Does Mitt Romney's religion matter?
Anyone who thinks that the presumptive Republican nominee's Mormonism will not be a factor in the 2012 election isn't paying attention. Already attacks are mounting on the left.
BY: Dr. Jack Kerwick
On Wednesday April 4, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell remarked that while Judaism and Christianity are thousands of years in the making, Mormonism, in stark contrast, is a mere 182 years old. Mormonism was “created” in 1830 “by a guy in upstate New York” who got “caught having sex” with his “maid” and then “explained to his wife that God told him do it.” Alluding to Mormonism’s historically polygamous character, O’Donnell made sure to mention that Joseph Smith—the man who “invented” Mormonism—eventually went on to accumulate 48 wives.
This isn’t the first time that O’Donnell has sought to discredit Mitt Romney by assailing the former Massachusetts governor’s faith. In 2007, he charged Mormonism with being a “racist faith.” O’Donnell states: “As of 1978 it was an officially racist faith, and for political convenience in 1978, it switched.”
Those Republicans who suspect that President Obama and his legions of supporters in the media are going to attack Romney by attacking his faith are correct. Yet it is crucial that they know exactly why this will be their strategy of choice.
For whatever reasons (we needn’t get into them here), Republicans and establishment “conservatives” refuse—adamantly, steadfastly, refuse—to acknowledge two facts about their rivals. First, they refuse to concede how Democratic leftists think. Second, they refuse to recognize that unless they make this first concession, they will lose.
If Romney, the GOP nominee, wasn’t a Mormon, Democrats wouldn’t dream of making this campaign about religion. Republicans must grasp this. They must reckon with the truth that Mormonism, from the leftist’s perspective, is more vulnerable a target than any and every other belief system save for, say, Neo-Nazism.
O’Donnell forecasts the lines along which the left is going to come after Romney.
That Joseph Smith was a polygamist, and that the logic of Mormon theology implies the need for polygamy, permit leftists to depict Mormonism as an incorrigibly “sexist” faith. And that blacks had long been denied, not membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but access to its priesthood, exposes it to the left’s charge of “racism.”
Shortly after the presidential election, Californians successfully voted against the legalization of so-called “gay marriage.” In response, leftists launched a full frontal assault against (white) Mormons—though, unsurprisingly, not against the blacks and Hispanics without whom the referendum would have crashed in defeat.
Rest assured, this incident will be among those upon which Romney’s critics will seize in depicting his faith as “homophobic.”
So Romney will effortlessly be portrayed by Obama and company as a “racist, sexist, homophobe.” But this is not all.
For all of the leftist’s railing against “stereotypes,” there is no one who trades in stereotypes more so than he. To the last detail, Romney fits, or can be made to fit, the worst of the leftist’s stereotypes: Romney’s fabulous wealth and wholesome looking family renders him the poster boy for the pre-1960’s bourgeoisie, a ruling class ridden with hypocrisy, self-centeredness, and a cruel indifference to the suffering of blacks, women, and other minorities.
In the leftist’s imagination, America was a cauldron of racial and gender oppression up until the Enlightenment of the 1960’s. This explains why he despises “1950’s America,” the United States as it is portrayed in such television classics as Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Leave it to Beaver. Such shows offer an idealized presentation of the all-American family. Yet given that this ideal co-existed with and, from the leftist’s point of view, actually facilitated “McCarthyism” and other forms of oppression, the ideal deconstructs under its own weight. And in so doing, the white, heterosexual, bourgeoisie 1950’s family is revealed to be the Enemy of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful—i.e. the Politically Correct.
Romney’s is the face of the Enemy. Because of his membership in a little understood and unpopular church, there is no Republican candidate who is more legible for this distinction. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are Roman Catholics, and if ever there was a faith that lends itself to being interpreted by the left as “sexist” and “homophobic,” it is Catholicism; but too many American voters are Roman Catholic. Similarly, Ron Paul is a Protestant, but the denomination to which he belongs, though posing a similar threat to the leftist’s sacred cows, is nevertheless a mainline Christian faith.
Republicans had better prepare for this line of attack, for it is already under way.