Slate editor Jacob Weisberg–who wouldn’t be caught dead voting for a religious conservative under any circumstances–has written a piece telling America that included among the doubtless long list of believers he could never support is a “believing Mormon” like Mitt Romney. And why not? Is there something about Mormon theology that makes him believe that the Governor would make poor choices as President or be ill-equipped to handle the demands of the job? Well, no. Weisberg just can’t take seriously anyone who believes the “founding whoppers” of Mormonism, and that mere belief in those “whoppers” indicates “a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.”
But when you read closely, you see that Weisberg’s column doesn’t merely attack Mormonism or other religions that Weisberg sees as fringe–like scientology or some particularly extreme sects of Orthodox Judaism (as if they were remotely comparable to Mormonism). His real beef is with any faith that holds that the fantastic and supernatural “myths” of scripture might not be, well, myths after all. Weisberg explains:
One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational–what’s the difference between Smith’s “seer stone” and the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea? But Mormonism is different because it is based on such a transparent and recent fraud. It’s Scientology plus 125 years. Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same. But a few eons makes a big difference. The world’s greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor. (Emphasis added).
Hold on there, chief. Is it really true that mainstream Christianity and Judaism are acceptable only because we’ve turned “their myths into metaphor?” What about someone like me–a person who actually believes that the following “myths” actually happened:
1. I believe that God literally created the heavens and Earth–they did not arise by the chance operations of natural processes.
2. I believe that God later destroyed much of the Earth in a flood, and that humanity (and the animal kingdom) was preserved by an old guy in a big wooden boat.
3. I believe that God did other stuff a long time ago–like part the Red Sea, make the sun stand still in the sky, cause city walls to crumble after a motley group of refugees marched around them a few times, etc.
4. And let’s not forget small details like the virgin birth, Jesus raising people from the dead, and Jesus himself coming back to life.
On their face, these claims are pretty fantastic (and Mormons believe them too, by the way). And this illustrates a point we have long made here at EFM: If we evangelicals allow reasoning like this to derail the candidacy of a brilliant, faithful, man of integrity like Governor Romney, is there any assurance–any assurance at all–that the very same reasoning won’t be turned on us? Does the relative age of our beliefs (“venerable” says Weisberg) insulate us from the same kind of scrutiny? As someone who has endured the tiresome condescension of the secular left time and again, I can tell you that this scorn is not reserved for Mormons.
When evaluating individuals, I prefer to take an approach from Scripture: “By their fruits you shall know them.” And what are the fruits of Mitt Romney’s life? A marvelous family, a commitment to integrity in all that he does, a commitment to excellence, and a manifest love for his Lord and Savior. What are the fruits of Mitt Romney’s career? He has transformed businesses, saved the Olympics, balanced budgets, created groundbreaking solutions to the healthcare crisis, defended life, defended marriage, and defended our fundamental freedoms. Not bad for a guy who believes some religious “whoppers.”
But then again, what do I know? My very reliance on “Scripture” (a book written across centuries by human beings operating under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of the Living God) indicates that I have “a basic failure to think for [myself] or see the world as it is.”
Gosh, I guess stupidy and foolishness of that sort leaves me suitable only for military service.