David Shedlock’s post has called to mind a key feature that has made America successful.
The history of the interaction of religion and politics was often a mixed proposition. On one hand, it’s undeniable that the actions of many holy men often restrained the power of the state and brought a more decent, more humane world such as Saint Telemachus who gave his life to stop the gladiator games, the mix became toxic.
In some instances such as the execution of Joan of Arc, the church became the instrument of the state’s agenda. Then once came the reformation, we began beheading and killing each other in the name of Christ, Christians used the state as a fratricidal weapon to murder each other in the name of the Bible, in the name of God. That is the history of much of the reform and counter-reformation, of Kings and Queens being killed, of the persecution of anabaptists, puritans, separatists, Catholics, and a wide variety of dissenters.
The new world became full of people who had fled from the madness of Europe and we didn’t want the slaughter to continue here. When this country founded, we were presented with a unique challenge. We didn’t want a country with a state church where theological arguments became the excuse for killing men and women, and making war on innocent people. But unlike Revolutionary France later, we did not want a godless society because we recognized what happened when a state believed it was God. Our Country was founded by people who recognized the existence of God, who recognized certain truths about God including the fact that our rights came from Him and that he was a God of justice and righteousness who governments and governors were ultimately responsible to and that they had better be careful to do what is right.
The miracle of the Founders was their ability to create a nation that acknowledged God without turning the country into the battleground for an ugly religious war fought over our differing theologies. It became a country that granted all people’s religious freedom and civil rights including some who weren’t Christians as George Washington wrote to to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island:
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
This has not been perfectly true. America was not immune to occasional outbursts of antisemitism. And perhaps because so many fled from the persecution of Catholics, Catholics in public life had to struggle for acceptance and respect.
However, overall, this worked well for our country throughout most of its history. This brings me back to David Shedlock’s post and where I take an entirely different view of this question of voting for Mormons based on how our country has lived in peace for so many years.
Certainly the theology, christology, and eschatology of the LDS church are not in line with an orthodox Christian understanding. However, I have never seen the relevance of that when I’ve gone to the polls.
I’ve looked for candidates whose values align with those key biblical values and principles which inform my politics, particularly when it comes to protection of the innocent unborn. In various elections, that has led me to support Catholics, Calvinists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Mennonites, Methodists, Jews, and yes Mormons for public office. In the 2010 election, I endorsed an LDS Candidate for the 1st Congressional District over one that attended a local evangelical church because I knew this LDS man would do a better job for the people of that district and have been proven right.
David Shedlock is concerned about the effects of a Mormon President on our country. I would note that we once had a President who literally rewrote the Gospel to exclude the resurrection of Christ. Somehow, we survived that. The Gospel and the Church are not so weak as David Shedlock would suggest.
Currently we have the only American President in history to stand up and publicly directly mock God’s word. Say what you will about Mitt Romney, but he would never be so disdainful of God’s word.
He also states that those of us who will vote for Romney this fall are “succumbing to the temptation to sacrifice principle and truth in order to gain seats of power.” I myself hold out no hope (or desire for that matter) to have a “seat of power” in the Romney administration. I’ve been a long time and ardent critic of Governor Romney for many years. However, when I look, at this administration wanton support for the destruction of innocent human life, and its attempts to destroy religious freedom at home through Obamacare. Abroad, it takes our tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood’s missionaries of death and evil. Mr. Romney has promised to reverse course on these policies. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have not endorsed Mitt Romney with hopes of gaining a seat in the cabinet. This is not about someone wanting to be the next Ambassador to Tuvalu. This is about doing everything we can to save and preserve human life and religious liberty, particularly with the possibility that President Obama could appoint two or more additional justices in a second term.
Finally, I have to turn to David Shedlock’s belief in a scriptural admonition that would require us to not vote or vote for some other protest candidate rather than supporting Governor Romney. Good Bible teachers will tell you, “Context is Everything.” or “Context is King” when it comes to interpretation of scriptures.
The problem with the scripture as far as giving us absolute commands about voting is that it was written in an era when people did not vote for their rulers, so we have to extrapolate from scripture somewhat imperfectly. What we’re left with from David Shedlock is a 3 1/2 verse doctrine that says we need to not vote for a Mormon even if will mean that hundreds of thousands die as a result of that stance.
Shedlock readily admits that the first half verse from Deuteronomy could be argued” applies only to ancient Israel and the required appointment of ethnic or national Jews” and cannot stand on its own and instead we’re left to rely on Psalms 2:10-12:
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him
Is this Psalm talking saying God’s people should have no ruler who isn’t a believer? Lets look at the context:
Why do the heathen rage, and the people devise a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against theLord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds asunder, and cast away Their cords from us.”
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure: “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.”-Psalm 2: 1-6 (KJ21)
In context, the scripture is not talking about the choice of the rulers of God’s people. Rather it begins by talking about the heathen and their kings who have plotted against God.
God sits in Heaven and laughs as if to say, “Oh really? You think you can stop me?” And warns of God’s judgment on these kings. In light of the rest of the Psalm, the Psalmist in verses 10-12 implores these Pagan kings to turn from fighting God to serving him. Psalm 2 has a lot more to do with what God would say to the Communist Parties in China and North Korea, as well as the Islamist regimes in Egypt and Iran than it does how Christians should vote in an election between Obama and Romney.
Perhaps, if one wants to look to the Old Testament for inspiration, we could do worse than to look at Jeremiah 29:7 where God’s people have been carried away from Jerusalem where they are no longer in a nation who live in a place where only God’s people dwell. This is quite similar to where we stand in America today.
And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
This is backed by New Testament commands to live “peaceable lives” (1 Timothy 2:2), and “to live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). We did that in this country for most of our history with very disgraceful exception. We know from experience that trying to foment factional strife by playing one group off against another does not lead to peace but to tragedy.
In addition, the folly of these assaults on Romney’s faith is that it continues a media narrative that states that if we’re going to acknowledge God at all in our country than all of the personal theological beliefs candidates must become an issue in the campaign. With Mike Huckabee, it was his association with the Baptist view that “wives should graciously submit” to their husbands, for Sarah Palin it was her association with a Pentecostal Church, and for his Rick Santorum it was his Catholic views on birth control. In each case, religion was used against Christians by the media to create the personal faith of the candidate an issue when it had no impact public policy. And the idea of attacking Romney’s politics due to Romney’s faith plays into this game. Be warned, what you sow you shall also reap. And he who troubles his own house will inherit the wind. If we are ever to elect an Evangelical who would be more in line with Shedlock’s ideals, we won’t do it if the campaign is spent debating the candidate’s view of the Book of Ephesians.
Certainly, these theological issues should be discussed, but not in the fools paradise of our nation’s current political life and toxic media culture that knows how to darken issues rather than illuminate.
This fall, I’ll cast my vote for Mitt Romney because of the two choices we’re presented it, I believe he’s the better pick. I do this without expecting to gain political power of any sort. I do this fully aware of the theological differences that separate us. However, I will cast my vote in the finest American tradition that has allowed our nation to become an unprecedented source of missionaries and missions across the Earth while at the same time avoiding the religious strife and bloodshed that has dominated much of the Earth. I will seek the peace of the nation I live in and justice for the inhabitants thereof and I hope everyone will do the same.