This background is why I am an independent. I have an understanding that the parties have two or three legitimate issue stances and the rest of their issues are agenda driven. If you are reading this and think that the Republicans have all the correct views on the issues, or the Democrats know what is right in all matters of policy, you are caught up in the agenda game. They get you with one or two issues and sweep you in to all of the other ones because they gained credibility with you on the couple of items that you feel really strong about. But I digress . . .
What brings me to this topic today is a column I read by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. I am not linking it, because I think you have to register to see content there (as I did), and I refuse to bait you into that.
Cohen attacks Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee because he wouldn't answer whether or not fellow candidate Mitt Romney is a Christian. Romney is a Mormon. Cohen contends that Huckabee, a Baptist minister, had a chance to show religious tolerance but bailed out instead. Huckabee just said that the interviewer should ask Romney, not him.
Since when is not commenting on someone else's religion intolerant? The term "Christian" is defined by different people in various ways. What definition applies here? Huckabee doesn't know. The term means something completely different to a baptist minister than it does to a Jew (like Cohen), or even an agnostic.
As Mark Mattison, from True Life Ministries, of Auburn University puts it, "What is a Christian, anyway? Someone of European descent? A persecutor of Jews? Someone who votes for only the most conservative Republicans? At times all of these answers have seemed plausible. Some use these definitions to this day.
In Christian circles the answers are no clearer. A Christian is sometimes said to be someone who has made a decision; sometimes, someone who belongs to a church; far too often, someone who confesses the right creeds. Which brings us right back to our question: What, really, is a Christian?"
I can only guess, but I would say that Huckabee's definition is along the lines of someone who has been "born again". How would he know if Romney made that decision and step? There is no way. Shoot, I don't even know if my wife is truly a Christian according to this definition - and she claims to believe primarily as I do.
I believe that Huckabee was being baited by the question. There was nothing he could say that would have been accepted by EVERYONE. If he would have answered, "Yes, Romney is a Christian," then many conservative evangelical Christians would wonder about Huckabee's own faith. You may think, "Big deal", but that is the man's political base. If he says, "No, Mormons cannot be true Christians," he would be labeled as an intolerant bigot - much like Cohen is labeling him now for just being noncommittal and probably even honest.
What is interesting about that is that Cohen in his column writes, "the Republican presidential field has some feeble minds and some dangerous ones as well, but none has done as much damage as Huckabee has. Religion does not belong in the political arena." Then why is Cohen and the interviewer (I think George Stephanopoulis) shoving that question in Huckabee's face? Cohen is being hypocritical here.
To conservative Christians, Mormons are heretics because of many conflicting (with fundemental Christianity) beliefs. These fundementalist claim that the Mormons deny the deity of Christ, exhalt the deity of man, and that God lives on the planet Kolob and mormons will someday be god of their own planet. Now I say that some FUNDEMENTALISTS believe these things because I don't truly know enough about mormon theology to say what they really believe. I choose to just talk what I know.
NOTE: I am not a Huckabee supporter. I can't foresee a scenario where he will be able to garner my vote.