Mitt Romney: Addressing the question of faith

"Voters may not know any more about Mormonism

"Voters may not know any more about Mormonism” than they did last week, said Kathleen Parker in the Orlando Sentinel. But after hearing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s much anticipated “faith speech,” they surely know more about “what it means to be an American.” Like John F. Kennedy a half-century ago, Romney took to a podium in Texas to reassure voters that his loyalty as president would be to the Constitution, not the leaders or tenets of his religion. The task was far harder for Romney, a Mormon, than for Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, since many evangelicals view Mormon teachings as a heretical insult to true Christian belief. Polls show Romney losing ground among Republicans to self-described “Christian leader’’ Mike Huckabee, who has pointedly declined to say whether he thinks Mormonism is a cult. But with “heartfelt humility and poetic eloquence,” Romney rose to the challenge. He said he would never disavow the faith of his fathers, reiterated his belief in Jesus Christ as the savior, and reminded Americans that “religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.” As we like to say here in America, “Amen.”

The speech may help Romney with evangelicals, said Alan Wolfe in the New York Daily News, but only by pandering to this country’s “odd obsession” with the religious fervor of its political leaders. Like virtually everyone running for president this year, Romney turned the words “faith,” “God,” and “morality” into empty platitudes, knowing that candidates must now publicly profess belief—but not what they believe in. He used the word “Mormon” only once, and didn’t mention that Mormons think the Bible embraced by evangelicals is riddled with error, or that the Angel Moroni gave a new, improved rewrite of Scripture to Mormon founder Joseph Smith in western New York in the 1820s. Romney’s not going to get away with his evasions forever, said Christopher Hitchens in At some point, he owes the country some “straight answers” about his membership in a religion that practiced racism, polygamy, and statutory rape as a matter of principle, and that even today offers its male adherents the promise of “multiple wives in heaven (just like the sick dream of Mohamed Atta).”

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