Romney Extols Pluralism; Huckabee Claims God is Push-Polling for Him

Mitt Romney’s speech today reminding Americans of the lofty founding ideals of civic republicanism and religious liberty coincides with Mike Huckabee’s statement that God is the reason for his rise in the polls.

A former BYU political science professor who now blogs for AOL’s Political Machine has commented on Mike Huckabee’s view, pointing out that Huckabee shares a certain trait with Bush II and Carter:

It’s a brand of Christianity that draws heavily on notions of divine election and at its core contains a literal view of predestination. This is relatively harmless when taken in a kind of hazy way like Clinton, for example. But when you buy into divine election and predestination literally, and end up in the White House, it’s hard not to see anything you do as Divine will.

When Huckabee says there is only one explanation for his rise in the polls, he means that literally. When you literally believe in predestination, there is only one explanation for everything: God’s will.

Looks to me like Huck’s got that bug. And if you think Romney has a religion problem, you ain’t seen nuthin yet. There is nothing in Mitt’s brand of religion that even comes close to this.

Not only is there nothing in Romney’s religion that comes close to this kind of scary view of predestination and God’s will but Romney’s religion supports views such as those expressed today in Romney’s speech “Faith in America”, views that resonate with a true appreciation for religious pluralism, a belief in the good of all people, and the value of civic republicanism (“Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.”)

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14 Responses to Romney Extols Pluralism; Huckabee Claims God is Push-Polling for Him

  1. Mark D. says:

    According to the Westminister Confession, everything that happens is according to God’s eternal decree:

    God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

    Thus God decreed that the 9/11 attacks should take place, while in some way avoiding moral responsibility for them. That is a pretty strange point of view – a criminal may say “I may be a horrible person, but everything I ever did was in furtherance of some divine purpose.” How much more so people who believe that their intentions are good?

  2. Dave says:

    Yeah, Evangelicals live in their own little world and tell themselves Mormons are strange, not realizing that most people think Evangelicals are pretty wacko on stuff like this. Not to mention their incessant hypocrisy — if Mitt went around Iowa using LDS bishops to drum up political support for him, people including Evangelicalswould go through the roof. But Huckabee does that with Evangelical ministers in Iowa, and we’re supposed to ignore it? By trying to make Romney’s religion a problem, they’ve probably shot themselves in the foot. One question on evolution and education could sideline almost any Evangelical candidate in a national debate.

  3. Todd Wood says:

    Dave, why are you so angry?

    Mitt’s campaign group didn’t respond to me at all when they came to Idaho Falls. Zero. Nada.

    But the group drummed it up big time with the richest LDS leaders in Southeastern Idaho. How many evangelicals in the LDS corridor went through the roof?

    I am not going to continually parade about the incessant hypocrisy of the Romney campaign. But the opinion page in our local paper scorched Huckabee. So hot, it is still on fire here in Idaho.

    But before we talk about hypocrisy, make sure you provide the evangelical links that were already evaluating this about Huckabee’s statement.

    And if Romney were to become President someday, am I too say this is man’s work and not God’s work?

  4. Mark D. says:

    Todd W.,

    The problem is not so much the audacity of the belief that God supports your candidacy above any other, but the extraordinarily bad form of letting everyone else know about it. If that his position, he should run for prophet rather than president.

    A better option would be to pray that God’s will be done, rather than his.

  5. Dave says:

    Todd, Hugh Hewitt was telling Evangelicals six months ago that if they played the religion card against Romney it will come back to bite them. I’m just agreeing. By expressly crediting a change in poll numbers to God’s intervention in the campaign on his own behalf (apparently in response to supposed prayers offered on his behalf), Huckabee is even setting himself up for it.

  6. Todd Wood says:

    Guys, I don’t mind critique of evangelicalism. Go for it. It just looks better when it is done properly. Mark D. and Dave, both latter comments are much more helpful.

    I also think of what an informed Calvinist might say to this LDS political commentator. The Calvinist might be chuckling just as LDS friends chuckle when I stupidly explain LDS priesthood authority.

    Does Huckabee believe in Calvinism? And what does biblical predestination have to do with politics? And does the commentator see any difference between biblical providence and biblical predestination?

    And then John’s post insinuates that Romney’s religion supports religious pluralism. Now you really have me curious. Does Romney believe his church proclaims this? Are all religions on equal footing?

  7. Mark D. says:

    Todd W.,

    You really should read D&C 134. Here’s verse four:

    We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

  8. Mark D. says:

    Also Article of Faith 11:

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    And here is Brigham Young, in a millennial context:

    If the Latter-day Saints think, when the kingdom of God is established on the earth, that all the inhabitants of the earth will join the church called Latter-day Saints, they are egregiously mistaken. I presume there will be as many sects and parties then as now. Still, when the kingdom of God triumphs, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of the Father. Even the Jews will do it then; but will the Jews and Gentiles be obliged to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? No; not by any means.
    (Brigham Young, Dec 23, 1866; JD 11:275)

  9. john f. says:

    Todd, I think it would be hard to over-emphasize that Brigham Young quote in Mark D.’s last comment with regard to what Latter-day Saints believe about the standing of other religions in the eyes of God.

    To be sure, Latter-day Saints believe that one must receive ordinances performed by the proper priesthood authority to fully accept the Atonment of Jesus Christ (in the same way that Evangelical creedalists believe that one must accept Jesus Christ in one’s heart to allow the Atonement to work salvation upon them). Therefore, there is no misplaced ecumenicism (which I understand you reject) in the standard LDS worldview. But most Latter-day Saints, even in the days that they preached about the Great Apostasy most loudly, i.e. the mid-19c to the mid-20c, have always greatly admired and appreciated that which they (perhaps only arbitrarily) see as “virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy” in other religions, the arts, science, history — everywhere — and have actively sought after those things (although we can and should do much, much better on this point, perhaps even adopting much more from your own tradition and the tradition of the Catholics than we historically have done) (Article of Faith 13).

    Romney’s speech was very Mormon, in my opinion. Todd, you yourself have observed and criticized a universalistic aspect in Mormonism. Although I disagree with your end analysis, your observation of its existence is astute. It’s the way God wants it. He loves all of his children and appreciates the veneration they give him, in whatever faith tradition they happen to do so. This does not minimize the fact that there are real religious truths that all people need to learn (and, in the Mormon view, all will have the chance to learn and accept or reject these truths, regardless of location or station of birth), and that the ordinances performed by the proper priesthood authority are necessary.

    Romney’s endorsement of pluralism does not mean that God is indifferent to the different tenets of different religions but that society is healthier when religious pluralism is welcomed and celebrated. One of the achievements of Romney’s speech is that he did not merely settle for the Enlightenment concept of Toleration (which sets a minimum standard, i.e. we all just barely tolerate each other) but extolled Pluralism, which is a step beyond Toleration in that it recognizes the value to society of having people of all faiths work for the common good through their own faiths. His idealistic hope is that Evangelical creedalists will agree and view Mormonism as a faith through which much societal good can be done even if they disagree with its religious doctrines. We will see if this happens.

  10. Todd Wood says:

    I can undersstand the ringing call for religious freedom in a republic. And for that, I stand side by side with Mitt Romney. Fear no opposition in this. Anabaptists have less a sense of political theocracy in past church history than even LDS. There is a passionate respect for the individual priesthood of believers.

    And Mark D, this quote by Brigham Young was brought to my attention by Prof. Underwood in the last evangelical/LDS conference in SLC a couple months ago. It does speak of millennial context, but I am zeroed in on celestial heaven context.

    I find that the contemporary usage of the popular term, “religious pluralism”, to be given mixed reviews by LDS.

  11. Ugly Mahana says:

    Did Romney use the resources of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Idaho, or did he use a network of persons who happened to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ? Did Huckabee use the resources of evangelical churches in Iowa, or did he use a network of persons who happened to be members of evangelical churches? Should a distinction be drawn between using the resources of a church and networking with persons who share membership in a church or brand of faith?

  12. john f. says:

    Todd, would you mind providing links to this analysis of Huckabee by fellow Evangelical creedalists that you mentioned above?

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