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January 31, 2012 1:36 PM Mormons, Mitt and Conservative Evangelicals

By Ed Kilgore

At Rolling Stone, the distinguished political historian Rick Perlstein provides some history about the regular trumping of theology by politics in the process of making his case that fear or hostility towards the LDS faith won’t keep conservative evangelicals from pulling the lever for Mitt Romney in November (or earlier than that in the primaries, once he is the putative nominee). Evangelicals used to say the same things or worse about Catholics, Perlstein notes, until they found a common cause—and common enemies—in the culture wars.

I definitely agree that Christian Right types will support Mitt against Obama, though I do not necessarily share Rick’s belief that the main factor at play here is unreflexive obedience of the rank-and-file to their political and religious leaders. So long as Gingrich and Santorum are still in the race, a few of their theocratic backers will use anti-Mormon prejudice as a tactical weapon. And some (though not many) low-information evangelical voters may refuse to go along in the general election.

The key factor here is the common-enemy issue. Conservative evangelicals may not like Mormonism, but they tend to like “Mormon values” a lot. And more importantly, the LDS and its believers are a lot less threatening to Christian Right foot soldiers than the “secular-socialists” they believe are hell-bent on eventually wiping out Christianity as we know it—less threatening, in fact, than the mainline Protestants that many evangelicals don’t consider actual Christians (e.g., the President of the United States) insofar as they deny biblical inerrancy and don’t understand that legalized abortion is the Second Holocaust.

As the old proverb says, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Whether politically active conservative evangelicals are entirely comfortable with Mormons or with Mitt, they qualify on those grounds.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • DAY on January 31, 2012 1:45 PM:

    Logic is a useless tool when attempting to divine the motivations of the devout .
    Their "beliefs" cannot be swayed by "facts".

  • c u n d gulag on January 31, 2012 1:49 PM:

    Also too - Newt just came up with this gem:
    "Now, I think we need to have a government that respects our religions. I’m a little bit tired about respecting every religion on the planet. I’d like them to respect our religion."

    Ya gotta love Newt!

    Sure, he’s changed religion every time he got married.
    Because he’s a REAL man of faith!

    And maybe the last religion’s God frowns on a serial philanderer who dumps his wife to run-off with a new one every time the old one gets sick. He hopes the new God will be more forgiving. He knows that rubes will be – because, well, because they’re rubes.

    I think what Newt means here is white people’s religion.

    None of that Nigra Santeria or Voodoo hoodoo bullsh*t.

    "Ya'll hear that dog-whistle? Or do I have to spell it out fer ya?"

  • CA Pol Junkie on January 31, 2012 1:54 PM:

    I don't think there's much question for whom conservative evangelicals will vote, but rather how many of them will vote when they aren't enthusiastic about the Republican nominee. It's hard to imagine anti-Mormon sentiment making no difference at all, and it doesn't take much to affect the election given how reliably Repubican these voters are.

  • Anonymous on January 31, 2012 2:16 PM:

    Good analysis Ed.

    The authoritarians of all stripes will flock under the same banner of heaven and the head of mammon.

    They will attach the "anti-Mormon = anti-god = anti-Jesus" label to those on the side of Obama = Satan = secular humanists.

    Still, Joseph Smith was one of America's greatest grifter con men.

    Count me as a common enemy of Willard.

  • jjm on January 31, 2012 2:17 PM:

    Frank Rich has an interesting analysis of why Romney cannot connect with voters: his deep allegiance to the Mormon Church. He says it is THAT allegiance Romney is hiding, making him seem evasive.

    In my mind, it is the reason he makes so many counter-factual and untrue statements like the one claiming Newt outspent him in SC. I think that everything else he talks about that doesn't have to do with his faith is basically of no importance to him as to its "truth". The only true truth is in his Church and the rest as they say is literature. That could be why he lies so often and so obviously feels no shame about it.

    He won't discuss the Mormon Church, of which he was an official and to which he donates millions of dollars. Rich thinks this is a mistake--discussing his faith, he thinks, would 'humanize' Romney.

    But it might not, if people hear about some of the doctrines they hold.
    What reporters should be doing is asking him about things that he might do as president that would run counter to Mormon doctrine.

    They won't of course, but remember the Mormon Church was verrrry late to Civil Rights and still doesn't endorse gay rights. And their idea of ideal womanhood would be chilling to many people.

  • DCSusie on January 31, 2012 2:17 PM:

    Agree with CA Pol Junkie - the key is 'politically active' evangelicals - Mittens, at least to this point, has not really gotten into the culture war dog whistling, and I can't imagine that he would be very good at it if he decides to do so. It's not what interests him, and that will be painfully obvious if he tries to do it, adding that much more to his 'inauthenticity' problem. The issue in this election is going to be turnout.

  • Mitt's Magic Underwear on January 31, 2012 2:26 PM:

    I just don't understand that there haven't been ads touting what exactly it is that Mormons believe.

  • citizen_pain on January 31, 2012 2:28 PM:

    What should be surprising but isn't is the fact that the so called Christian's intense hatred of Obama/democrats/liberals will trump their reservations about the cultish Mormon faith.

    How ironic it is that the dreaded democrat/liberals actually follow the words of Christ, at least in their professed ideology, more so than the supposedly Christian evangelicals.

    I've said it before and would love for this meme to be explored further:
    Modern conservative evangelical Christians really don't follow the 2nd testament, the gospels of Jesus. Rather, they cherry pick the old testament for passages that reinforce their twisted view of reality. This begs the question, should we really continue to refer to them as Christians??

  • theAmericanist on January 31, 2012 2:38 PM:

    So I guess now must have been the right time to force an issue with the Catholic church?

    At the risk of respecting the other side (anathema 'round here), this is a typical text of what was read in all 18,000 American Catholic parishes, to roughly 15 million American Catholics yesterday (the 25% or so of the 65 million who show up for Sunday mass ever week):

    "I write to you today about a matter of great concern to us as faithful Catholics who also are committed to be good citizens of our great country. What makes our country great is that the United States was born out of a commitment to protect the rights of all its citizens, one of the most cherished of which is the right of religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Sadly, recent events are clearly threatening that basic right.
    One week ago, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) chose to uphold its mandate to require virtually all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, female sterilization procedures, and related patient education and counseling “for all women with reproductive capacity.”
    To demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in all health plans---including those offered by Catholic institutions and employers---flies in the face of the very basic principle of our Constitution to respect the rights of citizens to not be forced to violate their own conscience.
    As Cardinal-elect Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”
    As faithful Catholics, who are also good citizens, we should be deeply troubled at this alarming disregard for our rights. Unless the rule is overturned, Catholic employers---from parishes to hospitals to universities---will be compelled to either violate our consciences or to drop health coverage for our employees and suffer the penalties for doing so. The ruling’s only concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
    I join with my brother bishops of the United States on this weekend, urging you to do three things. First, as a community of faith, we need to recommit ourselves to prayer with the hope that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Second, I would encourage you to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty by visiting the USCCB website at www.usccb.org/conscience. Third, please voice your concern by contacting your Congressional representatives in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.
    Asking God to give us the grace and to help each of us to remain strong in our faith and asking God’s blessings upon our great country to help it to hold fast to the principles which make us great, I am
    Faithfully yours in Christ,"

  • fafner1 on January 31, 2012 2:45 PM:

    Some conservative evangelicals probably fear the "secular socialists" more. Others realize it is the Mormans that are sending missionaries to their state to convert the members of their chuch.

  • T2 on January 31, 2012 2:49 PM:

    Cal Pol Junkie has a good point. The Mormon thing could affect turnout. Among southern Evangelicals it is a very sore point and well documented. And the South is what the GOPers count on. On the other hand, Mormons are white (despite the ever-increasing TV ads trying to prove otherwise) and therefore they are less scary than a half-black man. But more importantly, this is the Super Bowl for Mormons....their ( probably only) chance to get one of them in the Presidency, and with that, further their cause. And believe me,
    they have a Cause, and as jjm notes above. They will pull out all the stops, and bank accounts, to make this happen. A guy like New Gingrich makes their skin crawl.......in that way, they are like the rest of us.

  • Mitch on January 31, 2012 2:50 PM:

    "... fear or hostility towards the LDS faith won’t keep conservative evangelicals from pulling the lever for Mitt Romney..."

    I tend to disagree, though only from my own experience, which is obviously only that of one man. I am a child of the Bible Belt, a son of proud Fundamentalist Southern Baptists, and friend to many American theocrats (that's my description of them). I was raised to believe that Mormonism is among the absolute worst types of blasphemers.

    This opinion is not limited to Fundies in the Bible Belt, either. When my family lived in New England during the early '90s, our Pastor often railed against LDS, even leading a study group that examined Mormon scripture for the sole purpose of combating it's heresy.

    Every single one of my Fundie friends & family have expressed outrage and dismay that "their" party would consider nominating a heathen like Romney. Many have said that they will abstain from voting, instead of voting for a Mormon. "Voting for a Mormon," my father says, "Is the same as voting for the devil."

    As bad as the Protestant vs. Catholic strife has been in the past, it is nothing compared to the hatred Fundies feel towards Mormons. Only Islam and Atheism are hated more.

    Maybe they will change their minds come November. Maybe the Fundies in the Bible Belt don't really have enough influence for it to matter. I honestly don't know. But I do know that many of them feel that the country (and the GOP) has turned it's back on them and their God, and the disdain Fundies feel for Mormons cannot be overstated.

  • Mike on January 31, 2012 2:56 PM:

    Who says that Perlstein is a "distinguished political historian"??!

    He's a journalist with a History B.A. - and while his books may be interesting, they leave much to be desired to actual, professional historians. _Nixonland_ is not only presentist, but has very little historical context outside of Nixon's own warped little mind. It's more useful to political junkies than historians, since it lacks any real historical context for Nixon's political development.

    Alan Brinkley, Eric Foner - they are distinguished political historians, since they're ACTUALLY historians. You don't mail off a card on the back of a cereal box. I do have a history Ph.D., so it bothers me when people speak for "historians" who aren't historians.

  • theAmericanist on January 31, 2012 3:10 PM:

    Pearlstein's piece is also pretty tendentious as history, frankly.

    When Catholics first came to the US in large #s, the Pope (Pius IX at the time) explicitly stated that certain views that are fundamental to being an American (e.g., freedom of speech and religion, the separation of church and state) are explicitly incompatible with being a good Catholic. (This was called the Syllabus of Errors, in 1854, if memory serves.)

    There was naturally a reaction to this, fueled also by outright bigotry in the Know Nothing Party. Much like the Japanese-Americans in WW2, though, Irish immigrants proved their patriotism in the Civil War so the issue faded, if it didn't vanish.

    In the last part of the century, there was an actual heresy, officially condemned by Leo XIII, known as "Americanism". (This is where my monicker comes from.) The essence of the heresy was the idea that civics has a moral value in itself, which directly contradicts the Syllabus of Errors.

    In the 50s and through Vatican II, led by theologians like John Courtney Murray, American Catholics essentially adopted the Americanist heresy as official doctrine, taking care to stay away from Modernism (another, broader but more fuzzily-defined heresy); this is the position which became doctrine in Vatican II, e.g., the end of ex ecclesiam.

    It would be a bit much to argue that all this caused JFK's victory in 1960, but if America's cardinals had insisted that the Syllabus of Errors was still doctrine, it's hard to see how he could have won.

    Pearlstein's got the shallow grasp of history that you'd expect of a journalist. Somebody pointed out once that one of the sharper 'what-ifs' of modern American history isn't how things would be different if JFK had lived, but what if Bobby Kennedy -- a devout Catholic who served 7 am mass as a Senator, just across the street -- hadn't been murdered in 1968?

    It is entirely possible that he would have been pro-life (and pro-adoption), and the abortion wars would look very different indeed.

  • susan on January 31, 2012 3:12 PM:

    if they can embrace Newtie with his serial adultery and multiple marriages, they can easily pull the lever for Mittens.

  • Mitch on January 31, 2012 3:24 PM:

    @susan

    Not really. To Fundies, like my family, Newt is a "repentant sinner" and therefore his past does not matter. Romney, however, is a practicing heretic.

    There is a strong difference in how Fundies view the two things. Newt "talks the talk" enough for them to forgive his past (those who are even aware of it; not like the media ever points it out to them); but Romney is still a blasphemer and a "cultist" and will always be, as long as he is a member of the LDS.

  • Barbara on January 31, 2012 4:01 PM:

    The issue is who shows up for the polls. In Mississippi and the deep South, it is unlikely to affect the outcome. In places like West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio, and to a lesser degree, Indiana, all swing states with significant percentages of evangelical voters, "not showing up," and certainly, "not giving up nights and weekends to badger others to show up" are real possibilities that would make a big difference.

    IMHO, an underexplored hypothesis for John Kerry's loss in Ohio is, indeed, voting patterns among evangelicals, who were especially motivated to vote against a Catholic. Nobody is going to admit to any of this, but that doesn't mean the effects won't be real. (This also makes Mitt's visit to an Ohio GOTV operation the day before the election only to diss their cause even more mystifying -- he NEEDS these people.)

  • BaptistPointOfView on January 31, 2012 4:05 PM:

    This fall when the Mormon is running against the Kenyan socialist Muslim, we will support the Mormon over the Muslim.

    We will even pretend that Mormonism is a Christian religion. After all, we Christians do believe that Jesus is the 3rd most important prophet behind Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Most importantly, for us good white Southern Baptists, the supposedly abandoned Mormon belief that mud people are not worthy of God's consideration is consistent with our beliefs.

  • Rick B on January 31, 2012 4:25 PM:

    The evangelicals are a rural tribal religion primarily from sparsely populated areas - or they came from such rural areas and moved to suburbs in order to get jobs in the cities.

    Tribal groups tend to fight related tribes until an outsider comes into the picture. Then they join with the related tribes they were previously fighting and together fight the outsider. Fukuyama describes this process of tribes fighting each other until the outsider comes into the battle very clearly in his new book "The Origins of Political Order." Religion provides the cohesion of the tribes.

    Industrialism and its related rapid massive population increase have created massive cities. Over half the world's population now lives in cities and all of the population increase is in cities. Cities require bureaucratic government and bureaucratic businesses in order to function. They create specialized jobs in which each worker performs specialized functions that neither the suppliers nor the customers understand. The cohesion of those cities is maintained by the trust of workers in the history of those who they deal with regularly. The early sociologist Emile Durkheim described the difference between what he called rural and industrial religions and their very different ways of enforcing social cohesion.

    Since cities must have diversity to function economically or politically it is impossible to enforce a single religion on the population. Instead religion becomes a free choice of city denizens. The leaders of rural (and suburban) tribal religions find this a major threat to their institutions - as it really is. It is this threat to the rural religions that has led many of them to become fundamentalist biblical literalists in order to differentiate themselves from the godless secular (unstated but city) religions. See the wiki for Moody Bible Institute.

    Back to that line "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" - that is the self-description of tribes choosing who to fight. They fight their neighbor until someone bigger from further ways comes upon the scene. Then those neighbors join together to fight the outsider. If they defeat him, then they break apart and fight the other allies again. That's what it means when the evangelicals fought the Catholics, then joined with them and fought the Mormons. The three will all join to fight the outsider - the urban Obama and his secular followers.

  • theAmericanist on January 31, 2012 4:40 PM:

    I had predicted a few weeks ago in one of these threads that Democrats will run the table in the fall -- keeping the White House and Senate, and taking the House -- but I gotta add: if there is one sure way to LOSE all three, it's for progressives who scoff at people of faith to keep bragging that they know how folks of one denomination or group of denominations will be motivated to vote by their faith.

    That's what motivated Pearlstein's piece, and it fills every post Ed makes on the subj., not to mention these threads. It's gobsmacking ignorance masquerading as smashmouth arrogance.

    Look, folks: very few voters (including evangelical Christians) actually choose who they vote for on THEOLOGICAL grounds. That Catholics believe in transubstantiation won't be a factor in whether Gingrich lasts through the Convention.

    What causes people of faith (including evangelicals) to vote one way or another is no different than any other group of voters -- it's who they identity with, and what he (or she) identifies AGAINST; it's a set of issues that frame images.

    If nothing else, Reagan's landslides in 1980 and 1984 proved this beyond serious dispute -- our first divorced President swept both evangelicals and "Reagan Democrats" (which largely means Catholics -- what are now called white ethnics) because he was a change from Carter and then, coming out of a serious recession, he ran on "morning in America" against the "blame America first" San Francisco Democrats.

    Only half-facetiously, I've suggested that somebody should ask Romney about the Obama administration forcing Catholic institutions to choose between remaining employers or remaining Catholic, as a parallel to his great grandfather fleeing the US over polygamy. You might usefully consider what his answer COULD be, along these lines:

    I'm glad you asked that, because there have been whispers about religious intolerance from the beginning of this campaign. As Americans, we need to get this out in the open. I stand with President Kennedy, who said there should never be a religious test for public office. When he cut taxes and launched prosperity, nobody said it was because he was a Catholic. It was because he was an American. I am a Mormon, proud and humbled that I am a Christian, and I say that anyone of any faith can be President of the United States. But I am sorry to add that we have already seen that not everyone believes this. The Obama camp has created a religious test for employers. It has essentially abolished the exemption that religious organizations have always had from government rules that would require them to violate their faith. Let me remind you what John Kennedy said in 1960 -- if they can ban Catholics this year, what makes you think they won't ban evangelicals next year? If they can force Catholic employers to pay for abortion pills today, what will they force us to do tomorrow? I believe in freedom of religion and the separation of Church and State -- and that's why we're going to win in November.

  • Tom Dibble on January 31, 2012 4:45 PM:


    Why there aren't ads describing LDS beliefs: because the inaccuracies which are widely believed and spouted on the Internet (Magic Underwear indeed) are far more damaging than anything which would pass a marginally not-wanting-to-get-sued-out-of-business TV station's review.

    On the actual logistics of the vote, 26.3% of the US claims they are Evangelicals. 1.7% claim they are Mormons. Starting there, the LDS "issue" seems to be at a severe disadvantage. However:

    1. 95% or better of Mormons will vote for a Mormon candidate, no matter what. In my congressional district, the LDS church openly supported reelecting Doolittle in the middle of the Abramoff scandal and in the face of him being named one of the 20 most corrupt officials in Washington three years in a row. He was Mormon. That was enough.

    2. Mormons vote, always. There is no "get out the vote" call for Mormons. I have never known a Mormon of legal age who has missed a mid-term-or-larger election. They might skip out on the local elections and off-year elections if there are no culture war issues driving them to the polls, but never ever do they let an important election go by without letting their voice be known.

    3. Mormons form a significant minority in a small number of states. California, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, and obviously Utah. Idaho and Utah are not in question, but the others are close enough relative to their electoral representation that they could change the election.

    4. The "dirty past" of the LDS Church tends to ... er ... not be so distasteful to a good number of Evangelical southerners once they hear it. Dogwhistles abound.

    5. The Democratic party, and liberal-leaning people in general, are unlikely to make the candidate's religion an issue in the election. The LDS church will make it an absolute issue to their flock, but the Evangelicals won't get any reminders of Romney's faith and lineage except from their church leaders. Meanwhile, the Republican noise machine will keep its low rumble of "Kenyan Muslim" talk about Obama, effectively canceling the anti-Mormon tendencies from the Evangelical crowd.


    Balance this against the numerical disadvantages, and so long as no more than about 5% of Evangelicals show up and actively vote against Romney in November, Romney's faith is a net win for him.

  • Rick B on January 31, 2012 4:46 PM:

    @jjm 2:17 PM:

    Thank you. That is the clearest explanation for Romney's inability to tell the truth I have seen yet. Considering the extreme brain-washing involved in the two year mission attempting to convert others to Mormonism it makes complete sense.

    Such missions are a standard technique of locking converts into cults. As a technique it is very powerful.

    @DCSusie 2:17 PM:

    Once Willard locks in the nomination he will have to rapidly expand his staff for the general election. Those who want to fight the culture war will become central to his election organization. We'll see a lot of culture war dog whistles then.

    @theAmericanist 2:38 PM:

    Tribal conflict. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." The evangelicals and the Mormons are allies with the Catholics in the great battle against the secular socialist anti-God tribe run by Obama, so the others will give the Catholics this issue. That's how tribal alliances work.

    Sorry guys. Fear of the LDS religion will not depress turnout. They will have all joined the battle as allies against the great secular communist African-American threat to the American Way of Life. [And have you seen all the gushing about what a beautiful family Romney has?]

  • Tom Dibble on January 31, 2012 4:56 PM:

    "Look, folks: very few voters (including evangelical Christians) actually choose who they vote for on THEOLOGICAL grounds. That Catholics believe in transubstantiation won't be a factor in whether Gingrich lasts through the Convention."

    The main exception to this, in my experience, are LDS voters. They will, with near-perfect reliability, vote for "their" candidate no matter what.

    It just enhances your general point that Democrats thinking a Romney candidacy will falter completely in the face of Evangelical disgust, but it's important to understand.

    The mythology of the LDS Church has a consistent persecution theme. They are a persecuted people. They are one of the only Churches to ever have an official extermination order against them, for Pete's sake! They consistently preach that "the world" is out to get them, to pervert them, to lure them away. These psychologies all work towards creating a very pliable and predictable electorate. Unless Romney is disavowed by the Church Presidency itself, he will get 95% of the LDS vote, which is to say 93-94% of all LDS eligible voters will cast a ballot with Romney's oval blackened.

    (FWIW, I'm not surmising the psychology of this from the outside. I was a member of the faith for many years and speak from personal experience.)

  • theAmericanist on January 31, 2012 5:09 PM:

    Tom Dibble asks: "Why aren't there ads describing LDS beliefs...?"

    Um, there are, of course: the LDS makes them.

    Oh, you meant to ask Why don't political organizations attack Mormons for their faith with ads that mock the history and doctrines of their religion?

    Do you really expect an answer?

    Methinks you guys don't know how focus groups work -- in a poll, you want to have a representative cross-section of the key population: if so many are lefthanded and more than 6' tall, that's what you want weighted in your sample.

    But in a focus group, you want people who are as much alike as possible, because you want people to speak unguardedly. You might just want to consider that Dibble felt comfortable asking his question here.

  • JDReign on January 31, 2012 5:09 PM:

    You guys are once again severely underestimating the southern baptists'
    hatred of mormons. I live in the deep south the media is either ignoring or just hiding
    It to spring out for election the level of hatred in the bible belt for mormons.
    While many of them can tolerate blacks in certains scenarios they feel mormonism
    Is a complete insult to their phony dedication to Christianity. They are not going to hold
    Their noses and vote for Romney, this will be ugly

  • low-tech cyclist on January 31, 2012 7:26 PM:

    It took awhile for evangelicals to forget that the Pope was the Antichrist, and make common cause with conservative Catholics. It didn't just happen when someone flipped a switch.

    I suspect that the same thing will be true with evangelicals and Mormons. Most of them will quickly conclude that a Mormon is a lesser evil than the Kenyan socialist. But a lot of evangelicals have been hearing for decades that the LDS is a cult. And that, combined with the assorted other problems with Romney, will keep evangelical turnout noticeably under that of recent years.

    This is important. In 2004, John Kerry, who was an OK candidate but hardly inspiring, got enough votes for what would have been an easy win if the GOP turnout had been that of 2000 + 10%. But instead, evangelicals were the engine behind one of the most impressive turnout efforts of our time, and that won a close election for Bush.

    As Barbara said above, "not showing up," and certainly, "not giving up nights and weekends to badger others to show up" are real possibilities that would make a big difference. A lot fewer evangelicals are going to give up nights and weekends to badger others to show up this time than they did in 2004.

  • Doug on January 31, 2012 8:18 PM:

    theAmericanist @ 2:38 PM -

    "So, I guess now must have been the right time to force an issue with the Catholic Church?"
    Yes. Any more silly questions?
    Regarding your snide reference to "respecting the other side", might I ask where's the respect being offered by the Catholic Church to those in its' employ, yet not communicants of the Catholic Church? I believe the proper response is: "crickets".
    There's nothing inherently religious about doing charitable work or providing hospitals; to be frank, it's what ANY good Christian should be doing regardless of denomination. Nor should any good Christian expect everyone else to abide by the dogmas of their particular sect or denomination. Nor should any good Christian expect that THEIR particular sect or denomination be given any special treatment by the civil authorities. They may WISH or WANT such treatment, but to expect to be given it as a right shows a strain of thinking completely incompatible with democratic (note the small "d") civil life and NOT to be encouraged.
    IF the Catholic Church feels that it cannot abide by the civil rules and regulations that go along with their providing medical care to persons of any, or no, religious belief and doing charitable work for those same types of people, then perhaps they should withdraw from such activities?
    Naw, we couldn't be THAT lucky...

  • theAmericanist on January 31, 2012 8:56 PM:

    Doug, you're an asshole.

    But on the well-informed theory that folks who read this may not realize what a fool you are:

    1) "...might I ask where's the respect being offered by the Catholic Church to those in its' employ, yet not communicants of the Catholic Church? "

    For one thing, you'd do better to avoid a precise term like "communicants" when it's not what you mean.

    For another, you'd do well not to beg the question. What, exactly, is disrespectful about a religious institution that acts according to its doctrine? (This is one of those inadvertent admissions -- that is actually your objection: it offends you that a Catholic institution is... Catholic.

    Remember -- nobody is forced to work for a Catholic institution. Nor is anyone who works for a Catholic institution denied access to contraception.

    If somebody wants their employer to pay for their contraception, then they should choose an employer who is NOT a Catholic institution.

    2) Another question which you beg, is that "ANY good Christian should be... providing hospitals" (put that way, I will grant you, tortures ellipsis, but what the hell.)

    Fair enough. There are about 600 Catholic hospitals in the US, and another 200 Catholic health care providers (clinics, nursing homes, etc.). That's on the order of 12% of the total (5,000 hospitals), and more than a quarter of the just under 3,000 community hospitals (charity hospitals, welfare hospitals) which are neither run by the government nor by for-profit corporations. Roughly 17% of all Americans who get hospital care get it at a Catholic hospital, and the percentage is far higher as you get to the lower end of the income scale.

    Kindly show us which religious denominations or government entities will step in to replace these, with particular attention to why they didn't before, and why they will reverse those decisions now. Use some statistics.

  • Rick Herrick on January 31, 2012 9:56 PM:

    For all of those who think that it's a liberal conceit that evangelicals won't vote for a Mormon, or that this is limited to (in Ed's phrasing) "some (though not many) low-information evangelical voters", or that this is in any way a chimera or some misunderstanding or mild issue that will be overwhelmed by evangelical voters' dislike or hatred of Obama and the Democrats...

    Let me just tell that that is not the case. Now, I can't say what the defection rate will be amongst evangelicals if and when it comes down to Romney versus Obama. There is definitely a substantial portion, probably even a majority, that will hold their nose and vote for Romney. But there are PLENTY of people who will not. I was raised in a family (not my core nuclear family, thankfully, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) with lots of very dedicated evangelic Christians. And they take this stuff REALLY seriously. I've seen a friend who's an evangelical pastor declare that he'd rather vote for an atheist over a heretic (this is a huge deal for this guy). He's smart, he's well educated, and he's a great guy other than this little God/Jesus problem, and he will NOT vote for Romney. It's not my liberal predisposition that makes me think that: it's my familiarity and intimate knowledge of the Christian right that makes me KNOW that there is a non-negligible portion of those voters that will not vote for him.

    Now, in and of itself, those votes are important, but maybe not critical. But where the effects of this will really be felt is in the trenches. All of those churches that act as organizing hubs and news relays for conservative causes are still going to be operating, but imagine nerve cells under sedation: still firing, but just... not... so fired up. And that lack of flogging the grass roots has the potential to be very costly to the Republicans in this election cycle.

  • theAmericanist on January 31, 2012 10:10 PM:

    Self-identified evangelicals and how they voted:

    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2008/11/the_evangelical.html

    About 25% in Pennsylvania , 60-40 Protestants supported McCain over Obama; a third of the Ohio vote, which went 70-30 for McCain; etc.

    In the states that will decide 2012 (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado, etc., since NY, California, Texas, etc., are all spoken for), evangelicals make up between a quarter and half the vote. McCain consistently got two-thirds to 80% of it.

    If you think Romney will get substantially less (because of your grandmother?) you need to get out more.

    If you suppose it's a turnout issue -- well, just consider whether you think people of faith might be motivated by any credible assertion that the Administration is attacking religious employers. (We already know they can be motivated by incredible assertions, so factor that in.)