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Do We have a Right to Know What Our Candidates Believe?

Questioning the lack of questioning relative to religious views in this presidential election race.

In our great country, the founders had the good sense to design a government where there was a clear separation of Church and State. Pioneers came here, in part fleeing religious intolerance and, in the main, at least according to our laws, the government tries to hold to religious freedom. 

As this is the case, one may wonder why I am about to wonder what some of our candidates believe relative to the tenets of their faith. Is faith a personal and private issue that has no bearings on the way an elected official should be judged?

Personally, I believe we should all make up our own minds relative to religious choice or rejection of religion. I am glad we do not have a state religion in our country. At the same time, I maintain that what a person claims to hold as their most deeply held beliefs, certainly will have an impact on the kinds of decisions they make in their lives, as well as the directions their thought processes move.

If this person becomes president or may become president of my country, I would like to know what his or her deep beliefs are. I think their beliefs have everything to do with their character, the picture they have of this world and the way, consequently, that they are likely to speak and act in the highest office in this land. 

As we have a spread of believers running for the office of president, I cannot help but wonder how some of them stand on central tenets of their faith. I am not attacking faiths here ... but I surely want to know how a potential president's mind may work. I think that its nearly a civic responsibility to try to ascertain who these candidates are, what sort of character they have and how their mindset will effect their future behaviors.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon. I am not a student of this faith, but I can easily access some of its main tenets on the Internet as can anyone with access. As I read over some of the more challenging teachings — I am amazed that no one has asked Romney if he literally believes these things to be true. Why are a person's beliefs —beliefs which the person professes, beliefs which are foundational to their world view — off limits to reporters or media sources when the person is running for president? Are we afraid to offend or to look like bigots? I have no doubt this is the case. It is politically incorrect to ask a straight forward question about a religious belief. That strikes me as sad as well as unwise. 

The would-be commander and chief of this country says he is a Mormon and in the writings I quote:

"And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come." Doctrine and Covenants, 42:18

Evidently one of the only two unforgivable sins in Mormonism is killing ... the other is denying the holy spirit. While I personally wish our presidents were not pro-war, violent, supportive of torture, and a host of related qualities, I am stunned that the leading candidate of the Republican Party believes that in his capacity as president, which has historically been a position from which a lot of killing has been ordered, he would be committing an unforgivable sin by authorizing killing. I am shocked that this relatively hawkish party supports a candidate who has that stance on killing. 

The Latter Day Saints Church also believes that angels have bodies of flesh and bones.

"There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones." Doctrine and Covenants 129:1

This is a bit out there — believing in angels is one thing, but thinking that "in Heaven," the angels have flesh and bones seems to be a true leap of faith. However, this isn't the most challenging idea presented; according to the writings, God himself has a body of flesh and bones. Quoting the writings,

"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit." Doctrine and Covenant 130: 22-23

Another interesting belief is that God has created many worlds and each has humans living on it. Innumberable worlds, in fact. Again, my personal belief is that it seems highly likely there are other intelligent beings in the universe, but I am highly suprised that Romney, believing in inumberable worlds and humans spread throughout the Cosmos, is the man whom the historically conservative in this country want to elect.

Why is he not asked for his response to these teachings?

The conservative Christians in the U.S., I would think, would be disconcerted by a man who believes a faith that holds that Jesus Christ personally visited the Americas shortly after his resurrection. 

Moreover, according to the Associated Press at least, Mormons believe that God was once mortal and only became immortal after some great trial. Mormons do not believe in the Christian notion of a Trinity ... again, something I would think mainline Christians would find objectionable. Further, Mormons evidently believe that life does not begin at conception, much less birth, but that we had a pre-existence in the spiritual realms. 

Adding one more challenge, and this one according to Fox News, Founder Joseph Smith said God told him none of the existing churches were practicing Christianity as it was intended. That may be somewhat offensive to the numerous other sects and denominations of Christianity. The Mormon Church, according to Smith, was "restored New Testament Christianity." Perhaps the fundamentalists and Tea Baggers and conservatives have really loosened up in the past decade but, as a former fundamentalist, I am sincerely surprised that these points I make, which are simple to research, do not run against their philisophic and religious grain. 

Rick Santorum, for his part, is clear on his position that religious positions should have an effect on governance. We may assume from his conservative Christian stance alone that he wont be voting for Romney!

"I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," Santorum said during an interview on ABC’s This Week. He criticized Kennedy for assuring a group of Baptist ministers that he could put the priorities of the country above those of his religion, saying the speech made "me want to throw up."

Santorum's statements are a direct challenge to anyone who is looking for representation from their elected official. If Santorum becomes president, we know his religious beliefs will take precedence in his decision making and policies. Do we know, then, what those beliefs are?

For instance, in what depth has Santorum's support of the Legion of Christ? And what is his opinion of founder Father Marcial Maciel, its leader, who has been accused in a sexual abuse scandal? Santorum has been a keynote speaker at Legion of Christ events. 

His affiliation with Opus Dei might well be examined. 

The fact that Evangelicals support Santorum to a greater extent than Catholics, given that Santorum is a Catholic, again, causes me to wonder what views he holds that are challenging to people who call themselves members of the same branch of the Christian faith.

President Barrack Obama's beliefs have been questioned. He is not a Muslim as many have held. If he were, it would be good to know from him how his Muslim beliefs influence his world view and agendas. His Christian stance has been questioned. His relationship with a former pastor has been explored. Nothing striking seems to indicate that Obama's actions are guided by some peculiar beliefs or affiliations. But, of course, we have the benefit of several years of observing that behavior — in hindsight — in his case.

I am not trying to state an opinion here, pro or con, for either one of these candidates. I am not a Republican, but I do not necessarily vote for Democrats either. I like to call myself independent. But my personal views are not the point of this blog.

I would like to know what you think about the challenging views held by these candidates or potentially held by them. Do you think we should know what a candidate believes in terms of religious faith? Do you think a candidates religious views probably effect his or her judgement on critical issues that concern the world?Are you comfortable with the level of reportage relative to these issues?

Let me hear from you.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Neil A Rubble March 29, 2012 at 01:42 PM
@Lyle....and you've gotten pretty obstinate.
Neil A Rubble March 29, 2012 at 01:44 PM
@Schmidt. No and No.
Brian Carlson March 29, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Suggestion: if we want to challenge each other at recess, try real intelligent taunts like, " you are a big stinker, " and "your mother wears army boots." Ah... Retraction...can't use the last one anymore. She may wear army boots.
Lyle Ruble March 29, 2012 at 02:57 PM
@Tom Kamenick...State sponsored religions have a long and sordid history. Because of that history and the possibility of religious persecution, the founding fathers had the wisdom to separate church and state. The vast majority of the founders were governed by the principles and philosophies of the "Age of Enlightenment and Age of Reason". Religious beliefs, dogmas and doctrines do not easily lend themselves to the functioning of a state intended to remain in the secular sphere. Although most secular beliefs and principles are closely allied with commonly held religious beliefs and principles, religion is a poor guide in a heterogeneous society. It is often said that one man's religion is another man's poison. Therefore, your example of state religion is not a good or valid example.
Brian Carlson March 30, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Thanks folks.... On the balance, an interesting conversation. Let me hear from you on the next post if you're interested. Should be published today.

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