Endorsing Romney

Mitt Romney’s “Mormon Speech” is expected to come this week, as Romney visits the George H.W. Bush Library in College Station, Texas. Blogs and websites more devoted to politics have already analyzed the potential content and political weight of this address far more interestingly than we at BCC can do, so I’ll leave those aspects to the side (except to point out that I believe Mitt is maximizing symmetry with JFK for this address, so I hope he can pull it off with the same caliber of oratory).

I definitely feel unqualified to speak for how Mormons should anticipate or react to Romney’s speech; indeed, judging from the Blogosphere and Bloggernacle the reactions are similar — some trepidation at what he might say, questioning whether his portrayals of faith will have the net effect of being culturally binding on mormons, and wondering whether, doctrinally speaking, Mitt Romney is a mainstream mormon or an evangelical.

Without knowing what he is going to say, I can’t speak as to Mitt Romney’s particular mormonism or the import of his words. So far, I have been a little troubled at some of Romney’s words on religion: I feel he oversanitizes mormonism, turning it into just another kind of mainstream Christianity. I understand why he does this, but sometimes it gets him into trouble, as it did when addressing the issue of Bible inerrancy and the story of Jonah and the Whale. Don’t get me wrong — I understand the intent, and welcome his efforts at rapprochement, but I also fear losing our cultural uniqueness.

I also have serious policy problems with Romney: I would not “double Guantanamo,” and on this and other points Romney and I part ways. This may be just as well, as I am unable to vote and probably wouldn’t be within his target demo even were I more than a dirty Canuck.

Notwithstanding my political and religious trepidation about Romney, let me provide you with what endorsement I can about the man: he has great kids.

I first met Mitt’s son Matt at BYU freshman year many moons ago, where we had a number of friends in common. Later, Matt and I would serve together in the Paris, France mission, and we got to know each other fairly well. Like his father, Matt also had (and still has) great hair. Matt was a helluva guy then; charismatic and affable, but with real intellect and analytic skills. He spoke on occasion of his family and his father, and it was clear to me then that there is real love and affection in the Romney home. Post-mission, I ran into Matt a few times at BYU and although we later lost touch, I can say that I was left with the indelible impression that he was a great guy from a great family.

Over a decade later, I got to know another Romney as Craig and his wife Mary moved into our ward. We only were in the same ward for a few months, but again I was impressed with the man: genial, interesting and a quality guy.

I touched base with Matt again a few weeks ago, to talk to him about the campaign and how it’s affected his life. It’s been all-consuming on the entire family, in terms of time put into the various roadtrips and fundraisers, but also in terms of public scrutiny and media coverage. Everything anyone in the family says or does is instantly under the microscope. To Matt, at least, “Dad” turning into “Mr. President” is weird and exciting at the same time. Everyone in the family has come together to rally for their father and work together on the campaign. It’s a non-stop family effort, but there has never been any question as to the loyalty and devotion of the children for their father.

I can’t speak as to what Romney’s Big Speech will say, and I don’t know that politically his vision is the same as mine. But I definitely can endorse the kind of family Mitt Romney has produced, and the creation of such a group speaks volumes. If I had any hope for The Big Speech this week, it would be that Romney shows the world that he is the kind of man that is a good father and a decent human being, and the kind of man who would do his best to help build a nation of good parents and decent human beings. I could support a candidate like that.


  1. I presume you can’t vote because of the felony conviction.

  2. er, yes.

  3. 1. Mr. Romney is quite obviously a good and capable man, which doubles the frustration at what politics often forces such men to do and become.

    2. All Mormons — left, right, dirty Canuck, and jaded Brit — wish him well on Thursday.

  4. [gst gagged for posting inflammatory comments]

  5. …except to point out that I believe Mitt is maximizing symmetry with JFK for this address, so I hope he can pull it off with the same caliber of oratory.

    I’m hoping he pulls this off. Really.

  6. I would also point out that the Five Brothers blog on Romney’s site is pretty interesting.

  7. I find the “culturally binding” aspect to be the most troubling. I wonder how many people in the nation will consider him to be more than just a lay member of the church and, instead, view him as an expert, scholar, and leader that speaks for the church.

  8. As a history nerd/grad student, I’m interested in what he says because of another historical parallel with church/state ramifications: Three hundred and seventy years ago Mitt’s ancestor Anne Hutchinson was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This might be a good time to quote the eleventh Article of Faith.

  9. He was my SP in MA, and, frankly, I think many of the stances he has taken recently are closer to his personal beliefs than what he had to promise as governor of MA. I do think he truly is Federalist at the core, and although I wish he hadn’t veered sharply right in order to try to get the nomination (thus deepening the already incorrect stereotype of all Mormons as politically akin to evangelicals), I think he is the only candidate that has any chance of understanding the economic issues the country faces. I’m not sure I will vote for him, but he really is a very good, sincere man and a faithful member.

    His wife is an incredible woman. Simply incredible. I honestly can’t think of a better First Lady.

  10. Nick Literski says:

    If Romney were to become the POTUS, he would instantly become the most visible face of LDS-ism in the world, far more so than Gordon Hinckley or his successors. Absent him openly denouncing LDS leadership on some point, Romney’s not going to face any public official criticism from LDS leaders, as that’s simply not the way the LDS church operates. Therefore, his words and acts are going to represent LDS-ism to the non-LDS of the world, and in a significant way, even to LDS members. Romney’s waving aside of issues that make LDS-ism unique would likely exacerbate the similar trend which is already taking place in the LDS church. In short, a Romney presidency would likely have a significant effect on the LDS church, making it more “mainstream” than ever. To me, that’s a disturbing thought–I see the unique teachings of Mormonism as some of the greatest assets the LDS church has. For others, of course, further assimilation would be a “good” thing.

  11. He should’a stayed the moderate he was most of his life.

  12. I think he will mostly underplay this..”it’s not be big deal, I don’t know why it’s even talked about it….let’s stop talking about it”.

  13. I wish Governor Romney good luck with his speech Thursday. I suspect that everybody knew it was coming. It certainly will attract lots of attention and anticipation, and will draw comparisons with Kennedy’s religion speech for the 1960 campaign. Coming three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, it also smacks of convenient timing, especially with Hucakbee now leading in the most recent Iowa polls.

    I do part ways with him on many political issues, but at least I don’t fear for a lot of the underhanded actions and “executive privilege” power grab of the current administration. He is the Republican who scares me the least, probably because I do believe you can take him at his word. He certainly has played up the common areas of social conservatism to appeal to the evangelicals in the Republican party, but not more so than I would have expected in a Republican primary contest. If he were to gain the nomination (which I think is highly unlikely), I would anticipate a much different campaign against the democratic challenger (Clinton or Obama).

    Steve, I don’t think of you as a dirty Canuck, just a Canuck. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  14. Mephibosheth says:

    Dan, he’s the same Mitt yesterday, today, and forever. It’s taught in every highschool government class that presidential hopefuls must pander to the base for the primary elections, and then flip-flop to the Middle in time for the general. Your own John Kerry was one of the most shameful examples of this in recent memory.

    Most members of the church that I talked to seem to think Mitt’s Mormonism killed him before the election ever began. Despite being the most qualified candidate in the field, he will lose. He will go home to Massachusettes, cry himself to sleep on his big pile of money, and America will be the less.

  15. Here is some pretty cogent advice from a conservative supporter who thinks Mitt shouldn’t make The Speech.

  16. Romney has to make the speech. Unless he assures that he is not taking orders from the great lord Xenu, most people will assume that he does. That said, Romney will almost certainly screw it up. He appears to be an able administrator and a stand-up guy, but he has no political horse-sense whatsoever. In this, he reminds me of Al Gore, people who would be fine politicians (mostly), but who simply aren’t savvy enough to present themselves as someone you would actually like to vote for.

  17. As long as we’re dropping names, I once went to a speech by George Romney with a young lady whose oldest daughter Mary is now married to Craig Romney. Which makes me wonder if I might send a message through her to her daughter’s father-in-law with some advice on what he should say Thursday night, as well as some advice about some other political matters that I think he’s getting wrong (and wronger as time goes by).

    If it weren’t for my wife and my soon to become son-in-law, I might say something about “dirty Canuck” being redundant. So I won’t.

  18. Mark B., I admire your restraint.

  19. Nick Literski says:

    Most members of the church that I talked to seem to think Mitt’s Mormonism killed him before the election ever began. Despite being the most qualified candidate in the field, he will lose.

    It won’t do Romney or the LDS church any good to cry sour grapes when this is over, about how Romney was supposedly near-perfect, but lost only because of all those naughty anti-LDS out there. One need only point to Harry Reid and other influential LDS politicians to dispel that nonsense.

  20. Why make the speech? I know that JFK’s speech was made to allay fears that he would be controlled by the Pope? Is there a great fear that Romney will be controlled by GBH? I haven’t read alot about others having this fear. Most of the press that I have seen has to do with doctrine.

  21. One need only point to Harry Reid and other influential LDS politicians to dispel that nonsense.

    Harry Reid wasn’t running for president. And I’ve yet to see a poll stating that nearly 30% of the electorate wouldn’t be willing to vote for a Mormon senator. It’s one thing to be elected from a state with a high population of Mormons and then stick around long enough to inherit important positions. It’s quite another to do what Romney’s doing.

  22. I don’t think there’s a way to give this speech that wouldn’t end up hurting Romney more than it helps him. A lot of Americans (particularly politically conservative evangelical Protestants) fear actual, real-life Mormon beliefs. If Romney allays their fears, it will have to be by distancing himself from those beliefs. Yet that will make his effort to run as a candidate of faith appear completely disingenuous; you don’t have to worry about his faith, perhaps, because he doesn’t have any. By contrast, if Romney presents himself as a genuine Mormon, then — no matter how nice or competent he is — speaking out on his faith will only convince his doubters that they’re right.

    There are legitimate questions. If the president of the church were to “call” Romney to make a specific decision as president of the United States, would Romney be willing to refuse? How does Romney view the period of time when he was a faithful Latter-day Saint and the church discriminated racially? And so forth. Yet Romney can’t answer these questions without discussing them, which will only raise their current very low salience and therefore hurt him politically.

    In Kennedy’s time, concern that he would be controlled by the Pope was widespread and salient. That could be addressed by a minor act of heresy on Kennedy’s part, and it was. Today, the widespread and salient concern about Romney is that he’s not a Protestant. Romney can’t resolve that concern without a major act of heresy, and heresy would hurt him as much as it would help.

  23. Questions says:

    I think there are some very legitimate and worrisome issues here. While all religions have their share of odd ideas and beliefs, the Priesthood-based central authority of Mormonism, with its emphasis on obedience being one of the fundamental principles of the restored gospel, raises the very real potential of a genuine conflict of interest.

    From time to time the Prophets will come out with positions on various political issues that are seen as having “moral” implications. And there certainly is no fundamental reason that the Prophet couldn’t be more bold than that (the Old Testament Prophets – and those in the 1800’s – were certainly not shy about getting involved in the “politics” of their day).

    According to the covenants he made through baptism, and in the Temple, his first responsibility is to the Church and its leaders. As a faithful member, he would be no different than anyone else in being asked to sustain, and therefore obey, the leaders of the Church, regardless of his personal, mortally limited opinions. (Yes, I understand that each member must pray for themselves to get a testimony of any given counsel, but if they pray, and get a different answer, that answer is seen as being illegitimate, and doesn’t change the counsel to obey.)

    If he separates himself from the counsel of the Prophets at a time like that, he would be denying his essential LDS beliefs. If he doesn’t, then the country is effectively receiving leadership from Church headquarters.

    To me, this is the fundamental question that needs to be addressed.

  24. Ugly Mahana says:

    I was going to post because I think Nick has a point – specifically that crying will not be useful even if Romney’s mormonism loses the election for him because there are already politically powerful mormons in high office. The more I thought about it, though, the more reasonable jimbob’s rejoinder became. Now I can’t decide who makes more sense.

    Would it sound too academic to say “In light of both comments, it is not clear that a rejection of Romney should be interpreted as a rejection of mormonism or that crying will enhance the esteem of the nation towards mormons who aspire to high office”?

  25. “I don’t think there’s a way to give this speech that wouldn’t end up hurting Romney more than it helps him. A lot of Americans (particularly politically conservative evangelical Protestants) fear actual, real-life Mormon beliefs. If Romney allays their fears, it will have to be by distancing himself from those beliefs. Yet that will make his effort to run as a candidate of faith appear completely disingenuous; you don’t have to worry about his faith, perhaps, because he doesn’t have any. By contrast, if Romney presents himself as a genuine Mormon, then — no matter how nice or competent he is — speaking out on his faith will only convince his doubters that they’re right.”

    I agree with this. Romney’s addressing Mormonism on Thursday means that I address my Mormonism on Thursday, too, and I like my pace better. You can just feel a whole new crop of anti’s salivating over the prospect of Thursday’s talk. I think that Gov. Romney will do a good job with the talk, but he will not be speaking to believers. Ether 4:18 “Signs shall follow them that believe in my name”.

  26. #3 RonanJH – “All Mormons – left, right, dirty Canuck and jaded Brit – wish him well on Thursday.” Hear, hear!

  27. Eric Russell says:

    If Romney allays their fears, it will have to be by distancing himself from those beliefs.

    We’ll have to wait and see what he actually says, but I don’t buy this at all. Instead of distancing himself from the beliefs, he can reaffirm his beliefs while attempting to argue that it doesn’t matter. It will be a difficult sell, but it’s a way out of the dilemma.

  28. Eric, I agree that he can try that. I don’t think it will work, though. He’s tried to sell himself as a candidate of conservative Christians, and conservative Christians seem to very much believe that religious ideas matter. Romney will have a very hard time selling them on the proposition that they don’t.

  29. Mephibosheth says:

    The speech will only be effective in the sense that it will increase Romney’s media exposure during the next couple weeks, and stem the recent surge for Mike Huckabee.

  30. JNS is right that there are tough questions that deserve asking. Christopher Hitchens might be the rhetorical equivalent of a prison-style dirty fighter, but his concerns are reasonable when stripped of their ornamental venom. Every American voter deserves to hear Mitt’s answers to the questions about FP influence and about LDS race policy before 1978, a period when Mitt was a full grown adult and member in good standing.

    As far as the first question goes, I remember contemplating as a missionary how wonderful it would be, how much better a place the world would be, if I could become President and then essentially hand over the controls to the brethren — make GHBj my most trusted “advisor.”

    As for pacifying evangelicals (at least those who aren’t already willing to hold their noses and vote for him on policy grounds alone), nothing short of “I renounce Mormonism for the heresy that it is — the Bible is the one and only perfect and complete Word of God!!!!” will change anything.

  31. My own sense is that the LDS issue does matter in the primary and will eventually sink Mitt. I think the Huckabee boomlet is the result of many evangelicals deciding to go with one of their own. The race may shift from a Romney-Guliani race to a Huckabee-Guilani race in the next month or so.

    I have observed politics my whole life and am dismayed to see all the anti-lds attitudes out there. I was of the feeling that we were more accepted then we appear to really be.

    I know a couple of people who grew up in Mitt’s home ward with his kids. They have nothing but positive things to say about Mitt, Anne, and his kids.

  32. Uh, that should read “GBH”, not “GHBj” — I doubt his son is seen as much of a manchurian operative.

  33. I used to think the possibility of Mitt taking office would be a plus for the Church. After reading Steve’s impressions of the man’s family, however, I’m torn– to have such wonderful people go through the hell of being the First Family.

  34. Ugly Mahana says:

    On the LDS race issue:

    Didn’t the Church make a statement that its internal policy was a separate issue from the national civil rights issues? I know that individuals also said otherwise, but if I were Romney, that is what I would emphasize.

  35. I am surprised about the timing of this speech. I think the speech would be effective in solidifying a candidate who is already in a position of strength, but could be harmful for a candidate of relative weakness, or one among many during the crowded primary season. Given the number of republican candidates, I think that voters are more in the mode of finding candidates to weed out rather than seeking to be confirmed in their choice of nominee, as I think the speech could better accomplish.

  36. Adam Greenwood says:

    You Mormon liberals should be rooting for Romney to get elected, since there’s zero chance the Church will address national political questions during his tenure. Too touchy.

  37. UM,
    The issue isn’t what his position vis a vis civil rights was at any given time. The issue is whether or not as a grown man he personally imbibed racist ideas. If so, does he still? If not, when did he stop? Was the only catalyst for changing his position the change it his church’s policy? If so, that seems pretty cowardly given the timing of the ’78 revelation. Voters have every right to hear him give answers to these questions.

  38. Here’s one New Hampshire Mormon that won’t be voting for Mitt. Just sayin’…

    (Plus I’m registered Democrat anyways and will be voting in that primary.)

  39. Adam, a bit presumptuous, perhaps? Maybe all this cognitive dissonance is interfering with my ability to recognize well-meaning irony.

    Mormon conservatives should be just as concerned as Mormon liberals about how and when the Church behaves in ways that potentially affect its tax-exempt status.

  40. bbell #31, I’d say that the Mormon issue has been one reason the race isn’t a Giuliani-Romney contest today. Romney remains in the thicket with Thompson and McCain, and Huckabee is catching up with the crowd. Romney’s inability to separate himself from the pack probably has a lot of causes, including his history of policy inconsistency and his inability to project much personality in debates and his ads. But religion is also probably part of the puzzle.

    Adam Greenwood #36, you’re assuming that the church will necessarily adopt politically conservative opinions on any national issue it does address. That hasn’t always been true, nor is it clear that it would necessarily be true over the next four, or eight, years, or whatever. And Brad’s exactly right that none of us benefit very much when the church violates American tax code.

  41. Nick Literski says:

    The real test of Romney’s political independence would be if in the next month, he received a phone call from Gordon Hinckley, saying “Mitt, we’ve prayed about this, and the spirit tells us that your campaign would ultimately be bad for the church. We would like you to withdraw from the race.”

    Of course this would never really happen, but rather than stating that obvious fact, just entertain the thought for a moment. Would Romney promptly withdraw, citing “personal reasons,” or would he assert his individualism and push forward?

  42. I know a couple of people who grew up in Mitt’s home ward with his kids. They have nothing but positive things to say about Mitt, Anne, and his kids.

    bbell, you’ve got a sample size problem. This is not a universal sentiment among ward members.

  43. Adam,
    Are you suggesting the church’s prophetic voice would be sacrificed on the altar of American politics?

  44. JNS:

    Go check Real Clear politics. Huckabee just bumped Romney of the top of the list for Iowa. But Mitt and G. split the remaining 4 states.

    Look at the upper right hand corner of this: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/

    You are quoting National polls not the state races where Romney has been doing well until the “Huck boom”


    I am aware that its possible that Romney has home ward detractors. In fact it would be hard for anybody with $$ and prominence not to rub some people the wrong way. But I know 2 trustworthy friends of mine who like the Romney clan a lot and have known them since childhood.
    You are right though that from a Social Scientist perspective 2 people ain’t much of a sample.

  45. I wish Huckabee would link up with Romney.

    Mitt is both a conservative, masterful politician and business man who can handle mad liberals where Bush couldn’t.

    Hey, I look to what he will say with great interest. (But please, no wishy-washy Protestant ecumenicalism.)

  46. Steve, I’m troubled by your final paragraph. The notion that raising good kids and encouraging others to do so is somehow adequate qualification for the presidency (or for holding any public office) is disturbing. One of the most dangerous trends in American politics (slightly more salient among conservatives) in the last few decades, imnvho, is the tendency to privilege private virtue over public virtue, so that, for instance, we can impeach a president over a lapse in sexual morality but not really bat an eye at the practice of torture, infringement of civil liberties, or the sort of naked power grab represented by the claim that whatever the president does is by definition legal. To borrow a bumper sticker slogan, we’ve shrunk our definition of morality down to a size that just fits in the bedroom. There’s little sense among Mormons that, say, serious philanthropy ought to be expected of millionaires who claim to want to serve the public, or that one’s religion ought to inform one’s foreign policy (at least to the extent of some minimal application of the Golden Rule).

    It’s not particularly surprising that Mormons should participate (with gusto) in this trend–the trajectory of Mormonism since the end of its kingdom-building ambitions in the 19th century has been toward interiorization and privatizing of religion, with the current near-worship of nuclear families as perhaps the most obvious manifestation of that direction. Perhaps what’s most saddening is that Romney is too precisely an embodiment of what Mormonism looks like in the 21st century–a very nice religion with lots of very nice members with nice families. The major requirements for church leaders are that they have nice families and wear white shirts and (preferably) be good at making money. Mitt is all of that; the important question is whether he’s more than that.

  47. Kristine, very interesting and a very cogent point. I tried to make it pretty clear that being an effective parent is not sufficient to make someone a desirable political leader, and as you’ll note I did point out that politically speaking I have reservations about Romney. I can certainly agree with you that being a good person with a good family is not enough to be a good president — and I even if I didn’t make that explicit, I’m glad you did. I am not even sure, frankly, that it’s on the list of desired presidential traits, given our Machivellian world. I guess, speaking whimsically and romantically, it would be great to see a world leader who loves his wife spouse and kids and is in turn loved by them. I don’t know precisely why I feel that way.

    I also agree that there is far more to being mormon and being good than being good-looking and having a good-looking family, but that’s already such a tall order! I will take what I can get. BTW, I really disagree with your second-to-last sentence, even if I appreciate and agree with the sentiment behind it.

    My final paragraph is more of a prayer than a statement: that on Thursday Mitt can go out there and show us an embodiment of all that is good in Mormonism, which is so much more than looking good and sounding good, but being good, in the most worthy sense of the word. Romney should be Mormonism’s answer to Quintilian’s ideal rhetor: a good man speaking well.

  48. bbell #44, please note that Romney has not been doing well in “state polls,” but rather in polls in four or five states. He’s going to be massacred in most of the big states, such as California, New York, Texas, etc.

  49. Well said, Kristine.

    By all accounts, the Bush twins are good kids, but I doubt many would agree he’s been one of our best presidents. I find Romney’s experience in the business world (and his tendency to research a topic to death without a preconceived opinion) his most attractive quality. I wish he weren’t LDS because that would allow me to evaluate him independently of this religion.

  50. I think some of the smartest views I have heard about Mitt’s relationship to the church appeared in a recent New Yorker article. The author argued that if we really want to understand how Mitt’s LDS background would influence his presidency, then we should look at how the church trains its members to take on leadership positions that involve extensive management expertise. The point of the article was that what really makes Mitt unique is his consulting background – a background that may or may not transfer into a set of political skills – and that the church in many ways prepared him for this career.

  51. and that, Kristine N, is the heart of the issue, isn’t it?

  52. #46. Well put.

  53. Natalie, gimme props for Quintilian at least.

  54. Steve (#47):

    I also agree that there is far more to being mormon and being good than being good-looking and having a good-looking family, but that’s already such a tall order!

    Or, as Derek Zoolander put it: “I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.”

  55. Adam Greenwood says:

    #40, JNS, I don’t see any reason why Church political pronouncements wouldn’t be a problem during a Romney administration if the pronouncements were liberal or progressive or quasi-marxist or whatnot. I really don’t get your point. Not that I would hold my breath waiting for those kinds of pronouncements if I were you.

    #48, JNS, if Romney wins some of the earliest states, there’s really no chance that he gets massacred in California, Texas, etc., just because he doesn’t dominate those states’ polls now.

  56. Slow dance with the Christian Right says:

    When it comes to sports, I’m consistently a Mormon homer, meaning that I find myself rooting for a team if it has a Mormon player, or a player that played for BYU, UofU, USU, etc.
    So, I’m surprised to find that I can’t cheer for Mitt at all, and I sincerely hope that he is unsuccessful in the primaries. I like his as a person and manager (he was my SP for several years), but I’ve been so turned off buy his slow dance with the Christian Right that I can’t cheer for him.

    The last straw for me was when during his last debate he and Rudy beat the concept of “sanctuary” up side the head.

  57. I’m surprise that so many of you (JNS, Brad) think that the evangelical wariness regarding Mormonism and a Mormon candidate is a legitimate issue. The notion that Romney must tow some political line to be in good standing with the Church is simple non-sense. Why isn’t pointing to Harry Reid sufficient to show that it just isn’t the case? Of course I’m not surprise given the political stance. It is the official stance of the Church that politicians do not need to adopt Church positions but should be governed by their own conscience. As the Church’s web-site states regarding political neutrality: “Relationships With Government –Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.”

    Why isn’t that enough? My concern with such a speech is that it may serve to legitimize simple bigotry.The evangelicals in Iowa go so far as to say that Romney is “anti-Christian” and a vote for him is a vote against Christianity. These kind of sentiments have no place in American politics and in my view ought not be legitimized.

    After looking at the candidates, at this point I am solidly behind Romney. I wish him the best. But I don’t believe that there is anything anyone will or can say that will mitigate such bigotry.

  58. Blake,
    I think part of the point here is that the people who are afraid he’ll be taking marching orders from SLC are not the same people who view Mormonism as an anti-christian, heretical abomination. Right now, he’s pandering to the latter. He really doesn’t have to worry about the former unless he manages to get out of the primaries and into the general election.

    I’m not saying the “salt lake influence” question should be a dealbreaker for rational voters; I’m just saying that rational voters have grounds for concern over the matter, and deserve to hear Mitt explain why they have nothing to fear. Expecting to be able to believe in living prophets and at the same time be treated exactly like everyone else — we want the presence of prophets to mean the world to people when our sons are in their living rooms but we want them to treat it as a non issue when one of us aspires to be the most powerful individual on the planet — is the ultimate have/eat-cake mirage.

    If a faithful Mormon were president, the FP would be in a position to exert enormous influence on the world. Who among us, if the President of the United State knew and respected and routinely deferred to us, would not try to take advantage of that power? I know I would. To refrain from taking advantage would require almost superhuman self-control. I also happen to believe the FP would restrain from exploiting it. But that’s because of the incredibly high opinion I have of them as God’s chosen servants. I very much doubt that there’s a single non-Mormon out there who shares my faith in these men. And it’s not because they’re hopelessly cynical or bigoted. Just reasonable. Believing they are prophets is unreasonable. That’s what makes people like you and me peculiar.

  59. Brad: So why isn’t it a concern that the FP will exercise tremendous influence over the U.S. Senate? U submit it is a matter of political expediency to pander to the evangelicals in the Republican party. I’m not Republican precisely because evangelicals control the Republican agenda and I’m not interested in that agenda. But the fact that Harry Reid (and Kevin Barney) can disregard the prophetic voice at will is enough to show that the real issue is bigotry and addressing it square on — at least that is how I see it.

  60. Not quite sure what you mean by “disregarding the prophetic voice.” Taking positions outside of Mormon orthodoxy might help, but it’s also different from the kind of flagrant disobedience you seem to be alluding to. However, if Senator Reid wanted to be president, or if the old Mitt did, the concern would be just as salient, regardless of how “conservative” or “liberal” his views or votes up to that point had been. As long as he presented himself as faithfully religious and Mormon — as Mitt rightly does — it’s a valid question for a non-Mormon non-bigot to ask.

    If there was an Imam who exerted as wide, deep, and open an influence on American Muslims as, say, the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini does on Islam in Iran (or as GBH does on Mormons worldwide), you’d sure as hell want answers from an American Muslim who wanted to be president — especially if he had spent two years of his life trying to win converts to accept said Imam’s unique and holy authority. And you wouldn’t be a bigot for being concerned.

  61. Let me restate:)

    Though Steve is clearly not suggesting that private virtues qualify one to become president, comment #46 does a very apt job of explaining how private virtues are displacing public concerns in American politics.

  62. Brad: Your comparison between Romney’s relation to Mormonism and the Ayatollah Khomeini is ludicrous — and outrageous. For one thing, no branch of Islam has an official stance that politicians are only bound their own consciences and are not required to adopt the Church’s position. As a faithful Mormon, that is the advice and position Mitt adopts. That answers the non-Mormon non-bigot quite adequately. The problem is that the problem is precisely the non-Mormon bigot. The problem is evangelicals who see Mormons has anti-Christians and they will vote against Romney because of his religion — and that is all that they need to know to decide how they will vote regarding Romney. A simpler formula for bigotry is hard to come by.

    And for your information, no I wouldn’t want an answer from a Muslim who simply said, I will follow my conscience. I guess I am just not as inherently bigoted as you assume I must be for some reason unknown to me.

  63. California Condor says:

    Mike Huckabee seems like a nice guy, but I can’t help but think that left-wingers want him to be the Republican nominee because they know that Hillary or Obama would cruch Huckabee.

    Romney’s speech this week could end up being a deft move if it sucks up all of the media oxygen and steals the momentum from Huckabee.

  64. It won’t do Romney or the LDS church any good to cry sour grapes when this is over, about how Romney was supposedly near-perfect, but lost only because of all those naughty anti-LDS out there. One need only point to Harry Reid and other influential LDS politicians to dispel that nonsense.

    My ideal outcome of this whole situation is that Republican LDS finally wake up and smell the coffee (er…hot chocolate) and realize that the Christian Right folks are NOT their friends. Democrats have no problem electing Harry Reid–it is a 100% non-issue. Democrats had no problem electing Romney in Mass. BUT Republicans want nothing to do with Romney.

    With the active support of the vast majority of America’s LDS, the GOP was transformed into a theocratically-based party with a very, very narrow definition of “Christian” as the main qualification for office. Problem is, LDS failed to realize that the very line they were helping draw was putting them on the wrong side. Here’s a flagrantly over-the-top analogy, but makes the point—would it make sense for a racist-against-blacks Jew to support the election of members of the KKK? Why should LDS support a party who has institutionalized hatred of us?

    Democrats are inclusive–and may include people conservative LDS would prefer to exclude. But inclusion is a two-way street, and ends up including us as well. That seems like a vastly better choice for us.

    So, back to my ideal outcome–LDS wake up and flee the GOP en masse. Decades of peace and prosperity ensue, et cetera, et cetera….

  65. Blah 2 — Yeah, if we could just get the Dems to stop supporting gay marriage in all 50 states, pro-abortion rights and somehow they could become fiscally responsible, it could happen. As it is, LDS are in between a narrow and non-inclusive party that has been almost as fiscally irresponsible as the Dems, and the folks who don’t go to church and have a stance that anyone who has children is going to be very uncomfortable supporting. So where does that leave us? No wonder third parties have proliferated historically among Mormons.

  66. I haven’t read a lot of the comments, but I just wanted to say I agree with this post. I might not agree with a lot of Mitt Romney’s political stances, but I think his family is pretty good evidence he’s a good man. Unlike me, my husband probably does agree with most of his politics, but if you ask him why he’d vote for Mitt, his first answer will always be that he knew Matt, and someone with a kid that great (who also respects and loves his father) has got to be a great guy.

  67. anyone who has children is going to be very uncomfortable supporting

    Beg your pardon?

  68. the folks who don’t go to church and have a stance that anyone who has children is going to be very uncomfortable supporting.

    Harry Reid doesn’t go to church?! Nancy Pelosi doesn’t miss a Sunday; she’s the kind who finds somewhere to go when she’s on vacation. I assume most people with children feel perfectly fine supporting family & medical leave, SCHIP and prevention of harmful pollution. FYI no Democratic candidate for president supports gay marriage (possible exception of Kucinich?).

    I assume you’re exaggerating for effect, but even so, half your views of the Democratic party are about 30 years stale, and the other half were never true. This is exactly what I’m talking about–time to wake up and give the other side an honest look. You wouldn’t trust antis to give you an honest story on what LDS believe, why trust Limbaugh and Hannity to tell you what Dems believe?

    Sorry, getting rather threadjacky here…

  69. Blah 2 and Blake, please tone it down; it’s been a fairly respectful and interesting thread thus far, and I would distinctly like to keep it that way.

  70. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 65 I’m not sure Blake is exaggerating here. Many conservatives believe these kinds of distortions about the opposition, just like many liberals believe that Republicans want to water-board all the gays and welfare moms. There is an excess of ridiculous, over-the-top rhetoric in our political discourse these days, which is very sad (and scary at times). The Bloggernacle is an oasis of civility by comparison….thanks to the vigilance of Steve Evans, et. al.

  71. Yeah, thanks, Steve, for being the voice of civility in the Bloggernacle.

    In all seriousness, I agree with every word Mike just wrote – including the thanks to BCC admins for encouraging civil discourse. It is SO rare to be able to discuss something like this and not have it turn nasty – and it happens here regularly.

  72. Anonymous acquaintance says:

    For what its worth. I know Matt, his wife and 4 kids. And while I cannot say from personal experience, I can tell from my perspective that Mitts campaign is truly wearing on Matt’s family. The hardest aspect, is seems, is the patience testing constitutiveness of the whole thing. Plus the fact that they definitely feel obligated to campaign amongst friends. I know a number of folks, including myself, who have been solicited somewhat (over)zealously for our time, talent, cash and official support. And while Matt seems to be handling it OK (maybe just a stiff upper lip) his wife (who just a baby boy last weekish) definitely seems torn. Shed kill me if she read this but you can plainly see in her eyes a desire for the whole thing to just go away. Or maybe its just guilt from realizing that she wants it too.

    Anyway, I guess there isn’t really a point to this. I just wanted to add my two anecdotal cents regarding Matt’s family and the effect this is having on them. Its tough. Id never want to go through it. And to be honest, I would never ask anyone else to either. I suppose I just dont have that ‘take no prisoners’ ambition.

  73. Peter LLC says:


    Steve, I don’t think of you as a dirty Canuck, just a Canuck. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    +1. A country that has produced both the Race Face and Arc’teryx brands cannot be all bad.

  74. Peter LLC says:


    It is SO rare to be able to discuss something like this and not have it turn nasty – and it happens here regularly.

    Sez who? You spoiling for a fight over the civility of BCC? I’ll knock that chip off your shoulder!

  75. For what it’s worth, I was explaining the stereotypical reasons Mormons don’t want to become Dems (I have other reasons which I would be happy to expand upon). So Stever, it wasn’t somehow discourteous and I guess you missed the sarcasm. Sarcasm is allowed here even if it suggests perceived shortcomings of Dems, right? Or is it a one-way liberal street here?

  76. Blake, sarcasm is tricky online. However, it does tend to work better when it’s actually funny.

  77. BTW Steve, it is well-documents that Dems go to Church significantly less then Republicans, back gay-rights and less traditional family values than Republicans, tho these numbers are in flux. It seems to me that the reason that LDS are overwhelmingly Republican is that the Republican Party’s core values have more traditional ring to them. I believe that this is in fact the reason that Utah has voted largely Republican over the past 30 years. That is why LDS feel that they are in between a rock and a hard spot politically ont he national level.

    On the other end, discomfort with a party often controlled by the evangelical right that despises Mormons ought to be enough to make LDS vary wary about aligning themselves with that party. Romney is in that pinch as I see it.

  78. Kristine: I wouldn’t expect a Dem to get the sarcasm.

  79. Blake,
    ;) = “I’m being sarcastic”

  80. I’m glad that Romney is giving the speech, and I hope it will help promote more religious tolerance. In some ways, I think he owes it to his fellow church members. We’ve all been dealing with the effects of intolerance and ignorance about our religious beliefs since he started his campaign.

    On that note, if I see one more so-called expert on Mormonism posting their comments about my “magic underwear” and faith in “Satan’s brother” on a news article about Mitt Romney, I think I’ll poke my eyes out. :)

  81. Brad: You’re probably right, I ought to use the Sesame Street props to insult the intelligence of those who get the sarcasm for the benefit of those who never watched Sesame Street and just cannot get it. I’m just too stupid to know how to post sarcastic smiley faces.

  82. Nick Literski says:

    BTW Steve, it is well-documents that Dems go to Church significantly less then Republicans, back gay-rights and less traditional family values than Republicans, tho these numbers are in flux.

    Yep, we definitely need more of those “traditional family values” republicans, like Larry Craig, Richard Curtis, Tom Foley, Bob Allen and Ted Haggarty. You know–the ones who loudly oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians, while secretly engaging in sexual acts with other men. Or perhaps “traditional family values” republicans like David Vitter–but of course, he’s not subject to an ethics inquiry, since his sex scandal was with female prostitutes.

  83. Deep breaths, everybody. Deep breaths.

  84. Steve Evans says:

    I was just asking myself who would be the first to get edited/banned on this thread: ravenous liberals or out-of-control conservatives. I am heartened to see it is a very tight race indeed. Dan and Nick, please consider yourselves on the same notice as Blake, etc. Think of it as baseball, only I don’t think you’ll get three strikes.

  85. I think this post should devolve into all those favoring Democrats listing all those who seem to be hypocritical on the right, and then have all those favoring Republicans respond by making a similar list of bad actors on the left.

    Then we’d have something we haven’t seen in the bloggernacle since…well…yesterday.

  86. No kidding Steve and jimbob. Its pretty boring.

    Back to the post. I do think that the LDS issue will sink Romney in the primary. There are just to many choices on the ballot and to many evangelicals voting in the primary for Romney to win.

    Just a couple of weeks ago the most prominent Southern Baptist preacher in Dallas (from the same pulpit used to defend segregation in the 60’s) bashed Mormons and told his congregation not to vote for Romney in the upcoming primary. This is what Romney is up against

  87. Anyone else catch the NPR interview of Romney yesterday afternoon on All Things Considered. (I heard it was repeated on Morning Edition.) (link)

    I thought it was just awful. I don’t understand why he is so uncomfortable discussing his beliefs unless he thinks doing so will doom his candidacy. Surely, he could have answered the question about the literalness of the creation story in Genesis. Instead, he came off as condescending and a little bit scary. His answers on abortion weren’t that great either. He started out strong by talking about health care and federalism, but really lost it when discussing abortion and religion. It’s a shame because I think he could be a very good president, even though he’s not a very good candidate.

  88. We have all claimed to have the right to worship in a way we feel our creater wants us to. Yet we decline this opportunity to gays. They have religions that support them. We bash them. Are we not hypocrits here??

    Are there people here saying that gays aren’t free to worship how they wish? If so, I haven’t see it. I haven’t noticed Mitt’s gay bashing either, though, so it’s possible that I’m not paying attention.

  89. MidwestLDS says:

    I for one relish his speech on Thursday, although I think it is too little too late. To have gained my vote he would have needed to address his LDS beliefs early on! With in reason, he should have stood-up and been counted then let the chips fall where they may. He has shown an intense willingness to separate his religion from politics, since his religion is a major source of his morality/personality, its illogical to separate the two.

    His long term track record shows significant platform changes with each new election. Changing your “political self” to win elections is not unusual but it is going to deep six his chance w/ the party base for the primaries, although it probably enhances his electability in the general election b/c he can use his moderate ideals stated while Govenor to appeal to independent voters.

    As a staunch conservative who thinks Sen. Reid is nothing but a huge black eye for the church and its members, I’m leaning most toward Huckabee. Don’t think I’m just jumping on the band wagon, I’ve had his bumper sticker since July.

    Good luck Romney, balancing Mormonism and American politics is indeed a challenge.

  90. Nick Literski says:

    My apologies, Steve. I’ll try and stick to the thread. :-)

  91. Yeah, mea culpa too.

  92. MidwestLDS says:

    Greg, not this again. How do you expect to worship in a “manner the Creator wants you to” when homosexuals disregard His very teachings. Everyone is welcome at an LDS chapel but there are limits on their ability to participate in the church according to their willingness to abide by its doctrines. Heck fornicators, adulterers, pedophils and felons are welcome at church, there are just limits to their activity with in it. Yes, many times the limit begins at with holding membership

  93. CC,
    Note that Dan said states, not counties. In California, San Diego and Orange County, both admittedly expensive places to live, lean Republican. But go north of Orange County, you hit even more expensive real estate in LA and the Bay Area, which lean significantly left.

    Same in New York: there are very conservative parts of the state. But New York City and Westchester County tend to lean left. In other words, you’re right, but the fact that you’re right doesn’t address Dan’s point in the least.

    Back on point: I wish I could want to vote for Romney. I trust that he’s a good person, and his sons whom I know or have met are wonderful and good people. I don’t like some (many?) policies he’s pushing, but wish him well on Thursday, and wish him and his family well, too. While he wouldn’t be my first choice for president, he’s far from my last choice. And whether or not I agree with his theological positions (which I honestly don’t know—I’ve never had occasion to hear him discourse doctrinally), he is a brother in the Gospel, and for that I’m glad.

  94. Steve Evans says:

    Goodbye to Greg (non-BTD and non-Call variety) and to California Condor.

  95. Nate Oman has just published an interesting essay and analogy on this topic at T&S. I hereby send you banned people over there.

  96. I find it interesting we focus on the evangelicals It is interesting the thread is so focused on the issue of Evangelicals. The polling data I have seen indicates the group least likely to vote for a Mormon are well-educated liberals, with Evangelicals second. In other words, the poll I saw indicated that when it comes to Mormons, evangelicals are more tolerant than the intellectual left. Just one poll, and yes I know both Reid and Romney have been elected…I’m just quoting the poll I saw. And, as someone who spent some time at the Ivy League, it was a poll I can easily believe.

    Mitt has an almost impossible challenge. By not addressing “the issue” he appears to be running away. By addressing “the issue” he highlights his religion and raises the very question he is trying to avoid – how his Church might impact his decision-making as president. It is a dilemma, but not created only by evangelicals. The “republican party owned by evangelicals” line is overstated anyway. Look at two republican front runners: Giuliani and Romney, neither of which is “acceptable” to the evangelical right. And yet there they are at at/near the top. On the flip side, can anyone name a nationally prominent pro-life democrat? Sorry, rhetorical question…

    Reaching way back in the thread to the issue of private vs. public morality, I find it difficult to imagine people separating public from private virtue. I will lie to my wife, but I would never lie to you strangers? Does anyone believe that? Church leaders have certainly advised against believing it. Power corrupts…and the line of people on both the right and left who I believe fit in the “corrupted” category is way to long for this thread, but when looking at candidates for the left and right I look for those who seem to offer as complete a picture of virtue as I can find in an imperfect world. Obviously, everyone must draw their own line on what “most complete” means to them.

    I also recall Romney sons from my days in Cambridge and although I didn’t know them personally, was favorably impressed by what I saw. I respect a brilliant man who worked for Mitt at Bain (he was a democrat if it matters) and he couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise of Romney. Although I didn’t begin this election cycle with Mitt as my first choice, I have several major policy differences with him, based on what I have heard and seen so far I continue to be impressed.

    I wish him luck on the speach.

  97. Steve: I’ll be happy to consider myself exiled from this thread and website. Heck, if reporting on a poll about the relationship between church attendance and voting proclivities is enough to do it, then I’m happy to be banned. Calling me an “out of control conservative” (when you actually have noooo idea what you’re talking about) is enough to make be pleased to get banned by you.

  98. TyB,

    There simply are not that many secular liberals in the republican primary. Hence the focus on them now.

    I do agree that secular liberals have distaste for the LDS church but their impact is miminal in a repub primary with the exception of the secular libs in the press who can fan the flames of the all ready simmering conflict between evanglicals and the LDS.

  99. Steve Evans says:

    Blake, have it your way. This might seem odd, but I honestly believe that you do not understand that mormons may disagree amongst themselves and yet be friendly and kind. If that’s a standard you don’t want imposed on you, then I agree with your decision not to participate here.

  100. Yeah Steve, I’m that stupid. So be it.

  101. “On the flip side, can anyone name a nationally prominent pro-life democrat?”

    TyB–Ack, I know I shouldn’t get sucked into more off-thread…but I’ll keep it very civil. =) To answer your question, there are many. In fact, the national Democratic Party has been unable to put a strong pro-choice plank in its platform, at least in the versions I’ve heard about in the last 8 yrs or so. The language is usually some kind of “rational people can disagree on this issue” type thing.

    Some national-level pro-life Democrats include Senators Harry Reid (Nv.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Jon Tester (Mt.), Bill Nelson (Fl.). Representatives described “avowedly” pro-life: Heath Shuler (N.C.), Charlie Wilson (Ohio), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Jason Altmire (Pa.) and Chris Carney (Pa.). This isn’t even close to a complete list from the House and Senate.

    I think the confusion I see in this thread is a kind of “all squares are rectangles” implies “all rectangles are squares” logical fallacy. Sure, most atheists are probably Dems, but that doesn’t mean that all Dems are atheists. Religious Dems are every bit as church-attending as anybody, but of course the average is going to be pulled down by those who don’t. It is easy to have a party with great church-attendance data if you push out people who don’t attend. That makes the church-attendance data kind of meaningless. Same with the pro-choice thing–sure, most pro-choice people are going to be Dems, but that doesn’t mean all Dems are pro-choice.

  102. Nick Literski says:

    The polling data I have seen indicates the group least likely to vote for a Mormon are well-educated liberals, with Evangelicals second. In other words, the poll I saw indicated that when it comes to Mormons, evangelicals are more tolerant than the intellectual left.

    That’s one possible interpretation. Another possible interpretation is that these “well-educated” liberals simply find that Romney’s positions (social, economic, political, etc.) come into conflict with their educated conclusions. I don’t think you need to attribute a lack of Romney support among “well-educated liberals” to intolerance of Mormons. In fact, I think it’s unfair to leap to such a conclusion.

  103. Nick,
    unfair or not, my experience is that well-educated libs dislike us as 1950’s throwback religious fanatics and well-educated cons dislike as 1850’s throwback religious visionaries.

  104. Nick Literski says:

    Okay, John. So you believe all those well-educated people, whether “liberal” or “conservative,” hate you. What about all those well-educated LDS members? Are they just not quite “well-educated” enough to hate you, or could your observation be just a tiny bit biased?

  105. Nay, s’truth. May experience is that most people out in the world, when they think of us at all, place us barely a step up from Scientology. They assume we are brain-washed, double twin-bed sleeping zombies. If they meet one of us and find us to be relatively rational and nice to be around, they assume that we are the exception that proves the rule. People want us to be weird.

  106. While #105 may have some truth, I don’t think it applies electorally. I think liberals (as evidenced by Harry Reid, say) are happy to elect someone who supports positions they support and seems like a good candidate, and don’t care all that much if the person is a Mormon, or a Scientologist, or whatever (openly atheist people probably couldn’t get elected even as Dems). Sure they wouldn’t elect someone who fit all their worst stereotypes of those religions, but that is because of those traits, not the label. This gets to the core of why a religious test is a bad idea, and why I like the fact that Dems don’t have one (as much as) the GOP.

  107. Also, regarding #96/#102, the fact that conservative evangelicals (whose policy positions match up very well with Romney’s) would be polling anywhere in the same vincinity, nay galaxy, as liberals (who are opposed to all his policy positions) makes the polling results even more startling in showing how intolerant they are of Romney’s Mormonism.

  108. in the last line: “how intolerant they”, the “they” refers to Evangelicals

  109. I would like to point out that Romney has the John Kerry disease, at this point. It seems everything he says contradicts something he said earlier. That is a bigger problem for him than Mormonism. Which is sad, because, like those who know him personally have said, he is a rather likeable guy. And while Evangelicals are rather intolerant to Mormons, particularly in a theological sense, they will vote for anyone who will beat the Clintons.

  110. Nick, the poll in question didn’t mention a specific politician. The question was “Would you vote for a Mormon?” Romney is irrelavant to that discussion.

    blah2, liberals on the Wasatch Front, or surrounding states, voting for an LDS democrat isn’t a big shocker. I don’t think you can draw a national picture of the electability of a Mormon by liberals from that.

  111. Kyle M 110 – However, the poll didn’t need to mention a specific politician, because if someone is paying any attention to politics, they already know that there is a Mormon running for the White House, and if they disagree with him politically, then that will slip in to their answers to the poll.

  112. Jacob, do you think at the time the poll was done the average person polled had heard of Mitt Romney, knew he was running for President, and knew he was LDS?

  113. Jacob, from the same poll:
    “Currently, just 19% of Likely Voters are able to identify Romney as the Mormon candidate from a list of six potential Presidential candidates.”

  114. Nick Literski says:

    This still doesn’t indicate bigotry against LDS by “well-educated liberals,” KyleM. Liberals tend to favor equal rights, including marriage equality, for gays and lesbians. The LDS church is well known for taking a very strong stance against homosexuality, and against such rights. Therefore, if a well-educated liberal is answering with regard to an unnamed, hypothetical LDS candidate, he or she will very likely oppose that candidate—not because he or she hates LDS people, but rather because they expect an LDS candidate to espouse political positions with which they strongly disagree.

  115. Nick – that puts it better than what I said. I was wrong about them knowing Romney was running, but you are saying something similar.

    See, sometimes Republicans can admit when they were wrong! :)

  116. Nick, narrow-minded is all in the eye of the beholder. If I said I wouldn’t vote for a lesbian for president (not a specific candidate who happened to be a lesbian), you would call me bigoted even if I simply found her positions conflict with my own (educated?) conclusions.

  117. Nick Literski says:

    I’m not sure you have any idea at all what I would call you under any circumstances. So far, all I’ve called you is “KyleM.” Can we try not to turn this into a personal slap-fest?

  118. ANFSCD…

    Is George Bush Sr. sort of endorsing Romney?

  119. I think Nick has it just right. I’m a well-educated, liberal Catholic, and I would have absolutely no problem voting for an LDS candidate who shared my views. But if the only thing I knew about a candidate was that he was LDS, I’d think he was unlikely to share my liberal social views.

    Of course, I’m a Catholic who reads By Common Consent, so I may not be very representative. But I think many of my liberal friends would feel the same way. I could envision them being very surprised by and disrespectful of some LDS doctrines (“He thinks Garden of Eden is where??!”, etc.), but I don’t know that it would ultimately affect their voting decisions the way it might among evangelicals. If the candidate has good character and policy ideas, their specific religious views just aren’t that relevant.

  120. Romeny is toast, pure and simple. He will not be president. Why? Because he is mormon and nobody likes a mormon.

    Huckabee is a pastor and a creationist and know one ever questians him on it; Romney is a mormon and suddenly everyone thinks its an issue.

    The evangelical/religious right may very well show its true colors in this election.

  121. Nick, my intent wasn’t to offend you. I’m sorry for doing so. I’d go after you for your JD if I wanted to get personal. ;-)

  122. Nick Literski says:

    I’d go after you for your JD if I wanted to get personal.

    LOL!! :D

  123. I agree with A Mun but for a different reason. As a former catholic turned LDS, I remember Kennedy’s run for the president. It was different than Romney’s.

    Kennedy had family money and was not a self-made millionaire. Kennedy was young and his religion was widely accepted by most of the Christian world. In fact most of our Protestant mainstream beliefs evolved from splits within the Catholic Church.

    Romney’s biggest liability is with his public self-image. He is not politically correct, hence the unprovoked attacks by the media and religious right. The man simply wanders on critical issues such as abortion and gay rights. How can a member of the church support gay rights (as he did in Boston) and reconcile that with the Proclamation on the Family?

    Personally, I think that Joseph Smith would have made a better US President had he made a serious run for the highest office.

  124. Vanderbilt University has a poll saying that political bias against Mormons is higher than bias against women and African-Americans. We’re almost as bad as atheists! Google Vanderbilt Mormon study to find it.

  125. cj douglass says:

    The evangelical/religious right may very well show its true colors in this election.

    some already have…


  126. Nick Literski says:

    How can a member of the church support gay rights (as he did in Boston) and reconcile that with the Proclamation on the Family?

    Where does the Proclamation on the Family require LDS members to deny civil rights to homosexuals?

    Personally, I think that Joseph Smith would have made a better US President had he made a serious run for the highest office.

    I’ve spent many years studying the words and writings of Joseph Smith. One thing I can almost guarantee, is that he would have vigorously condemned efforts to limit the civil rights of homosexuals. Unlike some today, he understood that the moment you seek to curtail someone else’s rights to violate your religious beliefs, you endanger your own rights to free exercise.

  127. #123:

    IMHO, one GREAT thing about Romney’s record is that it provides an almost limitless shield of “cover” for liberal LDS to publicly espouse liberal views. “All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual orientation.” Hey, don’t ‘ex’ me–Romney said it first! Totally support a “woman’s right to choose”? Don’t get huffy, conservatives, your man Romney was 100% for that too.

    I plan on taking full advantage of this. Should be fun. :-> (that’s supposed to be a devious smile)

  128. cj douglass says:

    Nick and blah,
    yes and yes….Imagine if Mitt was running for Utah Gov. with the same platform he ran in Mass. He’d be to the left of most Utah Democrats!

  129. Nick Literski says:

    Sorry, cj douglas, but I don’t know what you’re saying “yes” to, in relation to my question and comment. :-)

  130. Why not skip the personal attacks on the candidates’ religion and move right on to the really personal, like their names?

    “Huckabee” reminds of nothing so much as that great bit of Joseph Heller’s in Catch-22:

    “Yes, Yossarian. That’s right. Yossarian. Yossarian? Is that his name? Yossarian? What the hell kind of name is Yossarian?”

    Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his fingertips. “It’s Yossarian’s name, sir,” he explained.

    Just replace Yossarian with Huckabee, and you’ll understand.

  131. cj douglass says:

    Sorry Nick – a general “yes” = “amen” or “I agree” in cj douglass-speak. In fact, I was going to respond to the very same comments but figured there had to be some gay lawyers around who could say it better. :)

  132. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m late to the party: sorry. I’ve got a stack of grading to do and it’s killing me.

    What I think is interesting isn’t Romney’s Mormonism, but the number of people who comment here who have a personal connection with the man or his family. We used to joke about how everyone knows everyone in the church. Now, with thirteen million members and a majority outside North America, we don’t have that same mindset and yet, lo and behold, scratch behind a Mormon website and you’ll find half a dozen people who know him or his kids.

    Small world, yeah. Of course, I, too, know a couple of Romney boys and have chatted with him in the halls between meetings on Sunday. I’m implicated, too.

  133. #126


    My apology, I wanted to address gay marriage not gay rights. I happen to have a nephew who is gay and have no desire to see his rights curtailed.

    Mitt Romney instructed MA judges to approve gay marriage contracts for legal residents of the state. It’s fact, you can review his instructions if you like.

    Now, please explain how Romney can authorize judges to perform same sex marriages and square that practice with the Proclamation of the Family?

    p.s.Joseph Smith may have been tolerant of others but there is nothing in his letters and personal writings that would lead one to believe he would’ve supported gay marriage.

  134. I would hope he would square it by recognizing that what religious leaders can tell their followers to do is very different from what political leaders can tell their citizens they can and can’t do.

  135. Nick Literski says:

    Thanks for the clarification, jon, though I certainly believe the lack of marriage equality to be a curtailment of my rights. There’s a good chance your nephew feels the same.

    It is my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong, by all means) that Romney directed judges to follow the law as interpreted by the highest court of the Commonwealth of Massachussetts, but he also instructed them to apply an antiquated, basically unknown and dormant law, by which he could justify refusing marriage licenses for those who were not legal residents of Massachussetts.

    The Proclamation on the Family (known in certain circles as the Proclamation Against Certain Families) certainly includes a call for political activism in support of strengthening families. There are, of course, fanatical types in this country who interpret any variation from the family form of “father, mother, children” as a threat to the family. These individuals are famously unable to provide legitimate, empirical support for their position, and thus appeal to emotionality and fearmongering. In my experience, most rational people—even those who’s religious beliefs condemn homosexuality–do not feel that their family is threatened by two other men marrying each other.

    The Proclamation does not call for members of the LDS church to violate the civil law of the land, nor to interfere with the civil rights of others. By instructing judges to comply with the orders of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachussetts, Romney properly upheld civil law–something that, in itself, is directly urged in the Articles of Faith.

    If you wish to find that Romney’s action violated the teachings of the LDS church, you would have to look to the First Presidency’s letter, twice repeated over pulpits, urging members to support an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which would curtail the civil rights of homosexuals and Fundamentalist Mormons by defining marriage as “one man and one woman.” Even this letter, however, technically only urged LDS members to “make their views known” to U.S. senators, rather than specifically directing that LDS members support such an amendment. One could technically comply with the letter’s direction by writing their senator in opposition to such an amendment, even if such a viewpoint differed from that expressed by the First Presidency.

    As for Joseph Smith, he was a champion of freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Under his leadership, Nauvoo’s city council enacted an ordinance prohibiting religious discrimination, for instance. On one occasion, Joseph stated that he was just as ready to take up the sword and defend a Methodist’s rights, as he was to defend his own. Joseph Smith knew what it was to be physically and legally attacked for his viewpoints. His “Appeal to the Green Mountain Boys” demonstrated that he held freedom of conscience, as well as the Constitution, sacred. There is no indication that Joseph limited this sentiment to religious freedom. Further, there is no record whatsoever that Joseph taught one way or another about homosexuality, particularly that which involved loving, committed relationships. If anything, he taught privately that non-traditional committed relationships were approved by deity, insofar as all parties were in agreement (and even sometimes without that agreement, for that matter). Even if he did condemn homosexuality, there is really no indication that he would have lobbied Congress to enforce that view on those outside of LDS covenants, whether by criminal legislation or by curtailment of civil rights.

  136. Steve Evans says:

    yawn, Nick, not everything is about gay rights…..

  137. Nick Literski says:

    Sorry, Steve. I was just trying to answer a direct question that another poster asked.

  138. For those who have not yet seen “The Speech” a transcript of Romney’s remarks on religion can be found at:


  139. Wonderful speech. Exactly what I hoped it would be:

    I am Mormon; take it or leave it – with a very subtle “if you vote against me simply because of my religion, you are denying the very foundation of the religious freedom you say you embrace” that I thought was brilliant.

  140. That wasn’t a quote from the speech, it was my own summary of one of the central messages.