American Culture

It's election time again, Christian America – now about those Ten Commandments, part I

Ten CommandmentsPart I of a series.

In just over two months it’s time to exercise your right, nay, your duty as an American citizen. Odds are good you’ve already made up your mind about which candidate gets your vote. But on what basis, exactly? As Dr. Denny points out in his latest missive,

We should be angry. We should be outraged. We should be furious at the unabashed effrontery of candidates for national office who lie directly to our collective face. But the sheer volume of repetitions of deceit, especially through the mass-mediated, billionaire-paid-for negative ads, arrives at our collective ears as so much endless white noise.

As we keep hearing, ad nauseam, everything is at stake in this election. So, as long as you’re voting on faith, let’s take a little peek at the candidates (and the voters) through a little magnifying glass commonly known as the Ten Commandments. You might remember them. They’re so important that you want them in courthouses and public classrooms. Just don’t let them near a voting booth, right? Else, why would you tolerate so very much false witness and somehow expect that you’re getting a pillar of virtue in exchange for your vote? Why would you believe that the opposition is evil personified when your candidate’s hands (and, by extension, your own) are covered in blood?

I. You shall have no other gods before me.

That sounds easy, right? Whether directly stated or not, there is absolutely a religious litmus test for political candidates in this country, and it’s the rare godless heathen that takes an oath of office (more on that later). We’re just about to the point where any candidate that doesn’t have “Jesus Saves” tattooed across their knuckles (let the debate begin…not so simple, is it?) wouldn’t be let within 100 yards of a big, comfy leather executive chair. But seriously, folks, look who you’ve got competing with the sitting President of the United States. A Mormon. Mormonism is as fine a choice as any for a religion, sure. As would be Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Santeria, or Wicca, at least in a nation where the federal government actually makes no law respecting religion, and wherein the states abide by the same restriction. Again, Mormonism is fine as religion goes. It’s at least as respectable as Scientology (or even Thelema and the Gnostic Catholic Church), albeit missing the occasional celebrity that trots their practice out for all to see. But make no mistake, it’s not Christianity.

Blink. How can that be? It’s got Jesus right in it! You’ve heard of fan-fic, right? I could write a short story about Jesus vs. Santa Claus (and Parker/Stone got their start exactly that way with The Spirit of Christmas…warning: if you’ve not seen it, prepare to be offended for five minutes), but you’d hardly call it part of the Christian canon. Christian is as Christian does. Christians worship the god of Abraham as that god intended, either/or before or after the birth, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, although your mileage will necessarily vary on that point should you be Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i, Catholic, a member of one of the Orthodox faiths, or one of the countless other Christian denominations. Denomination (or lack thereof) matters, else Christians wouldn’t be so careful about which congregations to join, lest they be in danger of eternal damnation, and which ministries deserve their hard-earned tithes. You do tithe, right? As does your candidate? Don’t worry. It’s not a commandment. But worshiping the right god is. That rule is numero uno on the list.

Again, Mormonism is most assuredly not Christian:

Mormonism teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones (D. & C. 130:22) and that Jesus is a creation. It teaches that he was begotten in heaven as one of God’s spirit children (See the Book, Jesus the Christ, by James Talmage, p. 8). This is in strict contrast to the biblical teaching that he is God in flesh (John 1:1,14), eternal (John 1:1215), uncreated, yet born on earth (Col. 1:15), and the creator all (John 1:3Col. 1:16-17). Jesus cannot be both created and not created at the same time. Though Mormonism teaches that Jesus is God in flesh, it teaches that he is “a” god in flesh, one of three gods that comprise the office of the Trinity(Articles of Faith, by Talmage, pp. 35-40). These three gods are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is in direct contradiction of the biblical doctrine that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6,845:5). See Trinity for a correct discussion of what the Trinity is (see also, false trinity)

Because Mormonism denies the biblical truth of who God is, who Jesus is, how forgiveness of sins is attained, and what the gospel is, the Mormon is not Christian — in spite of all his claims that he is Christian. Quite simply, the Mormon god doesn’t exist.

And that’s just for starters. Granted, CARM’s position is but one of many, many sources for arguments against the Christian nature of Mormonism, and I’m sure there are at least a few non-Mormon sources that accept Mormonism into the Christian fold, but we are talking about who you elect for President of the United States, right? So here is a very simple litmus test for you. Next time you see your pastor, minister, priest, or other person of the cloth, ask this, “Should I find myself in another town and have need of Christian fellowship, will I find it in a Mormon church?” Don’t take it from me. Look to your own spiritual teachers and teachings.

That said, if one takes a critical look at Mormonism, one would see that their beliefs and practices are as alien to Christian worship as are those of any group of WiccansPastafarians, or Discordians. Fnord! Mormons can call their god whatever they want, and worship it however they please, but I submit for your careful consideration that said god is not the one who made a covenant with Abraham and announced his name to Moses as Eheieh (I Am). Jews, Muslims, and Baha’i, like it or not, at least keep that first commandment where the Christian perspective is considered, insofar as they are also Abrahamic faiths. Generously speaking, Mormonism could, at best, be seen as a sect of Christianity, insofar as it strays wildly from the Nicene Creed, and that’s a huge stretch considering how far beyond the Nicene Creed this particular faith leaps and how much it beggars the imagination to accept the tale of one Joseph Smith, who, for all practical intents and purposes, is little different from John Dee except in his success at establishing a religion.

Since many of you will vote for the worshipper of alien gods anyway, because “at least he’s not a ‘seekrit Moslem,'”, consider also: Mammon.

Mammon is a term derived from the Christian Bible used to describe material wealth or greed, most often personified as a deity, and sometimes included in the seven princes of Hell.

How best to determine which god someone of faith genuinely worships? Look at where the heart leads the actions, and you’ll have a fine idea of what god leads the heart. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
Matthew 7:18 (NASB) 

As for President Obama, don’t worry. He may be a Christian, technically, but he’s probably not in your denomination (he was baptized as an adult in Trinity United Church of Christ), so he’s the wrong kind of Christian, right? Even so, we can only assume, based on the public record and the basis of fact (as well as good, Christian benefit of the doubt, see prohibition against judgment issued by God as Jesus in Matthew 7:1) that he at least gets Commandment I right. Well, except for that whole Mammon thing. Look who he surrounded himself with the day he first warmed the chair in the Oval Office. Wall Street goons (to say nothing of obstructors of justice and Bush-era hold-overs).

Next, we’ll take a look at how candidates fare when faced with the 2nd Commandment.

Disclosure: The author is an avowed agnostic who, tempted occasionally to lean in favor of one faith or another, tends toward certain views considered heretical by the Holy and Apostolic See. These heresies are associated with Gnosticism, with more than a small dose of Christ Consciousness, Kabbalah, Krsna Consciousness, Buddhism and elements of various ecstatic religions thrown in for good measure. Many have been burned at the stake for thinking even remotely as I do.


Image credit: Photo of the Ten Commandments in St Mary’s Stanwell by Maxwell Hamilton, licensed under Creative Commons.

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