Tuesday, January 8, 2008

ARTICLE VI: Faith. Politics. America

Have you ever wondered if we're asking the right questions?

We have.

Let's start with a reality check: It is unrealistic to pretend that religion will be kept separate from politics, because both speak to morality, community, and action.

Across the globe and throughout history, we can cite many examples of the wrong way for religion to interact with politics.

So, what is the right way? It is our earnest hope that through this film, we can raise the level of inquiry about the role of faith in politics, and catalyze what will be an energizing, provocative, and, yes, combustible debate. Because it's a necessary debate, perhaps never more so than right now.

In the end, my faith (or yours) is irrelevant to this story. What matters is how America can express her spiritual and moral values in our political process without relying on, focusing on, or forcing those values into a straight-jacket of a particular religion or religious expression.

It matters to me because I am a patriot: because I love my country, and the ideals it represents.
I believe in the ability of the Constitution of the United States to serve as a guide to the American people in exercising their moral prerogatives and obligations in governing themselves.

ARTICLE VI is where I take a stand to defend it, and how I choose to serve my country.

I invite you to join me.

John Carosella
Executive Producer,


Jim said...

I'm a daily listener of Hugh Hewitt and when it comes to radio shows discussing Constitutional issues, Hugh’s is without equal.

I haven't seen the movie, but I must say that if it implies that Mitt Romney is receiving unconstitutional treatment by the voters, I will be very disappointed.

Article 6 only limits the government from applying a religious qualification for the Presidency. It has nothing at all to do with how individual voters make up their minds.

Romney is being treated fairly with regard to the law, and it would be demagoguery to suggest that he isn't.

John Carosella said...

Hey, Jim,
Thanks for stopping by.

I encourage you to see the film. The movie isn't about Romney, or even about how he's being treated in the narrow sense you may be thinking. It's really about an American guy (Bryan Hall, the director) who steps out into the political world out of interest -- interest in the political process and the political dialog -- and comes face to face with much, much more than politics.

The film doesn't try to answer questions. It attempts to ask them, and in the process, promote a healthy discussion about the right and wrong ways for religion and politics to mix.

These are big questions, and they're as old as America herself. The questions are as relevant today as they ever were (perhaps more so), and we hope folks will find the film an engaging catalyst for probing them.

But, of course - see the film and judge for yourself. We think you'll find it worthwhile. We look forward to your feedback.

Phillip said...

You've piqued my interest.
I agree with Jim (though I am a huge Romney fan) Article 6 refers to gvt. Voters are free to choose any criteria and should look at the religion of a candidate. However, I think it was Ben Franklyn who said, "A little education is a dangerous thing" (Something like that) I happen to know a lot about Mormon doctrine. A quick brush with Latter Day Saint history or doctrine produces such misconceptions about Mormonism, that a little education has indeed been a dangerous thing. (Misconceptions led the the near extermination of the Mormons in the early 1800s by a coalition of pro-slavery and some protestants) Today, different misconceptions are perpetuated by some protestants and others. It takes a deep understanding about every religion's history and doctrine to render informed judgment. I am afraid that casual investigation can be a can of worms that lead to ignorant bigotry. I hear all sorts of falsehoods about mormonism from well respected national political pudits. I am not saying don't ask the questions -on the contrary. I just hope that once people have asked the questions, they persevere to the answers that lie beneath their initial predudice.

John Carosella said...

Thanks for stopping by, Phillip.

I couldn't agree more with your comment about the need to persevere. Examining another faith is an exercise in patience and understanding. I have been on both ends of that pole, and when wielded ingraciously, it's a nasty stick that can induce serious wounds.

By the way, I'm not a Romney fan -- I'm a liberal democrat. But the impact of religion on our political process, and the need to address it, frankly transcends any one election. And my role as a citizen transcends my role as a partisan. So no matter what happens in this election cycle, if we can raise the level of debate through this film, I feel like I will have served my country.

It's been said that an effective democracy requires an educated and engaged public. My hope is that we all make an effort to contribute to both education and engagement. The film is, hopefully, one contribution.

Stop by again. I hope we can continue to build a constructive discussion.

Anonymous said...

Just watched it online-

The nice thing is while you are getting a great history lesson there is this running narrative that tells a story through personal eyes. I enjoyed this.

I also appreciated the different interviews with many people and of different faiths. I'm glad you had more than one representative from some Faiths. My extended family has more religions than you can imagine. We are Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, or just plain uninterested. So the best part for me was the last bit, where you just sit down for dinner!

John Carosella said...

Thanks, Anon! We had a lot of fun putting this film together. I have to admit, it's difficult to address this topic without creating more bruises than you heal -- I hope we succeeded.

We tried hard to be honest about the human element. I think that none of us really have "exactly" the same beliefs -- even within the same faith tradition -- because our beliefs are colored and informed by our own experiences. And just when you think you couldn't get further apart from some one, sometimes the simple human things can bring us back together -- so we can talk together, and listen honestly to one another.

And maybe all grow a little bit.

Thanks again for your comments. We appreciate hearing from you.

Detroiter said...

Hey John.

I followed the Article VI link from The Young Turks website and just finished watching the film.

I want to let you know how much I enjoyed it, so thank you very much for the "free" opportunity.

We have become a very intolerant society, haven't we?

Will someone please tell me, when will the fight between who has the bestest invisible friend come to an end?

BTW, my favorite part came during the ending credits--the H.I.S. Shiloh Baptist band absolutely rocked. I might just convert. JK.

Liberal Athiest
Detroit, MI

P.S. OBAMA '08

John Carosella said...

Welcome, Detroiter,

Thanks for the kind words about the film. It's our pleasure to provide the download (of course, we'd be delighted if you'd consider picking up one of those very nice DVD's we have for sale, even if it's to share with a friend...)

As to whose God is the best, oh, I can't imagine that debate evaporating in my lifetime. But if we can at least talk (and, perhaps more importantly, listen genuinely to one another) about our beliefs -- and I mean with real humanity, because that's what it takes -- it actually can become an interesting topic. Enlightening, too, in the sense that the discussion illuminates aspects of our culture, our world-view, and our experience that makes it easier to understand the complexities of human nature and the human condition in general.

So, in a nutshell, thanks for watching, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and please pass the word, cuz' we all need a little positive encouragement!

Sally Morem said...

I watched your trailer and it made a number of excellent points about the dangers of applying a religious test to candidates for high office in America.

I'll be even more impressed when avowed atheists and agnostics can run for high office without being attacked speciously for "having no morals."

Congratulations on your movie.

John Carosella said...

Hi Sally,
Thanks for stopping by.

Yes, I agree. Atheists, agnostics, and, frankly, citizens of every stripe and color who are serious about the best interests of their community and country should be welcome, and encouraged to be public servants. I too feel like the gate can and should be wider.

It's incumbent upon all of us to a) demonstrate a commitment to the greater good of our communities if we want to be taken seriously, and b) genuinely listen to the ideas and contributions of our fellow citizens, so that we as a country and as a people can benefit from the best and brightest contributors, regardless of their chosen creed.

It's scary to entrust public office to someone who doesn't share the same moral code as you. The big question, though, is how much of a match between moral codes is enough? Is there a way for two different notions of "relationship with God" result in a compatible notion of "relationship with fellow man"? Is there a way to honor "respect for the sacred" without tying it to a particular religious expression? And what is the impact on culture in each case?

It's a debate we've been having for centuries, and will have, I hope, again and again. As long as it's a civil debate, an honorable debate, and an informative debate.

And, oh yeah, an inclusive one.

Fingers said...

So I was trying to watch it online, but for whatever reason the stream just wasn't keeping pace and eventually stopped. But I saw the whole trailer and for unknowable reasons was brought to tears by the last bit with the presidential oaths, and I decided I needed the film. I don't know, could be because it's 3 am. Put my $20 to good use.

John Carosella said...

Hi Fingers,

Sorry about your streaming experience -- honestly, we've had more load on our servers than we anticipated.

Thank you for your comment, and your support. We appreciate your patronage. Let us know what you think of the film once you've seen it. And pass the word if you feel inclined -- we think it's an important discussion topic.

Sally Morem said...

Hi John,

"It's scary to entrust public office to someone who doesn't share the same moral code as you. The big question, though, is how much of a match between moral codes is enough? Is there a way for two different notions of "relationship with God" result in a compatible notion of "relationship with fellow man"? Is there a way to honor "respect for the sacred" without tying it to a particular religious expression? And what is the impact on culture in each case?

It's a debate we've been having for centuries..."

And the American experiment of being the first mostly religious society with a wholly secular government is still an extraordinary novelty in the history of the world.

As a secular humanist who calls herself a philosophical agnostic (I don't believe anyone knows or can ever know what might be beyond or outside our universe), I believe America is an extraordinary achievement in the political history of the world. And as a conservative Republican, I wish to conserve it.

I believe your movie will help. Thanks again.

drew said...

Wow! I was invited to watch this movie at a friends house last night and was really moved. Thank you for the efforts you have made in putting this film together. This movie helped me remember what this country founded its principles on. Again, I say thank you for a moving experience!! Everyone should see this film, it will change America!

John Carosella said...

Thanks, Drew -- pass the word for us!

Phillippe said...

oh, my....Romney disparages "the constant scrutiny of the minutiae" of someone's religious persuasion. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE SHOULD DO! In the case of Mormonism, their missionaries daily play upon the accepted definitions of God, Jesus, etc. to peddle their own greatly differring versions of those terms. NOW, could someone explore the minutiae of Skull & Bones - little details like their initiation rites of laying in a coffin naked and masturbating while divulging their secret fantasies and sexual experiences? How about the minutaie of Bill Clinton's secret trips during 1969 to Prague, Moscow, and Hanoi? The minutiae is the meat and potatoes of a candidate. Those arguing otherwise are seeking to pull the blanket over your eyes.

sandiegodan said...

I will look forward to seeing this film here in San Diego.

As a liberal atheist, I look forward to a time, and I may not get there with you, when religion is returned to its proper place: in the minds of those who wish it. Article VI states that there shall be NO religious test. Period.

We have seen the results of religion with the current President's "faith" animating him to invade countries, torture, suspend civil and moral rights, spy on Americans, and enrich his cronies. Which god do I complain to?


Joshua said...

I'm currently the President of the California Western School of Law chapter for the J. Reuben Clark Society. I would love to screen the film here at our school. How can I obtain a copy of it?