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Small Wonders: Thoughts on politics and religion

September 14, 2012|By Patrick Caneday

Writing about my summer vacation or the random thoughts on being human that cross my mind each week doesn't always generate a lot of feedback. But open a debate on religion and politics and the flood gates open.

Last week I posed a sensitive question: With many conservative evangelical Christians having historically labeled the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a cult, how can they support a presidential candidate who is Mormon?

Many devout Christians guided, above all else, by their faith find themselves having to decide whether voting for a Mormon legitimizes an institution they have long vilified and with which their doctrine is fundamentally at odds.

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It seems a stealthy case of the tail end of a political party wagging its shaggy dog; of being willing to sacrifice core beliefs in favor of party loyalty.

I meant no disrespect to the Mormon Church with this question. I was speaking about a pejorative label placed upon it by others, not questioning Mormonism's legitimacy as a religion, its doctrine or beliefs. Gratefully, I received no emails from angry Mormons. Whew!

The response was strong, however. And thankfully — surprisingly — civil. Overall, except for the folks who want me to get back to more lighthearted topics, my question didn't ruffle as many feathers as I thought it might. Either I hit the nail on the head or newspaper delivery in Bible-belt neighborhoods was off last Saturday.

Or, like many of the comments I received, people are already exhausted by this election cycle and simply want it to be over.

“I am so tired of the political diatribes and hateful discourse,” Betty wrote. “Facebook is particularly bad right now. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about my lifelong friends' true feelings on issues.”

Though it doesn't necessarily answer my initial question, the most common sentiment I heard on the topic of faith in politics was this: We're electing a president, not a pastor.

“You've had a Catholic president that cheated on his wife, a Christian one that is for late-term abortion....” Chloe offered. “Both sides are pandering to the Christian base — it's really sad.... If Clint Eastwood can work with Sean Penn and give us the excellent ‘Mystic River,' there's no reason for us mere mortals not to get along....”

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