Mitt, We Hardly Know You
Published on: May 22, 2012
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  • Tom Gates

    Romney MUST talk about his faith, but asking the President or those who influenced his faith for 20 some odd years is racisim. Learnign about Mitt’s school pastr is critical to understand who he is, but the President gets a total pass. I guess the President’s advisors earned their fees didnt’t they? Your clear double standard is in keeping what one would expect from Higher Education but I did not expect it from you.

  • Kuro

    Pushing the TL;DR barrier here but there are a number of good points. Perhaps some voters could be better educated, but I have to disagree with the premise. As a Mormon myself, I followed the events of 2008 with interest, including Romney’s earnest attempts to contextualize Mormonism is politics. This failed miserably.

    If the electorate wants to know more about Mormonism, they can read the stuff from 2008 or church publications ( If the electorate needs to be educated, that’s just a losing distraction from the economy. If Mormonism is really an issue, why hasn’t Reid had to field these questions? If this is really a presidential issue, why are we not seeing a ‘Barack, we hardly know you’ for the POTUS’s own religious uniqueness?

    This doesn’t look or quack like a valid issue because it’s a red herring.

  • Kenny

    People know all they need to know about Romney, namely that he’ll be a big improvement over what we have now.

  • Jim.

    Mitt Romney: a clean-cut, all-American Arian heretic.

    Which do you think Americans in general (or even Evangelicals in particular) will care about more these days — the clean-cut, all-American part, or the 4th century theological debate part?

    Obama, on the other hand, is a clean-cut, clear-cut Eurosocialist. This has destroyed his image with anyone in this country who is right-of-center.

    All this talk of “defining” may or may not matter. After all, the “blank screen” strategy worked for Obama last time around. The “etch-a-sketch” strategy will probably work for Romney this time around, as he moves among TEA Partiers on the right and Center-leftists on his left.

    As Obama demonstrated four short years ago, you simply can’t trust what politicians say during an election. You have to look at their records. Obama remained true to his hard-Left record; the chances that Romney will remain true to his Centrist record are similarly excellent.

    And so, any website that claims to seek the “Via Media” should give him its full support.

    Moreover, an intellectual website that sees more deeply than the superficial “identity” that politicians attempt to project should not wait for those superficialities to condense; it should look at the hard facts of Romney’s Massachusetts record and draw firm conclusions.

  • Mark Michael

    The NY Times & other leading media outlets put Romney’s Mormonism on their front pages regularly, but even a hint at Republicans running ads highlighting Obama’s 20-year intimate relationship with Trinity United Methodist Church and its long-time pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is off limits to any decent human being. It would be racism at its worst and destructive to the good order of the Republic.

    Even (alleged) conservative pundits tell Republicans not to ever, ever bring up Rev. Wright. It would backfire on them. Those Independents who decide elections would not be swayed by learning about the teachings of black liberation theology embraced by Rev.Wright and Trinity United. Oh, wait, they already know all about it from the 2008 election, and it didn’t keep them from voting for Obama by large majorities.

    Besides, they now have seen Obama on TV for 3+ years, and such background information recedes in importance.

    But, by WRM’s view, one’s religion is critical to the understanding of the character of anyone, including a politician – and especially one who’s running for President.

    Hmm. I wonder how much the ordinary Independent voter knows about the theology of Trinity United Methodist Church?

    Maybe the Pew Center should sponsor a survey and find out! If the knowledge of it are thin or nonexistent, then we need a lot of in-depth reports on this branch of Christian Protestantism. Hourlong specials on PBS and NPR.

    Perhaps we can discern why Obama is so dogmatically committed to the failed “Blue State Model”! Perhaps it’s rooted in his deeply-held religious beliefs.

  • thibaud

    Only in the US would a candidate’s relationship with the supernatural be considered at all relevant to his or her qualification for public office.

    Even curiouser, Americans reserve this test for their political leaders, exempting CEOs, judges, military commanders, university presidents, Federal Reserve officials, top professionals and other executive leaders.

    To see how ludicrous this requirement is, imagine General Petraeus or Steve Jobs or the presidents of Harvard or MIT being asked for their views on the eucharist, or whether they’ve accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior.

    Irony of ironies, a perfectly solid presidential candidate was nearly rejected by his own, religion-soaked party’s religious voters … for not being religiously orthodox.

    Assuming the economy does not improve, and no QE salvation (as it were) appears from on high before the autumn, it’s these religious zealots’ hostility to their own party’s candidate that will, more than any other factor, cause him to lose a race in November that he would otherwise win.

  • thibaud

    The saddest part of this tragicomic spectacle is the fact that mormons, as a group, are probably the most ethical and certainly the most capable subgroup of business professionals that you will ever deal with. Where mormons go, businesses flourish, families are strong.

    In northern Mexico, the longtime mormon communities settled at the beginning of the last century are islands of prosperity, civic peace, and communal provision amid a sea of poverty and squalor.

    Nothing better illustrates the need to remove these [scatological comment removed] religious tests, the need to wear religion on one’s sleeve, from our politics than the evangelicals’ hostility to Romney.

  • thibaud

    What consenting adults do in their homes is no one’s business but their own. Ditto for what political candidates think about say or not say to their chosen gods.

    Yet another of many sad ironies here is that the whole trend of political candidates baring their soul, of wearing religion on one’s sleeve, was started by none other than Jimmy Carter.

    Funnier still is the fact that today’s bete noire of the religious right is the man whose national political career was kickstarted by an utterly ludicrous speech full of religious posturing and flapdoodle about how “we worship an awesome God in the Blue states.”

    That was the celebrated phrase which caused both left-wing “fightback” Democrats and right-wing religio-philes to stand up and shout, Hey, he’s one of us!! At last!

    With the Obama-foolery, our weird, post-1976 obsession with displays of overt religiosity and religious confessions from our political leaders has reached a new low point.

  • RSC

    I don’t think Americans want their president to wear his religion on his sleeve, particularly. They just want some assurance that he’s a regular person. They accepted that George W. Bush had a conversion experience; it’s by no means unusual. If, however, he took to praying Tebow-style at press conferences or expounding the finer points of atonement doctrine, it might have put them off. Just the same, they accepted that Obama was a more-or-less mainstream Christian. They didn’t really want to know the details.

    Of course, for hard lefties, all religion is strange, so 90% of the human race looks bizarre to them.

  • Jim.


    I’ll bet you that if Obama takes the “gay strategy” you recommended in one of the other threads here, evangelicals will unite behind Romney instantaneously.

    I could be wrong. There could be some secret, shadowy “Knights of Nicaea” or “Brotherhood of Athanasius” organizations that could be conspiring to keep Evangelicals at home, but I doubt it.

    If Evangelicals had (or have) and reason to oppose Romney, it is the Centrism of his political record. However, as it’s now a binary choice between Centrist Romney and Eurosocialist Obama, it’s pretty clear to people on the Right what their best choice is.

    Also– the presidential habit of wearing one’s Christianity very much in view started with Washington, and he was all the better thought of for it.

  • thibaud

    “hard lefties” – giggle. As if a disinclination to believe in supernatural phenomena makes one left wing.

    In what universe is Rick Santorum or Sarah Palin a “regular person”?

  • Kris

    I realize that I (and most of your readership) am not representative of the American public, but Romney’s “narrative” seems obvious enough: clean-cut, moderate, successful CEO. Period. Anything else is FUD.

  • Anthony

    “But the piece exposes the dilemma at the heart of the Romney campaign: the former governor can only be understood and appreciated as a himan being in the light of the deep faith that informs and guides his approach to life, but few Americans understand what that faith is and how it works.”

    Now, Romney’s problem WRM is generally most of the population is quite uninformed and readily susceptible of being emotionally worked upon, distracted. Where the public goes wrong is in whom it accepts as plausible candidates – not men of proven ability, knowledge and purpose but men who appeal to various unexamined prejudices (in this instance religion).

    WRM, what can be done for a public who insist upon bringing irrelevant criteria to bear in voting for officials (President) and who decline to participate in the basic task of seeking out and supporting suitable candidates? It’s more than the centrality of Romney’s faith.

  • John Burke

    I don’t agree that Romney should engage affirmatively in some effort to explain his religion to voters. Yes, he should, when relevant, talk about how faith generally is important in our public life. The minute he talks about how this or that LDS doctrine or practice fits into his own life, he legitimizes debate about their validity and how they differ from more familiar Christian sects. He should continue to take the approach that one’s faith is a private matter. (Not incidentally, WRM’s ear for dog whistles must be deaf if he thinks the Times’ big Romney Mormon story was intended to do anything other than drive discussion of Mormon wierdness.)

    The two large groups of voters who might care most about Romney’s Mormonism — evangelical Christians and secular liberals — are already spoken for. Most other voters don’t much care but it would be highly risky to test this with swing voters.

    In any case, Romney will win if the election is about Obama’s record. This cardinal truth obviously has guided Romney’s campaign, and they will stick to it. Friends, foes and impartial observers alike keep forgetting it. Yes, Obama is liked — but that is why he is running in a virtual tie in most polls with the relatively unknown and not as well liked Romney. If Obama had lower personal favorability, he would be trailing badly.
    But liked or not, Obama will lose if come November, swing voters believe he has failed.

    Of course, Romney needs to avoid allowing the Democrats to paint him as a wierdo or a wingnut or a Wall Street vampire — and so far, he’s doing OK in this (his favorability ratings have come up). But this is tactics. The strategy of his campaign is to convince swing voters that their feeling that Obama does not deserve reelection is right and they should act on it.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    This election is going to be a referendum on the economy, and Obama’s and the Democrat’s responsibility for how bad it is. Sectarian differences with Romney will matter even less than the Racial differences with Obama did in the last election. Americans have proven much less bigoted than the Leftists would have everyone believe, and in fact the Leftists are themselves the most bigoted group in America.

  • Pedro

    George W. Bush, though a teetotaler by the time he ran for office, was a guy you could “have a beer with.”

    Romney has probably never had more than a few beers, but that isn’t even the main problem. The problem is he just isn’t personable in the way Bush, Obama Ana Clinton are.

    All in all I think the Mormon thing is being overblown. Unless people believe Romney is taking orders from the LDS- very unlikely given his record- I think personality will triumph over religious affiliation- but that’s sort of the problem, isn’t it?

  • Pedro

    Thibaud makes some brilliant points btw

  • flataffect

    Anybody who wants to know about Mormonism only has to go to You can ask for missionaries to come and teach you about it.
    Just don’t listen to all the anti-Mormon baloney you find put out by various other denominations. It’s true we believe that the trinity or Godhead consists of three individual entities not one single one and a lot of things others reject, but if you read the Articles of Faith, there is nothing that would make a Mormon a bad leader.

    Mitt won’t talk about his faith because he doesn’t want to get caught up in a distracting side-debate that would take the focus off the issue in this campaign, which is the economy and Obama’s refusal to take any measures to reactivate it after it stalled and preventing it from recovering.

    There are plenty of Mormons who will answer questions and defend the many vilifications that are always cropping up in the media.

  • John Burke

    Thibaud makes a great point I second — that most Americans are made uncomfortable by politicians who wear religion on their sleeves, although the knowledge that an office holder is generally a person of faith is reassuring.

    I am reminded of Harry Truman’s remark that when someone starts quoting scripture, you should put a hand on your wallet.

    A major failure of the right for much of the last three decades has been the insistence of an influential segment on public demonstrations of religiosity.

  • Gary L

    Some of the commentators seem to be hyperventilating a bit re Obama v. Romney religious affiliation. The two really aren’t equivalent

    Obama strikes me as being the very model of a Secular Presidential Humanist, a la Thomas Jefferson, William Howard Taft and JFK (Senator McCarthy – the nice Senator McCarthy – quipped that JFK was “about as religious as a fire hydrant.”). I can’t presume to know anything of Obama’s thought processes, but I think that any invocation of Rev. Wright’s jeremiads are rather beside the point – I’m guessing that Obama joined Trinity United Church of Christ solely for its networking opportunities, rather than spiritual sustenance. I’ve never heard Obama make a scriptural reference that wasn’t either trite or misinformed. For example, he once quoted the line “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as if it were divine advocacy for charitable beneficence, rather than the fratricidal Cain’s sarcastic defiance of God.
    And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? (Genesis: 4:8-9)
    So faith is essentially peripheral to who Barack Obama is. But it is highly central to who Mitt Romney is. Militant Tea-Party right-winger that I am, my enthusiasm for Romney has been minimal at best – but the stories that make me feel most positive toward him have been the ones showing how he has lived out his spiritual values, through his lay pastorship and through counseling in his congregation. It would highly immodest for Romney himself to trumpet these virtues, but I hope the Campaign figures out to bring awareness of this to the electorate.

  • Jim.


    Do you seriously believe that religion in this country is “unexamined” by its adherents?

    People in this country are daily pressured to examine and re-examine their faith. After doing so, we accept it — particularly, as being superior to the alternatives presented.

    Have you actually read Mead’s posts on religion, back from Christmastime? Have you read enough of Berger’s to catch a mention of his “incurable” Lutheranism?

    All it takes is the simultaneous recognition that science is empirical — it builds up its conclusions by repeating experimentation — and that the Christian religion is based on what is truly unique: God becoming Man, then dying and rising again for the sins of the world, and presenting us with a set of morals (ethics, if you prefer) without which the scientists of this world cannot ply their trade without grotesque tragedies resulting.

    You can’t test miracles — say, changing water into wine — in a modern university lab. It would only lead to disappointment… the grad students would end up disappointed that there was no wine, and the professor would end up disappointed that he wasn’t God.

    Empiricism is incomplete by its very nature, and so always will be. Nothing can be done about that.

  • Anthony

    @21 Jim, I spoke/wrote to where the public goes wrong from political candidate selection and how generally (regarding general voting eligible public) blandishments and appeals to unexamined prejudices (religion, ethnic, national origin, regional, occupational, personal, etc.) were ways by which the public winnows prospective office seekers; as Plato brought out in his dialogue “Gorgias” people in general were more responsive to blandishment than to reason.

    As to WRM and Peter Berger’s ecumenical writings, my acquaintance with both men erudition precedes your posting on this blog. …thanks….

  • thibaud

    Romney has a long track record in the public sphere. Why are his views on the supernatural relevant to anything?

    If you think that his religious views on X or Y will influence his behavior w.r.t. a specific policy issue, wouldn’t it be smarter to actually, you know, look at his track record on that issue instead?

    Alternatively, where he does not have a track record – eg in foreign policy – what evidence is there that a religious disposition one way or another is correlated with a particular stand?

    Take policy toward Israel and the ME. The presidents who’ve been more favorable toward Israel include the supposedly “secular” types like JFK and the very religious types like GW Bush. The presidents who’ve pressured Israel include “secular” types like GHW Bush and Obama.

    Or the Cold War: pious Jimmy Carter pushed human rights and containment; the evangelicals’ favorite president, Carter’s successor, de-emphasized human rights and sought to roll back the USSR. Secular JFK was an uber-cold warrior; secular Obama disdains confrontation.

    All the evidence we have is that our presidents’ religious predilections tell us nothing whatsoever about their behavior or policy preferences or even fitness to serve.

    Add the craving for a Pontifex Maximus to our consumer-credit bread and circus economy in that list of ways that our republic is declining on the Roman model.

  • Mark Michael

    Re: GaryL’s comment 20

    “Obama strikes me as being the very model of a Secular Presidential Humanist, a la Thomas Jefferson, William Howard Taft and JFK (Senator McCarthy – the nice Senator McCarthy – quipped that JFK was ‘about as religious as a fire hydrant.’)….I’m guessing that Obama joined Trinity United Church of Christ solely for its networking opportunities, rather than spiritual sustenance. I’ve never heard Obama make a scriptural reference that wasn’t either trite or misinformed.”

    I think this correctly captures part of Obama’s choice of Wright & Trinity United Methodist church. Wright & Trinity were key players in the Chicago black political community. There were 2 or 3 city and state-level pols who also were members of Trinity. Obama joined to be able to network with them.

    I hadn’t heard the Sen. Joe McCarthy quote about JFK. It’s funny – and likely true! JFK’s incessant philandering with no (apparent) regret or sense of guilt does not comport with a deeply devout Christian, who accepts he’s sinful and needs to struggle against his “evil flesh” and temptation to sin. Teddy fell into the same category, I suspect.

    BUT, I do think that Obama holds a deep commitment to a “secular humanist” goal, an “Ultimate Concern” as theologian Paul Tillich might phrase it, of a socialist utopian society centered around government.

    The Christian “Kingdom of Heaven” as an ultimate goal and ultimate reward for the faithful Christian is replaced with a earthly government-centric utopia.

    I’ve read that one of the big concerns that Obama had when he was looking for a church home when he first moved to Chicago was not to fall prey to “middle classism” by which he meant giving in to a comfortable, well-paying job, a nice home in a pleasant neighborhood, and a easygoing lifestyle. He allegedly repeatedly quizzed Rev. Wright about his commitment to not giving in to that temptation of “middle classism.”

    The point? This is his substitute “religion”; his “Ultimate Concern” in life. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t given in to temptation: both he and Rev. Wright have bought very nice homes in nice neighborhoods. Obama has indulged in more vacations, golfing outings than an president. But “falling into sin” even for secular utopians has forgiveness, presumably, since he still seems totally committed to his utopian vision in his presidential decisions.

  • JJ
  • donzi_boy

    Separation of church and state is the fundamental right of the American republic. I don’t agree that Romney needs to talk about his religion. I started to distrust Jimmy Carter when he began talking about his discovery of god as a born again christian. Oddly enough, after he lost he stopped talking about that.

  • Hayne Crum

    Mormon faith has a foundation in Christianity, but it is not a Christian faith. What a Christian faith is was defined in the 3 century AD. Those people that follow the tenets of the Apostle’s Creed are Christian, and those that don’t aren’t. The Morman follow most of it, but not all. Romney’s speech at Liberty was right though, the do have a similar moral foundation, like that of the Jewish people. Believers can work for common moral principals, even if the exact beliefs are different.

  • Michael

    I’m more than happy to discuss Gov. Romney’s faith. Maybe it can provide an opportunity for Americans to see how utterly inane so much of religion is. Personally, I couldn’t be more tired of my president telling me how much they love Jesus. Since when is suspending belief under any other circumstances considered a good thing? I’m tired of the pious pandering. I don’t respect Mormonism or religion in general- I suspect it. Isn’t it time America had a pro-reality candidate? And as for my evangelical friends- might I recommend them Iran? They’d be delighted. Finally, a government that directs their policy based on the ramblings of a deranged pedophile.

  • TomKinney

    Agree that Romney needs to get out ahead of the DNC spin cycle. He’s seemed slow in doing so thus far and yet he’s answered every challenge thrown his way, particularly from Republican presidential opponents.

    An interview with Arthur C. Brooks, head honcho of AEI on NPR earlier this week addressed some of Romney’s issue regarding our economy and especially the role of entitlement spending and supporting unfunded pension liabilities.

    Brooks is pushing his new book, The Road to Freedom, which appears to be a spin-off title from Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. Brooks says that conservatives have failed to make a moral argument against liberalism, especially in regard to the issue of nanny welfare states. He says liberals have been winning the moral argument for entitlement programs for decades. They have. Disingenuously, but nonetheless.

    It’s long been my contention that moral arguments are out of order in this context; still, this has challenged me to consider their place and value in this discussion. Unlike many conservatives, I’m not a Christian or anything else, and as I like to say it, I’m not even an atheist, as I see that as just another form of religion. I do believe in a higher power, but define it simply as the universe being a greater entity than myself.

    That having said, Brooks’ stance on the moral argument is a simple, classic conservative one (and reminds us that the best ideas are not necessarily the most convoluted ones as our liberal brethren like to trick them up). According to Brooks, it’s the slow drip torture of welfare entitlements that damages its recipients beyond repair over time. That’s immoral. (I’d say it more simply; it doesn’t work and it backfires disastrously.) And it doesn’t just enable them, it cripples them. We see it in our ghettos, among our rural poor, in all populations who’ve become dependent on it. There was a time when some of our poor still had their pride and refused welfare at any cost. That time is now long gone. Today, we see it even more clearly in Europe where nearly half its population no longer works for a living. In England, where it is said that once you go on the dole, regardless of age, and that includes the very young, you have at best a 50% chance of ever working again.

    So what’s the result of all this liberal largesse? In England, for example, students are still funneled into trade tracks based essentially on socioeconomic background, but those jobs have dwindled. So you have a permanent lower class who have either lost jobs and can’t find new ones or have never worked and never will. How long will that be sustainable? Is it even sustainable today?

    Welfare in western countries has become a lifestyle choice. And with the rise of disabilities’ payments under Obama, we see yet another set of titanium teeth in the welfare mouth, grinding loudly for more fodder (taxation) to masticate into the body politic.

    But I don’t like moral arguments any more than I like fair share arguments. Brooks brought that up too; that the fair share argument will be Obama’s prodding stick throughout the upcoming election, and that it’s a moral argument. It is and it fails as such. You can’t legislate fairness. You can’t legislate happiness. You can’t legislate success.

    However, it does appear that you can legislate failure and we’ve done so very successfully. Nine percent of Americans lived in official poverty before LBJ’s war on poverty that’s cost us approximately $15 trillion over the years and now as an outcome we have fifteen percent poverty. So, as usual, liberals front the counterfactual: “think of how high it would have been otherwise.”

    That logic has had its heyday with the knowing help of the media, but is now in the process of exhausting the credibility of the liberal orthodoxy behind it. Liberalism today is a dead religion struggling for its last breath and now is the time to drive the sword in to the hilt. Liberals once had good ideas and have accomplished much by way of moving society forward, but like all good things, liberalism has fallen apart under its own weight. Its claim on the hearts of Americans has been taken to TR’s anti-monopoly trust court where it is losing badly. Its bad ideas have bubbled to the surface by default after the good ideas were stretched to the breaking point and today’s liberals cling to them like psychological safety nets. It’s hard to kick a religion cold turkey and liberals are fighting this inevitable process tooth and nail. We need to free them from their depredations and be gentle in assimilating them back into society as they are also part of our kit and kin. We need to be stronger and better than them. Then we win and we do we don’t crow about it, we open our arms. They will be a welcomed back upon their return into the fabric of our ever forgiving society. We have missed their productive output in these dark years of liberalism.

    And, oh by the way, Brooks says there does have to be a safety net but it should only be for the very poor and downtrodden. Not the middle class, who now receive social security checks three times larger than their original contributions. How sustainable will that be with 10,000 boomers going into retirement every day for the next two decades? This is fact about SS payouts and has been discussed a lot lately but only by conservatives. Liberals refuse to go there.

    The goal, whether deliberate or not, is to hook the middle class on entitlements as as already been affected with the lower class. Why that’s seen as a positive move is hard to ascertain, but we know one thing about it; it attracts votes and polls well. Tell people they’re going to get stuff for free; they’re there.

    The NPR interviewer challenged Brooks on some polls that seem to contradict each other and he agreed that while Americans poll 70% in favor of gonzo free market enterprise, conversely they poll 65% for wanting health care coverage by govt fiat.

    These discrepancies shouldn’t be bothersome, but rather are totally logical. Of course we all want whatever we can get for free and of course we believe in free enterprise, that’s what America is all about.

    So bottom line is that we have to make some wise discernments here. Trim down government, make it leaner and meaner. See it as a last resort. Militarily, economically, philosophically. And don’t abuse its limited talents in trying to do too much with it. Make a better safety net, but discriminate who gets its services and make them time limited and means tested so that recipients, if humanly possible, have a path to crawl out of this forced subservience. Some won’t be able to and we will continue to protect them, giving them all necessary shelters. But to not wield a discerning sword over who gets entitlements and for how long and regardless of personal initiative to get off welfare; that’s when entitlements damage people. They rob them of incentive and leave them with nothing to plot their own survival going forward.

    My bottom line on moral arguments: if you have to use a morality prod to push back against liberalisms’ annoying tendency to brandish them like little secular bibles when forwarding an argument, fine. But know their limits and wean yourself off them as soon as possible. Don’t attach to moral arguments, attach to common sense policies that prove to work. And do the research to make sure they do work.

  • Jared

    This was a very interesting article to read as a member of the LDS church. I think that religion can only be beneficial for Romney at this point. The LDS faith believes the constitution is divinely inspired, support families and traditional christian values like honesty, integrity, and charity.

    I would not trumpet religion if I were Mitt but anyone with conservative values is going to take a church going man over a gay right’s liberal. Obama will have to be careful of attacks on Mitt’s religion as his record when it comes to church going is pretty sketchy.

    When you figure the percent of Americans that even vote (just over 50%) you have already eliminated the most ignorant people. Now instead of 82% not knowing about the LDS faith you might have ~40-50% of voters who don’t know much. I imagine even many of them will research out basic tenets of the faith. Between the internet and its missionary force there is a large force in place to educate the public on the beliefs of the 4th largest religion in this country.

    I would assume that the majority of those who personally know a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a positive view of them.

    The bottom line is what the swing state independents think and I have a feeling that Romney’s central record will carry the day. Obama’s only chance for salvation is the economy turning around very quickly. With the time-bomb of Europe and stagnant growth here I don’t foresee things getting better for Obama in the next 6 months.

  • Doug Schexnayder

    After OzBama…what a title! lol

    The distractions, lies, demons and smears will not hide the personal pain caused by utopian socialist policies…
    the pawn media changes democrat diapers 24-7 but its never going to be enough…
    the election is about deliberate personal pain to tens of millions by an arrogant misguided apostle of utopian socialism…which has failed for nations for decades.

    Distractions from the pain do not reduce it…the pawn media will learn that come November….they learned nothing in Nov 2010 when a record 730 democrats got sent home by the voters…

  • Steve Larson

    I can’t remember, was John F Kennedy’s Catholicism a big issue in the election of 1960? I remember people talking about it being historic, but I don’t remember Kennedy having to open up very much about it. I was only 10 so I honestly cannot remember. Anyway, I’m more interested in what each candidate will do about the economy.

  • Ted James

    There are so many very well thought out remarks here that I am a little intimidated to leave one myself. If you will suffer me for a moment, I hope that I can add something to the discussion.

    I agree with the author that Mitt’s biggest challenge, regarding his faith, is to somehow focus on the universal truths that his faith shares with other faiths and that he needs to stay away from any sort of focus on theology. If the GOP denies that this could be a problem and they don’t plan for it, then they will lose when it does come up.

    The problem is not that he can’t talk about his faith its that nobody can talk about the President’s faith. Its okay to be openly bigoted against Mormons but its not okay to question the doctrine of the black sepratist church that the President belonged to for approximately 20 years. So any discussion on faith and how it shapes the candidates will be completely one sided. The only way Mitt Romney beats Barack Obama is if he can make the campaign an apples to apples comparision. Both candidates know this. That is why Mitt will stick to his strategy of focusing his campagin on 1) economy 2) jobs 3) national debt. These are areas that the President has had a hand in shaping over the past 3 years. These are the top concerns of the country going forward. This is where Mitt will win or lose the election. He has to convince America that he has solutions for righting the ship. If he gets sucked into a discussion about faith, its a no win proposition for him because a similiar comparision of his opponent cannot be made.

    His surrogates have to bridge the gap for him. His wife and children have to show America they are just like every other family in America. Other people will have to talk about his missionary work. People will have to talk about his personal efforts in findings his partner’s lost daughter, Melissa Gay, in 1996. Most importantly, these other people will have to say, “Mormons are good people too.” I imagine that the Catholic church and Evangical communities will have to come out in their own way to show support for Mitt, even if its couched a bit, it will help him greatly with their parishoners.

    The next big thing Mitt can do to get Evangical and Catholic support is by saying he supports the 40 some odd lawsuits that have been brought against the government by Catholic institutions, who provide health care, regarding the mandate to add abortificants to their coverage.

    In summary, his family will play a big part in briding the gap. His surrogates will have to paint the picture of him as a faithful man and letting others know that it is okay for him to be Mormon. And he will have to pick his spots on what issues to support in order for him to garner the political support of Evangicals and Catholics in November.

  • Jared

    For those of you unfamiliar with the LDS faith I would like to highlight a few points that might be meaningful to understand Romney.

    He served as both a bishop and a stake president. A bishop typically serves for 5 years over a congregation of approximately 100 families. Bishops are unpaid and routinely put in 30-40 hours a week in service. They counsel members and organize and lead service and spiritual efforts.

    A stake president is also an unpaid position which one serves in for about 10 years. They are over about 5000 people or 8 wards. They counsel and aid bishops and other stake leaders in their duties.

    Romney’s missionary service was 30 months long. Missionaries and/or their families pay their own expenses. Days are spent proselyting and serving members in the community.

    Romney donates 10% of his income to the LDS church. He also donates significant amounts to other organizations. From personal experience I would add the LDS church is highly effective in distributing aid to those in need and this is a major tenet of our faith. Most of those involved with welfare are volunteers. The church encourages those receiving aid to volunteer themselves if at all possible. The church believes in self reliance and bishops will often counsel members seeking aid to first cut unnecessary personal expenses and to go to family for help.

    Joseph Smith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” I think you can see this in the life of Mitt. I would suggest to go to Mitt’s homepage and watch and read about this truly amazing candidate and you will both see and feel the goodness of this man’s life.

  • thibaud

    #34 Jared – thank you. This is fascinating and very useful information. Now I understand better why so many of my mormon colleagues and classmates have outperformed everyone else.

    Good works, charity, dedication to helping others: all to the good, and all are relevant to Romney’s qualifications.

    But the man’s spiritual _beliefs_ are not really anyone’s concern.

  • Dimslie

    Don’t need to know Mitt. We know Obama.

  • Mike

    Many of you guys are missing the point. The writer is not proclaiming a moral judgment: Romney needs to talk about his faith because we have a right to know. He’s making a political observation: Romney needs to talk about his faith if he wants to win. In other words, if Romney wants to win, he can improve his chances by connecting with voters in a personal way. In particular, with regard to his faith.

    As for the double-standard, yes, it clearly exists, but not just because of media-bias. The double-standard exists because of the very essence of the two sides.

    Conservatives, for the most part, are moral people while liberals for the most part are relativistic. The conservative believes there is an ultimate standard by which everyone should live (whether or not he meets the standard is another question). The liberal believes each person can determine his (or her or its) own standard.

    By this reckoning, the conservative is always at a disadvantage because an outsider can easily judge him or her based on a very concrete and transparent standard (religion, sexuality, ethics, morals, etc.) Conversely, it is very hard to attack a liberal on moral grounds because they worship at the altar of tolerance (as opposed to, say, righteousness).

    This is why we hold a pastor to a very high standard; he rebukes people in public for sinful deeds and would be a hypocrite if he also commits them in private. We don’t expect a leftist, free-spirited, politician to have very strong religious beliefs. But we certainly do expect that from a conservative, church-elder, type – whether a politician or not. This is why people care about Romney’s faith and don’t care about Obama’s.

  • Hana Noca

    Mormons are a cult. And so are Christians, Jews and Muslims. Get over it. While it may have a different color, the suit is the same. We are not voting for better best, but rather for worse and worst.

  • Artie

    We must submit ourselves to the service of Mr. Romney who has been foreordained to save this country from Mr. Obama and his forces.
    Mitt is such a wonderful saint and a true family man. Why are people so bigoted not to understand this?
    This nation will truly learn to appreciate good government and executive competence when Mitt puts this country on the right path!

  • Mark Stoddard

    Barack, We Hardly Know You… and the media could care less. By all means vet Romney. As you should. Now, do the same for Obama. After nearly 4 years so much is not known and supporters simply say that those who ask questioners are another version of a birther. Wrong. Vet him this time media.

  • EJM

    I’m not sure that I agree with Prof. Mead on this one. Romney’s Mormonism is a subtext and of secondary interest to most Americans, if even that. What we need to hear from Romney are clear, well-thought out, and practical plans for getting the economy growing robustly, getting the unemployed jobs, and controlling the federal debt. Our country is in a financial, economic and political crisis since 2008. Obama has only allowed it to fester and grow worse. If Romney can convince independents and the non-ideological that he has practical solutions to the country’s problems, American optimism will return and he will win handily, no matter what he thinks about Virgin Birth or the Book of Mormon.

  • You don’t have to wash every piece of Mitt’s laundry. This election is not about him. It is about USA. It is about our economy. It is about the void in management and management experience. It is about the depth in solving problems and making us winners. Mitt showed enough of it. He needs to keep talking about his solutions, which he is doing. O keeps going down on his slippery slope. We need to focus on critical conversations on Romney’s solutions. God Knows, O has no solutions and not even real attention to real problems. So don’t waste your time on surface items, focus on the meat. “Where is the meat” in all the blogs in the media(very few or very little).

  • Mike

    Many of you guys are missing the point. The writer is not proclaiming a moral judgment: Romney needs to talk about his faith because we have a right to know. He’s making a political observation: Romney needs to talk about his faith if he wants to win. In other words, if Romney wants to win, he can improve his chances by connecting with voters in a personal way. In particular, with regard to his faith.

    As for the double-standard, yes, it clearly exists, but not just because of media-bias. The double-standard exists because of the very essence of the two sides.

    Conservatives, for the most part, are moral people while liberals for the most part are relativistic. The conservative believes there is an ultimate standard by which everyone should live (whether or not he meets the standard is another question). The liberal believes each person can determine his (or her or its) own standard.

    By this reckoning, the conservative is always at a disadvantage because an outsider can easily judge him or her based on a very concrete and transparent standard (religion, ethics, morals, etc.) Conversely, it is very hard to attack a liberal on moral grounds because they worship at the altar of tolerance (as opposed to, say, righteousness).

    This is why we hold a pastor to a very high standard; he rebukes people in public for sinful deeds and would be a hypocrite if he also commits them in private. We don’t expect a leftist, free-spirited, politician to have very strong religious beliefs. But we certainly do expect that from a conservative, church-elder, type – whether a politician or not. This is why people care about Romney’s faith and don’t care about Obama’s.

  • Joanne brooks

    Romney Mormon bad. Harry Reid mormon good. Jodie Kantor nuts.

  • JayC

    It pains me to say this but I actually disagree with WRM – a rare thing.

    Mormons tend to be very moral in a ritualistic sense. The abstain from ordinary things like caffeine and are typically plain clothes dressers. They are also conspicuously family oriented and very socially connected.

    Romney is not typical at all of Mormons and I sincerely doubt he’s driven by that ideology. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Bush Sr., kind of a nasty but successful guy. Romney isn’t liked by other Republicans and that says something.

    Even if Romney were driven by Mormon belief, he’d do well to keep his mouth shut. Mormonism is pretty broken intellectually and some of their beliefs are a bit out of the mainstream. Unlike Christianity, which is profound in terms of literature, philosophy and contains extensive archeological and historical reference, Mormonism is very poorly constructed.

    Quite honestly the best campaign Romney can run is that Obama is worse. Aside from this, Romney has little to offer. He’s a serial flip-flopper, has no charisma and seems to be driven solely by a desire to be listed as an American President.

  • Ken Royall

    Obama wrote 2 books about himself and we still don’t know HIM. Anyone who is curious can find out anything they like about Mitt, people are lazy.

  • ryno

    Im starting to get a familiar feeling about Romney. Hes so afraid to say anything wrong hes not going to say anything at all.

  • JasonM

    This is where we have to refer to Razib Khan’s classic blog post in the D H Fischer- W R Mead tradition:

    “Mormon America is a representative of the New England Puritan cultural tradition in “Red America.”

    And, in fact, as Professor Mead noted in “Harvard, Honolulu and Hyde Park,” President Obama comes from exactly the same Yankee moralistic tradition…

    Which is why Jacksonian blue-collar white America is so turned off by the both of them.

  • John

    If Mitt successfully explains Bain Capital to the American people in simple, easy to understand terms, he wins this election hands down. And its simple, Bain helped went into dying companies and tried to help them survive. It saved some and lost others. Much like a good doctor. And of course, like a good doctor, the company got paid whether the patient lived or died – they tried.

  • Gary L

    Steve Larrson says:

    I can’t remember, was John F Kennedy’s Catholicism a big issue in the election of 1960?

    Yes – JFK’s Catholicism was a huge deal in the 1960 election – he was only the second Catholic presidential nominee (the first was the Democratic Governor of NY, Al Smith, in 1928). While Smith never had a serious chance of defeating Hoover, Kennedy was the front-runner throughout the campaign. There were frequent accusations that Kennedy, as a Catholic, would be obliged to obey directives from the Vatican, even if they significantly diverged from America’s interests. On Sept. 12 1960, JFK addressed the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of conservative Protestant ministers, to declare his allegiance to America’s traditional separation of Church & State. This is the speech that Santorum famously said messed with his digestive processes.

    Mark Michael says:

    I hadn’t heard the Sen. Joe McCarthy quote about JFK. It’s funny

    Actually, it was Sen. Eugene McCarthy – politically dubious but truly devout – who made the remark on JFK’s religiosity. Sen. Joe McCarthy would have doubtless pulled out a list of 57 high-ranking US government officials whose spirituality was rated at a level less than the fire hydrant stationed before the Kremlin.

  • Frank Arden

    Although Via Media seldom occupies its thoughts with partisan politics, I think this post is spot on.

    It seems that Mitt’s handlers are afraid of his faith. True, Mormonism is a little strange to us orthodox Christians. I’m a conservative Episcopalian. So were my sisters forty years ago when they swooned at Mormon Donnie Osmond.

    That’s not to say his sister, Marie, was not appealing to we adolescent guys at the time. She still is, at least to we old men.

    I remember Donnie, in the TV spotlight of all his pubescent popularity, being asked by the press, in front of all of his little girlie-girl fantasy babe fans if he really believed sex before marriage was wrong.

    The clear attempt by the press was to establish him as a hypocrite who used show biz to make young girls fawn over him as a high school homecoming night fantasy under the bleachers after the game.

    Bur no, Donnie, the Mormon, answered honestly, and bravely, according to his faith to the blunt question: “According to your Mormon faith, do you really, do you really believe sex before marriage is wrong?”

    He said, “You better believe it.”


    “You better believe it.”

    Now, the point here is not to condemn premarital sex, but to highlight this young man’s hold upon his Mormon faith in spite of ridicule and embarrassment.

    Mitt Romney would to do well to stand as firm as young Donnie Osmond did years ago.

    The fact is, and as I think Via Media has pointed out, the American people appreciate faith, not so much what it is, but what sort of moral character flows from it and with it.

    Jack Kennedy (“we hardly knew ye”) marched into the lions den in West Virginia in 1960 during the primary to explain his Roman Catholic faith to bigots. He did not apologize for it, but used the opportunity to tell West Virginia, and the rest of America, that it was his faith in God that wrapped him in red, white and blue.

    Barack Obama’s pitiful attempt to defend Reverend Wright, his Christian faith and his attitude as a black man was much hailed by the press as something spectacular and heroic.

    It was pure political rubbish!

    Mitt Romney is red, white and blue, too. His Mormon faith has much to do with that; also his character, and his life, the way he has lived, his children, his wife, according to his conscience.

    He really ought to talk about it more.

  • thibaud

    #51 – “it was Jack Kennedy’s faith in God that wrapped him in red, white and blue”

    Was it “faith in God that wrapped him” in Inge Arvad? In Mimi the teenybopper?

  • I think Romney’s and Obama’s faith are a private matter and should be left alone. The questions I want answered about a presidential candidate are: (1) What does he want to do as President? (2) How qualified is he? (3) Is he an honest man of good character?

    What Barack Obama wants to do as President is repellent to me. He believes all good comes from government, and I don’t. He believes that the private sector should be tolerated only because it pays taxes, and I don’t. I’m going to vote for Romney whether his imaginary friend in the sky is the same as mine or not.

  • Jock Strap

    I think a man’s faith is absolutely fair game, if that man is going to have his “finger on the button”. We as voter’s should have as much information on a candidate is is humanly possible.

  • He Wei Jin

    We talk about the upcoming election as if it is going to be decided by an electorate looking at the candidates and judging them based on their character and background, their basic beliefs and ideology and then make an informed rational decision. The election will be decided by disinterested, ignorant, apathetic morons that both parties will spend millions of dollars lying and pandering to and cajoling them to take a couple of minutes away from their sofas and TVs to cast an uninformed vote. We are reduced to appealing to the lowest common denominator. Is it any wonder that Obama was elected and will probably be re-elected? The Democrats have the useful idiot constituency sewn up.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Harvard Business School guru Clay Christensen says Romney has some remarkable achievements that he should talk about as examples of his creative and intelligent leadership in solving intractable problems. He can also talk about the kinds of work that he did in his unpaid church service.

    The paradox you pointed to is easily resolved: Romney should not have to present expositions on Mormonism, but reporters and opinion leaders should learn more about it so they can discuss it in any relevant news story.

  • mnjam

    Apparently Thomas Paine was right when he said that “As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism — a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness.” Christians of any sort should be disqualified from office. So should Conservatives, an even stranger religion.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    People who have actually studied Mormonism in an effort to understand it in a scholarly fashion, such as Professor Jan Shipps, Professor Randy Stark, and Richard Mouw, have found that it is a substantial enterprise to understand how the Latter-day Saints view their church, its doctrines and its history from the inside, and translate it into terms that the general Christian world can really understand.

    Even at the level of personal conversion, the Mormon missionaries who teach people, usually a pair of young men or young women, will generally meet with individuals or families investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the course of several weeks, asking them to read the personal testimony of Joseph Smith, begin personal vocal prayer asking God whether what the missionaries are teaching them is true, begin attending Sunday worship services and meet with the members of the Church, and read substantial portions of the 500+ page Book of Mormon. It is not unusual for some people to take months, and in some cases years, to make the decision to be baptized into the Church, at a point where they have a conviction, both intellectually and emotionally, that it really is a restoration of the original church established by Jesus Christ.

    Now you expect Mitt Romney to explain to the 98% of Americans who are NOT Mormon what Mormons believe, in a way that they will not misunderstand it, without individual feedback from particular individuals, and without any effort by Americans themselves to actually read Joseph Smith’s own words (as distinct from hearing salacious gossip), to actually read more than 10% of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, to actually visit a Mormon Sunday meeting (which is a block if three hour long meetings), and to actually ask God in prayer to help them understand the things theybare seeing and reading. When reporters and even academics are loath to invest any time in actually studying Mormons and their beliefs, rather than accept defamatory rumors and assume that Mormons are like some other religious group they don’t like, there is no way that Mitt Romney could ever get them straightened out of their misconceptions about Mormons and their beliefs.

    People who demand that Romney justify Mormon beliefs and history to their satisgaction, when they won’t make the slightest effort on their own part, are like the Pharisees who dogged Jesus, challenging him to justify his teachings to their satisfaction. Even Jesus Christ, whom Christians revere as God incarnate, could only convince a small percentage of his contemporaries to follow him, especially because he was challenging much of the conventional wisdom of the sects in Judaism of his day. Asking Mitt Romney to do something even Christ could not do is frankly a.little arrogant.

    Some Baptist televangelist is still opposing Romney’s election because he thinks it will result in a million people converting to Mormonism and therefore going to hell. But Romney is not trying to convert people to his religion, and is not running for president in the naive belief that a president can influence religious conviction in any way. As he explained at Liberty University, there are vast areas in which Mormons, Evangelicals, Catholics and Jews can find common goals, not least among them preserving religious freedom from the dictates of oblivious bureaucrats who don’t even appreciate that they are running roughshod over sincere religious beliefs of millions of American voters.

    Beyond that, if you really want to understand how milluons of educated and obviously accomplushed peopke like Rombey could support this denomination, you will have to do the heavy lifting of clicking on, of reading some of the vast material at which Mormons use to teach their children, and view streaming video of Mormon Church leaders whom they regard as apostles and prophets speaking at one of the semi-annual worldwide General Conferences of the Church, and compare it to what they might hear over the pulpit in their own church, or Obama’s former church.

  • richard40

    Romney should definitely NOT talk about his doctrine, minutia like what Mormons beleive about the trinity. That would either bore people to tears, or scare them stiff. He should just acknowledge the Mormon church has significant differences from other christian faiths in many doctrinal areas, but, like JFK, he would never let those differences have any effect on his political decisions.

    He should also not have to defend every strange act or position that anybody in the mormon church ever took over many years, just like the media insists that Obama not be judged by every speech Rev Wright has ever uttered.

    But Romney could talk about his faith in the general sense of leading him to do the right thing, like any other faith. Things like being honest with others, ethical in his business and political dealings, good to his family, caring about his fellow man (while not confusing compassion with gov handouts), respect for life and basic human rights, and other things that every religion shares.

  • Jared

    #18 flataffect suggests reading the Articles of Faith to gain an understanding of the LDS faith. I have posted them below and they were written by Joseph Smith the founder of the faith… I know this race may turn nasty with attacks on Romney’s faith. To be armed with simple talking points will be essential.

    We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

    We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

    We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

    We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

    We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

    We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

  • Jared

    Sorry I feel like I am spamming this message board… but as race baiting could become very real it might be helpful to know that Joseph Smith the founder of the LDS church run for president as an independent in the 1844 election but was assassinated prior to the election. One of his main platforms was abolition of slavery by buying their freedom through the sale of public lands. As a side note he also wanted to cut the salary of congress. He gave the priesthood to several blacks. One man whose son was a slave came to Joseph Smith for counsel. Joseph told him that he should follow the law of the land. As the man left feeling dejected Joseph gave him his horse so the man could purchase his son’s freedom.

    Sometime thereafter denying blacks the priesthood worked its way into the culture of the LDS faith…a belief commonly held by most if not all mainstream Christian faiths in America. This was reversed in 1978 through (as we believe) divine revelation much like Peter received allowing the gospel to be preached to the gentiles.

    Whether one believes in the LDS faith or not I think it is fairly easy to see members truly are a freedom loving people despite having been oft times persecuted. The more I think about this issue the more I agree with RWM that Romney will have to find a way to put voters at ease about his faith. This process actually may help add depth and likability to the distant picture liberals have painted of Romney. I think if voters know some of these facts any fear of Romney or his ‘secret’ faith will dissipate and we can focus on the essential topics of the economy etc.

  • Kris

    [email protected]: “Joseph Smith the founder of the LDS church run for president as an independent in the 1844 election but was assassinated prior to the election”

    So if Obama’s critics are racists who want Blacks put in their place, then Romney’s critics are obviously religious bigots hankering for the days when Mormons could be lynched.


  • thibaud

    The very real hostility of evangelicals and others to mormons could cost Romney this election, just as Al Smith’s Catholicism hurt him significantly in 1928.

    Jared is right. Mormons have made a huge, positive contribution to this country and deserve a better rap than they’ve received.

  • Frank Arden

    #52. thibaud says:
    May 24, 2012 at 12:46 am

    #51 – “it was Jack Kennedy’s faith in God that wrapped him in red, white and blue”

    Was it “faith in God that wrapped him” in Inge Arvad? In Mimi the teenybopper?

    Thibaud, I’m tempted to think you’re being deliberately contentious and obtuse, generally contentious and obtuse, honestly obtuse, or simply confused by what I said.

    In the interest of civility I shall assume the latter.

    Kennedy did not make his 1960 speech in West Virginia to defend Roman Catholicism or to say he was without sin.

    No man in a free country should ever have to defend his faith or claim that he is without sin simply to be elected to political office.

    My post was in response to Via Via Media’s point that Mitt Romney should explain not his faith, but to give voters’ positive examples of how his Mormon faith is woven into traditional American values, and how it guided him and led him to a lifetime of a good life with conservative beliefs.

    My reference to Kennedy was obviously invited by Via Media’s title of this particular subject of faith, politics and the qualifications presidential candidates: “Mitt, We Hardly Know You.”

    Thibaud, in 1972, two former senior JFK aides, Kenneth O’Donnell and Dave Powers (Irish friends of the Kennedy family) wrote a book about the Kennedy presidency titled, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.”

    Their choice of that title was inspired by the title of an early 19th century Irish anti-war ballad about an Irish soldier wounded and changed by war at an early time in life. O”Donnell and Powers conferred the title to their book about their friend, Jack Kennedy, and the short time he had in life.

    The parallel of both titles is clear to a sensitive, intelligent, and well-read mind.

    JFK’s 1960 speech was, perhaps, defensive as the first Roman Catholic who sought the presidency.

    Instead, Kennedy used that opportunity to assure not only the doubtful, bare-foot, bible-thumping Democratic Primary voters of West Virginia who were suspicious of “popeism”, but to also assure the entire nation, and the free world, that his faith in God was real, that he had no political allegiance to the Pope beyond his personal faith, and that his political allegiance was to the Constitution of the United States.

    Kennedy never explained, defended, nor justified his faith. He simply assuaged the questions, and suspicions, of those to whom it mattered.

    He never claimed to be a man without sin.

    Can you?

  • thibaud

    Please google Inge Arvad, you goof. Your drug-addled young rabbit was sleeping with a Nazi spy at the same his father was publicly trashing Britain while US Ambassador to the Court of St James, and privately trashing his president as “that crippled b*stard.

    “Wrapped in the red white and blue,” eh? More like wrapped in the red and black.

  • Bebe

    It seems the apologist Jared and the fan Thibaud both somehow feel that the very profession of someone’s Morman faith makes him a better American. Like many persons in the West, I have known several members of that Church. They have run the gamut from a few in my hometown, a few at college, a few in business, and a few socially. I have an excellent friend who shares an academic background in East Asia, has provided many contacts in business and publishing, and is the soul of thoughtful and considered judgment. Yet, as a resident assistant in my grad school dorm, I can recall being totally shocked to serve as “first earful” for a young man whose family had called the local bishop to read him out of the rolls because he was gay (he had to put in the hospital to prevent suicide). I don’t see anything special about LDS adherents and their chosen religion. Like all religious practices the world over, it is composed of good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, odd beliefs, and fine charity. To think otherwise I see as rather un-American and un-Christian: are we not all equal before the law and before our Creator? Yet today’s U.S. political arena somehow demands that we all, voters and officials alike, place our private religious beliefs out for public comment.

    I guess the Sixth Amendment no longer applies in today’s Republican Party. Of course, no one is calling for a religious test for Mr. Romney to support his fitness for office. Nonetheless, asking him to speak on his faith in so far as it informs his political decision-making seems tantamount to doing so. Any mainstream American Christian (which is how the LDS prefer to be viewed) would appreciate the “let not the left hand know what the right does” approach to matters of the political sphere. Of course, to the evangelicals and Catholics whom Prof. Mead suggests is the Republican base (wherever did you find that statistic, especially on Roman Catholics?), such inquisitorial statements from Mr. Romney are part and parcel of the Christian reconquista of America. I am completely suspicious of such motives when, indeed, there is no need for Mr. Romney to provide any religious statement whatsoever. Doing so would not improve either the American political discourse or American Christianity, but serve only to satisfy the prurient longing for some bizarre “auto-de-fe” by that sector of American Christians who have hijacked the Republican Party. Barry Goldwater was right: “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem.”

  • thibaud

    “It seems the apologist Jared and the fan Thibaud both somehow feel that the very profession of someone’s Morman faith makes him a better American. ”

    Nonsense. As I’ve said repeatedly, a candidate’s views on supernatural phenomena have no bearing – none, nada, nichego – on his or her fitness for public office.

    Again, we do not care what our military generals and surgeons and judges and CEOs think about the eucharist or the divinity of Christ or life after death or other supernatural phenomena. Why on earth should we care about our political leaders’ views on such matters?

    Please stop distorting my views. Thanks,

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