Tuesday, February 20, 2007

If A Mormon, could a UU, hear Hail to the Chief?

And now for something completely, maybe, different for this blog....

I have been listening and reading to a lot of the commentary about the effects of Mormonism on Romney's political chances of being the next U.S. President. A few questions come up:

1. I remember when his father ran for President in the 60s and is it just me or did I miss the same level of flurry and concern back then? Or was it all tied in to perceived chances of electability? Or is it another sign of how political religion has become as compared to back then, at least back then as I remember experiencing it in Oklahoma.

2. Could a Mormon get elected in 2008, but a Unitarian Universalist, any UU, couldn't? My own hunch is that a UU couldn't. I remember an editorial of a few years ago during the last election cycle I think when George Will wrote, to effect, that if the U.S. could survive electing a Unitarian in the early 20th century with Taft then the U.S. could survive electing X (I don't remember who it was who was running and their faith was brought into it). But that's a little different answer than could a Unitarian or UU be elected today? Just as I heard commentators saying that Romney will have to address the various belief issues and associations connected with the LDS, a UU would have to address, right off the bat, polyamory and infidels and pagans, and that's before getting to GA resolutions.

3. If a UU couldn't get elected President (and in various loose definitions we have had at least 5 and maybe 6 Presidents so far, the last being Taft and the last close call being Stevenson, if memory serves), what does that say about UUism and Americans?

4. If I were a UU and wanting to be elected President, and stay UU and worship regularly in D.C. at the UU churches, for example, I think I would move to a very blue state and run as a kind of indepedent Republican, a reverse Lieberman, for Governor, and then pray to be picked as Vice-President candidate first on a winning ticket, and all the while be very self-differentiated about my faith and treat all the "guilt by association" issues that came up like Jimmy
Carter treated brother Billy.

5. This has a more serious undertone than I have allowed myself, and for church and ministry planters there might also be some lessons here too about the "denominational dance."

6 comments:

Bart said...

Romney couldn't be elected President (based on his gubernatorial decisions alone, and add his religion to it and it becomes nigh impossible) and I have serious doubts about any Mormons being elected as President. Mormons are too cultish. It took about 200 years for a Catholic to be elected President. Mormons are more secretive and more ritualistic (from my experience) than Catholics, which plays into the factor also.
I believe that a very Christian UU may be able to get elected to the Presidency. Of course I haven't met the UU with the proper political credentials, but I think it is more possible than other sects of Christianity.

Joel Monka said...

Romney's electability or not is no longer tied to his religion- I think people will accept a Mormon whose political views they agree with. A UU, however, would indeed be unelectable for the very reasons you stated: "...a UU would have to address, right off the bat, polyamory and infidels and pagans, and that's before getting to GA resolutions."

Especially those GA resolutions, and most especially those looney-tune pronouncements from the Washington Advocacy office, like this one blessing the taxes . Hell, *I* wouldn't vote for any candidate who could get an endorsement from the GA!

The fact that one of the oldest denominations in America can barely scrape together 200,000 dues-paying members ought to tell you something.

Ron said...

Good points all around. I think there is a kind of bump that Mormonism actually gives Romney just by raising his visibility and getting people in our unchurched culture to wonder about him :). And with the tremendous rise in percentage of Mormons in our country, if not 2008 then it is just a matter of time more than a matter of religion. And about being small and old; that might be part of the problem, being one of the oldest. See Stark's The Churching of America: 1776 to 2005. So many other factors, but being old isn't a draw anymore but a liability as it is so hard to change DNA and culture. Now this might seem like heresy because my UU Christian theology has a lot of 17th and 18th and 19th century theology in it, but the mistakes we made evangelistically back then haunt us now. Thats another thread. Maybe someone like a Universalist Christian of Carlton Pearson's strand, black, pentecostal, trinitarian universalist, charismatic with political ambitions (he did once run for Mayor of Tulsa unsuccessfully) could be one; of course he isn't UU and has now joined the UCC. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Romney's Dad had trouble because of the racist elements within Mormon dogma at that time. I can't remember exactly what the belief was, but it was changed soon after it came to light in the political arena.

Ron said...

From my brief excursion with the Mormon church, between high school and college, I remember, and this was in the early 70s, that it had to do with blacks not being considered equally welcome in the higher realms of heaven, something like that. A good search engine query will provide more.

Of course now that there is the Ann Coulter-Romney uproar, the notes to Hail to the Chief just got more distant. And i saw some results in the recent Christian Century that showed what I thought was a surprisingly high number of percent of Americans who wouldn't vote for a Mormon to be President. Wish they would ask that question about a "UU" in polls.

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