Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Now even Ken Jennings is involved in the Mitt Romney -Mike Huckabee Iowa range war?

My postings here are usually not tinged with religion, but both Ralph (the Kosher Hedgehog here) and I try to comment here on religious-political news and related issues; sometimes we need to explain religious beliefs in order to comment intelligently on the news. (What else can one expect from a blog written by a committed Mormon and a committed Orthodox Jew?)

I also write daily for Article VI Blog, which for the last 18 months or so has examined religion and politics in the 2008 presidential campaign. My co-blogger there is John Schroeder, an Evangelical Christian who writes Blogotional, an influential religious blog, or "Godblog." (Yes, I keep eclectic company in the blogosphere, and I love it. Both John and Ralph are very smart guys whose writing enriches makes me look good by association.)

Of course, with the rise of Mike Huckabee we have seen unexpected opportunities to comment on religion, politics, and the news. (That's a opaque way of saying that we never dreamed we'd see the stuff we've seen so far.)

Here's the latest example. I never watch the game show "Jeopardy," but I know that Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame is a Mormon and a Democrat. (No, that's not really such an unusual combination.) I suspect Jennings would never vote for Mitt Romney.

So it's interesting to me that even Jennings has now joined in the religious food fight that has erupted from what John and I call the "Mormon Question." His op-ed in the New York Daily News is entitled "Politicians & pundits, please stop slandering my Mormon faith." His concluding paragraph:

I'm tired of being a punch line and a punching bag. If the only way to get Mormonism out of the arena is to get Romney out of the race, then I'm counting the days. This is one Mormon who would rather have a little civility and tolerance than one of our own in the White House.

Well, I don't think that's a fair trade. Is Jennings saying that it's better for people of faith to keep out of national politics if their candidacy brings out religious bigotry against their faith?

One problem is that many doctrinaire Evangelicals are not making Jennings' argument easier. At Article VI a leading Evangelical, Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost, told us in an interview (yet to be transcribed and published) that he thinks many Evangelicals will say they're voting against Romney for non-religious reasons (e.g., Romney's so-called "flip-flopping") when the real reason for their vote is that Romney is a Mormon.

Joe's not just any old blogger. Evangelical Outpost is a major Evangelical blog. He announced his support for Huck last October and is now the Huckabee campaign's research director. He's also prominent in the campaign's outreach efforts to Evangelicals, and Joe's blog postings often drip with scorn for Romney and his people.

So what'll it be? Do we speak out against religious bigotry, or simply run and hide from it, as Jennings seems to suggest? Ralph, what do you think?

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Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

Lowell: You would be surprised at the number of Jews, Orthodox and otherwise, who were "uncomfortable" with the Vice Presidential candidacy of Joe Lieberman in 2000, not because of any political differences, but because of concern that the mass media would focus on and ridicule his Orthodox Jewish practices and beliefs. After all, he prays in a synagogue where men and women sit separately, divided by a barrier, and women cannot become Orthodox Jewish rabbis. As it turned out, he more or less got a pass on religious practices and beliefs, but to this day is harshly criticized by the media elites for his attacks on the social depravity depicted in movies, on television and in popular music. Just this past week I heard a prominent Jewish Democratic Party centrist activist and long-time U.S. Senate staffer respond to a question about whether Joe Lieberman might be a fit Vice Presidential nominee in the unlikely event that John McCain receives the GOP nomination for President. He said that the higher a monkey climbs up a tree, the more its rear end is exposed. That's poor biology, but it certainly reflects the "Ken Jennings" outlook.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 1:02:00 PM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

By way of postscript, another reason why many Jews were uncomfortable with the prospect of Joe Lieberman as Vice President, including my wife, was the fear that his high office would paradoxically endanger the security of Israel. American Jews are always hyper-sensitive to charges of dual loyalty because of their support for Israel. Recent books such as "The Israel Lobby" by Walt and Mearsheimer and "Palestine--Peace Not Apartheid" by Jimmy Carter, which blame American Jews for distortions of U.S. foreign policy in favor of Israel, show that such fears are not mere paranoia. In any event, the concern over Joe Lieberman was that he would either continue his support of Israel, and thereby generate more charges of Jewish American dual loyalty, or that to the contrary he would bend over backwards to be "neutral" in order avoid the appearance of bias for Israel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 1:13:00 PM  
Anonymous danwheel said...

Being LDS, I prefer Paul's perspective:

"But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

"What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." (Philippians 1:12-18)

Thursday, December 27, 2007 9:08:00 AM  

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