I came across this article in a post on the National Elect Romney Blog. Jeff Fuller (who has helped alot with my work here) blogged on this recent article by James L. Evans, a pastor from Alabama.
James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Alabama. He wrote what I would deam a very intriguing article on the Role of Religion in Romney's campaign. The paragraph that piqued my interest the most was:
A survey taken during Hatch's 2000 campaign found that 17 percent of Americans would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate under any circumstances. And a recent Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll shows a full 37 percent of Americans saying they would not vote for Mormon candidates.
However, the intervening years has seen a shift in the meaning of religion. These days, piety has taken on a distinctly ideological cast. Folks of differing faiths make common cause on a range of social concerns. A new orthodoxy has emerged around issues such as abortion, gay marriage, public display of the Ten Commandments, and so on.
While I doubt that Pastor Evans is ready to put the stamp of Orthodoxy on the LDS church, no doubt he makes a good point about a New Orthodoxy. The issue of Orthodoxy is key to those who vehemently resist voting for Mormons. This generally revolves around questions fo the Trinity, the Nature of God, and scriptural interpretation.
Yet a New Orthodoxy on social issues has begun. I would argue that a codified orthodoxy emeges as a result of commonly percieved threat. Most of main stream Christianity defines itself by the Nicene Creed
. Which was a solution (at least to those who accepted it) to the percieved threat of those with differing ideas of Christ and his teachings at the time of the council of Nicaea.
So what is this new orthodoxy responding too? Well to me it's obvious. I think if Abraham Lincoln was to be asked about what the big social issues faicing our nation 150 years later would be, I doubt he would respond "Gays marrying, destruction of living babies in the womb, using live embryo's to further scientific research, removing God from public discourse,etc." But today these are the threats that our society faces.
I would argue when our society begins to accept these elements our Democracy is weakened to the point of being incapable of defending those ideals which once were so strong. Like the Spartans of ancient Greece who up until the current Political Correct movement could trace their rise and fall to homosexuality, our nation will become a moral Eunich.
This new orthodoxy is no doubt growing. While much of it's existance is owed to previous and current leaders like Ralph Reed and James Dobson, the field is white and ready to harvest. In a meeting with Karl Rove, Dallin H. Oaks -a presiding officer in the LDS a church and one time member of the Utah State Supreme Court- admonished
Rove not to forget the Mormons- that LDS people are strong allies. Pres. Bush relaizing the political expediency in this and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
to LDS church president Gordon B. Hinckley a short time later.
Indeed Mormons are inherently part of this new orthodoxy. The foundation of the LDS faith is strong families. But the same is said for many other religions such as Catholocism who are found feasting at the table alongside Evangelical, conservative/orthodox jews and many others.
No doubt this movement seeks to grow. Orthodoxy inherently moves to multiply and convert. This new Orthodoxy needs an articulate leader who can recognize this fight and combine political savy, intellect, and moral courage at the highest levels of Goverment. In order to multiply and convert the messenger needs to be equal to the message.
Most conservatives look at the Regan years as a golden age in conservatism. This was because an honest decent person was elected who could use the bully pulpit to convert the nation to the cause of God. While I would say our current Pesident has indeed done much to advance this same cause, his use of the bully pulpit has been relatively weak, gaining few converts. Today I believe we have such a person, Mitt Romney. Those who meet him ironically liken him to the Great Communicator and cautiously to Bill Clinton's ability ot persuade.
Where is this this New Orthodoxy headed? Well it depends on how those involved react to the man most likely to take them were they want. McCain has no intentions of helping the Religous Right, and Guiliani? Well diddo times five. While Romney has strong economic and health care credentials, working with critics, and a powerful ability to lead admidst a crisis, his bigggest offering to Conservative Christians will be his ability to take the movement were it has failed to go before, into the blue.