Should Mitt Romney Play Down His Faith?

There is a long way to go until November but so far Mitt Romney has been adept at avoiding the Mormon question. Instead he has spoken of his faith in very lofty and vague ways, resisting any attempts to elicit full answers to what he actually believes. There is a growing consensus in the media and among members of both parties that not only should he answer these questions, but that failing to do so might cost him the presidency.

The reasons for this vary. Democrats see potential victory in drawing attention to the unusual and often controversial aspects of Romney’s faith. Convincing undecided voters that it’s a bad idea leaving the country in the hands of someone who believes hot drinks are evil, magic underwear can protect you, and Jesus visited America should be easy! If Democrats do this, and Romney refuses to engage in the discussion, the silence will be deafening.

Republicans desperately need to be reassured about Romney’s faith if they are going to fully back him. A Pew survey from way back in November, 2011 reported that half of evangelical Christians do not consider Mormonism to be Christian. When asked what word best described Mormonism, the most popular response from Evangelicals was “Cult.” Which is a bit rich given some of their own beliefs. The mistrust flows both ways. Only 18% of Mormons considered Evangelicals to be friendly towards them. (By comparison, only 22% said that atheists were NOT friendly towards them.)

Mitt Romney (via Politico)

So, imagine my surprise when I saw a dissenting view in The Atlantic on Thursday, featuring no less than Tony Blair. It is well known that Blair is a very religious man. Since leaving politics, he has set up his own foundation — The Tony Blair Faith Foundation — and given a decent account of himself when debating Christopher Hitchens in 2010. During the ten years he was Prime Minister, the often touted party line was “We don’t do God.” Yair Rosenberg, writing for The Atlantic, thinks Romney should follow Blair’s lead and leave his religious convictions to one side and focus on the issues.

I think this is a mistake. It just pushes the problem deeper away from public view — out of sight and out of mind.

While I will admit it was (on the whole) a nice ten years of religion-free politics, it only hides the problem from public scrutiny. If Romney really believes what he says he does, it will inform his entire decision-making process on the campaign trail and in the White House if he wins. Just because he refuses to talk about it publically doesn’t mean he won’t act on it privately.

In his autobiography, Blair’s press secretary, Alastair Campbell, revealed that Blair would often consult the Bible when making political decisions — including the decision to take Britain to war with Iraq. When seeking to persuade Bill Clinton to join the NATO intervention in Kosovo, he framed it as a battle between good and evil. It is possible Romney will face similar moments if he becomes President, and I’m not sure I’d want to have someone with such levels of cognitive dissonance, thumbing through the book of Mormon, with missile launch codes in his possession.

Ultimately, the fact that Evangelicals consider Mormonism a cult will not matter to the religious right because most of them are so anti-Obama that the GOP could put up the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard as the Republican nominee and they’d vote for him.

How to frame the Mormon question will be a problem for Democrats. It’s a question that needs to be asked, but in the right way. Too aggressive and it will only add to the victim-complex of Republicans who feel religion is under attack.

Does Romney’s Mormon faith bother you more or less than it would if he were Catholic or Evangelical? Do you think keeping religious convictions private is a price worth paying to reduce the role of religion in public politics?

About Mark Turner

Mark Turner was born and raised as a Catholic in the North East of England, UK. He attended two Catholic schools between the ages of five and sixteen. A product of a moderate Catholic upbringing and an early passion for science first resulted in religious apathy and by mid-teens outright disbelief.

@markdturner

  • Marguerite

    “Does Romney’s Mormon faith bother you more or less than it would if he were Catholic or Evangelical?”
    I think it bothers me about as much as if he were evangelical. I see Mormonism as a type of fundamentalism (though I will admit I don’t know enough about it to be certain I’m right) and I am not comfortable with any true fundamentalist as President. I’m frankly more comfortable with someone whose faith is a little more superficial. 

  • Dan

    Disturbingly, I’d actually be more concerned with the evangelical faith of Bachmann or the Catholicism of Santorum being in the Oval Office than a Mormon like Romney. I think Mormons believe a lot of weird stuff, but since their faith is a minority one they are usually better on church-state separation (like Baptists used to be when they were a religious minority). Most Mormon’s I’ve talked to are also much more open to science than fundamentalist Christians.

    Although it does bother me that Mormons take vows that their prime goal is to further the church (not the Constitution), and that they believe a lot of stuff that is absolutely discredited by history and science about the Americas, and especially the blatant racism that was a part of the church well into Romney’s adulthood. Also, Romney did travel to Utah to meet with church leaders before he went public with his views on abortion when he was running in Massachusetts, which really bothers me that he might clear his decisions with church leaders if he was president. But despite all that, I’d rather have him as president than most of the evangelical Christian or conservative Catholic Republican office holders.

    • Stev84

      It’s ironic that Republicans were deathly afraid when Kennedy became president about him possibly taking orders from the Vatican. Kennedy made a great speech about that, but it was never going to happen anyways. Today they have no problems with Romney taking advice from Salt Lake City, which is a distinct possibility in some cases.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

        Well I think it is a big concern to them, but they currently have an Anyone But Obama theme going on. They’ll sigh and vote for him in the end, but they’re not happy about his religion or his liberal past.

        • AxeGrrl

          Seth Meyers in SNL’s ‘Weekend Update’ nailed this, saying:
           
          “it looks like Republican voters have finally decided that it’s better to marry someone you don’t love than it is to die alone”
           
          *teehee*
           

    • AxeGrrl

      it does bother me that Mormons take vows that their prime goal is to further the church (not the Constitution)

      If Romney takes that seriously, then it should bother everyone who isn’t Mormon.

      Actually, it should bother everyone, period ~ since the constitution protects everyone……even those who consider it some kind of ‘inconvenient stumbling block’ to their religious beliefs.

      • Dan

         Yeah, the Reasonable Doubts podcast had interviews with ex-Mormons a couple months ago and the promise to make your primary goal to further and obey the church was something they brought up that should bother everyone. Also, when Romney took his vows they included the promise to commit suicide by disembowelment if he ever revealed the vows. Pretty creepy.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

           This is accurate; the only marginally mitigating factor is that the LDS view the Constitution as inspired and set up by God.

          • Patterrssonn

            So the constitution is open to endless cherry picking and reinterpretation then.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Personally, Romney’s faith does not trouble me any more than Obama’s. I consider their faith to reflect poorly on both men. So in this election, it will not be a factor for me. If we ever have a Presidential election where one candidate is openly atheist (we’ve certainly had closet atheists as Presidents), that will make for some interesting decision making.

    • Stev84

      If was pretty shocked recently when Obama admitted that he has about five pastors with whom he “consults” regularly. Why anyone would admit such insanity is beyond me, but I guess there is as an argument made that it’s better that such things are known. The problem however is that there are no alternatives. The only choices are “very religious” and “religious”.

  • Bob Daniel

    Personally, I think you should have to publicly renounce all your professed faith in the supernatural, in any form, before you are eligible to be elected to so much as dogcatcher.  Since that’s not going to happen, then the less said about it, the better. “We don’t do God” is a good motto. But we’re watching you.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      That would violate the “no religious test” clause of the Constitution. Nobody should have to renounce any personal views in order to be legally eligible to run for office. But we can all dream of a time when the American public becomes wise enough to refuse to elect anybody who is religious (and most especially anybody who makes that a point of their campaign).

  • hoverFrog

    I would love to see religion pushed into the political spotlight and argued about.  It would go so far in exposing the ridiculousness of religious beliefs and push religion into the background of politics for a generation.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    Mormonism is becoming more and more influenced my American culture/ethics just as Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity. Just as there are a lot of Catholics and Protestants say that all the crazy stuff in their faith is taken out of context, so too are many current day Mormons.

    I had a long conversation with a young Mormon recently who told me that Joseph Smith married his extra wives just to take care of them, that there was no record of children with those other women.

    So, really Romney’s religion is relevant to me only to the extent he follows it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

      “Joseph Smith married his extra wives just to take care of them, that there was no record of children with those other women.”

      There is no record of such children with Joseph Smith. You are probably thinking of Brigham Young.

      • ErickaMJohnson

        No, she was talking about Joseph Smith. She was using the fact that there’s no record of kids with those other women as evidence that he only married them to take care of them, not because he wanted multiple wives.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

          ah, I understand now.  I have to disagree with her, even just based on D&C 132, leaving alone other parts of the historic record. Some of that did occur though and there was some confusion on subject of sealings for quite a while.

           The whole subject of polygamy is a very sore point for a large number of LDS women.  Then given such things as the hymn “Praise to the man” there is a strong tendency among member to think of Joseph Smith (and the early church members and the leading councils of the LDS church) as being perfect (or nearly so (and by current standards and understanding of perfect)).

          • ErickaMJohnson

            Yes, that’s certainly how she saw him. “Joseph Smith was a great man and you should really read the Book of Mormon.”

            I knew I wasn’t going to get her to budge on any of that but I did manage to get her to see the value of the separation of church and state.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

               Being LDS, I do think Joseph Smith was a great man.

               However, I also think that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were great man, despite knowing of some of their faults.

               I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, like Moses (who killed a man), Jonah (ran away from his call and then wanted to see a city burned to a crisp), Samson (lots of things), and others were prophets.

              If to be considered a great man or a prophet one must be perfect or nearly so and be judged as such despite changes in common practice and morality then the list of either would be extremely short.

              She should have already known the value of separation of church and state; It is found throughout LDS scripture.

              • Coyotenose

                 There’s a marked difference between “having some faults” and murdering on behalf of an invisible god.

                A man who speaks for an all-powerful, all-benevolent god that is the source of capital-M Morality must by definition be tremendously (and possibly perfectly) moral according to that god’s version of “moral”. Otherwise he does NOT represent said god. If he claims to be a prophet and then commits murder, that is exactly equal to saying that his god condoned that murder.

                If he does in fact represent said god despite his faults, then said faults are actually that god’s faults. That god can then be said to be a murderer, because he is knowingly abetting and empowering a murderer.

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                  First, Joseph Smith never murdered anyone.

                  Second, as I hope you are aware both the Bible and the Book of Mormon do have instances where God commands the killing, even murder and genocide, of people. In fact if one looks at Genesis (or 1 Peter) then apparently God killed everyone except for eight people; so nearly an extinction level event, certainly mass genocide. Then there are natural disasters, illness, and so forth.  All of that and you are concerned about God possibly condoning murder?

                  By the way, Mormons certainly don’t believe that God is invisible.

                • ErickaMJohnson

                  the Bible and the Book of Mormon do have instances
                  where God commands the killing, even murder and genocide, of people. In fact if one looks at Genesis (or 1 Peter) then apparently God killed everyone except for eight people; so nearly an extinction level event,
                  certainly mass genocide. Then there are natural disasters, illness, and
                  so forth.

                  Wait….why do you worship this god??

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                  We are God’s children, He is our father. We lived with Him before we were born and we have the potential to live with Him  after we are resurrected. This life is a testings ground and in this life everyone dies eventually. 

                  An analogy might be helpful. A small child is not allowed to play on a stove, an adult is able to cook on a stove, and an adult may be able to instruct a small child in cooking something. Not a perfect analogy at all but it should be helpful in understanding.

                   We are terribly naive if we think that a Being that is able to see all time and whose purpose is our eternal life and happiness will act in a way that matches the rules that we have to follow or that will lead to what we think of as being the best given our understanding of the situation.  This life is only the smallest moment when compared to all time.

                  This comment is not enough to explain everything and probably not the appropriate place to do so. There are significant differences in LDS theology that make natural disasters and illness not necessarily the fault of God or punishment from God, but they certainly can be. God is real and loves us; “though He slay me, yet will I trust in him”:  Job deals with the subject.

                • ErickaMJohnson

                   First off:

                  We are God’s children, He is our father. We lived with Him before we
                  were born and we have the potential to live with Him  after we are resurrected.

                  Citation needed.

                  Secondly, even if that’s true, why worship this awful god? Kids should get away from abusive parents just as religious people should escape from abusive deities.

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                  http://www.lds.org/study/topics/god-the-father click on view more.  

                  I never said that God was abusive, I did however compare us to children. Should a three year old run away from home because his parents put him in time out?

                • ErickaMJohnson

                   I’m sorry, I should have clarified: Credible citation needed.

                  And I’m saying your god is abusive. Any three year-old who’s father is calling for murdering and enslaving people should be taken into child custody services. Or, full custody should be given to the child’s mother.

                  Who is Goddess the Mother, by the way?

                • MWilson

                  Joseph Smith never murdered anyone but he was a convicted con artist, married a 14 year old girl, a 16 year old girl and many women who were already married (polyandry). He also ordered a printing press to be burned to the ground because he didn’t like what they were printing about him. He was hardly a saint.

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                   Lots of girls at that time got married when they were 14 to 16, and to older men as well. You are judging him in that regard based on todays customs.

                  I am not aware of the polyandry leading to sexual relations, D&C 132 says that if such did occur then it was adultery. There was some confusion with the subject of sealings for quite some time early in church history.

                  On the news paper in question: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nauvoo_Expositor

                • MWilson

                  Your grasping at straws.  You say that girls ages 14-16 often got married during that time period, but I can’t find any information that agrees with that.  I would be interested in where you found your information- anything I find shows an average age closer to 22-25.  

                  As I said before, I used to be mormon.  Because of that I think I have any idea of where you are.  I think you trying really hard to stay faithful.  I get the impression that you are an apologist and I’m  guessing you spend a lot of time on FAIR and FARMS.  You may want to try looking outside those particular resources. 

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                   I actually have run into farms and fair more through places like this then I ever have of my own.

              • ErickaMJohnson

                 Why do you think Joseph Smith was a great man and how do you know he was a prophet?

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                  As a great man, Joseph Smith made the second largest city in Illinois and established a people and organization that later settled the inter-mountain west, which was a desolate desert. The same organization continues to do quite a lot of good things; some of which not everyone agrees with (which isn’t something new).

                  As to knowing he was a prophet, that answer mostly comes from God, as it seems your friend was trying to point out. I could bring up such things as the word of wisdom, the gathering of the Jews to Israel, the civil war prophecy, so forth but that tends to turn into an endless debate with no one being convinced on either side.

        • Coyotenose

          Please ask her if she thinks that the childless couples she knows don’t have sex. :P

      • MWilson

        Mr. Hutchins, I would like to recommend a website to you that you might find interesting. It is mormonthink.com. Take a look at the polygamy section. Also I found this link quite interesting as well http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/AF/individual_record.asp?recid=7762167
        I grew up LDS. There are too many truths about the church that are never shared with members.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

            I am sorry, the family search that you have up is not accessible by me, it is blocked.

          I am not inclined to trust anything on a website that says that lying for the Lord is real and taught in church, nor anything that quotes the Tanner’s as authoritative. Especially not when so many of the facts on that page are wrong (such as when the first vision was first recorded (there are two older versions then the 1838 one)).

          • MWilson

            John, I was Mormon until two years ago and I grew up in Cedar City. I knew almost nothing about the MountainMeadows Massacre until a few years ago when the movie about it came out. I can tell you are an apologist and I find it very very strange that you are hanging out on this website. Kudos to you but still strange. We will have to agree to disagree on how much church involvement there was in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Regardless, it is hardly the only aspect of the churches history it has tried to hide. Polygamy, polyandry, the Mark Hoffman letters, the fact that the Abraham papyrus has been translated and it is a common funeral text (nothing at all about Abraham), Adam God doctrine, the numerous changes to the temple ceremony. The list can go on. The plain and simple truth is there is too much the church has tried to keep hidden from members and non-members alike and Mitt Romney should be confronting these issues if he is going to be in the public eye.

          • J Wilson

            Belief can be an important part of the human experience, but it is a tragedy when a person’s belief is allowed to get in the way of their pursuit of truth. We are all entitled to our own opinions, however flawed or even downright kooky they may be, but we are not entitled to our own facts. Something is either valid, or it is not. It is either factual, or false. Just because you may not approve of a specific source for any particular reason, does that disagreement give you free reign to declare the facts presented within said communication as false? Or rather, should each piece of evidence be weighed on its own, according to its own merit?

            I ask this, because you seemed to have tuned out that website entirely upon discovering one small thing you apparently disagreed with, rather than having the integrity to dig down and verify the facts themselves to see of they held any water.

            Good luck on your journey through life. At some point, each of us has to make the decision to choose between a belief that makes us comfortable, and the possibility that said belief might be less than factual.

            • amycas

               Well, he did give one example of some of the facts they got wrong. I’m less inclined to take a resource website seriously if I’m able to find mistakes of fact  too quickly.

              • J Wilson

                Except, amycas, the website didn’t get those facts wrong at all. “lying for the lord” is a practice which is unfortunately all too alive and well within the lds church, as that entire section on the website demonstrated exceptionally well, but that neither you, nor Mr. Hutchins apparently felt the need to verify before writing a response.

                Some of the quotes found on that subject clarify this greatly:
                Boyd Packer: “there are some facts which may be true, but which are not necessarily useful”, which he then went on to suggest that those facts, while true, shouldn’t necessarily be shared because of the possibility for those facts to “erode” a person’s belief, notwithstanding the fact that said truths may in fact be accurate.

                Also take Dallan H. Oaks on the recent PBS documentary “the mormons”, where he said, “it is wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if that criticism is true.”

                If those recent examples Don’t communicate the current practice of lying for the lord, I don’t know what does. But Mr. Hutchins dismissed the entire website because he disagreed with a single point which he didn’t even bother to verify before rejecting. It is that callous approach of throwing logical fallacies over every idea they don’t agree with, which makes the Lds belief system such a potentially harmful one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    Reaffirming his belief in anti-gay marriage pretty much says “Hey, I’m Mormon and am using my religious stance as a political tool.” I really can’t hate on Obama because of his gay marriage stance, and if he plans to go for country-wide equality, then I’m all for him. And naturally the media hates Ron Paul.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    You think Obama doesn’t consult the Bible? The man bragged that his healthcare bill was inspired by his Christianity, which peeved conservatives. Either way we’re going to have a religious president. All I care about is that they at least have a humanist interpretation of their religious faith.

    • Hibernia86

      But the question is whether Obama really consulted the Bible or whether he said that just to get the support of Religious Democrats and to make it more difficult for Conservatives to attack him. Only Obama himself knows for sure.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        George Bush made a lot of claims about consulting the Bible for big decisions in his presidency. Why is it we take him at his word and don’t assume he was just saying it to get support?
        Obama is a Christian. It’s just sad when you see people wishing and hoping so hard that he’s secretly atheist. Accept him as a liberal Christian, otherwise you might as well just be calling him a scumbag opportunist politician.

  • Nkendall

    I wish for once Romney would just be honest, he has really come off as a spineless man who talks out of every side of his mouth at once. Back when he was a moderate, liberal on this conservative on that kind of guy I would have tolerated him regardless of his religious convictions. Me voting for him based on what religion he uses to describe himself is no better than people judging me solely based on those religions I choose not to describe myself with. 

    But no, he drank the punch, he took too many steps right, not I am once again left without a candidate to represent me because apparently no one got the memo that it is okay to have political opinions from both sides of the fence. I don’t think anyone is truly all left or all right and still sane in the membrane.   

    • Thomas Farrell

       He won’t be honest because he knows that he’d be unelectable if he was.

  • SteveS

    I am not sure that Mormonism is any worse than any other highly-controlling religion. I am a life-long atheist and think they are all cults. At my Mother’s cajoling, I read the whole bible when I was 12. I had to report back to her that I was not impressed and was still not a believer. I found the Koran at the public library and waded through it as well… More of the same. I found one of the mail-in cards the Mormons used to put out in public places and filled it in to get a free copy of their book. Two Mitt-Romney types in white shirts and black ties showed up at the front door one evening to deliver it. (Mom was aghast!) Dad was amused and lead her away and let me suffer through their spiel. Somehow I finally got them out the door – just about as hard as the time Mom tried to get the Kirby Vacuum Cleaner guy out the door. I read it. Every wearisome line. Much of it is plagiarized from the old testament. It is just as batshit crazy as all the other religious texts I have read.

    The big problem I see is that good ole Mitt is not just a rank and file mormon. He rose to a position over 12 congregations. He is a thoroughly inculcated cult leader. You can hear the training in his voice every time someone starts to get close to his defenses. He starts reciting recursive non-answers. He has been highly trained and vetted to sell batshit to all comers. And he brings this training to the political arena. You can bet his administration would be filled with people with the same training and vetting… He is in most ways no worse than Bachman or Santorum, but he is way more slick – and dangerous, because he just might get elected.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

    After Prop8 and with what I’ve since learned about the LDS I don’t trust Romney or his church one iota.  

    • Bruce the Moose

      Yup! I used to think of Mormons as kooky but nice, well behaved and harmless. Prop 8 changed all that: I now regard them as dangerous. Remember the mountain meadows massacre.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

         Could you please explain how one incident over 100 years ago not done by the organization as a whole nor by the leaders of the organization makes everyone throughout all time that belongs to the organization to be dangerous?

        By the same logic in regards to the MMM you should be much more scared of nearly every other religion and all governments on the planet then of the LDS.

        By the same logic the LDS should be deathly terrified of the USA and many of the states in the Union.

        The perpetrators of the MMM were tried and executed for their crimes (by other Mormons),
        the perpetrators of simliar violence against the LDS were never tried or
        punished for their crimes. Who should be scared of whom?

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Have to agree.  Prop 8?  Relevant.  MMM? Not.

        • MWilson

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre

          Read a few paragraphs down. John D. Lee was the only person tried and later executed for his involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The Mountain Meadows Massacre was a horrible tragedy. I know that there were crimes committed against early Mormons but that in no way justifies the murders of approximately 120 men women and children.

          Most religions have aspects of their pasts they would like to keep quiet. The LDS church is no different. Hiding things you are ashamed of doesn’t make them any less real.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

            Yes, look at the Wikipedia articles on the subject.  The LDS church and leadership of the church did not try to hide the MMM once the lies told by those involved were exposed and is not responsible for the MMM, as federal judges and prosecutors found. More recent evidence to the contrary has been found to be fraudulent forgeries.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Prop 8 was worrying. There were many other churches that financed the campaign, but the willingness of Mormons to contribute time and money simply because their church told them to stands in stark contrast to, say, Catholics, who felt free to ignore the Catholic church’s position. As a general rule, Mormons seem all too eager to do whatever their leaders tell them to do.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Back when Huntsman was still in the race I made some FB comment about how he was the only one who accepted evolution.  A very intelligent Canadian Mormon friend of mine assured me that Romney most likely did too.

    Yes, Romney’s religion scares me a LOT less than that of Santorum, Bachman or Perry.

    • Coyotenose

       It’d be nice if someone would press him publicly about that. He’d be forced to choose between offending his voting block or his church.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

         Evolution? The LDS church has no real position on it; Mitt Romney would be able to answer whatever he truly believed whatever the voters want to hear on the subject without offending his church.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Mitt Romney would be able to answer whatever he truly believedwhatever his likely voters want to hear.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    I’m more worried about how religious a candidate is, rather than what faith he or she espouses. Someone who doesn’t take religion too seriously would be my preference, but as long as politicians are able to keep their religion to themselves and support the separation of church and state, I’m fine with voting for them.

    Mitt Romney is not someone I would ever vote for, but his Mormonism isn’t the reason why. If he were more progressive, I wouldn’t have a problem with him. As an atheist, I’m actually rather glad that he’s a Mormon, simply because it points out the absurdity inherent in all religion. Plus, it annoys the right-wing evangelicals who don’t want to see Mormonism gain credibility in American culture. Since I think both denominations are equally non-credible, I don’t mind seeing the evangelicals bothered by it.

  • Hibernia86

    I’m going to have to disagree with this post. Liberal Americans have been more successful than they have been given credit for and in America today, there are large percentages of people who would consider criticizing someone for being, say, a Muslim is bigotry. However, this also means that these same people believe that criticizing someone for being a Mormon is also bigotry (they are saying the same thing about people who criticize Obama for going to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church). The Democrats do not want to be associated with people who attack Romney’s Mormonism because they are going to be accused of being prejudiced if they do so. Anyone who attacks Romney’s Mormonism will be compared to those who attacked JFK’s Catholicism.

    I agree that Mormonism has a cult like nature to it, but so do the Southern Baptists. I’d gladly support Progressive Mormons like Harry Reid for President. We should work for a religion free world, but when I vote, I only care about two things: are they electable and how close are they to my political views. I don’t expect politicians to be perfect to get my vote. I only expect them to be better than all the other politicians.

    • amycas

       I”ve been torn on this issue, but I think your post sums up nicely how I feel about the issue.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    It’s amusing to see conservative Christians shuffling the parameters of bigotry. Time was when Catholics too were out of the closet. Now they are okay, but Mormons are not, all because of core doctrines recognized from time out of mind.

  • Glasofruix

    Wait, mor(m)ons believe that hot drinks are evil? The magic underwear kind of makes sense when you know that they believe in some crazier bullshit, but hot drinks?

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Not all hot drinks. Like Jews who violate the spirit of the Sabbath but not the letter of the law by utilizing automated kitchen equipment, Mormons have done the same thing by finding substitute hot drinks (like hot Postum in milk) that are somehow acceptable.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

        Tea (not herbal tea, just tea) and Coffee are the only hot drinks that are prohibited

        • Glasofruix

          I still can’t see a reason… Although, reason and religion don’t go well together. What’s the officical explanation?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

            God said so, for our health.
             http://www.lds.org/study/topics/word-of-wisdom

            • Glasofruix

              No real reason then, as i thought. Another stupid dogma from another stupid branch of the christian sect….

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                 At least you said we were christian.

                • Patterrssonn

                  I don’t think he meant it as a compliment.

            • amycas

               I always thought it was because of caffeine.

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

                 That is what many LDS would say as well, but Chocolate is okay and caffeinated sodas while discouraged are not against the word of wisdom.

        • Dan

          I’ve known many Mormons that said herbal tea and hot chocolate are sinful, in fact I’ve only known a couple Mormons who said it might be OK to drink them.

          • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

             From my understanding of the Word of Wisdom, written in 1833, the only “hot drinks” available at the time were Tea and Coffee, both addictive and therefore “polluting” the temple of the body. This is why it specifically states “hot drinks” as being bad.

            The modern teachings of this “hot drink” writing is that it’s the caffeine itself which is bad, not the drinks altogether. This is corroborated by one of their Prophets, although I’m not sure which (Bruce R. McConkie is my first thought).

            That’s why a lot of Mormon’s who don’t actually pay attention to their own teachings think it’s okay to drink caffeinated soda, but against their teachings to drink hot cocoa. The word of wisdom doesn’t specifically forbid it, but they misinterpret and don’t look any further.

  • LToms

    No, he shouldn’t. If that’s who he really is and what he believes than he shouldn’t ignore it or downplay it either. Anymore than we should hide if we are athiests or agnostics.
    It may hurt his election if there are people against his religion, but he shouldn’t hide from his beliefs. I personally don’t care for the guy but it has nothing to do with him being a Mormon.
    I never dislike people for their beliefs, although I really resent them if they are hypocrites about it and also if they see that I respect their beliefs and they won’t respect my lack of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002343271497 John Hutchins

    wrong place

  • Paul_Robertson

    I can’t believe that I’m seeing an atheist arguing for more religion in politics, after all the effort that we’ve put into strengthening the wall of separation between church and state.
    Your argument seems to be twofold: first that knowing the religion of the candidate gives us an insight into what decisions he will make; second that Mormonism is kooky and that Americans should be encouraged to instead vote for a vanilla Christian. Your first argument is wrong and the second is dangerous.
    The USA has seen a succession of Christian presidents who couldn’t have been more different from each other. How would knowing their religion be at all helpful? A Christian president can be a staunch defender of the separation of church and state while an atheist (such as Australia’s current Prime Minister) can dance to the tune of the religious right with as much enthusiasm as the most committed Christian. What’s relevent is how the candidates act and how they says they will act. And neither has anything to do with religion.
    To your second point, if you weren’t  writing on an atheist site, I’d be accusing you of exhibiting Christian privilege right now. As members of an (ir)religious minority, atheists have a vested intest in defending Mormons and other minority groups from religious persecution, even though we disagree with their beliefs. Any attack on someone for not being “the right kind of Christian” is an attack on everyone who sits outside the religious majority. The defeat of a presidential candidate because of his Mormon faith won’t be the people rising up and rejecting unthinking faith; it will be the people declaring that only a Christian may become President of the United State. And that, would be a longer lasting tragedy than any action that Mitt Romney could take as president.

    • amycas

      ^^This. So much this.

  • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

    With the time I’ve been spending on Catholic blogs lately, I’d have to say that I’d fear one of their fundamentalists far more than a Mormon. And this I say even with my massive personal, illogical, hatred of Mormonism firmly in mind.


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