First check out Ed Brayton commenting on Stephen Prothero’s article. The bottom line is Mormons, of all folks, should especially support the religious liberty rights of all. Their experiences in America should make them know better.
Which leads me to Glenn Beck’s rally. He noted, it was about “God.” And that he happily tithes 10 percent. Knowing how much Beck makes that’s many millions of dollars going to the Mormon Church. And at that rally behind Beck was, among others, David Barton. I kept thinking whether Barton and the other evangelicals there really believe Mormons worship the same God they do; the Mormons claim they do; it’s the evangelicals who often have a problem with it. See for instance, Barton buddy Brannon Howse’s turning away from Beck for that very reason.
Beck extensively quoted from the American Founding. Did he misuse the Founders? Lincoln? Dr. King? It’s beyond the scope of my post to answer that question.
However I will address one sense in which I think Beck’s rally did authentically capture the spirit of the America’s Founding political theology: The idea that Mormons, evangelicals, and others all worship the same God.
Had the Mormons existed during America’s Founding, I’m convinced the Founders would have embraced them. At least the first four or so Presidents would have. They embraced the Swedenborgs, who I see as the closest analogy to Mormons. Swedenborgianism is as distant from orthodox Christianity as is Mormonism.
I get flack for stating that the “key Founders” (the first four Presidents, Franklin, G. Morris, Hamilton before his end of life conversion) were all agreed on the political theological basics. Not the finer details. Jefferson’s Bible was his own. Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin all three agreed the biblical canon was errant and fallible. But anything beyond that (which biblical passages reflected error, which valid revelation) would be finer details where they disagreed.
So let’s clarify: What was the main area that connects all of the “key Founders” in their personal and political theology: The idea that there is a Providence and future state of rewards and punishments. The other doctrinal issues (especially whether Jesus was 2nd Person in the Trinity) where religions differ are superfluous and insignificant.
That’s the lowest common denominator of “religion” that all good men believe in. That’s why Calvinists, Swedenborgs, Jews and, today, Mormons (perhaps even Muslims; at least the good Muslims who peacefully demean themselves under America’s civil law, which I would argue is the overwhelming majority of them) can feel communion with the God who “founded” America.
If you don’t believe they all worship the same God — America’s God — you are being un-American.