is not the same God as God the Father is to hold a non-Christian belief. So for Romney to acknowledge that LDS beliefs about Christ are “not the same” as those of other churches could be interpreted as an admission that LDS is not Christian.

    In other words, “Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith [according to Focus on the Family's definition of Christianity].”

  • Steve

    I’m going to try to keep these comments within the context tmatt is trying to maintain here, and not debate Christian theology. In saying that, though, the very narrow point of whether Mormons can possibly be considered Christians (or whether they can possibly be denied that designation) by a third party is germane to the topic here, which surrounds the integrity of a journalist reporting on these kinds of comments.

    I’m not even going to debate what the answer to that question (i.e., if LDS are Christians) should be in this forum, but it’s worth noting that the question is valid and relevant.

    for him and for most Christians— that to say Christ is not the same God as God the Father is to hold a non-Christian belief.

    But there’s a big assumption implicit in that hypothesis. Do most Christians hold that you must believe in this one doctrine as the alpha and omega of the definition of being a Christian? I would disagree, given the wide difference of opinion on the matter (from pure modalists [the Father and Son are aspects of one being] to subordinationists [the Father and Son are one in some ways but the Father is greater, not equal] and various other things inbetween). The problem is you have centuries of history where sects of Christendom have been disagreeing over these points, yet they are still traditionally identified as “Christian” nonetheless. And you have some very major branches of Christianity opposing one another on points of this one doctrine alone. So it seems to me that there isn’t as clear a case of “most Christians believe…” as it sounds.

    It would be fair to say, that some Christian faiths reject the positions taken by other Christian faiths which they consider to be heresies. You’ll note that the one holy book they all refer to does not provide an explicit test for who is or is not a Christian. The closest it comes is defining who is a disciple of Christ, and that simply says those tho “have love one for another.”

    So I wonder if, even were a majority of Christians to agree on a baseline litmus test for who believes “traditional enough” doctrines to be considered a “real Christian”, would there be any reason for the heretics to consider that authoritative or even pay attention to their opinion?

    Sounds a little like a Shiite saying Sunnis are not Muslims and vice versa.

    However.

    It’s perfectly reasonable for members of, say, the Catholic church to say that, for example, Mormons are a heretical branch of apostate Christianity, and that Catholics won’t accept sacraments performed by the LDS church, requiring rebaptism, et al, if someone converts. But however you split hairs, reporting that “Mormons are not Christians” carries a very strong connotation that “Mormons do not believe in or follow Jesus” so it really smacks of Journalistic impropriety to say the former unless you really intend to be asserting the latter. And asserting what someone else believes against their own objections is dishonest. Disagree if you will, say the other people are gravely mistaken in their doctrines, but don’t tell them they don’t know what they believe.

    In other words, “Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith [according to Focus on the Family’s definition of Christianity].”

    Here’s where I think we get to the most direct bearing on journalistic integrity in this issue. To report that “Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith” means that he explicitly made that point. However, Romney did no such thing. He asserted a different fact altogether, which the reporter interpreted according to the reporter’s own beliefs and drew his own conclusion, which was then put back in Romney’s mouth. Putting in the qualifier still gives the reader the wrong impression.

  • Steve

    [I got a bunch of errors when posting this and it doesn't seem to have posted. My apologies if somehow two of these appear.]

    I’m going to try to keep these comments within the context tmatt is trying to maintain here, and not debate Christian theology. In saying that, though, the very narrow point of whether Mormons can possibly be considered Christians (or whether they can possibly be denied that designation) by a third party is germane to the topic here, which surrounds the integrity of a journalist reporting on these kinds of comments.

    I’m not even going to debate what the answer to that question (i.e., if LDS are Christians) should be in this forum, but it’s worth noting that the question is valid and relevant.

    for him and for most Christians— that to say Christ is not the same God as God the Father is to hold a non-Christian belief.

    But there’s a big assumption implicit in that hypothesis. Do most Christians hold that you must believe in this one doctrine as the alpha and omega of the definition of being a Christian? I would disagree, given the wide difference of opinion on the matter (from pure modalists [the Father and Son are aspects of one being] to subordinationists [the Father and Son are one in some ways but the Father is greater, not equal] and various other things inbetween). The problem is you have centuries of history where sects of Christendom have been disagreeing over these points, yet they are still traditionally identified as “Christian” nonetheless. And you have some very major branches of Christianity opposing one another on points of this one doctrine alone. So it seems to me that there isn’t as clear a case of “most Christians believe…” as it sounds.

    It would be fair to say, that some Christian faiths reject the positions taken by other Christian faiths which they consider to be heresies. You’ll note that the one holy book they all refer to does not provide an explicit test for who is or is not a Christian. The closest it comes is defining who is a disciple of Christ, and that simply says those tho “have love one for another.”

    So I wonder if, even were a majority of Christians to agree on a baseline litmus test for who believes “traditional enough” doctrines to be considered a “real Christian”, would there be any reason for the heretics to consider that authoritative or even pay attention to their opinion?

    Sounds a little like a Shiite saying Sunnis are not Muslims and vice versa.

    However.

    It’s perfectly reasonable for members of, say, the Catholic church to say that, for example, Mormons are a heretical branch of apostate Christianity, and that Catholics won’t accept sacraments performed by the LDS church, requiring rebaptism, et al, if someone converts. But however you split hairs, reporting that “Mormons are not Christians” carries a very strong connotation that “Mormons do not believe in or follow Jesus” so it really smacks of Journalistic impropriety to say the former unless you really intend to be asserting the latter. And asserting what someone else believes against their own objections is dishonest. Disagree if you will, say the other people are gravely mistaken in their doctrines, but don’t tell them they don’t know what they believe.

    In other words, “Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith [according to Focus on the Family’s definition of Christianity].”

    Here’s where I think we get to the most direct bearing on journalistic integrity in this issue. To report that “Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith” means that he explicitly made that point. However, Romney did no such thing. He asserted a different fact altogether, which the reporter interpreted according to the reporter’s own beliefs and drew his own conclusion, which was then put back in Romney’s mouth. Putting in the qualifier still gives the reader the wrong impression.

  • http://buddhateach.blogspot.com Robert

    Steve,

    Keep in mind that Minnery is not a journalist– he’s “a policy expert at Focus on the Family.”

    The journalist– Scherer (and it’s on a blog, not in a newspaper)– is quoting what is essentially an in-house production: political videos intended for an audience that shares a similar doctrinal and political viewpoint as Minnery.

    Agreed, additionally, that Minnery has obviously put into Romney’s mouth words that Romney never said.

    What we’re trying to tease out here is, why he did this– is he misinformed? a liar? or is he reinterpreting Romney’s statement as an acknowledgement that LDS is not Christian?

    The first two possibilities are absolutely plausible.

    I’m interested in exploring the latter hypothesis.

    Remember that among the intended audience– Focus on the Family folks– are some who would say that Orthodox, Catholic, and maybe even Episcopalian believers are not necessarily Christian. (of course you & I disagree, but that’s not the point)

    So, let’s assume:

    1. Minnery and his intended audience share a very restrictive view on what constitutes Christianity.

    2. Romney acknowledges, implicitly, that his church’s beliefs about Christ fall outside of Minnery’s definition of Christianity.

    3. Minnery, neither misinformed nor intending to lie, says to his audience, “Romney has admitted that he’s not a Christian.”

    Given the following, can we assume that the audience understands what he means? That is, the audience doesn’t think Romney has proclaimed “I am not a Christian.” But rather, Romney has admitted to holding non-Christian (from the audience’s viewpoint) beliefs.

    If this is the case– yes, it is similar to Shiites saying that Sunnis aren’t Muslim. So, for example, the Sunni Khaled Mashaal acknowledges holding beliefs contrary to Shia Islam. And Nasrallah says to a group of fellow Shiites, “Mashaal has acknowledged that he is not a Muslim.”

    In this context, perhaps, the audience would understand that Mashaal never said “I am not a Muslim.” Rather, they understand that he openly holds non-Shiite (in their eyes, non-Islamic) beliefs.

    If we think of the videos as an in-house production with an audience on the same wavelength, then perhaps Minnery’s language isn’t as misleading as we on the outside take it to be.

    It’s still kinda misleading. No denying that.

    And of course the rest of us find Minnery’s statement to be completely false– and many Americans find his theology questionable– but then, we’re not the folks he’s talking to.

  • Steve

    Robert,

    Well said. Even as an internal propaganda message, though, I suspect the number in their audience who are less than ideally informed about people outside their own group, and who would possibly take the inference that Romney admitted outright to being a non-Christian, outnumbers those who understand that it’s an interpolation on Minnery’s part.

  • http://buddhateach.blogspot.com Robert

    Steve,

    I suspect the same. “Grasping at straws,” as tmatt put it.

  • http://buddhateach.blogspot.com Robert

    Come to think of it:

    Dobson et al want to tell their flock, “Even though Romney admits he’s not a Christian he shares our political goals. Vote for him.”

    Problem is, Romney hasn’t admitted he’s not a Christian.

    So it might just be politically wise for Romney to say, “By your definition I’m not a Christian. But I share your political goals. Vote for me.”

  • Charles Curtis

    I’m still confused by what different people mean when they say that so and so is “conservative” or “liberal.” How is Mitt Romney, or either George W. or H.W. Bush considered to be “solidly conservative” while McCain and Huckabee (or grab your garlic and cross yourself) Paul, considered to be heretics to one degree or another?

    I would like the folks at Focus on the Family (and everywhere else) to explain what they mean by these words.

    Are the Bushes really that conservative (H.W.’s long ago putative flip flop on Planned Parenthood and abortion make me wonder..) How can Romney do an even more transparent reversal and still be lauded as one?

    Is an MBA and vociferous advancement of corporate/haute bourgeois interests the true litmus test in these peoples’ minds? Are the War on Terror and the orgy of government spending under Bush truly “conservative” requisite causes?

    I find it all very confusing. This essay by Christopher Lasch “What’s Wrong with the Right?” excavates the question pretty well, I think.

    http://thor.clark.edu/sengland/previous%20features/a_dialogue_with_christopher_lasc.htm

    Personally, I see the social issues as being the only essential differance between the two parties now, in these days of “big government conservatives” and fusionist pro-war New Democrats.

    Ans so it seems that people like Romney & Bush, with their lackluster support for those issues may not really be all that “conservative” at all.

    Whatever the likes of Dr. Dobson and the Right Rev. Robertson might say.

  • Steve

    Why is the question “Are Mormons Christians?” such a difficult one?

    It is difficult because it’s the wrong question. A distinction needs to be made between Mormons and Mormonism. The historic Christian churches do not judge individuals–so Mormons may indeed be Christians in their faith. We will never get anywhere asking about individual Mormons and their faith–and journalists need to figure this out.

    But *Mormonism* is a different matter. On this, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Evangelical churches are of one position. Mormonism is not really a Christian faith for them. These are official positions. Similarly, the LDS holds that these churches are not Christian churches. Again, this is official position. This is no speculation: The LDS even requires re-baptism, just as the other churches require re-baptism of Mormons. So there it is.

    So I just don’t see the question as that difficult.

    Here is a superb essay on the question that ought to be read and thought about by all parties. Journalists especially.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=2550#mormonism

  • kinja

    Mormons are not Christians. Christian means that you believe that Jesus Christ is the ONLY Son of God the Father. He is a co-extension of God. And with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (which comes out of the Father and the Son) they make up the Godhead called the Holy Trinity.

    It seems that 3 is a complete number so there are 3 persons but only one God. Three aspects of God if you will.

    Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is one of the sons of God and so is Satan (God has more than one son to them). They believe that men can become gods if they follow correctly the Mormon way of life. Mormons believe that we came from another planet and so did God.

    They have their own version of Jesus Christ which is very different from mainstream Christianity.

    They also have their own book called the book of Mormon which their founder wrote.

  • Stephen A.

    Reporters should take great care to note the context of comments. For example, that this was an internal video message and was not a quote from a leading official of the group, nor was it an official policy pronouncement.

    (There is also no evidence that Romney ever said this, and I believe it to be highly unlikely.)

    And yet, just like that OTHER private video from the Church of Scientology, it was released and is certainly open to critique and criticism by outsiders, just as this one should be. The fact that they’re spreading misinformation is the story, not that the information is correct. Again, context.

    In the context of politics, however, this is all an incredibly moot point, since Mitt Romney has reached out to all who share his faith, and to those who do not, and it’s on the record that he’s said that the faith of his supporters does not matter, and that he’s reaching out nonetheless to all conservatives.

    He even threw an olive branch to those of NO faith the other day, saying that they are certainly part of the fabric of America (he was earlier criticized for not noting this group in his Big Religion Speech a few weeks back.)

    Another dimension of this story is obviously that there are some religious bigots out there who would vote against someone who believes exactly as they do on all the social issues JUST because they belong to another religious group. That obviously is a story, and the motives of those folks should be covered – or should I say, exposed.

  • Rathje

    “Similarly, the LDS holds that these churches are not Christian churches. Again, this is official position. This is no speculation: The LDS even requires re-baptism, just as the other churches require re-baptism of Mormons. So there it is.”

    Wrong.

    The LDS Church considers Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox to all be “Christian” for the simple fact that, for us, Christian just means someone who believes in the divinity of Christ and his Atonement. By that definition, Mormons qualify, and so do the other Christian faiths. It has nothing to do with baptism or re-baptism or whether we think you’re an apostate faith. You may be apostate Christians, but you’re still Christian. End of story. And that’s the LDS stance.

    You just don’t get that we view the world from different assumptions than you do.

  • Stephen A.

    Before people start (again) jumping all over Romney and questioning his religion, they should remember, if they plan on jumping on McCain’s bandwagon, that McCain’s status as a baptized Baptist (or is it Episcopalian?) is very much up in the air:
    http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2699

  • Christopher W. Chase

    There is simply no logical justification for stating that the LDS is somehow not a division of Christianity, and journalists ought to be calling Mr. Dobson on this point. 3rd century Syrian Orthodox Monophysites and 21st century Australian Episcopalians share nothing substantiative in common–not language, culture, nor the Nicean nor Chalcedonian understanding of the nature of Jesus. Yet no one even vaguely informed about the history of Christianity would say either are not Christian. Extra sacred texts? Both Seventh-Day Adventism and Christian Science have those too. Anyone commentators care to tell the current chaplain of the U.S. Senate or the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury that he’s not a Christian? Good luck with that. Exaltation? While RC and Orthodox Christians are loath to admit it, the old doctrine of “theosis” also draws humans closer to divinity. Just ask John Chrystostom. John Calvin’s and John of the Cross’s understanding of the believer’s relationship to Christ speaks of a union of wills, just as the LDS hold the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ to be. Eternal progressivism of God? How is that different from Protestant Process Theology? The fact is that Christological and ecclesiological interpretations already vary widely throughout the Christian tradition. Even the Methodists taught a doctrine of Christian perfectionism, especially after the Second Great Awakening. The Latter-Day Saints offer a unique mix and understanding of the American place in Biblical history, to be sure. But other Christian traditions are no less distinctive from each other. To deny the real and substantiative differences between other Christian sects for the purpose of excluding Mormons would a be a travesty of religious journalism. Honest appreciation of Christian diversity? Where are the bold journalists on this?

    If a journalist, commentator or pundit is trained in the history of Christianity, especially American Religious History, then the nature of the LDS, especially within the context of other 19th century Christian Restorationist movements should be clear, regardless of how uncomfortable it might make other Christians. Journalists don’t usually allow Protestants to get away with calling Roman Catholics “Papists” anymore and describing Catholicism as “Popery.” Why let it slide when Mormons are involved?

  • Steve

    Christopher,

    While I am not unsympathetic to you, you fail to see that what is at stake between Christians and Mormons are the things which really matter. You make it sound like not ascribing to trinitarian monotheism is really no big deal. You elide all the critical points which misleading historical observations.

    Christian churches are united on their common asset to a triune doctrine of God, including the radical distinction between God and creatures. Mormonism, when examined closely, rejects almost every single central Christian truth claim. Virtually every one.

    I mean to ill-will to Mormons themselves, many of whom I find to be wonderful people.

    Again, read this:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=2550#mormonism

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Rathje,

    You wrote:

    You may be apostate Christians, but you’re still Christian. End of story. And that’s the LDS stance.

    The definition of apostate is someone who has forsaken or formally rejected the religion. So how you can forsake or formally reject Christianity but still be Christian? Are you using a different than conventional meaning for apostate (which seems to be the case?)

    Mollie

  • http://buddhateach.blogspot.com Robert

    Christopher,

    Many of those who consider Mormonism non-Christian would have the same stance towards Christian Science and possibly also Adventism– precisely because of the new revelations and extra sacred texts of those two groups.

    More importantly, remember that the journalist in question is quoting a Focus on the Family spokesman who is speaking to like-minded folk. Many in Focus on the Family would say that Orthodox, Catholics, and Episcopalians are not necessarily Christian– it should come as no surprise that they think the same of LDS.

    And also keep in mind that the spokesman in question is supporting Romney’s candidacy while disagreeing with his theology. Interpret this, if you like, as an attack on Mormonism– but it’s also a defense of a Mormon candidate.

  • http://buddhateach.blogspot.com Robert

    Funny thing is, I personally know an American Episcopalian who worships regularly (in addition to his own parish) with a Syrian Orthodox Monophysite congregation– and certainly believes and behaves as though the two have a great deal in common. But maybe an Australian Episcopalian would be different.

  • tmatt

    This has been a very frustrated thread for me.

    Few people have actually talked about the topic at hand, which is journalistic — not theological.

    The issue is not what the Mormons and trinitarian Christians believe. The key is that the conflict about what they believe is real and that reporters have to cover both sides of that conflict.

    And, the real key is whether Romney has said ANYTHING remotely like what the FRC people are saying that he has said. It’s a JOURNALISM issue, folks.

  • Steve

    Just to make reading the comment threads a little less confusing, there appear to be (at least) two people posting as “Steve”. I’m the one who posted #9, 10, 17, 25, 26, 28, and NOT the one with #32 and 38.

  • Rathje

    Mollie, for a Mormon “apostate” can mean both one who deliberately rejects the true religion and one who is merely mistaken about it. Mormons have held both views of other religions in the past. Today we weight more heavily toward the second viewpoint.

  • JL Fuller

    It is OK to differentiate Mormons from Historic or traditional Christians. We do so ourselves. But we do not say others can’t be Christian because their theology is different from ours. To outsiders I suppose we all look like idiots for being so animated over what they perceive as of little matter. It only has relevance in a doctrinal discussion which bores most people anyway.

    Rathje – If I understand your post correctly, one has to have been a true and convicted member to be an apostate. If one just mis-understood what he was signing on to then leaving doesn’t qualify as apostasy. Baptism is meaningless without the Holy Ghosts confirmation that the Church is true. If you never get it you are never converted and you are a member in name only. Webster says apostasy is “renunciation of a religious faith”. You have to have faith in order to abandon it. True faith comes after the confirmation.

  • Pingback: News for Mormons » Mitt Romney said WHAT?!?!?

  • Molly

    This has been a very frustrated thread for me.

    Tmatt, after four years of herding these cats you still think you can get order??? Your determination/perseverance is honor worthy.


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