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Jacob Weisberg: “By holding [irrational and absurd views], someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is”

December 21, 2006

Christians aren’t the only crowd that have folks concerned about Romney’s religious views. Jacob Weisberg in Slate argues that he would not vote for a Mormon. Note that Jacob is not an evangelical Christian, and yet agrees that one’s religious worldview is worth examining. Jacob lists views (including my own, evangelical Christianity) he deems “dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.” I of course have a different view on the reasonableness of Biblical Christianity, but here’s a question worth asking: If my religion was really “irrational and absurd”, would that legitimately cast doubt on my ability to “see the world as it is”, and thus my ability to run the country? It’s a fair question that no one should scoff at. While I believe in the significance of integrated worldviews, I do wonder if we should spend more time reflecting on just how integrated some worldviews are. It’s complicated.

Weisberg goes on to describe the absurdity of the Mormon religion:

“I wouldn’t vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism. The LDS church holds that Joseph Smith, directed by the angel Moroni, unearthed a book of golden plates buried in a hillside in Western New York in 1827. The plates were inscribed in “reformed” Egyptian hieroglyphics—a nonexistent version of the ancient language that had yet to be decoded. If you don’t know the story, it’s worth spending some time with Fawn Brodie’s wonderful biography No Man Knows My History. Smith was able to dictate his “translation” of the Book of Mormon first by looking through diamond-encrusted decoder glasses and then by burying his face in a hat with a brown rock at the bottom of it. He was an obvious con man. Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don’t want him running the country.

“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.”

Weisberg also corrects the false notion that since “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”, we should be hush-hush over religion:

“Objecting to someone because of his religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage, race, or gender. Not applying a religious test for public office, means that people of all faiths are allowed to run—not that views about God, creation, and the moral order are inadmissible for political debate.” (emphasis added)

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