Most commented: Will Mitt Romney's religion derail his political ambitions?
Will Mitt Romney's Mormon religion work against him in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination? Yes, writes columnist Tim Rutten, who points out that this is a point of concern the left and the right agree on.
Romney was the target of both left- and right-wing Mormon-bashing in the last presidential campaign, proving once again that vulgar religious prejudice is one of the few areas of our national life where true bipartisanship still prevails. Even so, last week's attack on Romney by the influential evangelical publisher and writer Warren Cole Smith was notable -- not only because Smith is closely aligned with religious factions that recently fueled the campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had overturned a ban on same-sex marriage but also because he argued that it doesn't matter what Romney believes on social or economic issues.
But Romeny's religion has nothing to do with his politics, Rutten continues, who uses his column to remind:
Functionally, this sort of thinking threatens to make a dead letter of the Constitution's ban on religious tests for office, and we ought to consider the implications. Article VI of the Constitution couldn't be more clear: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
And perhaps Romney's Mormonism won't become the issue it was last time around. But for another reason: People will be too busy bashing "RomneyCare." Prominent social conservative Richard Land explains in a report by Paul West:
"His biggest problem isn't Mormonism," said Land, president of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest evangelical denomination. "It's 'Romneycare,' because evangelicals are implacably opposed to 'Obamacare.' They loathe and detest it."
Readers, chiming in on the topic of how Mitt Romney’s religion may derail his political ambitions, have taken over our discussion board with sentiments including:
The vast majority of the anti-Mormon bigotry comes from the left. Hatred has found a welcome home in liberal circles. Liberals hate anyone that is not a liberal.
I see little difference between bigotry and Christianity.
Both the right and the left have religious tests for candidates. The right wants devoutly religious candidates who agree with their views. The left doesn't want devoutly religious candidates who may oppose their views.
Despite the language of Article VI of the Constitution, there exists a very real religious test for higher office in this country. Let's be honest, you have to profess Christianity, whether real or feigned, to be elected to national office. Personally, the men who have held office of president in my lifetime, with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter, have all feigned Christianity for the sole purpose of connecting with that large chunk of the American electorate for whom religious beliefs trump ideas, intelligence, and vision. The irony is, and despite the bloated statements by some that the United States is a "Christian country", the social Darwinism in this country evidenced by the fact that we refuse to take care of the most vulnerable among us, is the antithesis to the words presumably expressed by the religion's founder.
Here are the sad, sad facts. Religious fanatics have a death grip on the GOP. (Ironically, since these zealots are otherwise hysterically pro-life). No one can get the Republican nomination for president without the support of Christian evangelicals and evangelicals do not consider Mormons to be Christians. How could they? Mormons believe that God started off as a man on a distant planet and was later promoted to divinity by a council of other gods. So, even though Romney is probably the best qualified Republican out there with the best chance of beating Obama, he won't get the nomination because his magic book, the Book of Mormon and other parts of the LDS canon, differs in certain respects from the evangelicals' magic book, the King James Bible.So, good luck, America.
Excuse me, but who really cares about his religious views when his political views were all about flip flops on healthcare, gay rights, pro choice rights and on and on?
-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signs autographs for supporters in Des Moines, Iowa. After being criticized as mechanical and scripted in 2008, he is trying to connect with voters emotionally this time. Credit: Brian Frank / Reuters