riding the tiger, cont'd

I don't have time to compile links and quotes, but it seems that an awful lot of Republican candidates and pundits doth protest too much over the whole "Mormonism is a cult" thing.

Seriously? Where has everyone been? I was taught precisely that from the earliest time I can remember, even in my relatively sane, more or less moderate evangelical church growing up. And I know I am not alone in this.

To have strong religious convictions is to believe them at the expense of all other possibilities, by definition. It is to believe that you are right, and everyone else is wrong. If you think someone else's vastly different spiritual path is just as valid as your own: you may be spiritual, you may be open-minded, and you may be very observant of the cultural rituals of your professed faith...but you aren't particularly religious.

This is one reason why religion is not a very good rallying point for politics in a pluralistic society. Once upon a time our politicians recognized this, and tended to keep that shit to themselves.


Gino said...

in my catholic church upbringing, and 12 yrs of catholic schooling and religion classes... i was taught that the mormons were a religion, not a cult.

the difference being that a cult was small, close nit, and lacking in any influence in the world and culture around them.
the Church, my church, by definition, was a cult in the fisrt century. most religions tend to start that way, as cults.

the evangelicals often times use words (like cult) differently than the rest of us. its help them with their agenda, i guess.

its easier to just lump 10 million adherents with the same word used to describe koresh, jim jones, manson or rev moon. its keeps your people in the pews.
in short, 'cult' is shorthand for 'goats' in bible-speak.
(and yes, catholics are considered cultists, too, by certain cultish evangelical churches.)

Dave said...

For reasons I've discussed ad nauseum, I obviously think that Romney's religion is a bigger issue than the largely secular mainstream media appreciates. And I don't think that the problem is exclusively related to protestant evangelicals. So we can argue whether mormonism fits a specific definition of cult (that was exactly the term used at church) but I think we can largely agree that the general public thinks mormons are weird. And while they may not be willing to say that publically, they act on that belief when they vote. And that may largely explain why Romney's support seems to be capped at about 25%.

Brian said...

Gino--It's pronounced "idolatrous papists" :)

(I don't think that's actually a very widely held sentiment in the evangelical community...but there is a very vocal subset that seems to think that Christianity was invented in Nashville around 1955.)

Dave--Yeah, I don't really feel like I have a bead on on what the general public thinks of Mormons, relative to what they think about conservative religious types, generally. In the mountain west (even outside of Utah) they are much more common than in the rest of the country, and therefore a bit less "weird". If Romney gets nominated, I don't think it will be much of an issue. Republicans tend to fall in line, and I don't see Obama making an issue of it (though the irony of Obama and/or a proxy of his making hay of his opponent's dubious Christianity would be pretty rich.)

But I do think Romney has a problem in the primaries, especially in the south and midwest. I still think he will get the nomination for lack of a more viable opponent, but he is going to look very weak going into the general...much like John Kerry in '04 and Dole in '96.