Santorum and Romney, Religion and Government

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In the state of Washington, we once nominated a governor candidate that reminds me of Rick Santorum. Her name was Ellen Craswell, and she probably put our party back a good 10-20% for as long as I can remember. Even today, we are still suffering for it.

A person I know through a technology circle is a proud democrat. When I go down the laundry list of issues, there’s nothing, not one thing, he agrees with the democrats on, except for the idea that the government should not impose religion on the people. In all respects he is conservative, but he disagrees so much with what Ellen Craswell did, that he will forever vote democrat because the Republican Party scares the bejeebers out of him.

To be honest, people like Ellen Craswell, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum scare the bejeebers out of me. These are people who mean well, are very religious, but cannot understand the different roles that religion and government play in our society. Like any good stool, each leg has its own purpose, without which we have firewood. Our society can’t survive without religion, nor can we survive without government, but their roles are almost completely opposite one of another, just like the legs of the stool are clearly independent and different.

Rick Santorum has been making comments that lead me to believe that he is not qualified for any position of power in government. These comments make me think he wants to run for Pope of America, whatever that would look like. Romney, on the other hand, and Ron Paul, have both got the right message. So did Ronald Reagan.

Let me explain to my evangelical and so-called “social conservatives” what I mean. (I’ll explain why I put “social conservative” in quotes through this explanation.)

We all disagree on a lot of things. I believe God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings. You probably do not. I believe that to believe anything but what I believe is not only wrong, but will damn your soul to hell. The doctrine you believe is of the devil, a vicious lie invented to keep us separate from the true God.

Your blood is probably boiling right now, as it should. I don’t want to argue about what I just said, but to say that we have legitimate and deep religious disagreements that will not be resolved in the next ten minutes. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to debate this to no end. After all,there are souls at stake!

Now, let me go into some other beliefs that I have that are part of my religion:

  • I believe that we are all fundamentally the same, or in other words, equal. No one of us has a right to rule over the other, no one of us deserves more or less respect as a human being than any other.
  • I believe that fundamentally, we all have rights to believe what we like, to say what we like, and to do what we like. Of course, these rights are not unlimited. When we start interfering with other’s rights, or when we abuse our rights for the intent of harming ourselves or others, we’ve gone outside of the rights and we’re into territory where people around us should step in and stop us.
  • I believe that we need to have some form of government to govern our society, and that government, no matter what form it is, exists only to protect our rights.
  • I believe that when our government has abused its powers, it’s time to change the government, and that change can only come from the people so governed.
  • I believe that we can arrive at a very decent and handsome compromise, whereby we all agree to operate under laws and do things in order. That’s the constitution of our several states and our federal government, and the laws and regulations that go along with that. I believe that even though some of the laws are unjust and do violate our rights, that we can fix them in due time and that we’re better off obeying those laws now rather than having constant chaos.

I could go on. These beliefs constitute what I call our national religion. These are things you must similarly believe to really call yourself American. If you disagree with some of these things, like, say, for instance, the idea that government should protect the rights of individuals, or that people are fundamentally the same, then you’re obviously not American and probably really don’t like our country.

Keeping separate things separate is what these two sets of beliefs imply. The same guy I call damned is the same guy I’ll elect to hold office. Why? Because we’ve agreed that certain things simply don’t belong in government, namely, pushing a particular establishment of religion, IE, a church or a particular set of beliefs.

Let me phrase it a different way. If Romney becomes president, and as president, in an official or semi-official capacity, ever says, “I think people should believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet”, I will ask that he be impeached. I swear I will do it. That is not appropriate, not even in the slightest. However, if a President Romney goes to his church, and bears his testimony that he believes Joseph Smith was a prophet, and he believes other should as well, he is clearly not abusing his office to promote a particular establishment of religion.

By the same token, if President Romney shows a preference, in any way, to those people of a particular establishment of religion, including the LDS one, then I will be alarmed. I hope he will bend over backwards to find people that he trusts who are not Mormon to appoint to high positions and on his staff. I don’t want the president in ANY way, nor any elected official anywhere in our country, promoting a particular establishment of religion.

Why do I say “establishment of religion” and not just “religion”? Well, as I’ve said, we have a national religion, and we demand people adhere to its beliefs. That’s a religion the president must support, because he is our president! So if President Romney starts advocating that national religion, saying things like, “I believe people have natural rights, and that government’s job is to protect those rights” then I’m all for it! I’ll be whooping from the stands in agreement. It is the job of the government to promote that particular religion.

Now, President Romney may neglect certain national beliefs. That’s his choice in office. He may try to change some of our beliefs, which he can attempt but ultimately won’t be very successful at. But he really has to be the spokesperson for our national religion by virtue of his office. We believe government reflects the people, not the other way around. We believe government should serve the people, so let it serve and not rule.

Now, back to Ellen Craswell, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. These are people that have abused their position even before they were elected. Rick, I’m sorry, when you speak as a candidate, I don’t want to hear about your particular establishment of religion, I don’t even want to hear about Christianity in general. Stick to our national religion, the religion that gives us our government and our liberties. Unite us with your defense of the common religion we almost all agree in. Don’t turn the president into the pope.

To say it is “socially conservative” to talk about your establishment of religion in an official capacity as an official or candidate in any way shows you are trying to fundamentally change the way America is supposed to work. You are not advocating a conservative position at all: you want to change something into the way it was not. You are a liberal!

Now, let’s talk about some sensitive topics: Homosexual Marriage, abortion, birth control, contraceptives, etc… These are issues that are religious in nature. They are vitally important to our national religion, the government supported one, and to our establishments of religion across the country. They blur the line, so to speak. It is imperative that candidates for office do not blur the line anymore than it already is. In fact, they should do the opposite, drawing a clear line between establishments of religion and our national religion, helping people see what is OK to legislate and what is not.

What do I mean? I mean, when a candidate Romney gets up and says something like, “Personally, I believe abortion is wrong. But I do not intend to overturn the law of the land.” he is demonstrating he understands where that line is. Yes, the national religion may come to believe something you do not personally believe, but you will be asked as a representative of the people and thus the national religion to defend it. It is imperative as an elected official, you take the back seat and do your job of representing the people, not trying to use the government to change things. The LDS religion allows this. While we do not drink alcohol, we do not have any rules against serving of selling alcohol, or being in the presence of people who imbibe. While we will never encourage someone to get an abortion, you won’t find us bombing abortion clinics. I can’t say the same for all religions, but I hope most religions can allow their adherents to represent the people even if the people demand something contrary to their personal religion.

Let me elucidate some more. If Romney did decide as Governor of Massachusetts that his job was to overturn Roe v. Wade, then what kind of arguments should he use?

  • “Since I believe children are literal spirit children of our Heavenly Father, and since our purpose on earth is to grow and experience whatever life has to offer us, so that we can develop into beings like Heavenly Father, then we cannot support abortion as a nation, and I support this bill that does XYZ.”
  • “Since it is in our state’s interests to see that all life, even the unborn, is protected, and since we know that there are plenty of people waiting to adopt, I am putting my efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, and support this bill that does XYZ.”

Do you see the difference? One argument is based on purely religious grounds, not the national religion, but the establishment of religion Romney happens to be part of: the LDS church. I will freely use that argument to convince as many people as I can, but I am not a representative of our government! I am free to push my religion on whomever’s willing to endure me. The second argument is based purely on our national religion, arguing from grounds that we all (roughly) agree on. This argument isn’t nearly as effective as the previous, but it is all he can rely on.

If he can’t argue based on our national religion, then it’s best to wait until he national religion changes. People like me and others can see to it that the vast majority of the people come to believe that abortion is inherently wrong. When we all come to agree on something like that, then the government can follow suit and make a similar change, based purely on our national religion.

There are some of you who think we can live a life free from religion, but this is absurd. We have to believe in something, even if it is the believe that we can use logic and reason to govern our lives. And as a society, we have to have something that binds us altogether in a common goal and purpose. So I’d like you to seriously consider what I am saying.

Those of you who are still ticked that Romney didn’t make abortion a priority as governor of Massachusetts need to think whether or not you are really a social conservative at all, or whether you are a religious fanatic trying to use government force to impose your ideas on others. If you end up as the latter, then know this: Even if I agree with your intent, I oppose your method. Hitler may have wanted to create a peaceful, just society, which I agree with, but he went about it in the wrong way and ended up creating something far, far worse. So too, your noble intentions will end up causing irreparable harm for many generations, and you’re not smart enough to see that right now.

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