There's been a lot of talk in the national media these past couple of days about some anti-Mormon discourse at the Values Voter Summit. The Values Voter Summit is a conservative event that is supposed to focus on--big surprise--values. Specifically, conservative values. Almost all of the Republican candidates for president showed up and spoke, including Romney, Perry, Cain, Bachmann, Paul, Gingrich, and Santorum. In other words, it's pretty much guaranteed that the person who will run against Obama participated in this event.
Now most of the media focus on the Values Voter Summit has been on the guy who introduced Rick Perry to the crowd--a guy who told the crowd they should vote for a real Christian and later stated multiple times that Mormonism is a cult. Unfortunately, the media hasn't been paying as much attention to a much more dangerous speaker--a guy by the name of Bryan Fischer. Remember, both of these guys shared the stage with the Republican candidates. They aren't some KKK dudes protesting on the fringes--they're invited speakers at a mainstream Republican event.
I'll let you go elsewhere to find out about Rick Perry's friend, Mr. Cult. The more dangerous man is Bryan Fischer. Romney's team realized a few days before the Summit that Mr. Fischer, an official at the American Family Association, who was scheduled to speak after Romney, might be a problem. Romney, to his credit, even mentioned a "poisonous" speaker he would speak after he did. I wish Romney would have refused to come unless Fischer was uninvited, but his mention in his speech was better than nothing.
Mr. Fischer has stated that non-Christians do not have First Amendment (ie--religious freedom) rights, and that Mormons aren't Christian (and also aren't entitled to the same religious freedoms under the First Amendment).
Imagine, for a minute, the consequences if Fischer's delusion was true. No freedom of religion (or at least limited freedom of religion) for minority religions, while mainstream Christian religions (or at least those who Fischer believes are mainstream) have complete freedom of religion. The thought terrifies me. I don't like to use the term un-American--I think the term is over-used--but in this case it clearly applies. Even if we ignore the fact that many of the founders were not traditional Christian, the very language of the First Amendment does not discriminate between different religions. All religions are to be treated equally--none favored, none disfavored.
Even worse than Fischer's un-American beliefs about the First Amendment is the fact that he was invited to speak at the same event and on the same stage as Romney, Perry, and the rest of the Republican presidential candidates. In what sick, demented world is that okay? Someone who has such a corrupt understanding of the First Amendment, and the other Republicans have him out in the open, center stage, voicing his opinion? He should be uninvited, out on the fringes with the KKK. The Republican party does itself no favors when it shares a stage with such a man.
Republicans who belong to minority religions (Mormons, Muslims, etc.) need to realize that not only does much of their party believe they belong to a cult, but also that some in their party--mainstream enough to be invited to speak at a big conservative summit like this one--believe that minority religions aren't entitled to the same rights as mainstream Christianity. It's an uncomfortable reality, but it's one we need to be aware of.