It looks like the Republican presidential nominee will be Mitt Romney. Tea party favorite non-candidate Chris Christie has endorsed him, as have former candidate Tim Pawlenty. Meanwhile, many conservative pundits are writing columns about how terrible it would be for someone to oppose a candidate just because he is a Mormon. True, not a single primary has been held, but it looks like Romney will be the last man standing. If that proves true, look for my Obama re-election prediction to come to pass. That would mean not even Republicans will vote for a conservative candidate.
Columnist Michael Gerson notes the antipathy of many conservatives and Christians to Romney’s Mormonism. “About 20 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Protestants tell Gallup they would not support a Mormon for president.” Gerson thinks many of them will come around to supporting him as an alternative to Obama. But, he points out, the dislike of Mormonism is even greater among liberals and secularists.
In 2008 Mormon leaders raised their heads in support of Proposition 8 — the California initiative against gay marriage. Their commitment to the traditional family runs deep, and no issue is currently more likely to provoke liberal ire. Secular progressives will add this transgression to a history of Mormon offenses against women and minorities and raise, as usual, the specter of theocracy. . . .
Secular tolerance for the emphatic faiths has been thinning for some time. To many liberal thinkers, conservative religion is inherently illiberal. Mormonism only magnifies those concerns. Damon Linker has warned that Mormon leaders, claiming prophetic authority, might dictate to an American president. Jacob Weisberg has insisted, “I wouldn’t vote for someone who truly believed in the founding whoppers of Mormonism.” Twenty-seven percent of Democrats currently say they would not vote for a Mormon — a higher percentage than among Republicans or Protestants.
Do you think Christian conservatives will vote for Romney despite his Mormonism? Will you? Would you rather have a Mormon in the White House or Barack Obama? If you refuse to vote for either, what will you do? Vote for a third party or just stay home? Or does the candidate’s religion not really matter in the task of running the government?