Religion Card Is Turned Face Up
by Patrick J. Buchanan: The
End of 'Pax' Americana
Is a religious
war breaking out in the Republican Party?
Pastor Robert Jeffress of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church
of Dallas took the podium at the Values Voter Summit to introduce
and endorse Rick Perry.
said Pastor Jeffress, is a leader with "a strong commitment to biblical
values" who defunded Planned Parenthood, that "slaughterhouse for
the unborn." He contrasted Perry with an unnamed rival.
"Do we want
a candidate who is a conservative out of convenience or one who
is a conservative out of deep conviction? Do we want a candidate
who is a good, moral person or one who is a born-again follower
of the Lord Jesus Christ?"
Jeffress for this "very powerful introduction" and congratulated
him for having "hit it out of the park."
By then, however,
the pastor, having rounded the bases, was expatiating to an attentive
is not Christianity," Pastor Jeffress asserted. Rather, Mormonism
is a "cult." The Mormons "embraced another gospel, the Book of Mormon,
and that is why they have never been considered by evangelical Christians
to be part of the Christian family." In essence, Romney may be a
good man, but he is not a Christian.
Bennett appeared. "Do not give voice to bigotry," said Bennett.
"I would say to Pastor Jeffress: You stepped on and obscured the
words of Perry. ... You did Perry no good."
the podium to speak of America's "heritage of religious faith and
tolerance" and denounced those who would inject "poisonous language"
into the political debate.
hitting it out of the park," Romney began, "how about that Bill
The Perry campaign
separated itself from the pastor's comment about a cult. Yet Jeffress
had expressed that view four years ago when Romney was running.
In August, he partnered with Perry at "The Response." His introducing
of the governor had been cleared by the Perry campaign.
episode was no accident.
blast was being reported, this writer was in a green room with Pastor
Jeffress, who was not backing off an inch.
have the same right to support fellow evangelicals as women did
to support Hillary Clinton, said Jeffress. And a candidate's religion
is a valid concern, for what a person believes about God and man
and morality and immorality will influence not only how he lives
his life but the decisions he will make as president.
The view that
Mormonism is a "theological cult" is not "bigotry," said Jeffress,
but the official position of the Southern Baptist Convention, the
nation's largest Protestant denomination and, after Catholicism,
the largest denomination in the United States.
Why is Mormonism
explained, whereas Christ, God himself, is the founder of Christianity,
Joseph Smith, a 19th-century American, was the father of Mormonism.
And the Book of Mormon is not biblical revelation.
problem arises with the word cult. To most of us, it conjures up
the Rev. Jim Jones ordering up the Kool-Aid in his Jonestown encampment
or Branch Davidians burning to death in Waco.
however, is America's fourth-largest religion and among its fastest-growing
ones. In the leadership of the nation it is well-represented. If
one judges a religious faith by the precept of Christ himself –
"By their fruits shall ye know them" – it has produced more than
its share of healthy and happy children and families and good and
appear to be the very model of an American family.
politically, this is no minor matter.
rising star in the GOP firmament, has said Romney cannot be elected,
as his Mormonism would kill him in the South. Pressed Sunday on
what Pastor Jeffress had said, Cain said, "I am not going to do
an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity."
may be the reason – though he is far out in front in New Hampshire
– he has been unable to expand his Southern base.
In the candidates
poll at the Values Voter Summit, Romney ran sixth with just 4 percent,
while Ron Paul got 37 percent, Cain got 23 percent and Perry and
Michele Bachmann each got 8 percent.
With the Iowa
caucuses three months off and Romney's being the man to beat, Mitt
is likely to replace Perry as the "pinata" in the debates.
and moral issues – such as gay rights and abortion, where Romney's
views have evolved since he ran against Teddy Kennedy – seem certain
to emerge as surrogates for the religious question.
In 2007, Romney
gave an eloquent defense of his faith and the values by which he
has lived his life. Today he would prefer to keep focused on his
business acumen and how to create jobs in a private sector that
employs 85 percent of Americans, where his credentials are matched
only by Cain's.
It is a good
bet Mitt's rivals are not going to accommodate him.
J. Buchanan [send
him mail] is co-founder and editor of The
American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books,
the Right Went Wrong, and A
Republic Not An Empire. His latest book is Churchill,
Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. See his
© 2011 Creators Syndicate
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