Thank God for Mitt Romney’s Candidacy

Thank God for Mitt Romney’s Candidacy November 3, 2012

I think that all those who are concerned for the spiritual health and integrity of Christianity in the United States should give thanks for Mitt Romney's candidacy.

Many of us have been saying for many years that conservative and fundamentalist Christianity in America had sold its soul for a mess of political pottage, and had traded the gospel of Christ for right-wing economic policies and traditional American (rather than Biblical) social values.

But in the past, it was possible to doubt these claims, in a way that I don't think it ever will be again.

This will be remembered as the time when the Billy Graham Association removed its references to Mormonism as a cult. This will be remembered as the time when people among the so-called “Religious Right” prayed for the death of a president who, whether they agree with his stances or not, is a brother in Christ – but even if he were an enemy, this would still not be how Jesus taught us to act towards others. This will be remembered as the year when, after so often supporting candidates who either matched or pandered to their Evangelical convictions, all that was set aside because political and economic stances in the end matter more to them than having someone who shares their faith in the Oval Office – showing that their support for those earlier candidates was not an expression of their Christian solidarity but their political and economic interests.

So let us give thanks for Mitt Romney's candidacy. I don't think that any previous event has exposed the superficiality of the Christian veneer of the “Religious Right” so clearly.

All that remains is for those conservative Christians to offer an apology to Mitt Romney and other Mormons for having continuously insulted and denigrated their faith, until it became politically expedient for them to stop doing so.



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  • smijer

    Mormonism, Liberal Christianity, Evangelical Christianity… One savior – three religions. Just as distinct as Judaism, Islam, and any of the three already mentioned… All of these share a patriarch or two… and a few bits in common from the shared ANE ancient historical connection. Honestly, of the five, Liberal Christianity and Reform Judaism are those most divergent from the family tree. The rest cluster around a pretty wide swath of shared values at least.

  • Many of us have been saying for many years that conservative and fundamentalist Christianity in America had sold its soul for a mess of political pottage, and had traded the gospel of Christ for right-wing economic policies and traditional American (rather than Biblical) social values.

    That seems correct to me. I can’t really argue that myself, having dropped out of religion. I am glad that you (and others) are bringing it up.

    It’s a bit premature to judge whether your “thank God” is warranted. It is possible that it is too late for the mistakes to be corrected.

  • Gary

    Be comforted, conservative Christians. If elected, Romney will be the first Melchizedek priest elected president. As a bishop and state president, he may be a high priest. That I do not know. When Romney received his patriarchal blessing, I wonder if he was told he will be president. Enough of Mormon doctrine. But you will get much more in the next four years. Enjoy.

  • Jordan

    Funny all the hate for the evangelical support of Romney. If they didn’t, they’d be chastised for not being open minded. I guess they can’t do right when it comes to the haters.

    • I think you are missing the point. It is the hypocrisy of doing both depending on what is convenient that is being highlighted.

  • Straw Man

    All you say is true. However, a virtually identical post could be written about those who support Obama: this is the year the liberals who opposed illegal wiretaps, invasive wars, kidnapping and torture, when Bush did it, suddenly found it in themselves to love those things when Obama did them–and not only those things, but when Obama went further, and proclaimed the doctrine that the President has the authority to declare anyone (including American citizens, including minors, such as the son of Anwar al Awlaki) an “enemy combatant,” condemn him to death without a trial, and order that he and anyone in the immediate vicinity be killed with missiles fired from robotic drones, liberals suddenly found themselves mouthing all the same platitudes about security as the right-wingers, and even issuing burly ejaculations of manly pride.

    This is the year that liberals put “Osama is Dead!” bumper stickers on their cars, proclaiming their delight that a man accused but never tried or convicted, a man who has consistently denied perpetrating the atrocity of 9/11 and deserves to face his accusers, was summarily executed–and not only that, but was summarily executed by means of a military invasion of an allied nation.

    Liberals and conservatives have no moral core between them; the protest immoral deeds only when the “other guy” commits them. And by means of this seesawing between Bush (who expanded medicare more than at any point since its creation), and Obama (who expanded Presidential powers as judge, jury and executioner to a level unprecedented in history), we see the most indescribable immorality normalized through the sanctification of “bipartisanship.” Obama has blessed war-hawkery, and both Bush and Romney bless massive expansion of the welfare state.

    When you vote, presumable for Obama, I hope you consider that as you sign the register, you’re signing a receipt for your soul.

    • smijer

      It’s just a shame upvotes are limited to one per.

      You’ve summed up the symptoms admirably.

      The causes… I see the faulty wiring of human brains. I see the two-party system, which is especially entrenched in the U.S. by first-past-the-post / plurality-wins voting, and the absence of proportional representation. What other causes can you identify?

    • There is indeed a great deal of hypocrisy on both sides.

      • Kaz

        Yet you only focus on the hypocrisy on one of those sides, the right, right? I know that you are a liberal, and that this blog is a place where you express your views, but I wonder if your credibility as a critic might be enhanced in the eyes of those one assumes you’d like to reach if you showed a willingness to look at the rafters in the eyes of those who are among your own?

        • It isn’t really about my politics, it is my concern that the claims of fundamentalists are being accepted uncritically both by their proponents and many outside whovsimply take their claims at face value. I would feel comfortable taking a more even-handed approach to the matter of Christianity and politics, if there were not a huge number of people lined up behind one party who seem to be genuinely convinced that it stands for “Biblical values.” I do not support Obama because he perfectly reflects my values, or alleged Biblical values, and have never claimed otherwise. And that, I think, is an important distinction.

          • Kaz

            I can understand that, yet I get the impression that there’s more going on here than a simple altruistic concern for the perceived damage that you think might result from a lack of critical evaluation on the part of the religious right and those believe them. A while back I responded to one of your posts by noting that it never would have occurred to me to criticize a group for not behaving in a manner that I would have criticized had they done so. What I was trying to highlight in that response is the impression one gets from your blog, namely, that in your eyes fundamentalists are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. You seem to relish opportunities to criticize them, and seize every one you can with great alacrity. To me this suggests that at least some of this combativeness is about you. I wonder if, had you not been blessed with intellectual gifts, you’d have become a professional pugilist.

          • Well, of course there is a connection me and my life. I used to have a fundamentalist outlook of the sort I criticize, and so I am engaging in self-criticism and trying to work against some of the harm that I myself surely did in that stage of my life.

            I don’t think I have a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” approach to fundamentalism. I disagree with the stance they claim to have, but I also find that stance all the more problematic because what they claim to be their consistent approach is not what they claim. It does not seem to me inappropriate to point out both sorts of problems.

          • Kaz

            Well, when you criticize a group because on one occasion they do NOT do what they normally would have done, yet you would have equally criticized them for doing what they normally would have done, I’d say that that is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” approach, by definition.

            Here again, in other circumstances some on the religious right have characterized Mormonism as a “cult” (ironic, since there is an overlapping sense in which Christianity is among the largest “cults” on the planet), but in this case some have set that aside out of fear for the future of their country, and for doing so they earn your criticism. Yet had the religious right united against Romney because of his Mormonism, you would have equally criticized them for rejecting him as a candidate in light of his membership in a “cult” when Romney is actually in favor of some of the same principles that they affirm from a biblical perspective (e.g. traditional marriage, sanctity of life, even, or perhaps especially, the life of those who are not yet in a position to protect themselves). Indeed, since there is no explicit biblical justification for favoring any economic system over another, while there is biblical justification for favoring traditional marriage and holding life sacred, you likely would have waxed eloquent and declared that when it comes to issues about which the Bible actually has something to say, Romney is as far to the “right” as they are, and so their refusal to embrace him is nothing more than pure religious bigotry!

            I won’t belabor the point, though. Just bear in mind that there is some risk in this approach, for once people recognize that so much of the criticism you offer is really about you, then their sense of its persuasive force may begin to diminish.

          • Well, I think that if they think that any criticism offered by anyone does not reflect the experiences and unique perspective of the one offering the criticism, then they are fundamentally misguided. Indeed, one of the reasons why it is important to highlight the limited human perspective of fundamentalist religion is because its adherents tend not to be aware of the human fallibility of their own perspective, ascribing to it (and thus, usually without realizing it, to themselves) inerrancy.

          • Kaz

            I wasn’t really suggesting that criticisms don’t reflect the unique perspective of the ones offering them. I was thinking more of the obsession with offering the criticisms at every chance you get, while simultaneously refusing to seriously address or even acknowledge the rafters in the eyes of those on your side. It seems to me that such dogged determination in exposing the flaws you see in others itself becomes a rafter if it is not accompanied by a corresponding willingness to criticize your own. This is the sort of behavior I’ve seen so often from some of the more inflexible fundamentalists, which makes me wonder if you realize just how much you are actually still like them.

            I’ve been guilty of this sort of thing myself, many times, and there have been times when people have simply tuned me out as a result.

          • I am responding to the last of your comments mainly so that we don’t get internested confusion, and not because I am focusing on this last comment more than the others. At first I thought that you were suggesting that I ought to spread the criticism around more evenly. But it now seems that you might be saying more than that – that I ought to find as much wrong with my current views as I have with previous ones. And while I am happy to acknowledge that my current views are human and thus by definition inadequate, if I thought that all views were equally flawed, I would simply say that. And if I thought that the views that I currently hold were more problematic than those I criticize, then I would shift to holding those other views.

            It may be that I have mistaken where you are coming from or what you meant, since our conversation here has touched on both religious fundamentalism and the political candidates and parties. I find much more to criticize equally across the board in both of the main political parties in the United States, than I do if it is a matter of assessing different forms of Christianity.

          • Kaz

            I had said:

            “This is the sort of behavior I’ve seen so often from some of the more
            inflexible fundamentalists, which makes me wonder if you realize just
            how much you are actually still like them.”

            It struck me that for you this could seem like the ultimate insult, so I wanted to clarify that I didn’t mean it that way, and I apologize if it seemed insulting. I was really just trying to get you thinking.

          • Kaz

            BTW, I was wondering, have you ever considered writing a book about these concerns? You could call it “The Foibles of Fundamentalists”, or something like that, and get all this stuff off your chest once and for all;-)

            You might dedicate the first chapter to one of my own pet peeves, i.e. that those who constantly declare that “America is the greatest nation on God’s green earth” may be unintentionally committing a form of idolatry by heaping the sort of praise on a kingdom of the world that the Bible reserves for the kingdom of God. Not that America and other nations don’t deserve the honor that God expects us to give them by subjecting ourselves to their authority, respecting their laws, paying our taxes, etc, but it strikes me that this constant national bragging that I hear, most often from the right, must strike people from other lands as just a bit unseemly.

          • Claude

            Romney is actually in favor of some of the same principles that they affirm from a biblical perspective (e.g. traditional marriage, sanctity of life, even, or perhaps especially, the life of those who are not yet in a position to protect themselves).

            Romney’s “principles” on abortion is contingent on political context. Pro-choice in Massachusetts; “severely” anti-abortion in the Repubiican primary, every which way in the general. You cannot dispute this.

          • Kaz

            And Obama was against gay marriage before he was in favor of it. So either all politicians are just a bunch of pathological liars, or perhaps some of them are honest people who sometimes see fit to revise their views because their views have actually been further shaped by the continued dialogue and personal growth.

            I’m willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and concede that he may have changed his view because of personal growth. Are you willing to grant Romney the same courtesy?

          • Kaz

            BTW, both Romney and Obama are guilty of flip-flops. They’re politicians, and that’s what politicians do. I’m not really interested in getting into a discussion of the flip-flops, because (i) I don’t support either candidate and therefore have no dog in this race, and (ii) they aren’t directly related to the point I was attempting to make to James.

          • Claude

            I realized my comment is incidental to the main point. However, what you wrote is misleading enough to warrant a response.

            As for the “they all do it” false equivalence, there are actually differences of degree, and citizens should be aware of them. I think Obama probably always favored gay marriage but awaited an auspicious moment to move it forward and that Romney shifts his positions to get elected (unless you think that making a complete about-face within twenty-four hours represents “personal growth”). They are both forms of political opportunism, of course, but the first is in the interest of advancing equality, and the second is cynicism.

            I’m unsympathetic to your quibble with McGrath as well. He is fighting the good fight against an anti-intellectual menace. It would have been legitimate to criticize the far right for rejecting Romney out of religious bigotry, supporting him out of tribalism (to put it nicely), or for any number of other reasons. I am trying to think of some equivalence to the Muslim socialist communist Kenyan enemy of America propaganda assimilated by the religious right. Nothing comes to mind.

          • Kaz

            We certainly see things differently. If Obama always favored gay marriage then he is a liar. And, of course, this is just one issue in which his behavior is less than honorable. You can try and put a positive spin on it if you’d like, but I won’t sugar coat the failings of politicians whose ethical positions depend on what they think will get the most votes at the time, which is essentially to say that I won’t sugar coat the failings of any politician, regardless of party. As for Obama vs. Romney, as a Christian I cannot in good conscience vote for either of them. My vote is limited to the Kinship of Jesus Christ, and I will be a resident alien until his kingdom is established.

          • Claude

            I don’t know if Obama always favored gay marriage or not. It is sheer speculation on my part. If he did and he affected not to, it is no worse than Lincoln affecting to have no commitment to abolishing slavery, before abolishing slavery. Mind you, I am not equating slavery with the denial to gay people of the right to marry. However, they are both issues of equality.

            I fully support gay marriage, and I would think the “family values” Christians would, too. The gay parents I’m acquainted with have adopted unwanted children, provided them with love and stability, and are productive tax-paying members of society. Come on now, what’s not to like?

            As for not being able to vote for either candidate because you’re a Christian, why not? Render unto Caeser.

          • Kaz

            “As for not being able to vote for either candidate because you’re a Christian, why not? Render unto Caeser.”

            Our obligations to Caesar involve submission to his laws, not advocacy for his cause. IMO, there could hardly be anything more unchristian than to watch someone lie, distort, exaggerate, malign, make false promises, evade, misrepresent, etc, etc, etc, and then endorse that behavior with a vote. That’s part of it. The other part is that, IMO, biblical Christianity involves total allegiance to the Kingdom of God, which alone commands the allegiance of our hearts.

          • Claude

            I see. You feel no obligation to the United States, despite all the country provides for you. You are unmoved by all those who died in its name.

            Our struggling brothers and sisters will be in many cases be profoundly affected by who becomes president. Jesus said to look after them. What about that?

          • Straw Man

            I’m very moved by those who died in its name! Since we haven’t fought a defensive war since the revolution, everyone who has died in the name of the United States has been a murder victim. (Yes, including the “good war,” WWII. It’s public record that Roosevelt, who was elected on a platform of keeping us out of the war, desperately wanted to join the war, and intentionally provoked the Japanese beyond their endurance.)

    • Claude

      Um, one of the first things Obama did in office was sign an executive order banning torture. Obama has caught plenty of flak from the left on every single civil liberties issue you mentioned, and you know it. His expansion of the imperial presidency is certainly alarming.

      Osama bin Laden “consistently denied” responsibility for 911? Somehow I missed them all. Please point me to the timeline so I can give this unfortunate innocent his due. Regardless, I, and many others across the political spectrum, agree that capture and trial would have been ideal.

      My soul will be just fine after I cast my vote for Obama. No politician at that level of power is uncompromised. The last time purists tipped an election was a disaster for the country. How soon we forget.

      • Straw Man

        Obama only banned certain torture practices–and only by Americans. He continued the practice of giving detainees to foreign jailers known to use torture, and he allowed the torture of, e.g., Bradley Manning, by use of sleep deprivation, isolation, and forced nudity, for months and months on end.

        • Claude

          Excerpt, Executive Order 13491

          …such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.

          I agree that the treatment of Bradley Manning was a scandal. (It was weeks, not “months and months on end,” according to the Guardian.)

  • kash

    there are a lot of traditional American values that our biblical because those values were influenced by the bible.

    Nothing wrong in supporting a Mormon who will prevent debt.The bible is pretty clear to stay away from debt.

    The bible also says if you do not work you do not eat.

    It also says to help the poor , not give that responsibility to the government who have no idea what they are doing and keep the poor ,poor,a neighbor knows much more about my needs (If I am a poor person) than the government.

    There are enough biblical reasons to vote Romney.
    There are enough reasons based purely on logic to vote Romney, unless you think a 16 trillion debt is healthy!
    There is nothing wrong if most Christians identify themselves with the right.
    Just Pls do not call them un biblical

    This argument of yours is flawed and seems to ignore the majority of the bible

    • I would encourage you to not simply repeat familiar phrases and fragments of verses taken out of context, but to actually look at the extensive contents of the Bible dealing with this matters. Don’t just pull “If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat” from its context to turn it into a slogan in our very different economic setting. Actually ask what that is likely to have had in view in the time in which it was written, Read the Book of Amos, Read the Jubilee Law, ask what the significance is that such things were laws for a nation and not merely appeals to individuals to choose to follow or not as they saw fit.

      Once you are actually familiar with the relevant contents of the Bible, we can talk more about is. But as long as your response is vague on Biblical details and illustrates the typical conservative American Christian confusion between what the Bible says and what they assume it means because their own values say it, and they are the lens thorough which they read the Bible, we will not be able to get very far.

      • kash

        wait, you accuse me of something, while you do worse things with the bible to support your position.

        Frankly, its pretty simple, If someone refuse to work they won’t eat.

        I am just sick of supposed christian’s who like to shame christian’s that support the right by constantly calling them unbiblical………
        Pls if you hate the idea of working hard do not attacks those who wish to do so and carry your burden!

        • Again, please don’t just rant and reassert your viewpoint. If there was nothing like welfare in the first century, then presumably that isn’t what 2 Thessalonians is talking about. So what is he talking about? Surely that is a (or perhaps the) key if we are to try to make sense of what that text meant in its original context, and then derive principles that can be applied to our time.

          One possibility would be that he was addressing Christians who created a communal way of life, akin to that attributed to the Jerusalem church in Acts. If everyone had their property in common and worked together – perhaps along the model that later monastic communities followed – then the text makes perfect sense, and would provide both an argument in favor of democratic communism, and within that context, the very sensible stance that, since jobs are guaranteed to everyone, if someone is unwilling to work, then they should not eat.

          In our own context, in which these is no guarantee of employment, much less of employment that provides a wage that allows one to feed oneself and/or one’s family, how would the principle apply, in your opinion?

          If the above is not the background to the text, then what is? I would be happy to discuss the text with you, assuming you are not just interested in hijacking it as a prooftext for what you have already made up your mind that it ought to mean, but are open to the Bible challenging you and your assumptions and beliefs, which hopefully you will agree is the only appropriate way to approach it.

          • kash

            Exactly, the people created a communal way of life,note the absence of the government there!
            I support the right wing because I believe it is the responsibility of people to take care /provide for others and this is a sign of a true christian and generous society rather than one forced by the government which most of the time knows nothing about what individuals need.

            I have lived in NZ for a few years, with arguably the worlds best welfare system, and honestly people once on the system tend to stay on the system long term, their children also stay on the system.

            It would have been much better if the government was out and people got together to improve the lives of neighbors who lost their jobs for example, why because a neighbor knows more about that individuals need than a government that if focused on promoting its ideology of controlling everyone.

            Ultimately I support people choosing to help out rather than being forced,that’s where the church comes in, a means oh helping those in society.

            Unfortunately left wing parties want to control all of this and thats why I do not support them-let alone them being far from biblical, in fact they tend to be more bible hating!

          • If you are going to treat the first century situation as ideal, even divinely ordained, then presumably you will also want to live in a dictatorship, as the early Christians did? And will not vote, since the early Christians didn’t vote? If not, then why would you object to the use of democratic means to address matters that the Bible is also concerned with?

            A welfare system does indeed have problems inherent in it. So why not address matters of injustice through other systemic means, rather than leaving the rich to trample the poor in an unbiblical manner, with their option of throwing a bit of their surplus in the direction of others to make themselves as the rich feel better while maintaining the unjust status quo that serves their interests?

            I would highly recommend that you try to actually meet people who are affiliated with other parties. Whatever your sources of information are, they clearly are offering polemic instead of information. If you are a Christian, you should not give away your assent, much less your allegiance, as cheaply as you appear to have.

          • kash

            okay, I am surrounded 24/7 with left wingers.

            I spent 2 weeks with a campaigner/member of the green party of Germany the most far left party in Germany.

            I have never met with any official right wing party member/campaigner.

            Right where did I say that situation was ideal.I said the situation is ideal when christian’s have the ability to decide how they live and are not micromanaged by the gluttonous government.

            You seem to also ironically assume that democracy is the best form of government and somehow biblically ordained.

            If you actually met people who work with christian’s in Libya/Syria and Egypt they all prefer their dictators!!,after all they were not KILLED under them.

            Cheaply!!!,I have lived in New Zealand, our right wing party is equivalent to the democratic party of America,there policies do not work,the evidence is there all around me.

            And frankly the poor are worse off in New Zealand, and have no opportunity to lift themselves out of that cycle.


          • You are attributing to me views that I do not hold. Are you perhaps mistaking me for someone else?

            I have never said that democracy is Biblical. What I have said and assumed is that it is the framework within which I live, and within which I need to express my Christian faith, just as the early Christians did within their very different sociopolitical context.

            May I ask why you consider the only two options to be what New Zealand apparently does and what Mitt Romney says he stands for? Is there any reason you don’t think Christians ought to be creatively developing or looking for and then supporting other options entirely? Or do you genuinely think that what Mitt Romney stands for matches the sorts of concerns expressed by Biblical texts such as the Jubilee Law and the requirement that people leave some of their crops for the poor in Leviticus?

          • kash


            Yes Christians should look creatively for other ways of helping others.
            I firmly believe that the government should have nothing to do with it, for the simple reason government(left or right) does not understand the needs of individuals as compared to friends/neighbors.

            Mitt Romney stands for many things I disagree with him on, but he is not trying to limit Evangelicals,destroy jobs and only benefit one group of people(Women/gays and African Americans)

            In fact there is not a single party in the world that cares about the fact that the majority of the poor are male, more men commit suicide,etc

            A lot of the world’s violence will be sorted if these men were given attention.
            Government knows not what it is doing, people do, that is why I will always vote right wing and use that lucky opportunity of mine to move government so that it allows people to help the poor.
            Mitt Romney does not seek to use government to help one group but give equal opportunity to all but also knows that different people will have different success levels.

            Jesus never ever said we should be robin hood, something left wingers look upto!

            Also where in Mitt Romney policy does he say he will enforce mormon laws? your statements seem to assume that.


          • Once again you are making things up an attributing them to me, but I will continue to give you the benefit of the doubt and not assume that you are merely a troll.

            I suggest that you are not thinking creatively. Having neighbors help you is not creative. That was and is all that can be done if a nation does not acknowledge that perpetuation if injustice has a systemic dimension. Why should a society accept that if it is a democracy, and so the govnment is ultimately its people, and large numbers of its citizens accept this point which is observable in the present day and enshrined in Biblical laws such as that of the Jubilee year?

            Out of curiosity, are you opposed to public education? Would you make that a private, individual matter too?

          • TrevorN

            The poor in NZ are worse off than the poor in America? That doesn’t describe the NZ that I live in. Which NZ do you live in? Or are you comparing the NZ poor with the American middle class or something like that?

          • As a student I remember reading about Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. He said this:

            “Half a million American children suffer from serious malnutrition, and I have seen of them, some of them, I have seen personally some of them starving in the state of Mississippi, their stomachs bloated, their bones and their bodies scarred, many of them retarded for life. Up to 80 percent of some Indian tribes are unemployed. And the suicide rate among the high school children is shockingly high, dozens of times the national average. For the black American of the urban ghetto, we really do not know what its unemployment rate is, because from one-fifth to one-third of these adult men in these areas have literally dropped out from sight, uncounted and unknown by all of the agencies of government, drifting about the cities, without hope and without family and without a future. By these standards, we are not so rich a country.”

            Even in a country that has a strong ideology of being self made and self reliant, some people are going to fall through the cracks, and aren’t sharing in the American dream. Sometimes the welfare system creates a permanent underclass who have an entitlement mentality, but not all of the poor are like that.

  • Gary

    Cairo (CNN) – Egypt’s Coptic Christians picked a new leader Sunday, a process that involved a blindfolded boy choosing one of three names in a crystal chalice.
    From CNN. Perhaps a better way than electing a president.

  • R. Andrew Morgan