This may be the most interesting presidential campaign ever for Republicans, not just because they have a wingnut or two, but because the faith race appears to be a dead heat right now, with only Ron Paul (not really a Republican) and Jon Huntsman (a nominal Mormon—if such a thing exists) sounding somewhat sane about which metaphysical metanarrative they prefer. Expect to see entirely too much written about Dominionism, but be aware that most of what's written will be overly simple, inflammatory, misrepresented, or just plain wrong. There will be plenty of guilt by association fallacies as we saw with Obama and Jeremiah Wright, particularly where the name Francis Schaeffer is concerned. Already God has told three candidates to run, a "fact" that doesn't trouble me since it's conceivable within the logic and grammar of evangelicalism that God could ask a candidate to run knowing full well the candidate will lose.
Bill Keller of the NYT has put together a questionnaire for candidates, and promises the NYT will run the answers if received. Pretty sure the answers are not going to be proffered, but if they are, I'm equally sure they will not be politically damaging enough to matter. I'm going to answer the questions first as concisely as possible. Over the next few posts, we'll work through them, plus the individualized questions Keller wrote for particular candidates.
1. Is it fair to question presidential candidates about details of their faith?
Unequivocally, yes. Faith may be personal, but its implications aren't, especially when running for important offices.
2. Is it fair to question candidates about controversial remarks made by their pastors, mentors, close associates or thinkers whose books they recommend?
Yes, with the understanding that people who sit in pews will often disagree vehemently with their pastors, priests, imams, rabbis, etc., yet remain in the community for friendship, support, and a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with concordant theological positions. For the books they recommend, I'd simply like to ask which parts they agreed with and which parts they disagreed with and why. Just because someone recommends Mein Kampf doesn't mean she intends it as a philosophical inspiration.
3. (a) Do you agree with those religious leaders who say that America is a “Christian nation” or “Judeo-Christian nation?” (b) What does that mean in practice?
No. It means nothing in practice because it means nothing in reality. There is no such thing as a Christian or Judeo-Christian nation. If they believe this, they should probably be treated with wary contempt.
4. If you encounter a conflict between your faith and the Constitution and laws of the United States, how would you resolve it? Has that happened, in your experience?
Constitution wins. Period. It happens every day with gay marriage. It ought to be legal, Leviticus and Saint Paul be damned.
5. (a) Would you have any hesitation about appointing a Muslim to the federal bench? (b) What about an atheist?
No. No. Nor a Christian, Jew, Wiccan, or Buddhist so long as number 4 is clearly understood.
6. Are Mormons Christians, in your view? Should the fact that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons influence how we think of them as candidates?
No. They are not within the historically orthodox community of Christians. Get over it. If I call myself a Mormon and worship Mary and Shiva, am I still a Mormon? This self-identification thing is getting out of hand. The Church has not historically referred to itself as Christian. Rather, they are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As to part 2 of the question, no, it shouldn't so long as they understand number 4.
7. What do you think of the evangelical Christian movement known as Dominionism and the idea that Christians, and only Christians, should hold dominion over the secular institutions of the earth?
I think it's widely misunderstood and not nearly as important as the press and liberal opponents of certain candidates want it to seem. Dominionism is a broad term that can describe Christians from various traditions, all but about 100 of whom have no intention of "ruling the world." The movement and the corresponding silliness with the "7 Mountains" talk have never had a large influence on evangelicalism. Its proponents are rightly referred to as fundamentalists, and their numbers are far smaller than people realize. The final clause of the question reveals one of the primary misunderstandings of the overall movement. I was involved with the movement myself for a period of time in the 1990s and read only one book and met exactly zero people who understood Dominionism the way you describe it here.
8. (a) What is your attitude toward the theory of evolution? (b) Do you believe it should be taught in public schools?
It's the most accurate and comprehensive explanatory model in biology and other critical science fields. It should be taught in public schools. Period. Creationism or ID should not. Period.
9. Do you believe it is proper for teachers to lead students in prayer in public schools?