Saturday, October 27, 2007

On Protestants who’d start their own theocracy if they could backing a non-Christian
A variation of ‘just shut up and vote Republican’ like the hypocritical Fr Frank Pavone told that other GOP target market, Roman Catholic values voters?

As you know until the news of it broke I was proud I didn’t know which if any church my candidate Ron Paul belongs to. It is irrelevant — he’d get my vote if he or his running mate were partnered gay atheists. He is a born Lutheran — older brother David is an ELCA minister — who later went to church with his Episcopalian wife and had their kids baptised there; now they informally and occasionally go to a Baptist church where one of their children is a member. Rather theologically promiscuous to a Catholic. :)

(One of my political influences, the late Murray Rothbard, was a Jew by birth and an atheist. I would have voted for Robert Taft in 1952 and Barry Goldwater in 1964, neither of whom had any use for religion personally.)

Regarding Romney (AFAIK an empty suit or neocon shill who’ll say nearly anything the commonly understood right wants to hear — 180ing on abortion for example — just to get elected) in theory of course you’re right but it all hangs on whether Mormonism is or is not what American Protestants historically accused Rome of (around the time of both Al Smith and the unworthy, nominal RC JFK — Cardinal Spellman saw through him, saw through the Camelot PR rubbish from the elder Kennedy’s PR machine, and rooted for Nixon): does it really want to overthrow the Constitution and set up a theocracy?

I had in-laws who were Church of Christ living in Utah and from what I remember from them the LDSers would if they could. Before the controversial 1963 Supreme Court ruling on school prayer, these were Mormon prayers in Utah. One of these in-laws, a kid at the time, came home and said ‘Good! We don’t have to pray for the Mormons any more!’

Then there’s the matter, irrelevant politically but interesting to theology and history boffins like me, of what exactly Mormons really are. One complication is Christian categories of dissent have gone by different names over the years (rather like ‘High Church’ doesn’t really mean today what it meant in 1700).

In today’s Christian terms Mormons are not Christians: they’re (here’s a cool word) henotheists, believers in many gods but like monotheists worshipping only one, the one they believe is in charge of this world. Who with his wife begets spirit children to populate it and worship him — every good Mormon couple whose marriage is sealed in the temple is promised that in the hereafter, godhood and a planet to populate with worshippers. (The man becomes a god.)

There’s God, the shadowy character of Mrs God... and their children... Jesus and Satan are brothers. Hey, this doesn’t sound like Sunday school!

If this weren’t barking enough I think the Mormons’ Achilles’ heel is their God is an evolved man so he’s not the prime mover.

LDS: essentially 19th-century Presbyterianism on LSD.
No offence... but when God was handing out religions you must have been out taking a whiz.
— Homer Simpson

BTW Mormon liturgy is pinched from the Freemasons; Joseph Smith was an ex-Mason.

Smith began Mormonism as Christian but changed his mind by the time he died in a gunfight. If you believe he was a prophet his later writings teach polygamy and the breakaway fundamentalist Mormons are right — LDS banned it to get statehood for Utah but the cops look the other way. But in a really free, religiously neutral society why outlaw it? Get the state out of the marriage business.

Because Mormons came out of American Protestant culture and use that theological vocabulary (‘Church of Jesus Christ’, the names of the Persons of the Trinity etc.) many people, like me as a kid, think they’re just another conservative Protestant church and I think the Mormons encourage that, sort of lying by omission. I’ve been told that low-level converts sometimes don’t know all the wacko theology they’ve signed onto. They just want to be family-values Protestants but got more than they bargained for.

Anyway, back to early Christian history: I’ve read that in patristic times Catholics used the word ‘heretic’ to describe groups (Marcionists, Manichæans, Arians) we wouldn’t call Christian.

Which may be why Islam has been described as a Christian heresy. Smith could have taken some of his cues from Mohammed. It’s been described to me as partly a ripoff of Eastern Christianity, particulary the Nestorian ‘off’ version that Mohammed’s neighbours practised which may partly explain his goofy ideas about Jesus: the Mormonism of Orthodoxy. (And LDS is the Islam of Protestantism!) The mosque is an Eastern Christian church stripped of its icons for example. (Nestorians, the native Christians of what’s now Iraq, tend not to have images in their churches but are not opposed to them on principle — their tradition is older than the use of icons. They use lots of plain crosses though and the liturgy is recognisably Eastern with vestments etc.)

In today’s terms I say it like LDS is non-Christian of course.

Anyway...

You can spin religious liberty/pluralism to make it compatible with Catholicism (a foundation of my politics and one of Vatican II’s valid points).

I could be ignorant but I’m not sure you can do that with Islam or Mormonism.

(Saddam Hussein was a ‘bad Muslim’, the kind Osama bin Laden hates, running a secular country. Like the ‘jack Mormons’ in Utah.)

If an RC real conservative, a Roman Ron Paul, stood for election to high office and had a chance, yes, you’d see the GOP and/or Democrats send out subtle (or not?) anti-popery messages appealing to both liberals (pro-abortion for example) and the fundygelicals, messages with deep roots in American history. (Americans United, the Klan, the Know-Nothings.) Not to be confused with a fake conservative like Rick Santorum, or Rudy Giuliani taking his cue from JFK and distancing himself from his church except maybe fudging a bit on abortion to hedge his bets. The concept of a ‘Catholic vote’ is outdated in American politics; the Romans are as divided between values voters and the indifferent secular people following the mainstream as Protestants. (Clinton got that vote in the 1990s, which may also have been because of a residual RC-Democratic-labour connexion, including even social conservatives who didn’t switch to the Republicans for Reagan.)

From Tripp.

Dr Paul’s religious biography
Ron Paul was raised on a dairy farm outside of Pittsburgh. His parents were "pretty devout" Lutherans, according to campaign spokesman Jesse Benton, and as a child, Paul regularly attended St. John’s Lutheran Church in Carnegie, Pa. One of five sons, Paul briefly considered becoming a Lutheran minister like two of his brothers but chose to pursue medicine instead. In 1957, during his senior year at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., Paul married Carol Wells at her neighborhood Episcopal church.

All five of the couple’s children were baptized as Episcopalians, but Paul told a reporter at the
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he and his wife "became less comfortable with the Episcopal Church as time went on." They now attend services "several times each year" at the First Baptist Church of Lake Jackson, Texas, according to a pastor at the church, where Paul’s eldest daughter and her family are members.

According to Benton, Paul feels the "greatest affinity right now" with the Baptist denomination and identifies himself as a Baptist, though he is not a formal member of a local church. In the past, Paul has identified himself simply as "Protestant" but is now saying "as a matter of clarification" that he is a Baptist, according to Benton.

If elected president, Paul would be the fifth Baptist to hold the office.
There are pockets of Lutheranism where I feel at home. (As I might in this this fringe group.) Here again is Zion LCMS, Detroit.
I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do.
— Dr Paul on the matter

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