Gentle reader, perhaps you think I'm skeptical -- dubious, even -- of the Massachusetts Mormon's newfound enthusiasm for the Second Amendment, or his newfound opposition to abortion. You're absolutely correct; I suspect that Mr. Romney's only really deep and unshakable belief is that any available slot at the public trough should be filled by, well, him. All the rest -- all the content of his standard stump speech -- is, I'm reasonably sure, a product of marketing calculations, made carefully by Mr. Romney himself or by his staff. And it seems that Team Romney's calculations are quite similar to those of nearly all the other candidates for the presidential nominations of both Major Brand political machines. The syllables "Is-" and "-lam" can't be separated by more than half a second, at most, from "fas-" and "-cist." "All options" must always be said to be "on the table" with respect to any recalcitrant (i.e., non-Saudi) swarthy regime. Extravagant and eternal pledges of fealty must be made to The Precious (Israel) and repeated, over and over again. The Holy Nine-Eleven must have its ring kissed -- indeed, positively slobbered upon. So what if Romney's a magic-spectacles cultist, and Huckabee's a bloody-minded Baptist socialist, and Fred Thompson's a sketchily-animated corpse with a mother-in-law younger than he is, and Giuliani's a transvestite Klingon, and McCain's a sawed-off psychopath? This crowd is mutually differentiated only by minor style points here and there. They are unanimously careful to touch every base listed above. They are brothers, or at least trailer-park cousins. Without a program, a body just can't hardly tell 'em apart. However, they can be collectively distinguished from the Serious Folk from the other Major Brand by one difference. Democrats all love to talk about Dubya as an inept manager of wars; Republicans prefer to avoid mentioning the Wee Emperor, and are quite good at such avoidance. Otherwise, they're the same. You, O reader, will doubtless have your own estimation of just how cosmically significant that difference might be. Me -- I'm pretty much yawning over it.
Meanwhile, there's amusement in the details:
But showing the fine line he was treading, he promised not to be beholden to church authorities, and devoted the majority of his address to calling for a robust role for religion in public life, declaring there was a common moral heritage across religious lines in the country that he would champion.So there you have it: the photogenic "Double Guantanamo" is highly enthusiastic about his beliefs, but there's no need to fret: he won't be taking his marching orders from Salt Lake City. Of course, I already knew that; anyone who is actually allowed to get within Taser range of the Oval Office takes his or her orders directly from Tel Aviv (or, sorry, I guess it's Jerusalem these days, isn't it?). As for "the affairs of government," which actually consist very largely of theft, robbery, and mass murder: they are certainly not currently entangled with any religion this side of Satanism, and I'm sure Mr. Romney won't upset that time-honored arrangement in any important way. Again, he offers reassurance that I don't really need.
“I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from the God who gave us liberty,” he said, drawing applause from an audience of about 300 invited guests, which included supporters and religious leaders. “Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage.”
While Mr. Romney appeared to be directing his message especially to evangelical voters, the reaction among their leaders was mixed.So, Mr. Carlson has "problems" with Mormonism. I sympathize; I, too, have problems with Mormonism -- the same problems I have with any other false and ugly religious system. But come on, Mr. Carlson: Huckabee? Thompson? Don't such men represent anything that gives you problems? Do you have any problems with the idea of perpetual war overseas, and tyranny, blowback, and economic ruin at home?
Steve Carlson, a board member of the Iowa Christian Alliance and a member of a Pentecostal church in Sioux City, said there was little Mr. Romney could have said today to allay his concerns about Mormon theology and his candidacy.
Mr. Carlson said he had been leaning toward Mr. Huckabee or Fred D. Thompson in large part because of problems he has with Mormonism. The speech, he said, did nothing to change that.
“He didn’t sway me one way or the other,” he said. “I don’t know anything he could have said.”
I really have no idea how many are in the actual Christian Church -- the people that Jesus knows to be His own -- in America. I'd guess that it's a small fraction of the number sitting in pews on Sunday mornings. I don't doubt, though, that some are simply confused: dazzled by the senseless chaos, misinformation, and propaganda that bombards us from our newspapers and teevee and internets and, God help us, from our pulpits. I simply hope that as many as possible are able to distinguish between the voice of the Good Shepherd and the myriad of other voices that demand our attention ... and obedience.