Sunday, August 12, 2007

If politics and religion do not mix, what of politics and cults?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a problem. He is a Mormon. But he is not the first presidential candidate to discover that one’s choice of church may be a bar to the highest office. When the issue of the Catholicism of Senator John F Kennedy was emerging as an issue in his quest to become President of the United States of America, he made a speech, in which he said:

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured - perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again - not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me - but what kind of America I believe in.

He was struggling to persuade the sceptical American people that the White House would not become an embassy of the Vatican, and neither would the US President do the Pope’s bidding, but, for a nation born out of the struggle for liberation from religious tyranny, his words frequently rang hollow. Yet the prejudices were overcome by his oratorical skill. At times, the communication of his dreams and visions were redolent of Martin Luther King Jnr:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute - where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote - where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference - and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

That speech was made in 1960, yet even in 2007 the land of the free does not permit all men to be equal. Of course, the inequalities are no longer based on race or gender, but they are manifest and legion when it comes to religion. Mr Romney is presently experiencing not dissimilar problems from those faced by Senator Kennedy. Then the issue was the Church of Rome, now it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But while Rome has a self-confessed salvific religio-political mission to redeem the world, the principal objection to the Mormons is their rejection of the Trinity (having abandoned polygamy a century ago). It says much for a nation when it places a distinctly theological issue over an acutely religio-political one. Many who object to him for his trinitarian views would be wise to acquaint themselves with certain aspects of church history, and with the contentions of Chalcedon in particular.

Largely through the radiant charisma and global profile of Pope John Paul II, Roman Catholicism has become a respectable religion the world over, but Mr Romney’s problem is that Mormons are perceived to be a cult. There is little authoritatively which distinguishes between the two: for many, ‘religion’ is simply a positive and respectable spiritual force, while ‘cult’ is a religion of which one does not approve. Belief systems tend to be considered cults when their practices are perceived to be harmful to their members, or when they stand in opposition to the widely-accepted beneficial interests of mainstream cultures and governments.

There are, of course, too many relativist considerations in the present age for terms like ‘harm’ and ‘beneficial’ to be expounded. Even the democratic primacy of ‘mainstream’ is undermined by the deference displayed to every fragmented religious minority interest, for fear of causing offence. In the final analysis, every cult is now a religion because no-one is perceived to have the political right or the spiritual authority to tell anyone else what they should or should not believe, or what they may and may not do. Liberty has become a deity.

This is the tragedy of postmodernity. One is now obliged to respect all religious beliefs, and revere every spirituality. If this is not extracted by statute, it is enforced by the zeitgeist. All men may not be equal, but all religions certainly are. Islamism is as ‘noble’ and ‘great’ as Roman Catholicism, which is just as worthy of respect as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and any and every other spiritual ‘-ism’ which emanates from the mind of man.

Cranmer, by the way, is content to adhere to the cult of an obscure Nazarene.

23 Comments:

Anonymous nedsherry said...

This is the tragedy of postmodernity. One is now obliged to respect all religious beliefs, and revere every spirituality.

Only those practised by dark-skinned people or some other privileged minority.

If this is not extracted by statute, it is enforced by the zeitgeist. All men may not be equal, but all religions certainly are. Islamism is as ‘noble’ and ‘great’ as Roman Catholicism, which is just as worthy of respect as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and any and every other spiritual ‘-ism’ which emanates from the mind of man.

Christianity is not worthy of respect to the modern liberal, who seeks, with malice aforethought, to exclude it and dilute its presence at every opportunity. See Rabbi Julia.

12 August 2007 at 11:46  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I know Mitt Romney so I judge him from my meetings with him. He struck me as more straightforward and reasonable than many of those around him; and he seemed more earnest.

How far he is a product of the Mormon Church and how far his personality is separate from the LDS I do not know. I have always seen the Mormons as bemusing because of their aversion to caffeine and their propensity to baptise the dead into LDS.

It is a question American voters will have to struggle with and the 60% that cannot find the ballot box can be Monday-morning quarterbacks

12 August 2007 at 13:06  
Anonymous najistani said...

Attributes of a cult (from http://www.religio.de/cudef.html )

Their leader/s may claim a special, exclusive ministry, revelation or position of authority given by God.

They believe they are the only true church...

They use intimidation or psychological manipulation to keep members loyal to their ranks. This could be in the form of threats of dire calamity sent by God if they leave; certain death at Armageddon; being shunned by their family and friends etc. This is a vital part of the mind control process.

Members will be expected to give substantial financial support to the group...

There will be great emphasis on loyalty to the group and its teachings. The lives of members will be totally absorbed into the group's activities. They will have little or no time to think for themselves because of physical and emotional exhaustion. This is also a vital part of the mind control process.

There will be total control over almost all aspects of the private lives of members. Members will look to their leaders for guidance in everything they do.

Any dissent or questioning of the group's teachings is discouraged. Criticism in any form is seen as rebellion. There will be an emphasis on authority, unquestioning obedience and submission. This is vigilantly maintained.

Members are required to demonstrate their loyalty to the group in some way. They may be required to deliberately lie (heavenly deception/theocratic strategy) or give up their lives...

Attempts to leave or reveal embarrassing facts about the group may be met with threats. Some may have taken oaths of loyalty that involve their lives or have signed a "covenant" and feel threatened by this.
Refugees of the group are usually faced with confrontations by other members with coercion to get them to return to the group.


Sound familiar?

12 August 2007 at 13:21  
Anonymous sparkyd said...

I fear that nedsherry is correct, postmodernity has consistantly undermined Christianity at every opportunity primarily because we will not fight against it, yet it pretends to revere the faiths it cannot get away with undermining, like Islam. One wonders what exactly is nedsherry's ideology? An anti-liberal atheist?

12 August 2007 at 14:49  
Anonymous CCTV said...

An anti-liberal atheist?

That's a bit definite isn't it ? One who is convinced of the validity of a negative proposition.

12 August 2007 at 15:09  
Anonymous Sir HM said...

cctv

Or perhaps one who is convinced of the validity of the rule of Occam's Razor?

12 August 2007 at 18:10  
Anonymous cctv said...

Funny that because Ockam himself thought the existence of God was not subject to rationialist proof but to revelation

12 August 2007 at 19:20  
Blogger Harry Hook said...

I believe the single thing that gives a religious group cult status, above all other considerations ...is the ease with which you can leave, if you so wish. So, speaking of the Church of England, many things it may be, a cult - never.

12 August 2007 at 19:26  
Blogger Stan! said...

Your Grace,
Most believing Mormons are not certain themselves what Mormon Doctrine is. They don't know their own history. They don't have to...all they have to "know" is that "it's true."
When asked about the controversial stuff, they will reply with, "...one day the Lord will explain this to us." and "...it does not pertain to your salvation."
I commend the following web site to you:
http://www.lds-mormon.com/bomquest.shtml

12 August 2007 at 19:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mormon church is a cult. some guy decide to start his own church in the 1800's whats new?

12 August 2007 at 19:38  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Ramsey

The brother of a late-Archbishop of Canterbury had some interesting thoughts on this matter....

For Ramsey probability is not related to a disembodied body of knowledge but is related to the knowledge that each individual possesses alone. Thus personal beliefs that are formulated by this individual knowledge govern probabilities leading to the notion of subjective probability.

and

Ramsey argued that the logical form of a belief determined its causal properties. The difference between the belief ‘not-p’ and the belief ‘p’ lies in their causal properties. Thus disbelieving ‘p’ and believing its negation have the same causal properties. They express, as Ramsey puts it, really the same attitude: “It seems to me that the equivalence between believing ‘not-p’ and disbelieving ‘p’ is to be defined in terms of causation, the two occurrences having in common many of their causes and many of their effects” (PP, p. 44). One of the advantages that Ramsey found in this theory is how it avoids the ontological proliferation of Russell’s theory; negative facts, for example, are not needed.

http://www.fil.lu.se/sahlin/ramsey/


Ramsey's epistemology would show knowledge of God to be predicated on individual knowledge rather than an objective probability to which people subscribe as subjects, as if in a classroom. There is as such no objective proof in that sense of the existence or non-existence of God but a subjective belief which is the probability each person assigns in terms of personal belief or non-belief.

This fits in with the concept of 'Grace' and 'Election'

12 August 2007 at 19:49  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

One wonders what exactly is nedsherry's ideology? An anti-liberal atheist?

Agnostic more than atheist. Dawkins isn't good company.

For Ramsey probability is not related to a disembodied body of knowledge but is related to the knowledge that each individual possesses alone. Thus personal beliefs that are formulated by this individual knowledge govern probabilities leading to the notion of subjective probability.

Typical C of E: let's come down firmly and unequivocally on the fence.

Ramsey argued that the logical form of a belief determined its causal properties. The difference between the belief ‘not-p’ and the belief ‘p’ lies in their causal properties. Thus disbelieving ‘p’ and believing its negation have the same causal properties. They express, as Ramsey puts it, really the same attitude: “It seems to me that the equivalence between believing ‘not-p’ and disbelieving ‘p’ is to be defined in terms of causation, the two occurrences having in common many of their causes and many of their effects” (PP, p. 44). One of the advantages that Ramsey found in this theory is how it avoids the ontological proliferation of Russell’s theory; negative facts, for example, are not needed.

What convoluted, pretentious, er, spheres.

Thus disbelieving ‘p’ and believing its negation have the same causal properties.

Er, yes. That's because disbelieving 'p' and believing not-'p' are the same thing.

Ramsey's epistemology would show knowledge of God to be predicated on individual knowledge rather than an objective probability to which people subscribe as subjects, as if in a classroom. There is as such no objective proof in that sense of the existence or non-existence of God but a subjective belief which is the probability each person assigns in terms of personal belief or non-belief.

Er, yes. Subjectivity does tend to be personal.

12 August 2007 at 20:13  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Typical C of E: let's come down firmly and unequivocally on the fence.

What does the C of E have do with it ? Your mind is very clouded

12 August 2007 at 20:31  
Anonymous najistani said...

"Typical C of E: let's come down firmly and unequivocally on the fence"

What does the C of E have to do with it .....

The C of E sees the world in its own fluffy liberal image. It can never imagine that in this post-modern age there are still wolves in sheep's clothing and predatory principalities and powers.


From http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/relations.html


Other faiths
The Church of England, in partnership with other Christian churches, also seeks to build up good relations with people of other faith traditions, and to co-operate with them where possible in service to society. Recognising the significant changes which have led to religious plurality in our society, the General Synod as long ago as 1981 endorsed the Four Principles of Inter Faith Dialogue agreed ecumenically by the British Council of Churches:

1 Dialogue begins when people meet each other.
2 Dialogue depends upon mutual understanding and mutual trust.
3 Dialogue makes it possible to share in service to the community.
4 Dialogue becomes the medium of authentic witness.

(How wonderful! Thiese four noble truths will bring about the end of suspicion after 1400 years of interfaith misunderstanding which prevented us from seeing that we all serve the same society. )


The Church of England is also represented on the Inner Cities Religious Council, a body in the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions bringing together representatives of faith communities with a substantial presence in England's inner cities to work together with the Government in tackling the problems facing deprived urban areas.

(Simply marvellous! This will destroy the root cause of Jihad which are 1400 years of urban deprivation and bad transport. )


Across the country, a network of Inter Faith Advisers and contacts in each diocese provide specialist advice and encouragement for church leaders and members seeking to develop good relations with members of different faiths. Bishops often have a particularly important role to play alongside other religious leaders and ecumenical colleagues in speaking for the faith communities.

(Inshallah the faith communities will finally realise that the great thing they have in common is faith! Then no more problems!! Kumbaya!!! Oh Joy - let the Bishop of Carlisle lead the multifaith transgendered rain-making ceremony)

13 August 2007 at 00:20  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Funny I reference an article by Frank Ramsey, Mathematician and colleague of John Maynard Keynes, who died in 1930 and whose brother Michael, later became Archbishop of Canterbury.......and people veer off to unload their prejudices against the Church of England.

There is obviously a Pavlovian bell ringing for some of Your Grace's communicants occasioning salivation

13 August 2007 at 06:07  
Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Is it not inconsistent to post in support of separation of church and state in our former colonies and that they should accept a Roman Catholic or a Mormon as head of state, while supporting the continued establishment of one "cult" here in the UK and the law which does not allow a Roman Catholic to be our head of state? The standards you rightly apply to the USA should apply here as well.

13 August 2007 at 12:54  
Anonymous James said...

"Many who object to him for his trinitarian views would be wise to acquaint themselves with certain aspects of church history, and with the contentions of Chalcedon in particular..."

History (and Chalcedon) demonstrates that despite fearsome attacks on the Church somehow she manages to escape the heresies and survive the heretics.

Distilling revelation into dogma is such a daunting task that the crucial reason the Church has not contradicted herself in 2,000 years is the guardianship of the Holy Spirit.

We can be guaranteed to be free from error, however otherwise dull of head or heart we are, if we accept the dogmatic teachings of the Church.

I make this point because I wondered if Cranmer was trying to suggest there is something noteworthy about the mess the Church was in around the time of the Council of Chalcedon. The Church is ALWAYS in dire trouble, and it is ALWAYS a man-defying miracle that she survives and grows, and that her dogmas--once formulated--remain upheld and uncontaminated by error.

We cannot blame people pre-Chalcedon for not knowing a pithy Trinitarian formula. God does not expect us to be theological geniuses. But as for those of us post-Chalcedon it is a different matter. It does not take a genius to receive truth from his Mother.

[For details of Chalcedon, see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03555a.htm]

13 August 2007 at 13:03  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Peter Kirk,

Not inconsistent at all. The concern, and the manifest point of the post, which you appear to have missed, is the distinction which must be drawn between religions and cults which have political agendas, and religio-cults which are not remotely concerned with worldy government. While the Church of Rome belongs manifestly to the former, the Church of the Latter Day Saints may be said to belong more to the latter. Religio-political agendas are potentially malignant; religions concerned more with personal spirituality tend to be politically benign.

13 August 2007 at 13:37  
Anonymous Voyager said...

to post in support of separation of church and state

The United States does not have separation of Church and State - France does.

the United States has an Amendment to its Constitution drawn up in 1787 (?) which prohibits the Establishment of a State Religion.....

FRance

US Constitution

Madison's original proposal for a bill of rights provision concerning religion read: ''The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.'' 1 The language was altered in the House to read: ''Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.'' 2 In the Senate, the section adopted read: ''Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion,


The phrase you use "separation of church and state" is nowhere in the US Constitution but is contained in a letter written by President Jefferson to Baptists in Danbury, CT in 1802 and therefore represents the viewpoint of the Deist he was - and his opposition to the Anglican Church taxes levied in Virginia and Massachusetts for the Established Church.

Since Jefferson was an admirer of the French Revolution and probably also a Freemason his Deism was probably quite apt

13 August 2007 at 14:34  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

'Subjective probability' is a v. Anglican concept. Ramsey may have used it with rigor, but as soon as it gets into religious hands -- yours, for example -- it will turn wet and flabby.

That's because disbelieving 'p' and believing not-'p' are the same thing.

I was wrong to put it like that. E.g., I don't believe God exists, but I don't believe God doesn't exist either.

13 August 2007 at 17:27  
Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Religio-political agendas are potentially malignant; religions concerned more with personal spirituality tend to be politically benign.

Which is the Church of England?

13 August 2007 at 17:52  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Ramsey may have used it with rigor, but as soon as it gets into religious hands -- yours, for example -- it will turn wet and flabby.

Don't be daft...you don't know Frank Ramsey and you don't know me....you just steer your course by the star of prejudice and jump blindfold into any deep hole you can find

14 August 2007 at 06:48  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

Don't be daft...you don't know Frank Ramsey and you don't know me....you just steer your course by the star of prejudice and jump blindfold into any deep hole you can find

If your metaphor is deliberately mixed and self-contradictory, congratulations... If not,,, you confirm what I'''ve already concluded...

This fits in with the concept of 'Grace' and 'Election'

Honest to God?

14 August 2007 at 15:35  

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