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Author Topic: Romney's speech on Faith
MrSquicky
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When reading the NYT article, I'm struck by the idea. It seems to me, many evangelicals want to support Romney in that they hope that he will pursue a religious agenda, but are afraid that the religious agenda will have a strong LDS tinge to it. That's got to be an interesting line to walk, for both Romney and the evangelicals.
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Javert Hugo
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I think the big fear is not that Romney would turn out to be terrible but that he'd turn out to be wonderful and make Mormons look good. Disaster!
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Dagonee
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quote:
Dag: If you read the contents of the letter, Romney says that Clinton's don't ask don't tell policy was a step in the right direction. He also states that he shares the goal of one day allowing gays and lesbians being able to openly serve in the military. During the youtube debates he was asked about his statement, "gays/lesbians openly serving...etc" and he said that he does not think now is the time for modifying the don't ask don't tell policy.
Alright, maybe it isn't as marked a change as I thought at first glance. But considering that the impression I'm trying to deny or confirm is that he opportunistically changes what he believes based on political expediency, it doesn't help his case, either.
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Dagonee
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert Hugo:
I think the big fear is not that Romney would turn out to be terrible but that he'd turn out to be wonderful and make Mormons look good. Disaster!

I think that's the fear amongst some evangelical leaders, but is less commonly held amongst the rank and file.

[ December 10, 2007, 02:32 PM: Message edited by: Dagonee ]

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:


----
kmbboots: You said,
quote:
The troublesome thing for me is that, in 1960, Kennedy's strategy for addressing the religion questions was to assert that there should be no religious test for public office. Romney's strategy in 2007 is to convince people that he passes that test. That really concerns me.
So are you saying it concerns you that the state of affairs in the US is such that it appears we DO have a religious test for candidates? Or are you saying it concerns you that Romney is trying to pass some perceived religious test in order to be president?

I've answered the second questions several times, but it seems like you are saying you only meant the first question.

Yes. I mean the first. That is my concern.

Now. Having said that, it would have been an admirable thing for a person in a position to address this problem as Kennedy did - to fight against the idea of a religion test. But I did not really expect Romney to do that.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
But I did not really expect Romney to do that.
I don't think you can expect the courage to go against the Religious Right from Republican candidates. I would have been happy if he didn't play the "We have a common enemy" card aimed at other Americans.
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Javert Hugo
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Perhaps he also didn't believe it. You know, just because someone doesn't express what you wish they did doesn't mean their motive is cowardice. Maybe he thinks you're wrong.
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Occasional
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Jon Boy, the fact that any mention of Evolution in General Conference as evil does mean something about how it is percieved. That no talks have been given where Evolution is expressed in positive ways adds to that perception as a negative statement. If it wasn't for my understanding of the LDS history on the subject it would be easy to state the official view of the LDS Church is that Evolution is false and evil. I don't go that far, but will not subscribe that it is seen as positive.

[ December 10, 2007, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: Occasional ]

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Jon Boy
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When was the last time evolution was even addressed in conference? I certainly don't remember any references to it in my lifetime.
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Javert Hugo
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Occ, what do you think about the controversey in the Twelve around the turn of the last century over evolution? How do you think the popular conception would be different now if the participants had died in a different order?
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Perhaps he also didn't believe it. You know, just because someone doesn't express what you wish they did doesn't mean their motive is cowardice.
I never said that he did or didn't believe it. I also never accused him of cowardice. You are reading things into what I said that aren't there.
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Occasional
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Hard to say Javert, but I would think that Evolution would still be percieved as Evil. After all, even today those leaders who question the spiritual value of Evolution are themselves doctors and professors. I guess what I am saying is that I don't think history would have changed much.

As for recent discussions of Evolution, I guess I can look them up and then post them. They shouldn't be too hard to find because I easily remember them from perhaps even last year.

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Javert Hugo
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Hard to say? You don't know what controversy or what players I'm talking about, do you? You know, admitting your (understandable) ignorance on this particular topic would go a lot farther to making you look knowledgeable than trying to bluster through.

(Of course, I don't either, but Matt does, and I remember enough to know you are under/misinformed. He wrote a paper on the reactions of Mormons to evolution. Suffice to say that you're missing giant chunks of history in your explanation.

Then again, I'm not claiming to be an expert and you are. From your statements, you don't even seem to be aware that there was a disagreement among members of the Twelve at the time. That'd be fine if you weren't claiming to be an expert.)

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pooka
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Mike Huckabee's statement on Evolution from the June debate was pretty similar to what I've heard about evolution.

But I didn't go to school at BYU, so I only heard evolution discussed at conference/church. From the experience of people I knew who majored in biology at BYU, there was a pretty wide range of interpretations that were taught.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
quote:
But I did not really expect Romney to do that.
I don't think you can expect the courage to go against the Religious Right from Republican candidates. I would have been happy if he didn't play the "We have a common enemy" card aimed at other Americans.
Well, no. (Hence my not expecting it.) For any number of reasons. He could believe that a religious "test" is appropriate - thus being part of what I consider a problem. He could just have not wanted to commit political suicide, so decided to pass the test instead of challenging it. He could have decided that the opportunity to teach people that LDS is not all that scary was too important to pass. Or any number of reasons. Or combination of reasons.
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Occasional
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"Hard to say? You don't know what controversy or what players I'm talking about, do you?"

Anti-Evolution: mostly Joseph Fielding Smith.
Pro-Evolution: Widtsoe, B.H.Roberts.

Just because I have come to a different conclusion doesn't mean I don't know history. Even if the "pro-evolutionists" had won, the "anti-evolutionists" proved to be much more loud and persistant. B.H. Roberts could have held his own against them, but he did lose at least one part of the battle when his doctrinal opus was rejected. Joseph Fielding Smith skipped ahead and simply published his book without any oversite. You are right that the "pro-evolutionists" died before any one of them could fight back. Problem was no one took their place. Eventually the Church publishedThe Origin of Man. As an official position, it seems to come close to officially rejecting Evolution.

[ December 10, 2007, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: Occasional ]

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Javert Hugo
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Googling after the fact doesn't count.
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MattP
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An interesting paper I just came across that documents the "evolution isn't evil" aspect of LDS history:

http://www.mormonfortress.com/evolution.pdf

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pooka
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There are many flavors of professor. I don't consider being a professor of law or business particular qualification for having an opinion on evolution, and I only know of one doctor apostle, so sounds like time to pony up some quotes, occassional.
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MrSquicky
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That's not really the heart of my comment. I agree that a Republican candidate pulling a 2000 John McCain by overtly standing up to the evangelicals would be remarkable. The Mitt Romney did not is barely comment-worthy. I'm taking exception with the way he tries to show that LDS isn't all that scary, by including an attack on other Americans as a common enemy.
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pooka
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Did Kennedy not attack anyone in his speech? Not even Communists? Because there are Communist Americans. I know a few. If I'm wrong I'll happily admit you're right, Squicky.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Did Kennedy not attack anyone in his speech? Not even Communists? Because there are Communist Americans. I know a few. If I'm wrong I'll happily admit you're right, Squicky.
Man, what an absolutely terrible response. Do you even care, pooka, besides defending your guy?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
Eventually the Church publishedThe Origin of Man. As an official position, it seems to come close to officially rejecting Evolution.

I think there is a serious problem with your time line. The Origin of Man was first published in 1909. The key proponents of evolution among the LDS authories died decades later (Widtsoe 1952, Talmage 1933, Roberts 1933).

The Origin of Man reaffirms that God created man in his own image and that Adam was the first man. It makes no claims as to the process by which God created man or anything else. From the perspective of many religious people (myself included) those statements are not incompatible with the idea that man was created through an evolutionary process.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
That's not really the heart of my comment. I agree that a Republican candidate pulling a 2000 John McCain by overtly standing up to the evangelicals would be remarkable. The Mitt Romney did not is barely comment-worthy. I'm taking exception with the way he tries to show that LDS isn't all that scary, by including an attack on other Americans as a common enemy.

I agree. And the idea of that kind of rhetoric being necessary to get elected (whether or not one believes it*) is extremely troubling.

*that people do believe it is also troubling, but on another level.

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Occasional
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I agree, my timeline is wrong. That makes Javert's question of what would have happened if particular leaders died first a bit confusing as well. Mostly because while they were alive there wasn't what I would call much of an open counter to the others. If the pro side lived, I think the next generation would have still gotten the impression that anti was the default position.
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Mucus
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Being snubbed as being unamerican for being either an atheist, agnostic, or a person belonging to a non-Abrahamic religion : Moderately uncool

Being compared to a communist: Priceless

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The Rabbit
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Occ, You should read the link MattP posted. Its quite informative as to the church history on the subject and contradicts your central contension.

Here are several first presidency statements on the subject found in that paper.

quote:
Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church. . . .(Heber J Grant 1931)
quote:
“On the subject of organic evolution the Church has officially taken no position. The book Man, His Origin and Destiny was not published by the Church and is not approved by the Church. The book contains expressions of the author’s
views for which he alone is responsible. (David O. McKay 1957).

quote:
President McKay said that the book has created a problem. Being written by the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, it has implications which we can appreciate. The book has not been approved by the Church; we are authorized
to quote him on that. The work represents the opinions of one man on the scriptures. Brother Smith’s views have long been known. Striking the desk for emphasis, President McKay repeated that the book is not the authoritative position of the Church. He does not know how it came to be chosen
as a text for the seminary and institute teachers last summer, but the choice was unfortunate.

Joseph Fielding Smith's book "Man his Origin and his Destiny" was the most influencial source for many Mormons on evolution. At the time of its publication, the President of the Church made it clear that this was not church doctrine. It is highly unlikely that this book would have been published, and certain that it would not have been rebutted, if Talmage and Widtsoe had still been alive. This is the source of Javerts question of what would have happened if particular leaders had died in a different order.

If Smith's book had not simply been dismissed as "not official" but been followed by a rebuttal stemming from one of the apostles (which would almost certainly have happened if Widtsoe and Talmage had been alive), members of the church today would be far more likely to recognize that the church has not official position on evolution and that it is completely acceptable for faithful saints to accept the theory.

[ December 10, 2007, 04:47 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Occasional
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Here are the most recent statements about Evolution I could find that are specifically from Apostles:

"Through the ages, some without scriptural understanding have tried to explain our existence by pretentious words such as ex nihilo (out of nothing). Others have deduced that, because of certain similarities between different forms of life, there has been a natural selection of the species, or organic evolution from one form to another. Many of these people have concluded that the universe began as a "big bang" that eventually resulted in the creation of our planet and life upon it.
To me, such theories are unbelievable! Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary? It is unthinkable! Even if it could be argued to be within a remote realm of possibility, such a dictionary could certainly not heal its own torn pages or renew its own worn corners or reproduce its own subsequent editions!

We are children of God, created by him and formed in his image. Recently I studied the scriptures to find how many times they testify of the divine creation of man. Looking up references that referred to create, form (or their derivatives), with either man, men, male,, or female in the same verse, I found that there are at least fifty-five verses of scripture that attest to our divine creation....

I believe all of those scriptures that pertain to the creation of man. But the decision to believe is a spiritual one, not made solely by an understanding of things physical, for we read that 'the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' (1 Cor. 2:14.)

It is incumbent upon each informed and spiritually attuned person to help overcome such foolishness of men who would deny divine creation or think that man simply evolved. By the Spirit, we perceive the truer and more believable wisdom of God." (Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, Jan. 1988, 64.)

The next quote was probably the one I was thinking of:

" ' Children are an heritage of the Lord ' (Psalms 127:3). Each is a child of God. He is not a monkey; neither were his ancestors." (Elder Boyd K. Packer, BYU Women's Conference, May 5, 2006.)

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Kent
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Occasional, these quotes are not binding on the church; they are the opinions of the apostles. For a compendium of the official declarations of the church on evolution see the book: Mormonism and Evolution.
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Occasional
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"If Smith's book had not simply been dismissed as "not official" but been followed by a rebuttal" . . . then I think the LDS Church would have seen a very open power struggle not seen since Joseph Smith's death. We still see it right here at Hatrack, even though I don't believe there is an official position. The fact that I believe there is an unofficial one that is allowed a voice is very contraversial.

Kent, I think you need to read my earlier statements. I KNOW they are NOT official statements. That doesn't mean I don't think there is a prevailing opinion.

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Kent
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Okay, Occ, I agree with you that there is an uninformed prevailing opinion about many many things in LDS culture, including evolution. My experience has also led me to find that this segment of LDS for the most part are not deeply invested in these types of opinions and readily accept better explanations and paradigms when exposed to them.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
"If Smith's book had not simply been dismissed as "not official" but been followed by a rebuttal" . . . then I think the LDS Church would have seen a very open power struggle not seen since Joseph Smith's death.

O come on Occ, that's a prediction that is founded on nothing. While Widtsoe, Talmage, and Roberts were alive, all of them made public statements favoring many aspects of evolution and the disagreement between them and Joseph Fielding Smith never lead to a power struggle. If any of them had lived long enought to rebutt Smiths' Man his origin and its destiny it seems highly unlikely that it would have done anything other than correct the misconception that Smith's opinion was the Church's position.


The quotes you have from recent general conference talks do not specifically address the question of evolution either. They confirm the doctrine that God created man. They do not rule out the possibility that his creation involved evolution. This is after all the crux of the disagreement. There are religious people, like yourself, who believe that the statement "God created Man" is in fundamental conflict with the theory of evolution and those who don't. By using the sources you have posted as evidence of a church bias against evolution, you are begging the central question.

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The Rabbit
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Getting back to the original topic,

I think that the comparison between Kennedy's Catholocism and Romney's Mormonism misses the point.

In 1960, American attitudes toward Catholocism went back hundreds of years to a time when Protestant Catholic divides drove wars and inquisitions through Europe. So at least some of the antagonism towards Catholics in the US goes to a time when the Pope was trying to exert control of the English government and when the Spanish Inquisition was burning protestants at the stake. Given the Catholic church's history of manipulating politics in Europe, It was essential for Kennedy to address whether having a Catholic president was going to be like having a Catholic king had been.

In addition to that, there were issues of national and racial prejudice involved. Although ~23% of Americans were Catholics in 1960, Catholicsm was most prevalent among immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and Poland, populations that were widely ridiculed.And it was right in middle of the civil rights movement. It was a time when Americans were confronting and rejecting many of their historic prejudices. And so the time was really ripe for Kennedy's message that an Irish Catholic could be every bit as American as a German Lutheran or and English Methodist.

You must remember that Kennedy ran for President before vatican II. At the time, ecumenism was largely rejected by the Catholic church and so the divide between Catholics and Protestants was much greater than it is today. It was also at a time before abortion became a political issue that unitied Catholics and other conservative Christians. It was before rock and roll, LSD, the sexual revolution, and much of what led to the cultural divide in US today. At that time religion wasn't the partisan hot button it is today so Kennedy's statement wasn't aimed at courting any particular vote but was more generally aimed at the majority of Americans.

Romney's problem is entirely different. He is a member of a relatively new religion that is rapidly growing but still constitutes less than 2% of Americans. His religious beliefs are significantly different from mainstream Christianity. There are many misconceptions about those differences that make those differences seem even weirder than they really are. Many conservative ministers think those differences are so big that Mormons will suffer eternal condemenation. Some of them justify exagerating those difference and other scare tactics to save their followers from making the big mistake of joining his church.

The concerns people have about electing a Mormon just aren't the same as the concerns people had about electing a Catholic. Kennedy was fighting anti-Irish, anti-Catholic prejudices and a fear that the pope might dictate US policies. No one was worried that he had really strange beliefs or that masses might flock to Catholicism if he were elected. Those are the precise concerns people have about Romney. As one Florida minister put it

quote:
“As president he’s going to carry the influence of that office, not just here but worldwide, and there’s no denying it’s going to lead people to check out that religion, which according to biblical Christianity, will lead them ultimately to hell.”

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The Rabbit
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I've been comparing Romney's address to addresses Obama has made on faith. In comparison, Romney's address is impersonal, deals in generalities and is filled with sound bites but little substance.

For example in addressing what role religion has to play in the public sphere Romney said:

quote:
"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams' words: 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people.'
Whereas Obama said:

quote:
But my journey is part of a larger journey - one shared by all who've ever sought to apply the values of their faith to our society. It's a journey that takes us back to our nation's founding, when none other than a UCC church inspired the Boston Tea Party and helped bring an Empire to its knees. In the following century, men and women of faith waded into the battles over prison reform and temperance, public education and women's rights - and above all, abolition. And when the Civil War was fought and our country dedicated itself to a new birth of freedom, they took on the problems of an industrializing nation - fighting the crimes against society and the sins against God that they felt were being committed in our factories and in our slums.

And when these battles were overtaken by others and when the wars they opposed were waged and won, these faithful foot soldiers for justice kept marching. They stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, as the blows of billy clubs rained down. They held vigils across this country when four little girls were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church. They cheered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. King delivered his prayer for our country. And in all these ways, they helped make this country more decent and more just.

So doing the Lord's work is a thread that's run through our politics since the very beginning. And it puts the lie to the notion that the separation of church and state in America means faith should have no role in public life.

There are many more examples but let me summarize by saying that when placed side by side, Romney seems only to repeating mantra's and regurgitating sound bites that I've heard over and over again from the religious right. Obama's comments seem fresh and thoughtful. Romney seems to be addressing only people with deep religious convictions. Obama seems to be trying to reconcile all those who have shared values whether those values stem from religion or not. Romney seem to be beating the war drums for a more religious America. Obama suggests compromises in an attempt to heal the divide between people of faith and non-religious peoples.
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Threads
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Do Mormons think that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?

If Huckabee really "doesn't know much about [Mormonism]" then why he did he ask an intentionally inflammatory question?

If I ever become a politician I would like to think that I would educate myself on ideas before spouting off opinions. I think Huckabee should be embarrassed for asking something so ridiculously dumb. Unfortunately, comments like that probably just get him more support from Mormon haters.

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rollainm
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Freudian slip there Threads? [No No]

edit: hehe...good job.

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I actually did that another time too but I caught it. It's fixed now.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Threads:
I think Huckabee should be embarrassed for asking something so ridiculously dumb.

Well, it's not completely unfounded. Mormons do believe that Satan, as a type of fallen angel, is (spiritually) a son of God, just like Jesus (and everyone else, for that matter). I agree it seems to be an absurd thing to bring up, but I imagine it was a very calculated way to get more articles written about him, more people talking about him, more exposure. In other words, election year politics.
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Threads
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I guess my statement was a little extreme. What bugs me is what Huckabee is trying to imply and the reason that he is trying to imply it.
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Javert Hugo
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OSC has weighed in.
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BlackBlade
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Card makes an interesting parallel to geometry. I think it could have been just a titch better structured. It started out about Mitt Romney and having to pass a religious test, and then it goes into a lengthy treatment of the difference between Mormons and Traditional Christians and then suddenly a sort of yell about, "vote for people based on their behavior not their beliefs!"

Still enjoyable to read.

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dkw
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Nice to know that he is as respectful of other Christian's beliefs as Huckabee is about Romney's.

I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

[ December 13, 2007, 10:21 AM: Message edited by: dkw ]

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Javert Hugo
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Yeah, not great. But relevant to Hatrack.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Nice to know that he is as adept at mischaracterizing other Christian's beliefs as Huckabee is about Romney's.

I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

Well I should think mischaracterizing the beliefs of Christians as a whole is far easier then micharacterizing the beliefs of one small group.

If you tried to summarize what Buddhists believe you'd end up annoying people no matter what you said.

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Dagonee
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quote:
We all point to the Bible and say, "We believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he is divine himself, and that only by his grace can we be cleansed of our sins and return to the presence of the Father.

As far as I'm concerned, anybody who believes that is a Christian. You can be wrong about a lot of the details, but all who accept Christ's divinity and try to live by his teachings are Christians.

I'm curious as to why OSC thinks this is the definitive set of beliefs necessary for one to a Christian? He's rejected some beliefs accepted by a majority of Christians - the Trinity, for example - as being relevant to classifying someone as "Christian." Yet he's included some (Christ's divinity, for example) that exclude others who call themselves Christians.

The question he doesn't answer is why his set of factors is better than either a more or less inclusive definition.

quote:
The main point of disagreement between Mormons and traditional Christianity is that we believe in the biblical God — the God in whose image we were made, the resurrected Christ with a perfect body of flesh and bone — and they don't.

Or, rather, their theologians don't. Most ordinary Christians ignore the creeds; when they pray, they're thinking of God as a person with a face, with arms and legs, who actually exists in space and time.

They believe in the biblical God, as we do. You have to go to college to accept the paradoxes of the platonic God that traditional Christianity has embraced.

Here, OSC is simply a more articulate Ron Lambert with an almost opposite message.

He's also quote wrong about the distinctions between theologians and lay Christians. Oh, no doubt differences between the two exist and are widespread. But there's a whole lot of lay people who believe in the Trinity and keep it in mind when they pray. I did so before I went to college, and I was hardly unique.

His geometry analogy is such a straw man that it hardly bears mentioning.

quote:
Well I should think mischaracterizing the beliefs of Christians as a whole is far easier then micharacterizing the beliefs of one small group.
In this case, he's mischaracterizing a belief held in common and with great similarity by a specific group of Christians whom he specifically identifies.

Sadly, I'm as unsurprised as dkw is, given his behavior the last time he mangled the beliefs of others.

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kmbboots
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Hmmm...I went to college, but got a degree in music. Does that count or do I need to find a smaller god that I can understand without having to think too much about it?
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Scott R
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Specifically, the dialog between the LDS member and the traditional Christian could be more civil; the description of LDS as Bible-believing is a cute reversal of the terminology as it's normally used, but I think most Christians will find it insulting.

I wasn't happy with it, either.

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Scott R
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Just so we're clear-- what beliefs did OSC mangle?
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kmbboots
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For me, most important, the idea that God must be either a personal god or an infinite, perfect god. I believe God is both - and more.

This comes back to something I mentioned earlier. Where OSC calls neo-Platonic influence a "corruption", I tend to think, "what do the neo-Platonists have to add to our understanding of God?" The difference between trying to preserve a certain historical understanding and trying to build on the foundations of historical understanding.

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dkw
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The Trinity. The Bible. The relationship between philosophy and scripture. The idea that most lay Christians actually believe something closer to the Mormon conception of God than what the clergy believe.

(And my apologies for editing my previous post as people were quoting it. I wanted to expand my statement beyond just getting it wrong to the issue of respect in general, but kat and BB were too fast for me.)

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