There are two online editorials today about Mitt Romney and his “mormon problem”. A number of polls show some distressing signs for Mitt Romney as we slowly start down the road to 2012. A sizeable segment of the population polled (about 1/3) declared that they be less likely for a mormon as President. That is a problem.
The first article was by David Frum, posted on CNN.com. Writing from a conservative standpoint, Frum argues that we shouldn’t let Romney’s mormonism preclude him from office.
Simultaneously, USA Today ran an editorial today chastising the perceived religious intolerance of those who would not vote for a mormon for President. I say perceived because one’s faith is not a value neutral issue. When you believe that God is a created being and that Jesus and Satan are brothers, the offspring of “heavenly parents” and that faithful mormons become gods and rule over their own worlds, your judgment is suspect. His faith is one of the factors about him that people use to judge whether or not to vote for a candidate. There are plenty of people that are legally eligible for office that I wouldn’t support for a variety of reasons.
Regardless, I certainly agree that Mitt Romney’s mormonism is not a disqualifier for elected office. In fact I would prefer Romney as a candidate to any number of other moderate “Republicans” and certainly I would prefer him to Barack Obama. Romney was gracious in defeat and a good soldier after he withdrew. He did everything right in defeat and supported the GOP nominee. I think that by and large Romney would be an o.k. President, reliably conservative and predictable. We could certainly use someone who is stable and not afraid to extol America’s virtues, someone who doesn’t see America as the biggest problem in the world. On top of that, Romney, compared to the Boy Wonder in office now, has actually had some experience in the real world. So if it comes down to Romney versus Obama, I will heartily cast my vote for him and I would also support Romney over people like Rudy Giuliani or other socially liberal Republicans.
Having said that, I do recognize the danger here and it is a danger that goes way beyond fiscal policy or foreign relations. A Mitt Romney Presidency would expose and mainstream mormonism like never before. That could be quite interesting. Would a President Romney, with the press always on his heels, go to the temple in Washington, D.C. and risk having the major media outlets start publishing details of what goes on in the temple? Would the scrutiny of a mormon President bring to light the quirky and heretical views of mormonism? Or would a mormon President make it that much easier for mormon proselytizing? Mormon missionaries already find themselves in a world that is by and large ignorant of God. The more Biblically literate people are, the less effective mormon evangelism becomes. Unfortunately with each passing year, Americans become less Biblically literate and more relativistic. When you combine a mormon President to make the religion seem less scary and an ignorant populace, you have fertile soil for the lies of mormonism to take root.
It should be an interesting story to watch as the race for 2012 unfolds. I think that if Romney were a Methodist, he would be a popular choice as a safe selection, an adult alternative to the childish Obama administration. But as a mormon, coupled with his “Johnny come lately” conservative principles, Romney may find it hard to pull out a primary win in the GOP.