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Should Religion Affect Politics?


smac97

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Should Religion Affect Politics?

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Without intending or desiring it, the Romney campaign has poked the sleeping bear of debate about the role of religion in American politics.

Liberals tend to argue that all theological beliefs, including Mormonism, are fundamentally private and dangerously coercive as the basis of public policy. Some religious conservatives are concerned that this particular theology is too eccentric to be welcomed at the White House.

Facing even deeper suspicions about his Catholicism while running for president in 1960, John Kennedy gave a response at the Greater Houston Ministerial Association that was politically masterful, historically influential â?? and should not be Romney's model. Kennedy said that a candidate's â??views on religion are his own private affair,â? which should not be â??imposed by him upon the nation.â? Kennedy did more than reassure Americans that his public decisions would not be dictated by the pope. He claimed that his public decisions would not be influenced by his religious convictions at all.

There is a long tradition of American leaders who believe that religion is so personal it shouldn't even affect their private life. But this rigid separation between religious conviction and public policy lies outside the main current of American history. Abraham Lincoln's theology, while hardly orthodox, was not his â??own private affair.â?

â??Nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness,â? he asserted, â??was sent into the world to be trodden on.â? Martin Luther King Jr. claimed that to find the source of our rights, â??it is necessary to move back behind the dim mist of eternity, for they are God-given.â?

These were theological arguments, not merely rhetorical adornments. But they were also carefully limited.

American political leaders have generally not talked about soteriology â?? how the individual soul is saved. In Christian theology, these choices are fundamentally private, and government attempts to influence them are both doomed and tyrannical. American leaders have also wisely avoided the topic of eschatology â?? inherently speculative theories about the end or culmination of history.

But religious convictions on the topic of anthropology â?? the nature and value of men and women â?? have profoundly and positively influenced American history. Many of the greatest advances toward the protection of minority rights, from the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement, came in part because people of faith pushed for them. And religious men and women made those efforts because they were convinced that all human beings â?? not just all believers â?? are created in God's image.

So what does this mean for Romney? Many Christians have serious problems with Mormon theology on personal salvation and the nature of history â?? disputes that go much deeper than those between, say, Baptists and Presbyterians. These disagreements are theologically important. But they are not politically important, because they are unrelated to governing.

Romney, however, should not make Kennedy's mistake and assert that all religious beliefs are unrelated to politics. What Mormonism shares with other religious traditions is a strong commitment to the value and dignity of human beings, including the unborn, the handicapped and the poor. This conviction is unavoidably political, because it leads men and women to act in the cause of justice; not in order to impose their religion, but to protect the weak.

Given this common ground, evangelicals and other religious conservatives should not disqualify Romney from the outset. There may be other reasons to oppose him for president, but his belief about the destiny of the soul is not one of them.

Thoughts? Should religious soteriology be set aside in politics, but religious anthropology emphasized in politics?

-Smac

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Should Religion Affect Politics?

It always does without exception.

Thoughts? Should religious soteriology be set aside in politics, but religious anthropology emphasized in politics?

One can try, but it is impossible to avoid. Our religion, or lack thereof is an integral part of us and subtilely or not so subtilely affects our choices.

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The Lord has given us certain commandments, that if ignored will result in the destruction of our society. It is foolhardy to construct a society that ignores those commandments.

The scriptures record many civilizations that have been destroyed because of evil--all of the pre-Noah societies, Sodom, Gomorrah, various cultures of the Levant that the Israelites were ordered to destroy, the Jaredites, and the Nephites. Also, J.D. Unwin in Sex and Culture documented that every civilization on record that has deviated from a standard of chastity before marriage, and fidelity within marriage, has started to collapse within a generation of that change.

The Lord gave us those commandments for a reason, not to just be arbitrary. By following the commandments, our civilazation will prosper; ignore them, and it will fall.

So, yes, principles that are also reflected in the commandments of God do indeed have a place in government.

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smac97:

I think a persons' own religious beliefs will inform their political ideas, it is inevitable.

But that is not to say that as a country we should codify any one religion.

Were I a faithful follower of Joseph Smith, Jr. at Nauvoo, on the day that he announced a revelation

telling the Mormons that it was God's will that we should vote for Democrat candidates --- do you

really suppose I would vote for a Whig?

Or, if God gave such a revelation to the Patriarch, Hyrum Smith -- and Joseph told us all that he had

never known a revelation to Hyrum to be false ----- do you suppose I'd vote the Whig ticket?

Or, as a member of the LDS First Presidency instructed the assembled Saints, from the podium at

Spring Conference at Nauvoo in 1844:

When God sets up a system of salvation, he sets up a system of government;

when I speak of government I mean what I say; I mean a government that shall

rule over temporal and spiritual affairs.

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/RigWrit/1844Conf.htm#part1

If the Living Prophet orders me to join the Nauvoo Legion, load the musket issued to me, and to

stand in defense of the Political Kingdom of God, ------- do you suppose I would say, "No Sir! I am

a Whig and the leaders of the Whig party in Hancock County have told me to do no such thing!"

Danites1.jpg

"Charge of the Danites" -- an old color print

Uncle "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun -- (Mao Zedong )" Dale

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Uncle Dale:

I'm just a SomeTimeSaint. :P I resent anybody using their religious office to tell me how I must vote.

Having been in the US Air Force, I took an Oath to support the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and obey my Superior Officers in taking up arms against whomever they said(baring Treason, or illegal or immoral order). That JS was a military officer, it would have required me to take up arms against those whom he said(baring Treason, or illegal or immoral order).

As God to Yet setup His system of government on earth. The issue is kinda moot. <_<

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As God to Yet set up His system of government on earth. The issue is kinda moot. :P

I feel better already.

Uncle "exactly what was JS crowned king of, back in 1844?" Dale

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It really is a problem, whether Romney wants to admit it or not. Members are taught to follow the prophet. If the prophet told him to do something, he would be expected to pray about it and do it. Because, you know, he knows the way.

Not that I think the Church presidency would ever personally tell a President Romney to do something.

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SolarPowered:

Exodus 20

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Which god should the people of the US be forced to worship?

If you carefully read what I wrote, nowhere did I say that every single commandment that is recorded in the scriptures should be forced on people through the power of government. Rather, I said that there are moral principles that are also reflected in the commandments that are appropriate province for government. "Thou shalt not commit adultery", for example, is one of those.

However, please read carefully what you posted. The commandment you posted is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." There would be a problem, for example, if our government placed the god of Islam in preeminence. By not creating an "establishment of religion", that is, a state church in the manner of England or Saudi Arabia, our government is in fact following that particular commandment, and not having any other gods before the LORD (to wit, Yahweh).

Belief in a particular god is one's own choice.

That said, I do note that the Book of Mormon does say that the people of this land shall worship the god of this land, which is Jesus Christ, or they shall be swept off.

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It really is a problem, whether Romney wants to admit it or not. Members are taught to follow the prophet. If the prophet told him to do something, he would be expected to pray about it and do it. Because, you know, he knows the way.

Not that I think the Church presidency would ever personally tell a President Romney to do something.

This seems rather contradictory. You first assert that "members are taught to follow the prophet," then express doubt that "the Church presidency would ever personally tell a President Romney to do something."

Here's the Church's position on elected officials who are members of the Church:

Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.

-Smac

None of the posts thus far seem to address the point made in the article I quoted in the first post. That is, that religious soteriology has no relevance to politics, but religious anthropology is relevant.

What do you think of that?

-Smac

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That is, that religious soteriology has no relevance to politics,

It has everything to do with politics. For example, that homosexual acts are or are not sin will affect someone's political stance on the issue of the state recognition of homosexual marriages. A simplistic example as there may be other salvational principles mixed into the overall effect (such as the concept of agency vis a vis Mosiah 29:27), but an illustrative one nonetheless.

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This seems rather contradictory. You first assert that "members are taught to follow the prophet," then express doubt that "the Church presidency would ever personally tell a President Romney to do something."

I don't know how it seems contradictory. There's a difference between the Church issuing a general statement and Gordon B. Hinckley having a private session with President Romney. I said I doubted the latter would happen (at least, not a session where President Hinckley would give a President Romney political instructions). Yes, I "asserted" that members are taught to follow the prophet (surely you don't disagree with that, and I expressed doubt that the Church presidency would personally visit the President and have private instructions.

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None of the posts thus far seem to address the point made in the article I quoted in the first post. That is, that religious soteriology has no relevance to politics, but religious anthropology is relevant.

What do you think of that?

-Smac

I think I've already expressed (more or less) that I agree that religious anthropology is relevant to government. I also agree that I don't see that soteriology has much relevance, although I'm open to arguments showing a connection.

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SolarPowered:

Are we to pick and choose which commandments we enforce?

Indeed we are. And I agree with what you imply, that "picking and choosing" is not a trivial task, and probably isn't subject to a simple test to distinguish which is which. That is why we need to elect representatives with wisdom and good judgement.

Some choices are obvious. The Word of Wisdom's prohibitions on tea and coffee are pretty clearly not an appropriate area for government involvement. "Thou shalt not commit murder", on the other had, absolutely is a commandment that government should enforce.

Go back to original principles: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among there are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.-- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." Where religion fits in is that God has revealed principles to us, the violation of which tends to lead to degenerate societies that are destructive to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." It is the appropriate province of government to enforce these principles in order to protect the rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

What I keenly see at this point in time is that our society has rejected "thou shalt not commit adultery", with the result that our society is rapidly descending into evil, which will inevitably injure our rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

The God of Islam is the same God that Christians and Jews worship. The Muslims are strictly monotheistic, and simply refer to Him as Allah.

I have read a number of statements by those who have studied Islam that, contrary to what one might think from Islam's apparent derivation from Abraham, they don't actually worship the God of Abraham. Whether these is any validity to this, or whether it's actually just a variation on the "Momons worship a different Jesus" theme, I don't know. Something I do know, however, is that the God that I worship does not pass out 72 virgins for flying airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.

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Something I do know, however, is that the God that I worship does not pass out 72 virgins for flying airplanes into buildings full of innocent people.

I'm pretty sure most Muslims would tell you that the God they worship doesn't do that either.

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No, it should'nt. If the ten commandements were written into law we would have to shred the bill of rights.

Someone mentioned Jefferson? :P

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

-- Thomas Jefferson"

"And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.... error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.... I deem the essential principles of our government.... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; ... freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.

-- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801"

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I'm pretty sure most Muslims would tell you that the God they worship doesn't do that either.

Ok, OK,... Perhaps we can table the Islam debate rather than drag a good thread into that rabbit hole? I apologize for bringing that subject into this thread. Substitute "Buddha" or "Osiris" into my earlier statement about an Establishment of Religion, and it will have the intent that I was looking for.

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No, it should'nt. If the ten commandements were written into law we would have to shred the bill of rights.

Sorry, but I can't see anything at all in the Bill of Rights that is "shredded" by the Ten Commandments. (Edit: OK, I do see a potential conflict between Freedom of Speach/the Press and "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain." But I think we could work with that...)

Someone mentioned Jefferson? :P

Nah, I never mentioned him, I only quoted him... <_<

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

-- Thomas Jefferson"

I'll issue a CFR on that one, please...

And if he really wrote that, I want the full context.

"And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.... error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.... I deem the essential principles of our government.... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; ... freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.

-- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801"

There is nothing in what you have just quoted that is incompatible with having those in government refer to what God has revealed in their deliberations about our laws.

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Sorry, but I can't see anything at all in the Bill of Rights that is "shredded" by the Ten Commandments.

Nah, I never mentioned him, I only quoted him... :P

I'll issue a CFR on that one, please...

And if he really wrote that, I want the full context.

There is nothing in what you have just quoted that is incompatible with having those in government refer to what God has revealed in their deliberations about our laws.

CFR=( letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823, quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996))

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Sorry, but I can't see anything at all in the Bill of Rights that is "shredded" by the Ten Commandments. (Edit: OK, I do see a potential conflict between Freedom of Speach/the Press and "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain." But I think we could work with that...)

Nah, I never mentioned him, I only quoted him... :P

I'll issue a CFR on that one, please...

And if he really wrote that, I want the full context.

There is nothing in what you have just quoted that is incompatible with having those in government refer to what God has revealed in their deliberations about our laws.

Ok, just saw your edit, also see #1...also you may look at the biblically prescribed punishments for breaking the 10 C's, that may fall under "cruel and un-usual" (number 8 I think off the top of my head)

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THE BILL OF RIGHTS

Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution

The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Exodus 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying,

20:2 I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:

20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;

20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

20:10 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates:

20:11 For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

20:13 Thou shalt not kill.

20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

20:15 Thou shalt not steal.

20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ***, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour's

With the exception of "Thou shall not kill", and "Thou shalt not steal" the rest are legally unenforceable because of the Constitution, and unless you are in a Court of Law neither is the injunction against false witness.

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