(NY Times) Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

I honestly don’t care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans, or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York, or that Mormonism’s founding prophet practiced polygamy (which was disavowed by the church in 1890). Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.

But I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Br. Michael wrote:

What this person is saying that he wants is a person who has no worldview that influences how he or she sees the world and influences the policies he or she will seek to implement.

The unspoken assumption is that a secularist is somehow worldview free.  Why should a Christian be governed by a godless secularist who puts the secular laws ahead of those of God? to flip the argument around.

August 26, 7:35 am | [comment link]
2. BrianInDioSpfd wrote:

Actually, I would be really happy if the three branches of the Federal Government actually paid some attention to the text of the Constitution of the United States.  That’s what any elected official swears to defend, but few do.

August 26, 9:51 am | [comment link]
3. David Keller wrote:

Bill Keller is a GIGANTIC hypocrite.  Where were these burning questions about Barak Obama in 2008?  This same man and his publication BLASTED anyone who questioned Obabma’s faith, and his idiot “minister”.  It was totally off limits in 2008.  Now we have to know because Bill Keller and the Democrat mouth piece, NYT thinks it will be a great issue to divide us. Socialist class warfare is now the Times stock in trade. I want to know what the candidates believe also, but this guy makes want to barf.

August 26, 10:24 am | [comment link]
5. Timothy Fountain wrote:

The question is not about a candidate’s faith but about his/her understanding and application of the Constitution.  People can believe whatever they want if they don’t use the power of the state to impose it on the nation; people can believe nothing at all as long as they don’t use the power of the state to mess with believers.

August 26, 1:56 pm | [comment link]
6. Kendall Harmon wrote:

I enjoyed this this afternoon, probably too much—

Timothy P Carney
Questions on religion @NYTKeller shoulda asked: “Doesn’t ANYONE in this newsroom go to Church? I need some guidance here.”

August 26, 4:14 pm | [comment link]
7. Mark Baddeley wrote:

re: Kendall

I didn’t see the tweet, but I thought something similar when GetReligion brought the editorial to my attention. It read like something by a New Atheist blogger, not the senior editor of the ‘paper of record’. Religion is a completely ‘undiscovered country’ for him.

Could you imagine NYTimes publishing an editorial by a senior editor that was as bully in favor of ‘conservative’ religious beliefs and as dismissive of secular or revisionist beliefs in presidential candidates? It is pretty well impossible to trust their handling of issues when they are so one-sidedly partisan.

August 27, 4:03 am | [comment link]
8. John Wilkins wrote:

The problem is, Br. Michael, in public policy a Christian can have a secular world view.  A free-market worldview is not particularly religious; nor is one that supports gun ownership or gun control.  A christian can argue against gun ownership (would Jesus have owned a gun?”) or for it.  But secularism is, in part, the world view that religions have unverifiable claims that can be adjudicated by rules that people agree on without referring to the institution of church.

If someone believes that God caused the hurricane, why shouldn’t we interrogate them as to why they think that?

August 29, 10:23 pm | [comment link]
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