Who cares if Romney is a Mormon?

So, recently a preacher named Robert Jeffress introduced Rick Perry at something called the “Values Voters Summit”. During his remarks Jeffress criticized Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs.

Could someone please explain to me why I should care about Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs?

The last time that I checked, the President of the USA is a political leader, not a religious leader.

As long as the President doesn’t use his office to promote a particular religion or to deny others freedom of religion, the President’s religious beliefs are a private matter.

If you think that I am wrong on this issue, then tell me why.

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  • Anonymous

    I could care less that he’s a Mormon.
    What I do care about is that he’s a RINO.

  • retired.military

    “who cares if Romney is a Morman?”

    Anyone looking for any shred of a reason to vote for Obama next year.

  • Anonymous

    The theory is not that a candidate will use the office to promote his religion, but that he will make decisions that are influenced by his religious beliefs.  Cogent criticism of the religious beliefs should then lay out why that would be bad.

    I did not hear or read Robert Jeffress’s criticism, but I suspect he skipped the second part — there are few plausible cases where Romney’s religion would lead him to act differently than other candidates.

    I think it is a counterproductive argument, because there is not much ground to gain and because attacking his religion reeks of persecution.  There are plenty of easier cases to make for why Romney is a flawed candidate.

  • Anonymous

    As a devout Christian of Mennonite heritage and Covenant Church affiliation, I have multiple intractable theological disagreements with the Mormon faith. 

    However, as the Mormons I know personally are usually above average in the factors that make good people good (honesty, work ethic, compassion etc.), so someone being a devout Mormon would make me more likely to vote for them as their coreligionists have earned them the benefit of the doubt.

    For me, the candidates religion is irrellevant as long as she or he does not follow a creed such as Wahabi Islam with the stated aim of gaining political control to enforce a theocracy.  Mormons don’t fit into that mold so Romney’s religion is a nonissue for me and my clear and previously stated opposition to him being the nominee is based on his policy choices.

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  • Anonymous

    You shouldn’t, really.  American is American.  But a certain portion of the electorate considers a politician’s religious identity very important, to the point that such people will refuse to vote for a particular candidate solely because of his religion.  In a June poll, Gallup found that 22 percent of Americans will not vote for a Mormon for president
     
    Jeffress is part of that 22 percent.  Chances are good that his social circle includes other members of that 22 percent.  So when he addresses a large group of conservative “values voters,” he assumes they are also part of that 22 percent.  But clearly he was wrong.
     
    But why have that bias? I think it’s about cultural identity.  People like to vote for people who are like them.  All else being equal, Christians will vote for Christians, dog people will prefer to vote for dog people, farmers will like to vote for farmers, and so forth.  It’s probably more than a little stupid, but it’s true.
     
    In America, religious identity in particular comes into very strong play.  Every election, you see candidates tripping over each other to prove their religious bona fides.  They do so partly because American politicians are craven cowards, but also because they want to demonstrate to voters they are like them.  That they worship at a similar church, pray to the same god, and so forth.  And God (!) forbid that you not be sufficiently religious!  That way lies electoral doom.
     
    We saw an interesting application of this (and of Americans’ prejudices) in the 2008 North Carolina Senate race.  In late October, Elizabeth Dole attacked Kay Hagan for accepting money from the Godless Americans PAC.  While the ad was spun as an attack on Hagan’s associations, it was perceived as an attack on Hagan’s religious identity.  In a response ad, Hagan angrily defended her Christianity.  Meanwhile, North Carolina media (and the electorate) perceived this as an outrageous attack on Hagan.  End result: Hagan went on to win the Senate race. 
     
    All of which signals to me that Burress, like Dole, is going to find out that while Americans prefer to vote for Christians, they consider attacks on such Christian candidates’ religion to be out of bounds of acceptable mudslinging in a race; indeed, Dole shows us that such attacks backfire. 
    But I’d like to close with a final remark. 
     
    According to the same Gallup poll I cited above, 49 percent of Americans will not vote for an atheist for president.  Numbers like this have held steady for some time.  We Americans like our Christian politicians. 
     
    Turning back to North Carolina, there is Cecil Bothwell.  In the rather liberal Asheville, Bothwell, an atheist, was elected to City Council.  While he won his election fair and square, a local gadfly threatened a lawsuit over his election, reasoning that Bothwell could not serve because of a North Carolina constitutional clause that bans atheists from office; note that this clause has been held unenforceable for decades. 
    Meanwhile, in an article portraying rising atheism in America, the Guardian offers this intresting tidbit:
     

    “Privately, we know that there are 27 other members of Congress that have no belief in God. But we don’t ‘out’ people,” said Silverman.
    ["Silverman" is Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition of America]

     
     
    I think there are a few lessons to take home here.  
     
    You should not care about a candidate’s religion.  Liberal or conservative, look to his actions, not his proclamations of faith.  In fact if he’s a member of Congress, there is a 5 percent chance that he’s secretly an atheist.

    Americans don’t like attacks on religious identity.  Those attacks consistently blow up in the attacker’s face, to the point where over the weekend, other Republican candidates went through contortions to distance themselves from this “Mormon” attack.

    As long as the candidate is a Christian.  And this is the sad part.  Despite a broad pluralism about religious identity, Americans are generally unwilling to elect into office — whether president or city council — a person who honestly and forthrightly proclaims his lack of faith.

  • http://otisthehand.blogspot.com/ OTIS the hand

    Honest Mormon vs. Pseudo-Christian

    Tough choice.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F7QOSGWN4O43EO6OMRNXSJGFWA Scalia

      Good point.  However, since this is in the context of Romney’s faith, I don’t think that’s an accurate dichotomy.  Romney’s has flipped on major social issues which in my book undermines his credibility.  Of course, one may argue his faith has nothing to do with his flips, but that would require us to further refine our observations:  Honest Mormon but dishonest politician.

      • http://otisthehand.blogspot.com/ OTIS the hand

        I agree 100 percent with your assessment. The best thing to say about Romney is that he beats Obama. I don’t want to have to “settle.” Again. But I will if I have to. We cannot afford another Obama term.

  • http://2011.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

    Obama’s race has nothing to do with why I oppose him — any white politician saying and doing the same things, I would oppose just as vigorously. I will vote for Herman Cain neither because of, nor in spite of his race, but because of who he is and what he stands for, as an individual.

    Romney’s faith has nothing to do with why I oppose him — any other Republican with his political baggage, I would oppose just as vigorously. I have supported Mormons for lower office in the past because of who they were and what they stood for, as individuals.

    In a just world, no one could ask more than that of any voter.

  • Anonymous

    I voted for Romney in the primary 2008 because, I could see the media’s love for 0bama reducing McCain to another “old,white guy, next in line. And, because McCain is a McPain in the ass most of the time. Most evangelicals know about Mormonism and some don’t think he is Mormon enough when it comes to social issues i.e.abortion. Most evangelical’s I know would vote for Romney if he is the candidate.
    However, if Romney is the candidate the onslaught from the 0bama campaign will be murderous. The 0bama campaign with the adoring media’s help will have documentary after documentary about Mormonism. Every movie that has been made about the Mormon historical leaders will be on TV night after night.
    I don’t think Romney is up to it. I know he gave a speech about his faith in the 2008 campaign and he likened it to JFK’s Catholic speech. JFK’s speech was more of a news conference than speech and he took questions from the press and debated with other religious leaders. He was a good debater and his performance went a long way in calming the fears about a Catholic in the W.H. Romney gave a “speech” and did not take questions. That won’t happen if he is the candidate this time.

  • retired.military


    As long as the President doesn’t use his office to promote a particular religion or to deny others freedom of religion, the President’s religious beliefs are a private matter.”

    You are correct.

    And I believe Obama has violated this rule in ref to the abortion issue.

  • retired.military

    As far as Romney goes I will be voting ABO in 2012.   I would prefer Perry or Cain but Romney will do as a last resort.

    • Anonymous

      I would vote for an orange juice can if it’s the candidate. I hope we don’t have to vote for the last resort this time. A Cain/0bama debate would be a dream come true.
      RLD

      • Anonymous

        But not an apple juice can?

        you…..

        you…..

        you…..

        FRUITIST!!!

        • Anonymous

          It’s like trying to compare apples to oranges. I have know many fruits in my life and I love them all equally.
          RLD

  • http://ethnografix.blogspot.com/ ryan a

    “As long as the President doesn’t use
    his office to promote a particular religion or to deny others freedom of
    religion, the President’s religious beliefs are a private matter.”

    Well said, David.

  • Anonymous

    CIA’s full of Mormons, I guess because of languages and clean living, so why can’t one be president?

    I could give up booze, but not coffee.

    I just wish Romney seemed more like a person and not a robot adjusting his outputs according to analysis of audience polling data.

     

  • retired.military

    “I just wish Romney seemed more like a person and not a robot adjusting his outputs according to analysis of audience polling data.”

    See that Chico, Spongebob is gone less than a day and we agree on something.

  • Anonymous

    I just wish Romney seemed more like a person and not a robot adjusting his outputs according to analysis of audience polling data.

    I agree.  Mitt Romney is older, but he’s good-looking and still has all his hair.  He has a large family — kids and grandkids! — who all love him and are dedicated to him.  He lives a clean life. 

    All of this perfection just means he’s probably an android. 

  • Anonymous

    We elect a guy who was raised as a Muslim, then parks in Rev Wrights church for 20 years. Religion is NO LONGER a campaign issue. Next.

  • http://www.locomotivebreath1901.blogspot.com locomotivebreath1901

    A Moron? I think the man is highly intelligent and very accomplished! It’s very rude to call him a mor….

    Never mind.

    • http://2011.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

      I was tempted to make that joke. Better you than me.

  • Anonymous

    ” . . . “who cares if Romney is a Mormon?””

    - Other Mormons.

    - Anyone who wants to beat a Mormon, or who merely wants one particular Mormon to lose..

    - American reporters. 

    (Sorry, repetitive.)

    - People of other religions who aren’t really sure that they have any real
    basis for believing in the credos of their own religion, and so they
    work hard to make other religions look even sillier than they see
    theirs, because that makes them more secure in their insecurity. Jeffers
    is going through one of those crises of faith, I guess. Or he’s an ass.
    Pick one.

    There is SOME basis for choosing a leader based on religion. We really don’t get a good window into candidates’ souls during the vetting process – we get a choreographed, managed, pre-written, polled, analyzed set of performances that their handlers decide won’t hurt their chances too bad. Or, if it’s Obama we’re talking about, we get whatever lies the liberal reporter committee decides will best serve The Cause. Either way, voting based on what we do see is a crapshoot at best.

    So, we look to commonalities and differences that we might have with the candidate, and try to draw conclusions based on those. Looking at religion, if you are part of a majority Judeo-Christian-heritage country, a candidate who shares that heritage is perceived as sharing at least a knowledge of the Judeo-Christian ethic and morality, and, lacking any convictions for heinous crimes, we assume the candidate follows that ethic and morality. Somewhat.

    (Of course, anyone can be raised in a religion and completely disbelieve in it and blow it off. A churchgoing candidate might very well be thinking “yeah, right, “thou shall not steal” – “thou shall not get caught” is better!”, but even so, seeing that your guy has reached candidate age without having been caught for any major transgressions is comforting, too. At least he’s giving your moral guideposts lip service.)

    So, prepare for lots of outlandish, whacky, “look at what those goofball Mormons believe”stories where reporters tell us that of course it makes no difference, really, and it’s silly to even bring it up, but here’s a story about how “some people” are talking about spaceships . . . ”

    They’re going to make it into a huge thing even while they know that he shares very few of the whacky beliefs, but they know he won’t be able to come right out and disavow them. Imagine, you Christians, going on a national debate and having to defend belonging to that faith where you all get together and eat Jesus every week. You can make any non-empirical paradigm sound irrational if you try.

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