In her June 12 Editor's Notes, Patsy Stoddard gave an endorsement for giving Mitt Romney "fair consideration" for the office of President of the United States without counting his "religious preference" against him. Ironically, she spent nine of her 17 paragraphs describing (or rather proselytizing for) the LDS church.
Stoddard did say, "Whatever our religious preferences are shouldn't come into play when we are seeking a public office." I heartily agree, but coming from one of only three states that voted for Romney in their state straw poll, I would say that Utah is hardly concerned about Romney getting a fair shake in spite of his religion. In Utah, Romney's getting more than a fair shake "because" of his religion. The problem in Utah is, Romney should not be given any greater consideration because of his religion, either.
Stoddard stated, "I think Mitt Romney did a good job on the Olympics 2002 in Utah. But pulling off the Olympics and running a country are two different things." Good point, Ms. Stoddard. Herein lies the true test of a president. Not whether they believe in God, but rather, whether they can actually run the country. George Bush swayed people to vote for him because of his religious belief. When I ask members of the LDS faith why they voted for President Bush, I hardly ever hear, "because he had such a great track record of executive leadership." Almost invariably, I hear, "because he is a man of faith."
As long as we're talking about religion and government, it might be useful to mention that I am a faithful member of the LDS Church. I attend church weekly and by every "measurable" standard, would be considered a true blue believing Mormon. As a member of the LDS church, I find it deplorable how many members don't believe in the separation of Church and State. Our LDS doctrine teaches that. Don't believe me? How about the following church-authorized quotes:
D&C 134:9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
True to the Faith, Civil Government and Law, 38
One key element of the separation of church and state is the government's responsibility to grant freedom of religion. Latter-day prophets support this principle, as stated in the eleventh article of faith: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Consistent with the separation of church and state, the Church does not endorse any political party or candidate. It does not permit the use of its buildings and facilities for political purposes. The Church does not participate in politics unless there is a moral question at issue, in which case the Church will often speak out.
The most important "Presidential test" for me is whether the person elected as president of the United States will actually perform the job of protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States as they swear to do when they are inaugurated. I do not want them tearing apart our foundational liberties and eroding the fundamental rights we have in the form of the Bill of Rights. Recently at the second Republican Debates, Romney said the following:
"I am glad [detainees] are at Guantanamo. I don't want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo."
The US Supreme Court has already declared that holding prisoners without trial is unconstitutional. They are protected by the constitutionally sanctioned Geneva Conventions. Even George Bush has said, "I'd like to close Guantanamo". But Mitt Romney intends to continue the erosion of the Constitution started by George Bush. Recently, when asked whether Guantanamo detainees should get access to lawyers, General Colin Powell stated, "So What? Let them.... America, unfortunately, has 2 million people in jail, all of whom had lawyers and access to writs of habeas corpus.... We can handle bad people in our system." Like General Powell, I trust in our American system of government and its judicial process. Apparently, Mitt Romney does not. But frightfully, he wants the biggest chair in that government.
Mitt Romney should certainly be given a fair shake whether or not he is Mormon. Unlike George Bush, he has shown great Executive Leadership. Unlike George Bush, he actually seems competent and has a positive business track record. But like George Bush, Mitt Romney believes that the ends justify the means, and that means restricting fundamental, Constitutional rights to carry on the "crusade" of an unfounded, public-deceiving war in Iraq.
Warren Jeffs, the incarcerated prophet of the FLDS, claims to believe in the Book of Mormon God and marries off 14-year-old girls. Muslim extremists claim to believe in God and fly airplanes into the World Trade Center. I agree, Ms. Stoddard: the test of presidential qualification should not be whether the person believes in God or any other such mixture of Church and State. So let the Mormons be the first to stop making it such.
By the way, Ms. Stoddard mentioned not knowing what the other candidates' religions are. Here are the top three from each major party, including the current president:Hillary Clinton is a Methodist, John Edwards is a Methodist, Rudy Giuliani is a Roman Catholic, John McCain is a Baptist, Barack Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, Mitt Romney is LDS, and George W. Bush is United Methodist (although he was raised Episcopal).
Hopefully seeing this list will not sway your vote for or against any candidate, but rather, be swayed by his or her ability to defend the Constitution of the United States.