It’s a question raised by a new article over at Buzzfeed in which the Mormon leadership is trying to win a local zoning battle by claiming that God has personally asked them to build a nine-story building that locals say will obstruct the view of the local mountains.
Would God settle for a five story building that wouldn’t block the view? Apparently not. God’s apparently a bit of a real estate queen.
Buzzfeed notes some interesting ramifications for Romney should he win the presidency:
The incident blurs the lines drawn by the Mormon Church itself in regards to when it is willing to assert religious authority in secular matters. The church has long held tightly to political neutrality, and says it only throws its weight behind an issue that it deems to have moral consequence (like same-sex marriage, or immigration). While the church’s lobbying to get a construction project approved is unsurprising, some local Mormons were taken aback to see their religious leaders turn a local debate into a test of religious faith.
Critics who worry that a President Romney would be susceptible to such ecclesiastical pressure from his religious leaders will surely see this local controversy as evidence that the threat is real. But Romney has said repeatedly that if elected, he would would not allow his church to sway his governing decisions, and there’s never been a suggestion that church leaders had steered his political course.
While I’m sure we’ll hear the usual chorus of “that’s what they told Kennedy!” Why exactly does that prove that this isn’t a real threat this time around?
The Mormons happily throw their weight around in politics when it comes to bashing gays, or in the past keep women subservient – or in this case, even a small zoning matter. And the Catholics have been all too happy to extort pro-choice Democrats into changing their votes on abortion and contraception by publicly denying them communion during election years.
So why is it so unbelievable that a church might not try to get its way when it finally gets one of its own in office? Would we really doubt that a President Santorum, for example, wouldn’t be tempted to do exactly what his church tells him to do, if they said that God had personally told them that he needed to follow their orders?
I’d go so far as to say that if you really believe in God, and really believe in your faith, and your religion has the nerve to pull the God card on you, it’s not clear how you can say “no” to a request that you believe is from God himself.
And in fact, Republicans cite God about as often as they cite Ronald Reagan when defending their various policy pronouncements. Hell, Paul Ryan seemed to suggest the other day that God was why we had to repeal Health Care Reform. But we’re to believe that the folks who justify practically every piece of legislation by invoking God won’t permit their God, their religion, to influence their policy priorities. When they already admit is does and has.