I suppose this had to come up again in this campaign. Sigh. Politics AND religion all at one go. Could it get any more contentious?
I will start out stating that I am not a shill for Mitt Romney. Given his chequered history as a conservative, I had and still have some reservations about his Republican party candidacy for US President. Granted, it would have been impossible for him to have been elected Governor in Massachusetts, of all places, as an in-your-face, foot-through-the-firewall conservative in the very lair of Ted Kennedy, but still…
I also do not self-identify as a Republican. I trend strongly Libertarian, in fact. But given that there’s no way either a small- or large “L” libertarian is going to be elected to the Presidency any time soon, if ever, I would vote for a Republican OR a Democrat who came closest to my ideal presidential candidate. But please, not Ron Paul. The guy is seriously out of touch with reality. If his son, Rand (currently US Senator for Kentucky), ran for President, I could sign on to that campaign, but not his father’s. The candidate I am most encouraged about at the moment is Herman Cain. More about him in a later post.
Anyway, back to the subject of this post.
The matter of Mitt Romney’s credentials as a Christian comes up because a Rick Perry-supporting Southern Baptist preacher by the name of Robert Jeffress, of The First Baptist Church of Dallas, introduced Perry at the recent Values Voter Summit, using words which held the implication that Romney was not a Christian and belonged to a cult, a view which he expanded upon to the press after the event:
“Mitt Romney’s a good moral person but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity. So it’s the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian.”
Let’s start with the pejorative term “cult”. What does it mean? You can pick your dictionary definition of the term, too, but an easily available one, Dictionary.com, offers this:
- a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
- an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
- the object of such devotion
- a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc
- Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols
- a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader
- the members of such a religion or sect
- any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific
Upon due consideration of this dictionary definition, I must conclude that “Mormonism” is definitely a cult. After all:
- “Mormonism” has a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
- “Mormonism” greatly venerates a person, namely Jesus Christ,
- “Mormonism” holds that person, Jesus Christ, as the object of its devotion
- “Mormonism” is a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, or ideal, namely Jesus Christ
- “Mormonism” is sociologically a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols, namely those symbols associated with Jesus Christ
But let’s not stop there! Going further, it can also be clearly seen that Reverend Jeffress’ own Southern Baptists qualify as a cult. As do the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians, the Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox church, among others. I’m sure that this was not his intent, but he has been tripped up here by the clear meaning of the word he used.
But, obviously, Pastor Jeffress has in mind this particular corner of the cult definition:
a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader
In other words, he doesn’t believe the tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be correct. There’s a news flash. I guess if he did consider them to be correct, he’d be a Mormon. So his use of the word “cult” is merely a spot of name-calling. “Your mother wears Army boots.” Or something like that.
As to the notion that the Mormons live “outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader,” do the Mormons have a Jonestown in Guyana, or a compound like the Branch Davidians had at Waco, Texas? Obviously not. They live everywhere, and here’s another news flash, there are lots of Mormons who aren’t observant, and some of them may get drunk and act like, say, Baptists, and yet the Church has somehow overlooked sending out the enforcement squads to force them back into line.
Cult? Yeah, right.
This addresses the cult thing (unless some chimers-in want to try to argue their way out of a wet paper bag), but what about the not being a Christian thing? I can’t get to it tonight, but I promise to do so in an upcoming post (yeah, I know, promises, promises — I owe Duane a post or two, too). The short answer is, I hereby call BS on the Reverend Jeffress’ not a Christian church assertion.