Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hotline Looks At The Mormon Question

The Hotline blog ponders the question of whether Gov. Mitt Romney's candidacy for president will be impeded because of his Mormon faith. The blog asks, "Will Mitt Romney be an Al Smith or a John Kennedy?" Hotline reflects on a recent poll showing that 35% of those polled said they would never vote for a Mormon presidential candidate:

The two groups most united in their opposition: liberal Democrats, of whom 40 percent were skittish, and more-than-once-a-week churchgoers, of whom a majority was opposed. (Note that these slices are taken from subsamples of a larger poll and are thus somewhat less precise).


It might be that Mormons are perceived as a fundamentally conservative denomination which scares modernist/secular Dems as much as their alleged heresy scares some evangelicals.
It might just be that the 2008 GOP presidential campaign will break down a barrier for Mormons much like Kennedy's 1960 presidential race did for Catholic candidates. While the poll would seem to suggest that Romney is going to have a real challenge with Christian fundamentalists, AI suspects that his supportive position on cultural issues will win out over any misgivings that these voters might have with Romney because he's a Mormon.


Doug said...

Eric Rasmusen had a post about this a couple of weeks ago, apparently after the Wall Street Journal mentioned it.

My comment there was:

I’ll admit, some of the Mormon beliefs of which I hear seem pretty bizarre to me. But, if I hadn’t been socialized to accept them as normal, I suppose some of the beliefs of, say, Catholicism would be troubling to me. Kennedy had to face some of the questions about whether he would have to obey the orders of the Pope. I don’t know if anyone ever asked him if he really believed he was eating blood and human flesh during mass.

But, at the end of the day, for political purposes, I guess it doesn’t matter how objectively weird one’s religious beliefs may or may not be, it only matters how socialized the electorate is to accept the beliefs.

Myclob said...

I recently saw Mitt Romney respond to questions about his faith, and typed up his responce. It was on the Charlie Rose show.

This exchange takes place at about 12:20 into the video at this location:

(The punctuation and spelling are by me).

Guest host Judy Woodruff: …Religion really played a role sense JFK, do you think it would play a role if you ran?

Mitt Romney: Oh, I think initially. Some people would say, Gosh, I don't know much about your faith, tell me about it. And I'd probably outline the fundamentals. I'm a religious person. I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior. But then as you get into the details of doctrines I'd probably say look time out, let's focus on the values that we share. And fundamentally the values of my faith are very much like the values of other Judeo-Christian tradition values. And I think Americans want to have a leader who is a person of faith, but their not going to get terribly involved in the differences of doctrine, as long as the values we share are common.

Guest host Judy Woodruff: John Kennedy, we remember, looked for and found a venue where he could talk about his catholic faith. The Houston ministry is a very famous speech that he gave. Would you look for and are you looking for a place were you can make a statement like this and are you looking for the right place and time?

Mitt Romney: Not really. Not at this stage. You know its possible that there will come some point were there is a question that galvanizes interest and there is an occasion to say something that cuts through the confusion that may develop but at this stage it is kind of hard to predict what will happen. I mean I remember in the race with Ronald Reagan, it was in his debate that he said, "I'm not going to let your youth and inexperience become an issue in this campaign". That sort of put aside his age issue. And there may well be something of that nature. I just don't think Americans will do something the constitution forbids. The constitution says that no religious test shall ever be required for qualification for office in these United States, and I don't think my party or the American people would ever do that.

Guest host Judy Woodruff: But there are some aspects of Mormonism that many Americans might not understand… are these legitimate issues for people to ask you about?

Mitt Romney: There is a leap of faith associated with every religion. You haven't exactly got those doctrines right, but if you have doctrines you want to talk about go talk to the church, because that's not my job. But the most unusual thing in my church is that we believe there was once a flood upon the earth and that a man took a boat and put two of each animal inside the boat and saved humanity by doing that.

Guest host Judy Woodruff: We are familiar with that story.

Mitt Romney: There are unusual beliefs associated with each faith and I'm proud of my faith and happy to talk to people about it but fundamentally my race for governor, my race for senator before that, and if I run for nationally its going to be about the values that I have, and the values that I think should be emphasized in this country and answers to the kind of challenges that we face, because I believe that America is at a critical time, and I believe those are the types of issues that people will focus on.

I wish those who are trying to tear down Mitt Because of his faith would listen to this quote, by one of our church leaders:

When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man's house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack any one's religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven't time to do that. It is never right to do that.

Marla R. Stevens said...

The fundies have already proven themselves capable of voting not once, but twice for a dry drunk of a ne'er-do-well who is utterly unfit for the job, who doesn't sincerely hold to substantial parts of their agenda and who has to be regularly strong-armed by the Evil Puppetteer from the Ground Zero of Hate (Colorado Springs) into acting on it. Why wouldn't they jump for someone who actually does share their agenda and has shown an actual ability to lead?

Anonymous said...

Steve Osborn, the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Dick Lugar, is a member of the LDS church.

Let me go out on a limb here, but my prediction is that his religious affilation will not be a factor in the outcome of the November election.