Hugh Hewitt and Mitt Romney
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HUGH HEWITT REDEFINES MORMONISM
By Kurt Van Gorden*
Hugh Hewitt, a political pundit radio personality, wants the Mormon presidential election runner Mitt Romney in the Whitehouse--very badly. He casts his pre-election vote in writing A Mormon in the Whitehouse?: 10 Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney (Regnery, 2007). In defense of Romney, Hewitt also defends Mormonism better than some Latter-day Saints (LDS). This is strange for a Presbyterian, as what Hewitt claims for himself. It is possible and logically consistent that Hewitt could defend Romney as a republican without defending Mormonism, but he chooses otherwise. The reason that I find this strange is that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed that God appeared to him and told him that Hugh's church, Presbyterianism, is not true. God's official statement on Presbyterians is found in Mormon scripture. To remain faithful to the prophet Joseph Smith, Romney cannot believe other that what Joseph Smith wrote in his scripture, "I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith--History 1:20).
Is Hewitt slipping in his faith? Or is he just plain ignorant that real Mormonism condemns his faith by name? This anti-Presbyterian sentiment (hence, anti-Hewitt's chosen faith) is recorded where Joseph Smith had a vision of God the Father (as a male being) and Jesus Christ in the spring of 1820. Smith asked God which Protestant denomination was true--the Methodists, Presbyterians, or Baptists. Smith's vision, as found in LDS scripture, states that these three denominations alone were in Palmyra, New York (1:9). Smith then queried, "Who of all these parties is right; or, are they all wrong together?" (1:10). Clearly Joseph Smith wanted to know if Presbyterianism (Hugh Hewitt's faith) was "right" or "wrong." He was answered by a personal appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ in New York, where Jesus directly told him, "join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof'" (1:19).
Hewitt is in big trouble with Jesus then! To be most like his friend Mitt Romney, he needs to repent of his "wrong" Presbyterianism (since Jesus said so!) and repent of his creeds (beliefs) that are so abominable to Jesus, and repent of his corrupt faith. Of the three denominations, Smith singled out the Presbyterians as specifically "not true." Hewitt needs to get right with the Jesus found in Mormon scripture. Mormon scripture is clearly "anti-Presbyterian." Yet in the strangest twist of Hewitt's logic, he labels anyone an "anti-Mormon" in his book who has the same opinion of Mormonism as what Joseph Smith did of Presbyterians, but nowhere in his book did he call Smith (or Romney) an anti-Presbyterian.
Here is an example of how Hewitt defended Mormonism from his May 4, 2007 radio program:
Caller Greg: "The question I have is, I know very little about Mormonism, and my question falls into the cult or denomination thing. I think, was it Pastore, a columnist with Townhall, wrote an article a couple of weeks ago? It's about the sum total of what I know about it."
Hewitt: "I would encourage you to read my book, which of course is not a surprise to you, it's available at Amazon dot com. I reject the cult title. I believe cult has about it an element of coercion, which is simply not applicable to the Mormons and it is a sect."
Caller Greg: "Do you think"... [Greg was obviously drowned out and cut off the air by Hewitt.]
Hewitt: "I just don't believe that you should call. Cult carries with it this wheezing of an organ in the background and the idea of chains in the basement and the Branch Davidian and James Jones and I think it is inappropriate for conversation. And when I see Frank next, I'm going to argue that point with him. Cause, I just don't think... if... if... and I do know where it comes from... Walter Martin wrote the Kingdom of the Cults, but Walter Martin blames that Hinduism is a cult, that Islam is a cult, I don't think that he calls the Catholic Church a cult, but his definition is expansive. In the modern vernacular it means sinister and the Mormons aren't just simply not sinister. Hey, Greg, thanks."
There are problems with Hewitt's definition of cult. Hewitt does not distinguish between the scholarly definitions of cult from different fields of study, namely psychological, sociological, and theological. He first defined cult psychologically, which under certain circumstances is correct. Some cults use coercion on their members. He failed to tell his audience that this is the psychological definition and that there are other equally legitimate definitions in other fields of study. To separate Mormonism from his "coercion cult" definition, he then tries to separate Mormonism from coercion. Had Hugh watched the PBS special, The Mormons, that aired just three days earlier (April 30 and May 1), he would have seen how Mormonism uses coercion and psychological pressure on its members. I would suggest that he view The Mormons online and pay special attention to the section on the excommunication of the Mormon intellectuals, many of whom were Brigham Young University educated, but when they intellectually differed with their church, then they were humiliated through excommunication. Also pay attention to the section about the pressure within Mormonism for perfection that gives LDS women a higher than national average of suicide and anti-depressant drug usage.
I don't know how Hewitt missed these things, but a scant Internet research would have shown him a much different story:
Julie Cart, "Study Finds Utah Leads Nation in Antidepressant Use," Los Angeles Times, 20 February 2002, A6.
Hilton, Sterling C, et al. 2002. "Suicide Rates and Religious Commitment in Young Adult Males in Utah," American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 155, No. 5: 413-19.
Even a pro-Mormon BYU study
admits that Mormon women use more anti-depressants and commit suicide more than the national average.
Contrary to what Hewitt said, coersion, in fact, applies to Mormonism at several levels, therefore it indeed fits within his first description of a cult.
Hewitt's next foible was to create a self-styled definition that is not found anywhere, "Cult carries with it this wheezing of an organ in the background and the idea of chains in the basement and the Branch Davidian and James Jones and I think it is inappropriate for conversation." From where did he get this? This is not what most people think when they hear the word cult. Hugh most likely means "Jim Jones," with apologies to all of the "James Jones" existing elsewhere. There is no question that the Branch Davidians and Jim Jones (the People's Temple) were cults, but what made them so? Did they have organs or chains in basements? Neither one did, but perhaps Hugh was thinking of the famous organ at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
It appears that what Hewitt was attempting was, again, a psychological or sociological definition of cult. I would suggest more sound and scholarly definitions of a cult from qualified writers who list Mormonism as a cult like sociologist Ronald Enroth, Ph.D. (Evangelizing the Cults, 1990), theologians Alan Gomes, Ph.D. (Unmasking the Cults, 1998); Drs. Nichols, Mather, and Schmidt (Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cults, Sects, and World Religions, 2007); and a host of others, including some from Hewitt's reformed Protestant background, like Dr. Jan K. Van Baalan (Chaos of the Cults, 1938; Gist of the Cults, 1944), Dr. Anthony Hoekema (Four Major Cults, 1963; Mormonism, 1973), Dr. Ravi Zacharias (Kingdom of the Cults, general editor, 2006), and Josh McDowell and Don Stewart (The Deceivers, 1992).
Hewitt stated, "I do know where it comes from." This I doubt, after hearing his answer. The term cult was first used of Mormonism in 1898. Again, Hewitt continued, "Walter Martin wrote the Kingdom of the Cults, but Walter Martin blames that Hinduism is a cult, that Islam is a cult, I don't think that he calls the Catholic Church a cult, but his definition is expansive." Since I began working with Walter Martin in 1976 and I have continuously been on the staff of researchers and editors for his works since then, I think that I am better positioned than Hewitt to say what Walter Martin taught.
Hewitt is absolutely wrong. Martin did not state that Hinduism and Islam are cults. Hugh owes Christians an apology for his careless denigration of Martin and his works. Beginning in 1985, Martin included several chapters on world religions in his best-selling Kingdom of the Cults, but he always made clear distinctions between cults and world religions. What Hewitt claims to "know" is a fabrication.
Hewitt's final statement, "In the modern vernacular it means sinister and the Mormons aren't just simply not sinister." This has a twofold problem. It does not define the word "cults," but perhaps it describes what some cults do. I challenge Hewitt to find any scholarly work that uses sinister and cult interchangeably as mutually definitional terms. A good theological definition of a cult is "a group of people basing their beliefs upon the worldview of an isolated leadership, which always denies the central doctrines of the Christianity as found in the Bible" (McDowell, The Deceivers, 15). Mormonism, as what McDowell includes in his book, fits that description with Smith isolating himself from "apostate" Christianity and creating a worldview in opposition to biblical Christianity that contains gods, goddesses, populated worlds, spirit children, and the progression of mankind toward godhood as all other gods before them.
The second part of Hewitt's statement, that Mormons are not sinister, is debatable. Mormons are quite often sinister, in spite of what Hewitt claims. We could talk about such sinister things as the Mountain Meadows massacre, or the numerous scandals through the ages, which is why the Wall Street Journal once stated that Utah is the securities fraud capital of the United States (WSJ, 2/25/1974 and Utah Holiday Magazine, October, 1990), but that aside, I think that Hewitt overlooks the obvious here since he admits that the Mormon Olympic scandal, which was an international embarrassment to the Mormon Church, was straightened out by none other than his wonderful friend, Mitt Romney. How can he say on one hand that Mormons are not sinister and on the other hand state that Mormons were caught in a bribery scandal with the International Olympic Committee that Mitt Romney had to straighten out? Queer, isn't it? The Mormons even fit Hewitt's last definition of a cult with their sinister actions, which is why Romney had to rescue their reputation.
*Kurt Van Gorden is the director of Jude 3 Missions and the Utah Gospel Mission (established in 1898 as the oldest mission to evangelize the Mormon people). He has researched, edited, and contributed to 13 books on Christian apologetics and he wrote Mormonism (Zondervan, 1995) as part of the Zondervan series on cults.
For a transcript of Hewitt interviewing Kenneth Woodward of the New York Times, click HERE. Hewitt is defending Mormonism, and painting Woodward as a bigot. It seems that Hewitt is bending over backwards to get Romney in the White House, and as such, he is more concerned about politics than he is with "contend[ing] earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
R. M. Sivulka
Courageous Christians United
Eric Johnson's review of Hewitt's A Mormon in the White House? 10 Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney
Great article, Rob. My concern is that they have captured the phrase "religious bigot" to throw around the way they throw around "anti Mormon" to disgrace people into silence. Mitt jumps on that word with any opposition to Mormonism and so does Hugh. It implies that people could have no LEGITIMATE concerns about Mormonism, Mitt, or having Mitt in the White House.
I've heard Hugh cut people off on his show who have been sincerely trying to describe life in Utah. He says, "I categorically reject that statement. I've been to Salt Lake and the Mormons were wonderful to me!" What an idiotic statement... he's a media personality, a VIP, what does he expect?! " He's hell-bent on Mitt, and I hope he pays dearly for it, but he's circulated through all the Salem talk show hosts peddling his book.
I heard Ann Coulter on Hannity and Colmes touting Mitt, and she said, "Sure, he's pandering, but he's pandering to US! We'll take it!" NOW... we do have a double standard, don't we? Most of the conservatives I listen to balk at being called bigots if they make a legitimate statement about immigration, but have no problem throwing around "religious bigot" now that Mitt has them trained. Most of the conservatives I know have a problem with flopping on issues, obvious pandering (ala Hillary's fake acccent), and double standards... but they'll bend for Mitt. It's sick. It's like a virus. It's like group hypnosis....hmmmm.... I wonder if he's taken 'em all through the TEMPLE on a little TOUR??? Hmmmmm..... I wonder if that little "breakfast with evangelicals" involved some subliminal messaging??? Were LDS hymns being piped into the room as they dined? Did they get a special video feed from Gordon B? ...oh no no ... wait... I GOT IT!.... WHAT THE HECK WAS IN THE HOME-STYLE POTATOES???? Yep, the evangelicals are drinking the Kool-aid.
Hewitt: His basis of law is leading to imprisonment for those who Witness to LDS and Muslims--
Hewitt's basis of law is Pragmatism--not the original Anglo-American Jurisprudence based on The Holy Scriptures... Blackstone...
Pragmatism destroys Blackstone's Commentaries... Republicans and Democrats jettison the basis of our laws for mere Positive Law unshackled by The 10 Commandments--The Law Written on the Heart.
Ockham's Razor--reducing the complex to the simple--forgive me... I'm trying my best to keep this simple--as it means for all of us who stand our ground we will soon meet nasty challenges...
Is it ever just plain old simple anymore? Yup - if you're fatigued from learning History of the Church and our U.S. experience... My eyes are sagging from reading Hugo Grotius' Christian Basis of International Law: The law of War and Peace... Great stuff for today as we watch all we have worked for taken away by Hugh Hewitt and his cronies whose understanding of modern law, their Basis of Jurisprudence is destroying our Liberty--our ability to Witness to LDS and Muslims.
Hate Speech and our ability to witness to LDS and Muslims soon to end: Please follow the history and logic of how our jurists dumped Anglo-American Common Law based on the Bible: Blackstone as documented in DeTocqueville's Democracy in America--proving that the Calvinism of New England was the basis of ALL American Civil Law for the first 48 states... This ended just before WWII... but vestiges of it was used by the Liberal Jurist Robert H. Jackson to conduct the Nuremberg Trial... Since then Law Schools have jettisoned law based on The 2 Great Commandments: Hugo Grotius based International Law on this... and Jackson desperate to drag the English, French and Russians into the Nuremberg Trial reached into the hat of history and pulled this old rabbit out--for the last time... No Jurist today would be taken serious if he tried to use Grotius Golden Rule for the basis of any trial--parting with liberty is such sweet sorrow.
Hugh Hewitt teaches Con Law--it used to be Constitutional Law... at Chapman U in Orange, Ca...
I stopped listening to Hugh long ago as he is enamored with modern Jurisprudence based on Pragmatism as espoused by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Pragmatism is based on Evolution--the big 3, Peirce, James and Dewey... wrote something like this: If [naturalistic] evolution is real... God is not. If God is not real... Neither is the 10 Commandments or the Golden Rule. Oliver Wendell Holmes picked this up and used it for the basis of his interpretation of law... Since there is no God, and His law is a myth--then all we are left with is Pragmatism for the basis of Law: Whatever works... and whatever works is merely a 5-4 decision by some Supreme Court somewhere.
And since this is the case--then any Supreme Court majority who rules that witnessing to LDS or Muslims--DVD Distribution--is an act of Hate Speech.
And there you have it... What seems to be separate from the Church--actually is focused at the church: Hate Speech silences the church from doing Her job.
And should be ignored--even if it costs us our Lives, Fortunes and Reputations.
Townhall.com: Me, A Bigot? by Mike Gallagher
PleaseConvinceMe.com: The Possibility of A Mormon in the White House?: Why Reasoning Christians May Have a Problem Voting for a Mormon
INVENTING A MORMON PRESIDENT
A response to Hugh Hewitt's A Mormon in the White House?
By Dr. Bryce A. Pettit
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I am a fan of radio personality Hugh Hewitt, the author of A Mormon in the White House? I am in full agreement with him that faith is under attack by American secularists, and in politics there are many who would exclude believers from elected office. I know because I have friends who are skeptics and they believe that "magical thinking," the buzzword for religious faith, impairs an individual's judgment to the point that they cannot be trusted with public office.
This is especially problematic for the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon who is a self-made millionaire and a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Romney's faith is being scrutinized by the political left and political right and polls are consistently showing him facing the problem of a notable percentage of the American voting public being unwilling to vote for a Mormon for President. His run for the presidency brings up many interesting topics for Americans, but I wish to focus on the one that Hewitt addresses in his book relating to Evangelical Christians.
As an Evangelical and a member of what is known as the counter-cult movement, I have over thirty years of experience in studying, evangelizing and writing about cults and new religions. This was also the subject of my Doctor of Ministry dissertation at Fuller Theological Seminary. Evangelicals have consistently tagged the LDS church as a cult since 1898 and we view it as dangerous on many levels. This moniker reflects wide chasm between the theologies of the LDS church and traditional Christian orthodoxy. Hewitt realizes this and he makes it clear that LDS theology is heretical according the historic creeds and confessions of Christianity.
Romney's campaign reiterates that we vote for a president based on the candidate's values, not his private beliefs. He repeats this mantra in almost every speech and interview, "It's a matter of values, not theology." This has stirred a healthy debate but even the CNN news analyst Glenn Beck, who is a recent convert to Mormonism, acknowledges that a politician's religious beliefs are not shielded from scrutiny if those beliefs would undermine civil liberties, for example.
This means Hewitt's "no litmus test" argument is not absolute. Romney's history with the Boston consulting firm of Bain & Company includes a strong belief in a process of problem-solving involving "data, analysis and debate" (p. 56). I would think Romney would welcome an opportunity to represent his faith and dispel old rumors and misconceptions directed at the LDS church. His toughness in the Olympic debacle and his success in the highly competitive business world would lead one to assume his competency here. Hewitt's attempts to make LDS teachings off limits to scrutiny will only increase people's curiosity.
Hewitt portrays this as distasteful and that it plays into the hands of anti-religious skeptics. This tactical maneuver has a slim chance of success and he should have instead applied Bain's method to Romney by opening a forum to tackle a difficult and delicate subject with tact and diplomacy and set a standard for future interviewers. As it is, it looks as if Romney and the LDS church have something to hide. Questions will continue and the more he evades them the more suspicious people will become of him.
Hewitt's strategy is a disappointing one on this score. His book bullies the left with the constitution and he tries to shame them for being so critical of a deeply religious and patriotic man like Romney, and more surprisingly, he attacks Christians on the right for being "bigots." This highly-charged insult appears near the front of the book on pages 42-43 and reappears in other contexts. This left me cold because it is a tactic used more by the left than the right. Call people names if you disagree with them, avoid substantive arguments, and keep them on the defensive.
This, by the way, is exactly what the LDS do when they label any critic of their church or its theology "anti-Mormon." Hewitt surprisingly accepts this tactic without question, as he gives a watered-down version of Mormonism spoon-fed to him by high-profile LDS members. This lack of a critical interaction with the LDS and their Madison Avenue persona tells me that Hewitt knows little or nothing about the depth of LDS theology. He is therefore not in a position to tell those of us who have studied it for decades about any possible problems with a Romney presidency. Conservatives who know Romney personally, such as Hewitt, Beck, Sean Hannity, etc., are impressed with his personal devotion to his church, his sense of honor, his family values, etc. They are leading the charge of protecting Romney from religious questions and attacks. I don't believe they will succeed, so why not clear the air and invite debate and discussion? How can conservatism lose in this debate?
My reading of Hewitt's book disturbs me the most when he attacks Evangelical critics of the LDS church. He uses the term "Evangelical" almost interchangeably with "fundamentalist" (see pp. 233-34, 245, 249 and 257-58) and I have a hard time believing this is an accident. Anyone who is labeled a "fundamentalist" faces an enormous array of prejudices and Hewitt knows this. He at least prints a criticism of this slander by Southern Baptist Al Mohler (p. 254), but this comes at the end of the book and by this time the label has had time to become imprinted in the minds of his readers. He interviewed "hundreds" of "objectors" (p. 220) for his book, but does not indicate that any of them are Evangelicals who specialize in the LDS. This informal survey can hardly be a fair substitute for serious research.
Hewitt therefore carries water for the LDS church by parroting their standard arguments which serve to obscure their inner teachings. LDS apologists consistently argue that critics don't "understand" the LDS church (p. 246). Critics are viewed as prejudiced dunces who don't really "know" the Mormon people or their faith. The LDS church has had over 175 years to explain itself, however, and if anything, critics understand them all too well and this adds to my concerns about a Romney presidency. Of great concern is the Mormon Oath of Consecration, an oath of absolute loyalty to the President and Prophet of the Mormon church that Romney took in a sacred LDS temple ceremony. Romney clearly says in the book and in interviews that the oath of public office is the highest oath and first responsibility of the President (p. 222). What he leaves unanswered is what happened to his other "highest oath and first responsibility?" If he is disloyal to that oath, then how can he be trusted with another oath?
An equally disturbing problem is presented by Damon Linker in New Republic, "Mormonism opens the door to prophetically inspired acts and innovations, the content of which cannot be predetermined in any way" ("The Big Test," 236 [Jan. 1, 2007]: 2). This unknown factor needs to be addressed. Romney's avoidance of these issues makes unknown what will happen should he be elected.
This brings us to a point where religion and politics needs to be addressed, and I must digress from my response to the book to clarify something. Romney touts his all-American values and tries to divert questions about his beliefs in favor of considering his patriotic, "mom and apple pie" faith. Conservatives focus on this and ask how anyone could oppose or even question a man who has lived the American dream and become such a successful self-made man of high moral and spiritual values. Most people don't know why Mormons so easily fit this mold. It is hinted at in Hewitt's book on the persecution issue when he says that the early oppression of the LDS church makes them feel that they have a divinely inspired faith (p. 210). It is much more than this. LDS theology teaches that all of Christianity apostasized from the teachings of Jesus immediately after the death of John, the last apostle. What Joseph Smith brought to the world was the "restored gospel" as Jesus originally taught it. This theology is characterized in traditional Christian theology as autosotericism, or self-salvation. Each human being has the opportunity not merely for self-improvement, but the chance to earn exaltation to godhood by their own efforts.
For secular America, Mormonism is an example of the civil credo, "God helps those who help themselves." They are patriotic, clean-cut, helpful, loyal, faithful, etc. They work for personal perfection and ultimately the crown of gods and they believe that Mormons will rule the earth from a future America-centered Mormon theocracy, thus the name "Latter-day" saints. Much has been written on the future Mormon America. What will a Mormon president do to help this theocracy become a reality? In the lack of Romney's openness, that question should concern everyone.
Hewitt's ad hominem attack on Evangelicals comes out most forcefully in Chapter Ten, "Mitt Romney's Got a Mormon Problem (and So Does a Lot of America)." He states that he was astounded that the LDS church is the focus of so much "hostility" compared to other faiths. Hewitt is acting as a surrogate apologist for the LDS church by using their tactics against his fellow Evangelicals. His fallacy of guilt by association is manifested by not distinguishing between amateur critiques of Mormonism and responsible scholarship. Hewitt's approach suppresses critical interaction with serious authors, many of whom have spent decades studying Mormon history and theology. He mentioned that his fans sent him a few books, but not whether he bothered to read them. Hewitt is quite discerning when it comes to the real motives of political liberals, but shows no signs of detecting any problems with people that he himself recognizes are teaching heresy. Where in the history of the church have heretics been found to be trustworthy?
Consider the following illustration. He allows the LDS Apostle Neal Maxwell to use ad hominem attacks on the motives of "anti-Mormons" without challenge or qualification (p. 217). Now compare this to Hewitt's attack on Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults, the only interaction Hewitt has with Evangelical "anti-Mormon" literature. Hewitt is incensed that the term "cult" is even applied to the LDS. He deems it a slur of the worst sort after Jonestown, the Branch Davidians, etc. He forgets that Martin wrote the book in the 1950s when the term "cult" was widely used and had no negative connotations in religious or historical scholarship. This is a cheap shot at the title and completely ignores the material in the book that reviews the history of the term. The term was, in fact, used by some of the most theologically liberal Christians of the early twentieth century in their discussions of such groups. Hewitt cites the revised 2003 edition of Martin's book, and I refer the reader to page 17 and the other references to the term "cult" mentioned in the index.
None of this compares to the hopelessly naive statement on page 218, "But this vision of 'cult' is difficult to square with the sunny Mormons (my emphasis) one encounters at Boy Scout jamborees, on city councils across the land, or in the professions or businesses." Being a sunny Mormon is now an antiseptic, I guess, against deception. Hewitt piles on from there. He states on page 230 that Evangelical leaders should be encouraged to tell their constituencies that not to vote for Romney is both un-American, and un-Christian. Hewitt cannot argue that personal religious faith should be insulated from any scrutiny by the press if he is willing to criticize the private religious attitudes of fellow Christians.
Why Hewitt thinks he can command the conscience of any Christian about their vote is incredibly judgmental and panders to his LDS friends. I would also note that the LDS are not so "sunny" when they have power. They keep trying to limit the civil liberties of political and religious dissenters in Utah, recently introducing HB 131, a bill in the Utah legislature to ban free speech on public sidewalks! It's been defeated, but will be reintroduced in the future. There are also questions about the desire of the LDS to make America into a theocracy, a belief that goes all the way back to Joseph Smith himself. I believe these are relevant subjects to explore with Romney, but I don't think he will go near them. He much prefers to hide behind his LDS "values," but many people wonder about the theology that informs those "values." (For more on the LDS and the civil liberties issues, go to Kurt van Gorden's website or see the news item in Christianity Today, January 1, 2003, "Temple Square Face-off." The ACLU is involved in these cases, and can give more legal background. See their website at http://www.acluutah.org.)
Further evidence of his shallow research of Martin's book can be seen in his discussion of the inclusion of world's religions in The Kingdom of the Cults (pp. 218-219). They are included as background for the many cults having their origins in Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. If Hewitt had merely read the opening paragraph of any chapter on a world religion (e.g., p. 299 on eastern religions) he would have discovered a disclaimer as to why world religions are included, but that would undermine his biased attack and his attempt to smear all "anti-Mormon" literature with a broad brush. I have found his superficial treatment of Martin's book extremely disappointing. He continues to hammer it on his radio show and incorrectly claims that Martin calls the major world religions cults, thus unfairly prejudicing his audience against it.
Many Evangelicals have spent an enormous amount of time studying and evangelizing the LDS, and some live in Utah. Others, such Jerald and Sandra Tanner (Jerald passed away last year), were raised as Mormons and left the church precisely because of what their research unearthed (see their Utah Lighthouse Ministry website: www.utlm.org). LDS historians have been censored and even excommunicated for nothing more than trying to tell the truth about their own church and its history. This sorry tale is recounted in the book that Hewitt himself cites as authoritative on the LDS, Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling's Mormon America (chapter 15, "Faithful History"). The LDS church is infamous for silencing dissent and covering up facts. But Hewitt believes the LDS are being honest with him and it never crosses his mind that he is being deceived and used by them.
Romney attempts to influence Evangelicals with verbiage that is familiar to our ears, but all of us who labor in this area recognize this as a smoke screen. Romney states on page 208 that "We're not about to be taken into Heaven for our righteousness." That is exactly opposite of what the LDS teach! Hewitt himself quotes the LDS scholar B.H. Roberts on pages 219-220, "Salvation is resurrection, but exaltation to godhood, for eternal life in the celestial heaven, must be earned through self-meriting works (my emphasis)." I also note that Romney does this with any group he addresses. I have been keeping up with his speeches and interviews, and I believe he says whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. I believe he is an untrustworthy panderer who will say anything to get elected (consider his flip on abortion from Massachusetts to now). Hewitt argues that it would be dishonorable not to vote for Romney based on Romney's LDS beliefs (p. 235). I argue that it's not a matter of mere theological differences, but a question of honesty and trust.
This gets us to the reason that I wrote this analysis. The LDS cry persecution, but it is often self-provoked. Their scriptures, for example, hold Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians in the worst possible light where these groups are named as apostate, abominable, corrupt, and far from God (cf., The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith--History 1:19-20.). The Book of Mormon maligns Catholicism as the "church of the devil" in 1 Nephi 13:5-8, which LDS apostle Bruce McConkie stated is the Roman Catholic church in Mormon Doctrine (1958, 129). The LDS have often mocked and ridiculed the Baptists and other Christians for rejecting their "restored Gospel" and have sowed seeds of animosity that are now bearing fruit.
Hewitt could respond that my article is irrelevant to Article VI of the Constitution, but as one who has spent many years studying and laboring in this area, I believe there is enough doubt about Romney to justify closer inspection. Romney and the LDS church needs to honestly face their past condemnation of Evangelical and other churches.
Political and cultural columnist Leonard Pitts made the following comment after yet another disappointing revelation of a politician's duplicity, "We are courted by blow-dried, focus-grouped, stage-managed, photo-opped, sloganeering, false-smiling, hand-clasping, back-slapping would-be leaders who say they feel our pain and understand our concerns and maybe sometimes they do, but all too often, it seems apparent that they feel little and understand less" ("Candidate's $400 Haircuts Flout 'Common Man' Fable," The Gazette, April 29, 2007, Metro, 7). Adam Reilly noted in an infamous Slate magazine article last year that Romney's "own shtick makes it hard to take him seriously" ("Take My Wives... Please!" [April 26, 2006]). Romney's recent gaffe with the Cuban-American community in Miami and his pandering to Evangelicals at Pat Robertson's Regent University serves to confirm this suspicion and I believe that in the coming months we will see a shedding of the wool as Romney's "Christian" facade crumbles and the fur of the political opportunist is revealed.
Can Fox News Blame Anti-Mormon Bigotry on YouTube, Liberals?
I just saw your picture of Hugh Hewitt with a Romney button on. Is this photoshopped? The reason I ask is that I am frequent listener to Hugh's program and he has no endorsed Romney. So, if this photo is altered it is misleading. If, of course, it is a real Romney button, then I apologize for bothering you.
[I responded:] Here's where I got it. Ya, I listen to Hewitt too, though not frequently. Even though he states he doesn't endorse him, I think it's pretty clear to most people where his affections are. So the pic is satire.
I just checked your page out and saw the question about Hugh Hewitt "not endorsing" Mitt Romney."
You should know that Hugh gave a speech for Romney in Orange County, California on the evening of August 13. I don't know what he said that night, but based on his radio show and his book, it's apparent that Hugh is biased for Romney and doing what he can to help Romney win.
For example, in the past two days of covering Sen Craig, Hugh never mentioned that the Senator was in Romney's camp, and has been quietly booted out.
...BTW, here's an excellent article I found by a former Mormon for you to copy and link on your Hewitt page.
I'm really getting tired of hearing from Hewitt and others how if one votes against Romney simply because he's LDS, then that person is a "bigot." Similarly, I'm also tired of hearing, "We are not electing a pastor-in-chief, but a commander-in-chief."
First, suppose there is another candidate H who holds roughly identical moral and political values with R. Both are roughly identical in terms of experience and integrity, but H differs from R in that the former holds to the majority's theological values. Under such a scenario, it does not seem that one is a bigot if he or she votes for H on the basis of shared theological values.
Second, suppose there's a dear sweet grandma who doesn't follow politics much. She could never hold her own politically with the likes of Hewitt. Yet she loves the Lord, and wants someone in office who will not only be an individual of integrity (not necessarily a pastor, although that would be nice), but someone who will trust her Lord to lead this nation. She holds this on the basis of good reasons, not on the basis of mere preference. This is a value she does not share with Mormons, since she knows that Mormons follow an idolatrous, blasphemous, and imaginary god. For her, this value is fundamental for all other values. Thus, she refuses to vote for Romney. There is no hatred on her part toward Romney or others who are not of her faith. She would rather have someone in office, who is not simply a "person of faith," but a "person of the Christian faith."
Does that entail that she's a bigot? For someone to claim that it does, then it seems just as fair to call that individual a bigot against God-fearing folk who want their leaders to follow and trust the same God they do. Hewitt, et.al need to be more careful when throwing the "bigot" card out. If it merely means an "intolerant individual," then obviously what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as it were, and Hewitt, et.al are bigots themselves.
But who wants to be known as a "bigot" anyway? The real problem here is that this term is smuggling in modern notions of "intolerance." As such, the terms mean wrongly being against something when everything should be accepted (except of course those who are against something the other group does not like). This is strictly applied to religious beliefs, which are automatically ruled out from political discussion. What matters here is if all the other values are the same. Thus, in the political realm, all religious views are equally acceptable. Of course on the other hand, traditional notions of "intolerance" are acceptable when these other non-religious values are not the same. Here the term means rightly being against something and not everything can or should be accepted. So as a result of this language, Hewitt, et.al have created a radical ad hoc separation between religion and politics.
The "separation of church and state" is something entirely different. It simply means that the state cannot play favorites politically and establish a state-run Church. The state must also not inhibit the free exercise of religion by individuals in or out of the government.
What Hewitt, et.al are claiming is that one’s religious beliefs should have no bearing as a criterion for deciding who should be voted into office. So long as the candidate shares our other (conservative) values, then what God is worshipped is irrelevant. But on my view, it is insufficient to scare people into this Hewitt position by playing the "bigot" card. Some things rightly deserve intolerance, and being intolerant of voting someone in office with a false god seems at least prima facie like one of those things.
R. M. S.
These are both friends of mine from my Biola days: Kevin Lewis and Frank Pastore. They, as well as Joel Belz and Paul Edwards, all argue that the bigotry charge against Evangelicals is completely out of line. We are becoming even more marginalized for even questioning Mormonism under any circumstances. Whether you think religious differences have any place in political decisions or not, I think it's evil to call your own Christian brothers and sisters "bigots" if they think it is simply a voting consideration.
R. M. S.