Mitt Romney and the Mormon Question(s)

Gallup announced Monday that 22 percent of Americans would not vote a Mormon into the presidency, even if he were nominated by their own party. This is a figure that has not just remained steady since 1967, but on the whole has risen five points.

Broken down by affiliation, 18 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of Independents, and 27 percent of America’s most open minded and tolerant political party, the Democrats, say they couldn’t be persuaded to take the plunge. Though Gallup notes lesser educated people are more likely to reject a Mormon nominee, there “are no significant differences on this question by gender, age, region of the country, or religious preference.” What does this mean for Mitt Romney, who is not only the Republican front-runner, but also a Mormon?

Call it a hunch, but it feels like those Republicans are opposed for religious reasons, and those Democrats are opposed because they fundamentally distrust and dislike all religions. (Except Islam, of course, which the Left adores and respects to the utmost, because tolerating Islam is a hell of a lot easier than being stabbed to death in the street.) Problem is, you can’t always tell the difference between a Catholic objection and an atheistic one – they both tend to believe their way is the One Way.

For example, this caller to the John Gibson show: “The Mormons and the whole magic underwear thing is what has me tilted out…. They believe they wear a special garment that they believe are magical, and if Romney believes that, if he believes in magic undergarments, I don’t want him” to be president. You call it: annoying Catholic or annoying atheist?

Gibson did eventually ask the caller, “Do you know how silly this gets once you open this door?” but at the root of it, just about every religion becomes silly once it’s broken down and honestly examined. Whether Romney is a strictly observant Mormon or a Jack Mormon (i.e., the LDS equivalent of a “cafeteria Catholic”) is less critical to his campaign than how to address attacks on his religion.

And make no mistake: The strongest points against him are RomneyCare and Mormonism. The Left will be hesitant to attack RomneyCare because that would mean, ipso facto, attacking ObamaCare. So you’ll have what we had throughout the 2008 nominating process, mainly fits of disbelief, perfectly encapsulated for the purposes of this column by Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC host and professional oh-dear.

“This man stood there and said to you, ‘This is the faith of my fathers,’” O’Donnell said on The McLaughlin Group in late 2007. “The faith of his father is a racist faith. As of 1978 it was an officially racist faith, and for political convenience in 1978 it switched, and it said ‘Okay, black people can be in this church.’ He believes, if he believes the faith of his fathers, that black people are black because in Heaven they turned away from God, in this demented, Scientology-like notion of what was going on in Heaven before the creation of the Earth… When he was 30 years old and he firmly believed in the faith of his father, that black people are inferior, when did he change his mind? Did the religion have to tell him to change his mind?”

These charges will stick because they’re spectacular, saying nothing of those few on the Right who will argue Mormonism is a cult. So what seems more likely, that Romney will deftly maneuver around them or that he will stumble badly and, in doing so, clear a path for Governor Perry?

Author Bio:

Brian S. Wise used to be the lead columnist at IntellectualConservative.com and a fairly well known pundit; now he’s just some dude. He has cool ideas for books and columns, but hardly ever stays out of bed long enough to get started on any of them. He is available via email at brianwisedotcom@gmail.com and via The Twitter at @BrianSWise
  • Brian S. Wise

    For those reading this column in the future, here’s the first piece of evidence that what I predicted is indeed happening.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/8816694/Mitt-Romneys-Mormon-faith-attacked-by-Rick-Perry-supporter-as-cult.html

  • carter

    I question the mans judgment because of his relgion. He’s deceived and the underwear, that’s witchcraft.
    A thinking person must reject Mittens because his foundations are incorrect.

  • Nancye

    Romney’s religion doesn’t bother me. His RomneyCare might, and cause pause and ponder, before deciding who to vote for.

  • Bruce A.

    Good one Brian. I first heard about Romneys religion in 2008 while watching NBC Nightly News.
    I did not care then & do not care now about his religion. I have quit watching NBC News.

  • JohnInMA

    I don’t understand why people who comment here have their underwear in a wad (ironic reference intended). You can hardly find an article or story or blog or……. that doesn’t at a minimum refer to Romney as Mormon. It’s an obsession with everyone in the chattering class. A valid question to ask: “How many of the 22% are affected by the incessant mentioning of his religion and the somewhat frequent digging up of the oddities of the religion?”

    To me, attacking his religion is irrational when you can look at the man and his history to find out whether it matters or not. Did his religion interfere with leading the state of MA? Did it impact the running of the Olympics? Questioning his forays into “liberal” policy is rational and based on actions. But to me, most of the questioning of his religion is in itself an “odd” religion. Almost mysticism or something.

  • Ted

    Let’s see, Catholics have quite a lot they have to explain in their history (inquisitions, forbidding Bible-reading, pedophile priests), Baptists have to explain their past and current segregated churches, and all Christians have to explain why Jesus himself referred to non-Jews as dogs, how Noah could have actually collected two of every animal, and why the New Testament says women should keep quiet in church. We could play, “Oh, yeah? Well, your religion believes ….” all day long. But people, we’re not electing a Sunday School President or a Pope. We’re electing a President. Let’s stick to the issues at hand–experience, political ideology, plans for the future. A Mormon president would not enforce Mormonism on the US any more than a Catholic one would or any more than a Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, enforced Mormonism on his state (he didn’t). He seems to be one politician who actually gets it–that leaders are called to serve the people and enact their preferred policies. You can’t act the same as a governor of New York as Governor of Idaho. The people of Massachusetts wanted a state-wide health policy. The people of the US do not. Romney gets it.

  • Kay

    Foolish statements in critical times. I am looking for articles with substance to get America out of this economic mess. Articles like this give nothing to the conversation.

  • Lori

    And if you believe anything out of O’Donnell’s in his rage of hysteria, than you are lost to all sensibility.

  • Brad Lee

    No joke, after reading the first 3 paragraphs, I searched the page for the word satire written somewhere. I assume Mormons have no problem voting for evangelicals, as the repub nominee is usually evangelical.

    • Brian S. Wise

      Well, thankfully you bailed out early.

  • Brian S. Wise

    For anyone interested, here are the sources used for this week’s column.

    Gallup: “In U.S., 22% Are Hesitant to Support a Mormon in 2012”
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/148100/hesitant-support-mormon-2012.aspx

    “Lawrence O’Donnell goes off on Romney and Mormons”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aWjIpkxcak

    The John Gibson Show, June 16, 2011

  • Brian S. Wise

    I would agree anyone’s religion is irrelevant to their ability to serve – unless it’s an unbearably strange religion – which is what I was getting at when I wrote, “… at the root of it, just about every religion becomes silly once it’s broken down and honestly examined.” But the closer Romney gets to the nomination, the more of an issue it will become, both from the Left and from anyone who wants to find the quickest way to derail his candidacy.

  • Deborah G Flynn

    That is a quantum leap. Raegan certainly was not evenagelical. The Bushes are not evangelical, Ford was not so where do you get that misinformation from?

  • Deborah G Flynn

    I think HE gets it but the Dumbocrats will use any slur to do damage. I truly believe though that some people when they hear Morman see enslaved sister wives and Polygamy. you can’t help perception. The fact is it is a religion based on the teachings of a schizophrenic , child molester who took young girls from families he got to join his cult. By today’s standard no different from the whacko who abducted the Elizabeth Smart girl from her home. He chanted God’s wrath while he raped her repeatedly. The difference is that inside a cult people get blind and the Morman religion for years was considered a cult. Most cult leaders are Child molester s and have a sick obsession to ensalve women. They say it is God’s will. That unfortunately IS what a lot of people believe about Mormans, They are cultish, stick with their own, and are extremely covetous of money. I myself can’t buy into a religion that a mental case founded saying he got “Tablets” from an angel named Maroni in upstate New York then they strangely disappeared. He is all over the map or dillusional distortions from the Bible.NUTS! And the people who followed him were as nutty as Scientologists or followers of Jim Jones or David Koresh. It lacks credibility and it also can’t undo the scourge of Polygamy.