The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Newt Staffer Fired for Mormon ‘Cult’ Comment Got a Raw Deal, Source Says

Posted on | December 14, 2011 | 73 Comments

When I blogged about this controversy last night, I realized the story would cut at least three ways:

  1. Gingrich would be hurt by association with a “controversy.” Most people would just hear a blurb about it on TV or radio and absorb the notion that Newt was somehow connected to what would appear to be an unfair attack on his chief rival’s religion.
  2. Romney would be hurt, because the “controversy” would remind a certain number of conservative Christians that Mitt is a Mormon and, yeah, many people have categorized Mormonism as a cult.
  3. Gingrich would be hurt — and here’s the weird two-bumper carom shot — because some conservative Christians would see Newt as a gutless sellout for firing a guy who (in their view) had the courage to speak the truth about “the cult of Mormonism.”

Cui bono? Rick Santorum, of course!

But some friends last night on Twitter pointed out that fired Gingrich staffer Craig Bergman  — speaking in an Iowa focus group last week, the day before he was hired as Newt’s Iowa political director — hadn’t said that he personally believes Mormonism to be a cult. Rather, Bergman was merely describing the beliefs of “a lot of the evangelicals.”

These are two vastly different things. It’s the difference between saying, “Let’s go burn a mosque to celebrate Tim Tebow leading the Broncos to victory over the Patriots” and saying . . .

Well, maybe that’s not the perfect example. But you get the point, and the point is amplified today by the Iowa Republican, the Web site that co-sponsored last week’s focus group:

The controversial comment came in regards to Mitt Romney’s prospects, if he captured the GOP nomination. “There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon,” Bergman said. “A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon…There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.” . . .
As co-moderator of the focus group, believes Bergman was not making a statement that reflected his own views of the Mormon religion, but was relaying what he heard from the “national pastor” referenced in his comment.

In other words: Bergman got screwed.

He wasn’t saying that he has a problem with Romney’s religion. He was saying that many evangelicals — including “a national pastor,” whom he did not name — have a problem with Mormonism, and who can deny that Bergman has acccurately stated a fact?

Furthermore, having studied the subject some years ago, I can attest that many Christian theologians agree that Mormonism should be categorized as a cult. In defense of Mitt Romney, however, I’ll say that liberalism is also a cult, and it’s liberalism that’s taking America to hell in a hurry, so you can judge for yourself which cult poses the greater danger in 2012.

Look, if a Protestant like me can support a papist like Rick Santorum — “papist” being the kind of slur you don’t hear very often in our politically correct age — clearly the crisis is upon us.

In a contested Republican primary, everybody’s got their most favorite and least favorite candidates. For me, Newt Gingrich is down near the bottom of the list — worse than Ron Paul, but better than Jon Huntsman — and your mileage may vary, but I think we can all agree that Obama’s worse than any of the Republicans.

Except maybe Huntsman, who could be the Anti-Christ for all we know.


UPDATE: It was rather surprising to me that the very first comment — alas, from our loyal commenter Joe! — was to the effect that it is “offensive” to call Mormonism a cult. (Y’know, if you’re easily offended, this blog will give you a half-dozen reasons a day to be offended, at a minimum.)

Ask yourself this: Why are we required to tolerate atheists, who insist that all Christians are ignorant and deluded propagators of implausible superstition, and yet orthodox Christians are shouted down if they feel obliged to identify heterodox faiths as “cults”?

Why is that so, huh?

Answer: Because we have been, as the apostle Paul said, “conformed to this world,” and have adopted the widespread popular opinion that the greatest danger in American society is posed by those dangerous right-wing Christian theocratic extremists, that’s why.

The faults and failures — both real and imaginary — of traditional Christians have been magnified in the public mind over the course of the past several decades, so that the Christian who merely defends the basic beliefs of his faith is automatically accused of aspiring to “impose his beliefs” on others, among much other mischief and malice attributed to Bible-believers.

Look around you, my fellow Americans. Does it really seem to you as if the greatest danger to our nation is that right-wing Christians might suddenly seize control of government and start imposing their beliefs on society? I think not.

You see that I have attached to this post Amazon links for three books by Christian writers who are critics of Mormonism. Their characterizations of the LDS belief system, and the evidence they adduce, may be perused by any of you, and accepted or rejected as you see fit. I’m not trying to “impose” my own beliefs on anyone, but merely stating that there are — as Craig Bergman was fired for saying — many Christians who categorize Mormonism as a cult. And this categorization is perhaps only important to Christians who consider it their sacred obligation to proclaim the Way, the Hope and the Light.

Secularists are under no such obligation, and I understand that they may be offended by the evangelical impulse. But proclaiming the Gospel is not as “offensive” as, for example, flying jetliners into skyscrapers or strapping plastic explosives to your body and detonating yourself in the middle of a crowded disco. So stop whining about being “offended,” or I’m likely to do something genuinely offensive like posting photos of Helen Thomas.

And you wouldn’t want that, would you?

As far as politics goes, Mitt’s Mormonism bothers me less than RomneyCare. And if you want a Republican presidential candidate who stands solidly for religious freedom, Lisa Graas has a suggestion.

UPDATE II: Linked by Da Tech Guy, Lisa Graas and Daily Punditthanks! — and now a Memeorandum thread.


73 Responses to “Newt Staffer Fired for Mormon ‘Cult’ Comment Got a Raw Deal, Source Says”

  1. Bob Belvedere
    December 15th, 2011 @ 8:59 am

    I prefer ‘cookable heretics’ when referring to the damned-to-Hell Protestants.

  2. Bob Belvedere
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:00 am

    Man…you’re really dating yourself [and me too for picking right up on that].

  3. Bob Belvedere
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    I don’t see the Mormons as a cult in the traditional sense of the definition of the word, but rather as spiritual cousins of the Gnostics.

  4. Tennwriter
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:18 am

    John Calvin pointed out that Baptists liked to be dunked so he’d dunk them again.  Protestants…corrupt sisters of a corrupt mother.

    Baptists: Defenders of Tolerance, more Biblical, and better at basketball.

  5. Tennwriter
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:25 am

    The defintion of cult I use….

    1. Incorrect defintion of Christ.  He is the Creator, eternally existent in ‘past and future’, and part of the Trinity.
    2. Give all your cash to the Church.
    3. Send your hot young wives and beddable daughters over  to the elders’ houses for ‘spiritual counselling’.

  6. Tennwriter
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:30 am

    It is by grace that you are saved, not of works, lest any man should boast.  God gives us the faith to trust His goodness and forgiveness, and then he gives us purity.  It is nothing of us.  Believing that you have earned your salvation is….ah….highly problematical. Highly.

  7. Tennwriter
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:31 am

    Dan Brown seemed Gnostic.

  8. Bob Belvedere
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    They are, indeed, better as basketball, just as Catholics are better at hockey – a much more manly sport.

  9. Bob Belvedere
    December 15th, 2011 @ 9:59 am

    Haven’t they, as Knappster pointed out, rejected #3?

  10. ThePaganTemple
    December 15th, 2011 @ 10:21 am

    Like maybe one of those  unclean spirits that comes out of the mouth of the dragon?

  11. Tennwriter
    December 15th, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    I am tempted to say LDS is not a cult, just heretics.  So I abstain, and instead Vote Present on this issue as I am uncertain, but I am buoyed up in confidence of my non-position by knowing that the One True God on Earth, the Obamessiah agrees with me on the virtue of Voting ‘Present’.

  12. Thomarn
    December 15th, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    To use anti Mormon literature to define Mormons is as you said, right wing religious extremists posing the greatest threat to America. My understanding of history shows fanatical religions in politics have given us the Crusades, The Inquisition, Salem Witch Burning, the death of Luther, Tyndale, Wycliffe and Calvin. In our own country, Mormons have been burned out, tarred and feathered and murdered from New York to Ohio to Illionois to Missouri. Eventually Mormons fled to the safety of Utah just to survive what your fanatical right wing religions did! I thought you were better then this!

  13. Thomarn
    December 15th, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    Wrong as you can be! When there is an extermination order placed on you by the Governor of a state simply because you are trading with Indians, baptizing blacks and controlling the political landscape from all the dregs of society on the western frontier you run for your life…Or die!! You bury your children in frozen shallow graves on the prairie! You leave the ski and the elderly because they are to big to carry. No one wanted to leave! Are you really that shallow! Please do your homework. Look at the humanitarian work… Look at the missionary work world wide. I can believe you people believe your own talking points.

  14. Thomarn
    December 15th, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    Tim tebow for president… Extreme right wing fanatical religions … Better look in the mirror!

    I thought we wanted someone to help the economy!

  15. Anonymous
    December 15th, 2011 @ 11:04 am


    I acknowledged that part of the early separation of Mormonism from American society was due to persecution.

    But early Mormonism DID in fact develop insular habits, especially under Brigham Young.

    That’s just a fact.

  16. Bob Belvedere
    December 15th, 2011 @ 11:13 am

    Bingo! Thanks. Couldn’t make the allusion at the time.

  17. Tennwriter
    December 15th, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    I didn’t think it likely that Obama was, but the way he won was illuminating as to what the Great Delusion is going to feel like.

    And I like what CS Lewis had to say about Satan in The Space Trilogy.  Satan had a memory of his magnificence, and could cloak himself with it, but his truest nature was revealed when he spent the whole night bugging the hero by whispering his name every so often….just to be an annoying little jerk.  A Being with once Vast Greatness reduced to the point where it has no Virtues at all.  No courage, no grace, no cool left.

    And we talk about how Obama is an empty suit.  So, I suspect that the Beast might be just so but with some serious mind-bending magic behind him.

  18. Tennwriter
    December 15th, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    If you like freedom, thank a soldier.  If you like religious toleration, thank a Baptist.  If you think the American Revolution was a good idea, it’d be a good idea to thank pulpits that flamed with righteousness.  And if you think ending slavery a good thing, you might want to join in a rousing chorus of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    And the Crusades are considered defensive wars against Islamic aggression.

    And the Inquisition possibly only did for 20k over three centuries.  While that’s bad, its also the Dark Ages where the punishments for normal crimes started at Awful and went up to Mind-Bendingly Insane.  Some of the punishments meted out have to be read to be believed.

    The Salem Inquisition was bad, but basically a footnote of minor import that got blown totally out of proportion.  Look…wow…thirty or so folk were killed.  It was and has been a propaganda tool for the Left, like Kent State.

  19. ThePaganTemple
    December 15th, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    No, you’re wrong, I won’t speak for “we” of course, but I want somebody who will adhere to the constitution and strive to follow the original intent of the founders. Fuck the economy! It’s going to always have its periods of ups and downs. If you want somebody who can “help the economy” then vote for the person most likely to stay the motherfucking hell out of its way.

  20. ThePaganTemple
    December 15th, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

    Ah, but if one can someday become the God of his own planet that solves that little problem.

  21. ThePaganTemple
    December 15th, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

    What was bad about the Salem Witch Trials weren’t the numbers of people killed, it was the mindset that helped it happen, it showed how easily people are manipulated through their fears and superstitions. In this case it was all because of a lie told by three or four teenage girls. It was pretty awful. Most, probably all of the people killed as witches in Salem or elsewhere were no more than old ladies suffering from dementia, or in some cases somebody’s romantic, business, or political rival.

  22. widemouth
    December 16th, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    What’s underneath the magic Mormon underwear?  – Exposed

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