Will Religious Bigotry Factor into Romney's Chances In 2008 Presidential Campaign?

Massachusetts Governor, Willard Mitt Romney, who gained the attention of social conservatives by standing up to the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage, announced his candidacy for the GOP Presidential nomination on February 13, 2007.

However, while moderate by Republican standards, even receiving a mere C- rating from the NRA by signing a permanent ban on assault weapons in 2004, liberals will take exception to his standing on abortion and gay marriage where he stands firmly by his religious beliefs.

Romney has also taken a more conservative stand on Immigrants’ Rights going so far as to propose deputizing state troopers to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants in support of the Patriot Act’s intent to prevent terrorists from crossing our borders. In September 2005, he suggested that the FBI wiretap mosques and spy on new Muslim immigrants.

But despite that Washington pundits are currently flocking towards Romney who is best known as the man who single handedly saved the Salt Lake City Olympics, however, his ascendance to the throne may be compromised by his other than mainstream religious preference. Romney is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and while other candidates may attempt to be politically correct by avoiding references to his religious beliefs evangelical churches that make up 30 percent of the Republican electorate will discourage members from voting for him. The problem is that Evangelicals do not have the same vague anti-LDS prejudice that some Americans do because for them it’s a doctrinal thing, based on very specific theological disputes that can’t be overcome by personality or charm or even shared positions on social issues. To evangelicals, Mormonism is a cult which means that they are somewhere between devil worshippers and Jim Jones and this prejudice was shown as recently as 2004, when Shirley Dobson (wife of James Dobson), specifically excluded them from participation in the National Day of Prayer because their theology was found to be incompatible with Christian beliefs. Sadly, however, this prejudice goes even deeper with persons like John L. Smith, a Southern Baptist who runs Utah Mission, telling Christianity Today that, “To be tolerant of Mormonism is to put evangelical Christianity at risk. And to put a Mormon in the White House would be to place a stamp of approval on that faith.”

However, this just goes to show that religious freedom is not a reality in America where latent evangelical concerns about Mormonism are just waiting to be exploited by those who oppose Romney’s nomination. Unfortunately, it is this bias that has caused conservatives to begin to worrying about Romney’s viability with a poll conducted in June by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg showing that 35% of registered voters would not consider voting for a Mormon for President. Only Islam would be a more damaging faith for a candidate, the poll found.

Still, when it comes to managing the message about Romney’s relationship with his church, there might not be the necessary separation that is needed as was reported by the Boston Globe in October. The article stated that Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the church’s 12 apostles, had discussed the campaign at church headquarters with one of Romney’s sons as well as with a key Romney donor and a paid consultant to his political action committee. The Globe also reported that e-mails from two administrators of the business school at Brigham Young University, used office computers to solicit support for the campaign and even though B.Y.U.’s counsel told them to knock it off, Romney said it made sense to raise money from people he knows, including alumni.

As a result of these guffaws, Romney advisers are debating whether he will need to give a big speech in the tradition of John F. Kennedy, who told Protestant church leaders in Houston 46 years ago that he was “not the Catholic candidate for President” but instead he was “the Democratic Party’s candidate for President, who happens also to be Catholic.”

Perhaps of more concern to this reviewer is his stance on domestic wiretapping and habeas corpus verified by his refusal to sign a pledge not to conduct wiretapping on Americans or to imprison US citizens without trial thus suspending the writ of habeas corpus. After his refusal the conservative group, America for Freedom released a press release stating, “Conservatives Say Mitt Romney Unfit to Serve as President”. An additional negative, from my personal perspective, is his support for the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in the handling of suspects at the

Guantanamo Bay detention facility which came out during the Republican Presidential Debate in South Carolina, on May 15, 2007.

So will religious bigotry be Romney’s demise or will it be his stand on violating the rights of American Citizens? If it is because of his religious affiliations I say shame on you America but if it is because of his support for inflicting fear, terror, and trespass on American citizens then I say more power to the people.

[tags]Willard Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney, Presidential candidate, Mormon, Religious Bigotry, 2008 candidate for President, Freedom of Religion, enhanced interrogation procedures, wiretapping of citizens, Evangelical stance against Mormons[/tags]

Militant Christianity vs Militant Islam – What is the Difference?

In Abandonment Theology, a compelling expose by John Chalfant, readers are encouraged to engage in a spiritual battle to rally America back to greatness by identifying what he sees as the problem and then fighting to preserve what he believes is our religious heritage. However, the reader must be aware that this book is geared toward traditional Christian beliefs and emphasizes that Christ and Freedom are inseparable and purports that God’s dominion mandate makes it paramount that the church be in control until His return. The author further makes known that he believes our freedoms are under attack on many battle fronts including the public school system and that as Americans we allow affluence to make us numb to the danger that surrounds our souls. Frighteningly, to this reviewer, Mr. Chalfant apparently believes in a militant Christianity, not unlike the Muslims who believe in Jihad, and that it is their duty and obligation to uphold democratic principles at whatever cost.  

It is therefore not surprising to find D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., Senior Minister, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church expounding on Chalfant’s book calling it a spirit-led revelation for every true minister of Christ and all believers. He then adds that all Patriotic Americans need to carry the moral torch of freedom and liberty by spreading Christ’s proclamations. My question is where does that leave Patriotic Americans who are Muslim, Buddist, and Agnostic or from cultures other than the white middle class. Being the cynic that I am, one must wonder if the decline in church attendance has affected the preacher’s income and life style to such a point that they are hoping that this book will cause a trend back to where preacher’s control man’s soul, in the name of the Almighty, so that their pocketbooks can be enhanced.  

Don’t misunderstand me though as I do realize that there are genuine ministers out there who sincerely believe in their calling and live on little to serve their congregations. It is just that I have been jaundiced by the majority out there who demand their 10% from people who have nothing to feed their children and refuse to offer help to those in need. There are also some points that I agree with in the book, such as the fact that children in our public schools are exposed to subjects that encourage immorality and while I believe abstinence should be taught I believe that discussions of homosexuality and humanist atheism should be taught by parents not included in school curriculum.   

Is America in danger? If you believe Chalfant the answer is a resounding yes because he believes that for this country to be great again the Christian clergy must become militant. By this, he means that the American people “are in a war for our God-given nation and freedoms, and the workers of iniquity are winning.” To give him credit he does acknowledge that non-Christians are not obligated to adopt the Christian faith” but he adds, it is “the duty of every American citizen to defend the Constitution and the Judeo-Christian pillars of law and liberty which grant us such freedoms.” Interesting argument. If you don’t support Christianity, then you won’t have the right to believe something other than Christianity. Again, how is this different than what the fanatic Muslims are doing in their countries as they seek to silence any who do not follow their beliefs? I don’t understand how a militant Christianity, some of whom bomb abortion clinics, killing practitioners and patients can be viewed as righteous when it is a judgmental and intolerant attitude, and yes perhaps greed that influences their decisions. 

It was interesting for this reviewer to note a little history regarding Chalfant that revealed that he committed his life to serving Christ and
America after hearing a speech by Richard Arens. It was in this research series, on Soviet expansionism, that Aren’s began with the statement, “Two thousand years ago there was One who spoke these words: ‘No man can serve two masters,” comparing Jesus Christ, the “author of freedom,” to Karl Marx, the “destroyer of freedom.” Aren’s group, the HUAC, is legendary for its embrace and cultivation of widely differing points of view so how did Chalfant get to where he is today.  Aren’s went on, over the next thirty years, to assist and fund the many Christian pro-defense leaders supporting the “SALT Syndrome.”
This makes my question this: When did God instruct our nation that revival could only be obtained in the form of a missile defense system. Apparently, state and national lawmakers heard the call since they are hailing Chalfant’s book entitled “Abandonment Theology” as a foundation for their political platforms supporting the clergy stand despite that fact that America’s forefathers intended a separation of church and state.

Summarily, His book calls for a militant Christianity that will stop at nothing to ensure that the evil of differing views that he sees as evil are stopped and that they will prevail. To his views that a retreat from Christian duty is responsible for the undermining of America’s founding principles I say in some ways he is right but I cannot endorse a belief that places intolerance of others as a foundation block for their militancy against the innocent who are seeking God in their own way. Militant Christianity vs Militant Islam – what is the difference? None that this reviewer can see since it appears that the basis of both is control of the masses in the supposed name of the Almighty who I believe sent Christ to rid the world of intolerance, judgment and the Pharisees. America’s real revival will happen when these militant Christians go home, go to their room, close the door, take a deep breath – and take a good, long, hard look at themselves in the mirror and then, quietly and humbly and fervently ask God for help, insight, and direction.

[tags]Militant Christianity, Militant Islam, Chalfant, John Chalfant, Abandonment Theology, intolerance, injustice, pharisees, political separation of church and state, separation of church and state, political platforms, freedom of religion, Christian Jihad[/tags]

Does Wicca, a Neo-Pagan Belief, Threaten Christian Values

George W. Bush denounced Wicca, an earth-centered religion, in 1999, when as Governor of Texas; he insisted, “The military should rethink their position regarding Wicca because it was not a religion”. Given that statement, one has to wonder what frame of reference or political stance, he used as a basis for his argument since the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof “.  However, it must be noted that George Bush is not the only politician to make statements or perform acts that are profoundly, religiously intolerant or violate the federal constitution in a major way. Other examples include Governor Mike Johanns (R, NE) who signed a proclamation on MAY 6, 1999, officially recognizing that day as a March for Jesus Day. In response, Carole Shields, president of People for the American Way Foundation, commented that:  “This action, far from promoting religious faith and freedom, undermines it by creating a second-class status for all faiths other than Christianity in
Nebraska.” At the time, reporters asked Governor Johanns whether he would sign a proclamation for a religion other than Christianity to which he replied: “I wouldn’t hesitate to sign a proclamation for the Jewish faith, Hinduism, whatever …. so long as it doesn’t require me to sign something I personally don’t agree with.” Then there was ” U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R, GA): who currently serves on the House Judiciary, Government Reform and Banking Committees who stated that he was offended that the U.S. army extended equal religious freedom to all soldiers on the Fort Hood, TX, army base, including Wiccans. He attempted to pressure the army into terminating religious freedoms for Wiccans on all army bases thus inspiring a coalition of conservative Christian groups to mount a boycott against army recruitment, until the U.S. Army complied. I myself am a Christian and believe in the principles set forth in the Christian Bible but one of these includes not casting the first stone at those who are different, which to me means extending tolerance to all and acknowledging others rights to believe as they choose.

Wiccan’s appear to be harmless, worshipping in much the same way as the Native American do by giving homage to the rain, wind, and nature in general. According to Edain McCoy, Wiccans celebrate their beliefs through the cycles of nature using the earth as their temple and its plants and creatures as their teachers. They “worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and a father God who created all that is, or will be very similar to what Christians believe while respecting life and cherishing the free will of sentient beings and the sacredness of all creation.”

On May 4, 2004 Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, addressed the World Evangelical stating that, Once started religious strife has a tendency to go on and on, to become permanent feuds. Today we see such intractable inter-religious wars in Northern Ireland, between Jews and Muslims and Christians in Palestine, Hindus and Muslims in
South Asia and in many other places. Attempts to bring about peace have failed again and again. Always the extremist elements invoking past injustices, imagined or real, will succeed in torpedoing the peace efforts and bringing about another bout of hostility.
” This statement’s truth is obvious as we see the intolerance of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the many religious wars in
Africa. My fear is that if we as Americans, who founded America on the basis of religious freedom, become intolerant to any religion, be it Wiccan or Muslim, we set ourselves up to become the Nazi’s of the twenty-first century who during World War II, through their hatred and intolerance, massacred millions of Jews in the Holocaust. To date, one must be thankful that religiously based lynchings, fire bombings, and economic attacks have been limited in the United States and
Canada to some extremists but some of our political leaders keep the evil that fueled these attacks alive today.

Several years ago, I stopped attending a church edifice, despite my beliefs because of the judgmental attitude and intolerance I found there. It seemed to always appear as if the same people who were held up in the church as holy and who were the first to tell you how to live your life were the same ones you couldn’t trust in a business situation and the ones who spent all of Sunday dinner criticizing the preacher and other church members. My firm belief is that Jesus came to earth to teach us of God’s love, forgiveness and tolerance for others which means that while we ourselves may not agree with the beliefs or philosophies of others, even those self-called humanists with their non-theistic philosophy, we are not in a position to judge them. Therefore, when it comes to Wiccan’s with their nature beliefs, Muslims with their belief in Allah, or fellow Christians of different denominations one must guard themselves against feeling superior and allow each person to seek God in their own manner. [tags]Wicca, Neo-Pagan, Native Amerian, Tolerance, Abuse of 1st Amendment, George Bush, Military, Fort Hood, Freedom of religion, Christian Values, Judgement, God[/tags]