Thursday, September 29, 2011

on Mormon Presidential candidates

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this here yet, but I have a real fascination with Mormons - particularly, Mormon women. It's hard to put my finger on why - I think the earnest, pro-family, and wholesome-ness is very appealing to me. I know for sure that I would make a lousy Mormon, but I appreciate many good things about the Mormon lifestyle: wholesome young people, a level of modesty missing from much of America, life-long marriages, the closeness of family, etc.

I don't know any Mormon's personally, so instead of being intrigued in person, I've taken to reading several blogs, penned by interesting Mormon women.

One of my favorites posted something this week about a documentary that she recently saw, which neutrally explores why one in five American's say they would not vote for a Mormon Presidential candidate. The blogger said, "Obviously, that goes against the constitution and is an important thing for our democracy to consider".

It's my interpretation that she is saying that it's unconstitutional to vote for someone (or, conversely, to NOT vote for them) because of their religion... But is that actually true?

The Constitution states this about religion:
  • First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".
  • Article V1: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States"
The fact is, Mormon's (like Catholics or Buddhists or Lutherans) are not prohbitted from running for public office, even - especially!- the Presidency, and that's a good thing. I am one of those people that the blogger refers to - the one in five Americans that wouldn't vote for a Mormon Presidential candidate, at least not right this minute. Because while I can appreciate that some Mormon Presidential candidates could potentially be open-minded, pro-women, pro-gay - I haven't seen that person yet. I can also recognize that the specific Mormon Presidential candidates involved in this election are not those people. Both Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney favor much more conservative, traditional "family values" - in other words, they are classic Republicans. The fact that they belong to a conservative church really has nothing to do with it.

Or maybe it does?

We've all heard the old adage, something about being able to tell alot about a person by the company they keep. When people position themselves as members of a specific group, even a religious group, they align themselves with that group. If I say "I'm Catholic" that means that I'm part of a specific group that has specific beliefs and requirements - and by putting myself in that category, doesn't that mean that I am aligning myself with those beliefs?

Mormons belielve in abstinence from all alcoholic beverages, all hot drinks (so Diet Coke may be alright but coffee and tea are not), that marriage is only between a man and a woman, is mostly against abortion (though they do allow a few exceptions after thorough prayer reflection), that women cannot be of the most senior level leader in the church, among lots of other things. (In some ways this is an unfair representation of what Mormon's believe - its' like saying, Catholics are pro-life and pro-abstinence. It's true, but it doesn't paint a picture of their faith). I'm not making any judgment - I call myself a "Cafeteria Catholic" knowing that I'm therefore linked to people/beliefs that I'd rather not be.

I guess all of this is to say that it's going to be an interesting 13 months - who knows what will happen or who will enter the race. And while I don't know for certain which name I'll be selecting, I know I can rule out two - and not just because their Mormon.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I don't think the Mormon religion has much to do with it (not voting for someone), more their political stance, which may be shaped by the Mormon religion (as well as a slew of other things). The only major Mormon candidates just happen to err on the conservative side, there has been so few of them though time will tell if some of them however are not politically aligned with their religious beliefs..

    After all, you and I both know religious beliefs do not always shape political views.



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