Skip to main content

Does Mitt Romney's Mormonism matter?

That's the the topic of my column with Ben Boychuk for Scripps Howard this week. I answer in the kind-of-affirmative:
Let's give thanks for progress: A black man and a Mormon will compete for the presidency this November. More people from more backgrounds than ever can fully participate in our politics -- thanks largely to the efforts of American liberals. 
Romney doesn't get a free pass for his faith, however. 
Don't misunderstand: If you vote for a candidate based on the Nicene Creed, say, then you're being silly and maybe a little un-American. We're electing a president, not a pope. 
But a candidate's policies are fair game, as is the worldview that shapes those policies. Faith often shapes a candidate's worldview. Romney's opposition to abortion reportedly springs from the teachings of his church: That's a topic that can't and shouldn't be avoided in a presidential campaign. 
Other issues in which Romney's faith may be a factor: 
-- Race: Until 1978, the Mormon church refused to ordain black men into the priesthood. Romney was a 31-year-old adviser to the leader of the Boston church when the policy changed: What was his view of it, and how might it affect how he governs a multiracial America? 
-- Feminism: The church long discouraged mothers from working outside the home -- and Romney reportedly refused to help a couple adopt a child until the mother was able to quit her job. How would that viewpoint affect Romney policies on workplace discrimination or child-care tax credits? 
-- Same-sex marriage: Romney's opposition to marriage equality reportedly springs from his faith, and Mormons were big contributors to the campaign for California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriages. Now there are questions about whether Romney would even permit gays to adopt. 
Church membership isn't an immutable characteristic. It's a choice. 
Certainly, Republicans feel that way when the church is led by Jeremiah Wright. The election isn't about Romney's theology -- but it is about his beliefs. Americans deserve a chance to understand them.
Ben, in his response, says that presidents don't set adoption policies, which are the province of the state. True, but only so true: The federal government offers adoption tax credits that gay couples already have a hard time claiming. For better or worse, the feds have a role in the issue—which makes Romney's recent waffling all the more troubling.


Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…