Columnist William McGurn, a former speech-writer for President George W. Bush and chief editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal, has some advice for the Republican presidential candidates who will be appearing at Tuesday's debate at Dartmouth college: "When you are asked, as you will be asked, what you make of the Christian pastor who called the Mormon faith a 'cult,' there's only one appropriate answer. It comes from the last sentence of Article VI of the Constitution, and it reads as follows: '[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.' It doesn't get any clearer than that."
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, McGurn chided both America's conservative and liberal factions for what his column headline referred to as "the cult of anti-Mormonism." He cited evangelical opposition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a "non-Christian cult" and research that shows that many conservative Christians refuse to vote for a Mormon candidate as examples of current right-wing intolerance. But he also pointed out the much-less reported research indicating that even more liberal Democrats would be unwilling to vote for a Mormon candidate, and the attacks on the property and livelihoods of LDS Church members during the 2008 campaign over California's Proposition 8 as examples of similar intolerance from the left.
McGurn quoted Hannah Smith of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a former law clerk for two Supreme Court justices and a member of the Deseret News editorial advisory board, who said, "At the heart of the First Amendment is the freedom to participate in the political process regardless of faith. When people of any faith face retribution — either through violence or intimidation or loss of their livelihood — as a direct result of that participation, America has lost something."
"So its good to see Republican feet now being held to the fire on an issue the Founders resolved in 1787," McGurn concluded. But, he added, "amid all the coverage given to Pastor Robert Jeffress, ask yourself this question. If you were a Mormon, which would you consider the real threat to your liberty: what some Dallas Baptist says about your faith — or organized attacks intended to intimidate and drive you off the public square?"
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