T&S reader and political junkie Marc Bohn is often the first to notice any new Romney material. There were a slew of articles this weekend that discussed Romney and Mormonism, covering all sorts of interesting ground, and Marc has put together this synopsis, with links, of several of the most interesting:
Romney Jumps In (Washington Post): The Post editorial page discussed what it viewed as the strengths and weaknesses of Romney’s candidacy. It ended by saying “One challenge that Mr. Romney faces is something that we hope dissipates as an issue over time: winning over voters uneasy about his Mormon faith. In a Gallup poll this week, a disturbing 24 percent said they would not vote for a “generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be Mormon.” Mr. Romney’s religion could be a particular sticking point with evangelical Christians who wield significant clout in GOP primaries. As with another Massachusetts politician who ran for the presidency more than four decades ago and persuaded voters not to hold his Catholicism against him, Mr. Romney should be judged on a basis other than his faith.”
What Matters About Romney (Washington Post): Written by a Latter-day Saint on the Post’s editorial staff, this article discusses why Romney’s faith might be garnering the attention it has and says: “But regardless of how uncomfortable some of these characteristics make some feel, it is unproductive to focus on Romney’s Mormonism. A candidate’s faith, like that of an L.A. high school student or anyone else is ultimately a complex and personal phenomenon, even in the context of a highly centralized religious organization. My experience in Mormon congregations across the country has taught me that it is impossible to tell precisely how individual Mormons will apply their religious principles to their professional lives. And beyond encouraging hard work and honesty, the church itself is hardly definitive on the subject. Consider the divergent examples of other well-known Mormons — those of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), say.”
What Is Mormonism? (Washington Post): Richard Ostling, the author the book Mormon America and a widely-read Time magazine article on the LDS Church, gives a brief run-down of Mormonism. The article is accurate, but some might object to its heavy focus on elements of the Church that Ostling thinks might be problematic for voters. In the end he says: “Will any of this matter to Romney during his presidential campaign? The Constitution demands that the government impose “no religious test” for holding public office. Yet voters make their own choices and public opinion polls show that when it comes to Mormons, many people do worry. When a recent USA Today-Gallup poll asked respondents whether they would vote for a qualified woman, Mormon or black candidate to be president, the results were striking. About 94 percent said they would vote for a black nominee, 88 percent said a woman and 72 percent said a Mormon. In the current field, that could spell trouble for Romney.”
A Man With A Mission ( Washington Post): This is a fascinating article that pieces together a collection of reminiscences about Romney from a former missionary companion of Romney’s in France, a couple of High School friends, several former business associates, the COO/CFO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, his former Lieutenant Governor, and a former political opponent. Most are glowing in their praise of Romney, while a couple criticize him somewhat on abortion.
Romney Candidacy Will Stir Up Anti-Mormon Feeling (Salt Lake Tribune): This article highlights a concern about Romney’s candidacy that I have heard a lot. It is written by a Latter-day Saint who is not excited about Mitt Romney’s run for president. He’s not opposed to Romney, to the contrary likes him, but he fears the inevitable anti-Mormon attacks in the primaries. He says: “Romney could be a terrific president. Given the choice, I’d probably vote for him. But with the minuscule possibility of ever getting that choice, I question the cost. The thought of things sacred to Latter-Day Saints being discussed on “The Today Show” is not something I look forward to.”
Romney’s Religion Shouldn’t Matter, But It Does (The Decatur Daily): This is a good article that argues strongly that Romney’s faith should not be an issue, but concedes that it will be nonetheless: “Given the poll numbers, Romney has little choice but to give a public address about the relationship of faith and politics in his life. . . . There’s plenty to debate in Romney’s positions on public policy without getting distracted by the non-issue of where he goes to church. Unfortunately, prejudice against Mormons leaves Romney little choice.”