October 30, 2007

Romney And Religion

Now I've indicated multiple times in the past that I am a Romney supporter. I've also indicated that I find his religion to be irrelevant to the issue of his fitness for office. So I agree, at least in part, with this column written by Martin Frost for FoxNews.

Sometimes things happen in American politics that make no sense at all. We are experiencing just one of those moments in the 2008 presidential campaign.

I thought that the concept of a religious test for public office in our country was put to bed once and for all when John Kennedy, a Catholic, was elected president in 1960 and Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, was nominated for vice president in 2000.

Now we have a candidate with a record of accomplishment, Mitt Romney, who is consistently lagging in the polls with the most credible reason being that significant numbers of Republican primary voters will not support him because of his Mormon religion.

When voters, particularly in the South, are asked to identify candidates that they would not support for president under any circumstances, Romney leads the list. Romney is rejected as a potential presidential candidate in this type polling more often than other polarizing figures such as Rudy Giuliani. It has become increasingly clear that many conservative voters will not support an otherwise qualified candidate who happens to be a Mormon.

As a Democrat, I wouldn’t vote for Romney in the general election if he is nominated by the Republican Party. But I’ll be damned if I can understand why he should be disqualified from seeking his party’s nomination because of his religion. This makes no logical sense in the world’s greatest democracy in the 21st century.

The question is, how many of those opposed to Mitt Romney are really opposed to him based upon his religion. In my experience, that number seems smaller thatn some in the media might like to make it. Pressed a little harder, most individuals who raise the Mormon issue will come back to questions about Romney's past positions on important issues, and wonder if he is really conservative enough. The religious issue simply becomes the tipping point for them, the one on which the question of shared values becomes decisive.

Now I think that such individuals are wrong -- but I don't think religious issues are necessarily irrelevant in making political choices. While I'll gladly vote for any Christian or Jew who supports my views on major issues, even I have a tipping point -- I don't know that I could bring myself to vote for an individual, for example, who was a Satanist, because our value systems would be too greatly at odds. Is that a wholly rational position, one consistent with my stated beliefs on religion and elections? Maybe not, but then I've never met anyone who was wholly consistent on the values they espouse.

There are those who will argue that the Constitution forbids religious tests for office. They are right, but they ignore what that restriction really means. That provision restricts government itself from requiring or forbidding certain beliefs or practices, but does not extend to the sanctity of the voting booth and the individual's weighing of a candidate's relative merits for office.

Now for all I find myself unable to accept Mormon religious doctrines (and I have studied them, having once been painfully smitten with a Mormon girl who would allow our relationship to progress no further unless I converted) and the historical roots of that faith, I have rarely met a Mormon whose fundamental decency I have doubted. That gives me a certain confidence that Romney's values and mine are congruent, even if not identical. It is why I can support his candidacy for president with a clear conscience, and why I can urge my fellow Americans (of whom my fellow Republicans are but one subset) to support him for the presidency in 2008.

|| Greg, 04:26 AM || Permalink || Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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You are correct on both points; those seeking elected office have core values that we recognize, values which are a direct result of that persons religion or lack of a religion. While working as a police officer I had to ride partners with one fellow who was an atheist and very vocal about it. I asked my supervisor to limit the times we had to work as partners because, as I explained, I could not depend on the actions of the fellow based on our core values which were miles apart. We never had to ride as partners after that request. I’d ridden with officers who were Baptist, Methodist, and just about any other Christian denomination and we had many shared core values in spite of doctrinal issues which made for interesting conversation during a shift; but I didn’t have to concern myself with how they felt regarding the sacred gift of life. I think that may have been the key issue, the atheist had no regard for the sanctity of life, “you live, you die, no big deal”.

|| Posted by T F Stern, October 30, 2007 07:34 AM ||

The GOP's most electable candidate gets a free pass in 08 because they have no one to challenge. It is so fun to watch Republicans validate a candidate that believes Jesus will return to Missouri and Jerusalem to reign when they won the election in 04 on a religious foundation. 04 was not about terror, security.

Now Romney comes along and most republicans are ok with his complete opposite view of most Christians i n the country because he has the bankroll and the good looks to challenge someone. Better look to 2012.

|| Posted by PeachPit, October 30, 2007 07:50 AM ||
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