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Republican Roundup: Santorum, Kennedy, Romney & Posthumous Conversions

Republican Roundup: Santorum, Kennedy, Romney & Posthumous Conversions March 1, 2012

J.J. Goldberg, frequently one of the most sane voices in American Jewish journalism, has a very interesting post about Santorum and his negative effect on the Republican brand name.  Basically a historical review of Jewish support for Democrats, Goldberg points out that, while never a majority, Jewish support for Republicans has seen better days and that a strong showing for Santorum will cause further alienation.  I think he’s right about that.  Santorum’s comments about wanting to “throw up” when he read John F. Kennedy’s famous speech about separating church and state will do nothing to help him with his Jewish problem.

My own Republican informants tell me that most of the GOP’s Jews are for Romney, in part because of his higher mainstream appeal.  Others, namely Orthodox Jews, are backing Santorum and Gingrich.  But Orthodox Jews count for a tiny percentage of Republicans and fewer than ten percent of American Jews.  So, Sheldon Adelson notwithstanding, most Republican Jews back Romney and expect him to win.

Politics being politics, Romney’s opponents from within and without are now seizing on anything to tarnish him in the eyes of the Jewish community.  With news that Mormons are still baptizing Holocaust victims, they may have found their hook.  Plenty of people have contacted me about my feelings about this and the fact that Romney once participated in similar rituals.

If you don’t know the whole history of this Mormon practice, Jeff Jacoby provides a good survey in the Boston Globe.  I must say that I agree with his conclusions.

Frankly, as a secular humanist I don’t care what people do in the privacy of their own churches, mosques, synagogues or temples.  They can perform rain dances, play with snakes or convert my dead grandparents to Mormonism.  Their rituals are meaningless to me.  It’s what they do to living people that interests me.

I oppose Romney and all of the others in this clown car of a GOP campaign not because of what they believe about dead people, but because of how they treat the living.

Is Romney’s religion an issue?  Well every Republican in the race has made his faith an issue so it’s an issue.  Where it affects their ideas for how to lead America it matters very much.  But what they believe about magic wafers or magic underwear doesn’t mean a thing to me.

If we’re going to start staging contests about strange religious beliefs and rituals then we are never going to talk about anything else.

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