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May 12, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ROMNEY'S MORMONISM....Here's a question for any old-timers who might be reading this blog: was George Romney's Mormon faith an issue for him when he ran for president in 1968? I know that Romney self-destructed with his "brainwashing" comment so early in the campaign that nothing else really mattered, but I'm just curious about whether this was something that was even an issue at the time. Anyone know?

Kevin Drum 3:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (99)

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Dunno for sure.

But it's worth noting that 1976 marked the beginning of evangelicals' serious involvement with national politics.

So, I'd assume LDS wasn't a really big deal in '68.

Posted by: Petey on May 12, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

No, but LSD was. Also, the SDS.

Actually, people were still reeling from having a Catholic in the White House so recently. Seems like a long time ago, eh?

Posted by: Kenji on May 12, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't he born in Mexico to a family of renegade polygamists?

Posted by: asdf on May 12, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I did follow the 1976 election pretty closely, so I can say that Morris Udall's Mormonism was never an issue in the Democratic primary that year. Wikipedia describes Udall as a "non-practicing member of the LDS church". George Romney, like his son Mitt, was an active member. Wikipedia briefly mentions a controversy over his having been born in Mexico, but nothing about Mormonism as an issue in the campaign.

Of course Udall's religious issues were overshadowed by Carter's in any case.

Posted by: Dave MB on May 12, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

That was about the time the Mormon Tabernacle Choir started sending out records through Reader's Digest, or something.

Posted by: cld on May 12, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

And there was some kind of syndicated Mormon mini-series about trekking through the desert. Low on specifics, high on piety.

Posted by: cld on May 12, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's interesting that it wasn't a question in Michigan, either. Nowadays, I wonder if he could have been elected there. It's kind of sad, because although the LDS and evangelical protestantism may be miles apart theologically, their lifestyles and values have a lot in common.

Posted by: sab on May 12, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Barone wrote about this in early April http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneblog/archives/070404/the_mormon_thin.htm, quoting Theodore White's Making of the President 1968: "n him the small-town ethic, the small-town morality of America's past seemed to be exaggerated to hyperbole. Yet, on probing, one discovered this morality to be pure, unfeigned and of innermost religious conviction... Romney's religion–the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints–framed his every phrase and reaction. He would not talk politics or do business on a Sunday; he neither smoked nor drank; he believed, again in all sincerity, that the Constitution of the United States was a divinely inspired document. When he talked of stopping moral rot, he meant it..."

Intriguingly, White talks about George Romney's ferocious disagreement with Barry Goldwater over civil rights, and Barone disagrees with White's analysis, but there is a certain oddly myopic quality tio the dispute: White noted that George Romney had broken with Republicans BECAUSE Goldwater opposed the civil rights acts of the 60s on small government grounds, while Barone offers the lamely retro apology that the LDS did not renounce its divine justification for racism until 1978 -- which, while Barone points out it was 30 years ago, was still 15 years in the future when George Romney took a stand for equality against his political party.

And, it should be noted, NOT on religious but on moral grounds.

Posted by: theAmericanist on May 12, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

As I recall, the only problem for George Romney back then was the fact that he was born in Mexico, but to American citizens (who were pretty much there because of their Mormon faith). So.... That makes Mitt half Mexican, in a way. LOL, considering the makeup of the Republican party, I would think that Mexican connection would do him in. :)

Posted by: Jim in AZ on May 12, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I called my father-in-law and asked him about George Romney. After he finished laughing, he got serious and said (and I quote) "We didn't know how fucked up Mormons are back then. Now, if he had lasted longer, it would most certainly have become an issue."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Good question, Kevin. I recall that election pretty well. I don't remember anyone making a fuss over Romney's religion. Certainly no political leader made the type of bigoted remark that Al Sharpton did recently.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal,

Again with the claimed familiarity of old time politics. So how old are you really? You either gotta be up there in age or you are a liar.

And when were you a liberal? If you were following the Republican primaries in '68 you must have been Republican then.

Posted by: Tripp on May 12, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I remember the 68 race. I remember him being the front runner, then getting destroyed by the "brainwashed" comment. I don't remember his Mormonism coming up at all.
Of ccourse, he did self-destruct awfully early.

Posted by: Kevin Rooney on May 12, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Richardson must be the inverse of Mitt Romney. As governor of New Mexico, he legalized medicinal marijuana.

(Hyperbole on) Romney will criminalize coffee, although he admits to once using it during his reckless college days.

"I once drank tea, but i didn't injest." -Romney (Hyperbole off)

Posted by: absent observer on May 12, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Who's "Rommey"? LOL!

[Irony Alert! That this poster would dare criticize the blog-owners misspelling typo is too rich]

Posted by: egbert on May 12, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Blue girl's father-in-law had it right.
At that time, Mormons were thought to be just another kind of Protestant Christian (not the polytheists we now know them to be).

Posted by: Hexatron on May 12, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

I remember it in only the vaguest way, but I seem to remember that his religion wasn't an issue because it was easy to ignore it and by ignoring it ignore Romney at the same time because Nixon was cultivating conservative Christians and religion was their thing.

In a way ignoring Romney's Mormonism allowed the scope of the South's realignment to proceed unremarked.

Posted by: cld on May 12, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Most Americans nowadays are not old enough to remember mainstream "Christianity" as anything but believers of the evangelical or fundamentalist stripe. But back in the 60s, the old line Protestant churches (Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Methodists, etc.) were still dominant. Those churches were heavily invested in the Civil Rights movement and the so-called social gospel pioneered by Reinhold Niebuhr among others. It was a nice blend of liberal theology and liberal politics. The public face of Christianity was a lot more tolerant.

I know lots of folks have a hard time equating Christianity with tolerance, but there was a time when that was the case.

As I recall, Romney, the father, got a pass on his Mormon faith because he was a classic liberal Republican, which in those days was a good thing. He was a better-than-average governor (of Michigan), and he subscribed to social policies that most liberals could agree with. Hence, so what if he was a Mormon?

Unfortunately, as the Civil Rights movement faded in the 70s and early 80s, so did the old mainline churches with their tolerant views. Groups like the Christian Coalition discouraged tolerance and critical thinking in general. Now we have so-called Christians who, apparently, are unaware of the true teachings of Jesus. When we think of Christians now, we tend to think of people who agressively enforce conformity to a narrow ideological and political agenda. As a rule, today's evangelicals and fundamentalists are likely to dislike and distrust those who profess different beliefs.

To make a long story short, because Democrats and liberals are more tolerant to begin with, they are more interested in how Romney will govern, than in what he believes personally. On the other hand, conservative Christians are naturally suspicious of persons who have difference beliefs. They would prefer to vote for someone who thinks just like them.

Posted by: daveb99 on May 12, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I recall that some reporter asked him how a black could vote for him if he supported the Mormon theology at the time that Blacks were tsainted with some sin and couldnt enter priesthood of Mormon church. He had no answer ready .

Later the phrase "white and dewlitesome" in book of Mormon was changed to "Pure and delitesome".
A revalation was claimed as the reason.

Posted by: OwenG on May 12, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

No, it wasn't an issue for the 1968 Romney.

In fact, being a Mormon has helped Democratic candidates in Western states.

Ask Harry Reid about it. Or any of the Udall family.

Posted by: Slothrop on May 12, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

I sort of remember some discussion of the Mormon church's racial attitudes, but nothing major. I also remember one joke, that Romney wanted to use the Presidency as a stepping-stone to the next level.

Posted by: Irwin on May 12, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

daveb99 has the correct analysis of what happened.

Posted by: spencer on May 12, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, I'm still 64. I switched my politics when I was in my early 30's. This thread explains one reason why.

Back in 1968, the Democrats seemed to be more principled. I think they would have denounced the kind of bigoted statement Al Sharpton recently made. Of course, Martin Luther King never would have made such a comment.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't remember the talk about his religious beliefs but there was sure a lot of talk about his underwear.

Posted by: Michael Hart on May 12, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

I know lots of folks have a hard time equating Christianity with tolerance, but there was a time when that was the case.

Good thing Falwell and company had the wisdom to correct Jesus on that point. Excising all the references to forgiveness from their version of the Bible -- "turn the other cheek," "Father, forgive them," etc. -- along with all the references to tolerance -- Mary Magdalene, the Good Samaritan parable, outreach to Gentiles, etc. -- really helped streamline the volume.

Get rid of all that stuff, plus the nonsense about helping the poor, blah blah blah, and you're left with a three page pamphlet about hating the gays. Hooray!

Posted by: Otto Man on May 12, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Here's from Bob Novak:

"Sen. Hillary Clinton's upward bump in Democratic presidential polls is viewed by insiders as a delayed reaction to Sen. Barack Obama's mediocre performance in the opening debate April 26.

"Not many people actually watched MSNBC's telecast of the debate from Orangeburg, S.C., but press accounts and word of mouth have spread the news of Obama's performance. When asked by moderator Brian Williams what he would do as president if he learned that "two American cities have been hit simultaneously by terrorists," Obama replied -- citing Hurricane Katrina -- that "the first thing we'd have to do so is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response." In contrast, Clinton responded that she would "retaliate."

"Obama's unsatisfactory answer generated criticism in Democratic circles that he is too inexperienced and that his managers are relying on his personality and biography rather than taking vigorous positions."

And you still consider this goofus Obama a viable candidate for President of the United States?

Sure you do. You're too small to admit your on board a train wreck, right?

Good advice: Grow up.

Posted by: StraightTalk on May 12, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I've a better question; Was it an issue for Harry Reid, when he ran for and assumed office? Why is it only an issue with Romney?

Now, mind you, I'm not too happy about Romney running. If it comes to a choice between Romney a Democrat I will probably vote Romney, but don't expect me to be turning handsprings over it. Still, my support of Romney or the lack of it, is not the issue here; the central issue is once again the double standards of the left.

Posted by: Bithead on May 12, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

The public image of Mormons changed a great deal out here in the East during the Carter and Reagan years, I think. Eisenhower had at least one in his cabinet (Ezra Taft Benson?) who didn't talk about social issues, IIRC, and they got occasional notice in Life magazine about choosing prophets and having revelations and so on, but nothing that I recall as very dramatic. Polygamy was always the main attention-getting issue, I think. So overall I'd agree that daveb99 is right about that period.

But they built that huge Tabernacle East on the DC Beltway sometime around 1980 or thereabouts, and it was meant as a symbol of their growing influence and militancy. It's lit up at night and towers over that stretch of the beltway. It was sinister.

And there was open talk in the Reagan period about how they were working to get influence in the administration. It was related to the whole "sagebrush revolution"/James Watt thing about not letting the feds control or oversee western resources. The LDS hierarchy and other western corporate interests were very into that.

A friend of mine is from a part of the West that's always had a high proportion of Mormons, and he says a lot of non-Mormons really haven't liked them. That's primarily because they've been so highly organized and prone to dominate the political life of the smaller towns they lived in (school boards, etc). That isn't quite the same thing as LDS church influence at the federal level, I think, but a reaction very much like the Iowans' reaction to the Maharishi crowd, based on local behavior and day-to-day contact.

Historically, the hierarchical, internally-cooperative and exclusionary practices of the church have bred a lot of negative reaction in the people around them. There was always a fear that the social loyalty built around their religious organization wasn't compatible with living in a republic-- much the same was said about the Roman Catholic church pre-Vatican II, about Freemasons in the 1820s, and should be said about the political evangelicals today. Any commitment stronger than the one to the republic is a threat-- just see what John Quincy Adams said about the Freemasons.

Posted by: Altoid on May 12, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Agree daveb99's take on it is good. I was too young to vote then but I do remember the brain wash thing. At the time I could not understand why, in the context of the statement, it was derided as such an absurd thing to say. I think it was used by the swift boaters of that time to sink his candidacy before the Mormon issue came to the fore.

I have trouble believing today's righties will accept Romneys LDS but then on the other hand they will do anything they think will get them to the winner's circle so who knows.

Posted by: joeis on May 12, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it was an "issue" -- the religion of candidates is always an issue if it might have a large impact on the way they govern. Too bad that isn't checked more often about Supreme Court justices, eh?

Posted by: Scorpio on May 12, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

isn't the LDS church still listed officially, as a cult with the feds?
thanks

Posted by: fredamae on May 12, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

In the Detroit area, he was seen as a good governor by most people. I don't think a majority even knew his religion.

Posted by: Bob M on May 12, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

I belive that Gov. George Romney's bid in 1968 was really a stalking horse for Rockenfeller, because at that time in 1968 you won the nommination not thru the party primaries but in the caucuses, also the concern of the involment of the LDS church in politics happend in the 1970's because of elevation of Erza Taft Benson(AG Sec) to the Church presidencie and he swung the churcuh hard right.

Posted by: ejpjr on May 12, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't remember a mention of it, nor for Udall later.

Posted by: smd on May 12, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

"... was George Romney's Mormon faith an issue for him when he ran for president in 1968?"

He ran for president in 1968?
Just how old is this old fart?

Hmmmm...

Perhaps your previous post should have read:

Jet black rug, graying naturally at the temples.

Like the name says:

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on May 12, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a better question: what's more absurd, the most technologically advanced nation in the world being led by a person who doesn't believe in evolution or by one who does believe in magic underwear? Tough choice.

Posted by: God, really on May 12, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Did Romney serve as a Missionary? If so where and when?

I hope someone takes a look at the connection between his easy ability to pivot on major political/moral issues and Mormonism. Is it related to the indoctrination?

I do not think he should be disqualified because of Mormonism. However, there needs to be a spot light put upon his background and the indoctrination that Mormons go through.

Posted by: jim on May 12, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Romney was a missionary in France.

Ordinary slob Mormons get sent to Uzbekistan.

Posted by: cld on May 12, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a better question: what's more absurd, the most technologically advanced nation in the world being led by a person who doesn't believe in evolution or by one who does believe in magic underwear? Tough choice.

On the other hand, we've already been led by lots of presidents who believe that it's possible to walk on water, that virgins can give birth, that burning shrubbery can communicate, and that invisible little spirits that they call "angels" float around them. So yeah, Mormon beliefs are generally nuts, but on the other hand Christians aren't exactly ones to talk either.

Posted by: Stefan on May 12, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's kind of fun to see the party that made religiosity a prime feature of its past campaigns squeal like a pack of stuck pigs when the issue seems to cut against them.

Maybe if they had campaigned on competence and solutions instead of cultivating the fundies they might be in a better position today.

Demonstrating competence and solving problems would have helped too, come to think of it.

Posted by: Dennis on May 12, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

It appears Mitt inherited a disastrous trait of his father--that of misspeaking. Actaully Mitt flip-flops so much. But both Romneys were such promising candidates when they started out.

I was a small child during the 1968 election, but from what I've read, the elder Romney's Mormonism wasn't much of an issue at the time.

Oh well, there goes the most beatable of GOP candidates. It's gonna be Hillary vs. McCain.

Posted by: mikeel on May 12, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Back then, people started paying attention to the Presidential races later. The "brainwashing" quote killed Romney Sr.'s campaign in the cradle.

But political journalist Clark Mollenhoff wrote a book titled George Romney: Mormon in Politics in time for the '68 campaign that would have been a more salable book that year if it hadn't been for the 'brainwashing' comment.

Never looked at the book, but obviously Mollenhoff felt it was at least important enough to put it in the book's title.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist (formerly RT) on May 12, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

It appears that Mormonism has emphasized from the beginning the acquisition of secular power, something that got them into trouble in Illinois and Missouri. In the West, they comprised the bulk and the best organized of early settlement and had a considerable presence among elected officers throughout Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Montana. What has changed since 1968 is that the Western states have experienced substantial population gains. In 1970 Nevada had fewer people than Delaware. Utah's population has doubled since 1970. The isolation of the Western states has ended, and in absolute numbers far more non-Mormons have had some direct contact with Mormonism and its doctrines. They have not always liked what they have seen. In addition, Mormonism has benefited from the generational success of evangelical Christianinty (though they are neither) and are better known throughout the country. In 1968 Mormonism was a black box for most of the country and George Romney, an auto executive from Michigan, did not raise any red flags. It's hard to imagine him running as a Republican in the current environment.

Posted by: ray on May 12, 2007 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't know the old man was a Mormon.

Posted by: angryspittle on May 12, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

I also recall Romney's Mormonism sort of being treated as another branch of Protestantism.

However, my first contact with Mormonism was in '61, where a fellow high school student of that persuasion would, upon hearing me say "shit" or "fuck," would belt me with his fist. What could be more Christian than that?

Posted by: manowar on May 12, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK


George Romney had been CEO of American Motors (anybody remember Nashes?) before he was elected governor of Michigan, so he had a track record in the real world. Still, when the story came out about the fancy Mormon underwear, it was hard to look at him and not snicker.

Posted by: john sherman on May 12, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck! How Christian of him.

Posted by: angryspittle on May 12, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Not only is daveb99's analysis accurate, 1968 was not that long after Jack Kennedy who was elected despite his Roman Catholicism and didn't turn the country over to the Pope. That eased a lot of angst about other than mainline Protestants in high office.

Also while the evangelical right and fundamentalist Christians were around in 1968 they weren't a national force, and their desire to recast the federal government as an Old Testament Enforcer wasn't on the national radar. In fact, religious influence in public life was seen as a good thing.

1968 was my first chance to vote for President and I live in Michigan where Romney was a good governor. He'd been asked about his Mormonism here during his campaigns, and while he didn't hide it, he didn't make a big deal out of it personally or politically. He certainly didn't invoke it as a rational for his actions as Governor. By 1968 it wasn't any issue here, and I don't recall it was much of one nationally, although as everyone mentions Romney shot himself in the foot very early.

We socially liberal Republicans in Michigan felt badly about that. You had to know George, and we did. He occasionally just said silly things like that. Didn't mean much. Sort of a verbal tic. Sooner or later he'd take his foot out of his mouth and go on in his usual sensible way. Probably would have been a good President along the lines of Jerry Ford.

Today, after watching Inquisition George dismantle the separation of church and state and turn too much of the federal government into an arm of the Grand Old Theocracy Party, I won't give any authoritarian save-the-world religious doctrine high political office, and I'm surely not alone in that.

Even worse, I do not see the religious restraint or talent for governing of George Romney in his son, Mitt.
A bit of Brigham Young, yes.
The tolerance of George Romney, no.

Posted by: clio on May 12, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Romney's faith was the subject of some discussion early in the campaign but IIRC was never significant. On a scale of 1-10 the issue of Romeny's faith early on probably registered about 1.5 (at least among the politically active I was involved with).

Whether his faith would have been an issue had he not tanked early is an open question, but I'd venture to guess that it would not have been. The country was in turmoil, and there were far more substantive issues that we were grappling with.

If Romney had been able to put a better plan forward (and a better campaign), I think his faith would have been a non-issue; that Nixon won pretty much says it all.

Posted by: has407 on May 12, 2007 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I was living in Michigan at the time and remember the 1968 campaign well. There were two things going on then. The LDS church has been doubling in size about every 15 years, so it is now roughly four times bigger than it was then and has a much higher profile. People who didn't know anything about Mormons then now have learned about their truly repugnant history (and I'm not talking about just the polygamy, but the fraud; violence, racism, and history of changing or hiding church doctrines for political expediency.) Secondly, Romney self-destructed before his campaign really got going. It was never clear to me why the rather innocuous comment he made about being brain washed by the military brass when he visited Viet Nam disqualified him so quickly. I think there was more going on and his religion may have been part of it. I am all for religious tolerance, and I see no impediment for non-observant Mormons to be elected, but unless Romney disclaims Mormon doctrine and beliefs, I don't see how he could possibly be elected as president of the United States.

Posted by: close reader on May 12, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bithead "Was it an issue for Harry Reid, when he ran for and assumed office? Why is it only an issue with Romney?"

I think that's because Sen. Reid doesn't wear his faith on his sleeve, like Gov. Romney is currently trying to do.

That being said, while I believe that Mitt Romney's guilty as charged with regards to his bvious pandering to the religious right, I also feel any public discussion of his Mormonism is impertinent.

Questions about Romney's spiritual life, and whether or not he is living up to the tenets of his faith, are inherently personal, and thus none of my concern -- nor should it be anyone else's business, either.

Therefore, as long as he's willing to leave me be to practice my faith without judgment or interference -- even if it is to honor biannually the Earth Goddess through bonfire, poetry and pagan ceremony each Winter and Summer Solstice -- I should not begrudge him his stories of young Joseph Smith, the Angel Moroni, and God's gift of faith and wisdom as it was written on the Golden Tablets.

But if he is not, as appears initially to be the case here (sigh!) -- alas, then I must reluctantly conclude that we've got ourselves a real fuckin' problem with this clown, boys 'n' girls!!!

And I daresay, like most reasonably intelligent and otherwise tolerant people, I have little patience for clowns who prove themselves to be a real fuckin' problem.

Hope that explains it for you.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 12, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

My parents were very active in Repug politics back in the 60's and 70's, and very active in church activities, and I don't recall even knowing Romney was Mormon until Mitt hit the bigtime. He was in the era before either the Repugs or Christianists had been eaten by the Zombie-evangelicals, so I'm willing to bet it wasn't an issue, except to the Bircher wing of the party.

Posted by: Reddragyn on May 12, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

This idea that Romney the Elder's Mormonism was less of an issue in 1968 than it is believed to be with his son in 2007 is counterintuitive. Is it really so that the general opinion of Mormonism and the related national memory of the events leading up to Utah's statehood were more favorable 40 years closer to the original events than they are now?

I don't believe that.

People are less aware of the distinctions between the various Christian denominations these days than they were when one could ask Jack Kennedy whether, as President, he or the Pope would be calling the shots.

The truth is that the only "issue" over Mitt Romney's religion is whichever one the liberal Big Media reporters can make of it. Their concerns about his beliefs are frivilous, if not mildly bigoted.

At least the man's religious beliefs are rooted in an essentially American character, unlike the slave religion our country is at war with now.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on May 12, 2007 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a better question: Has any president's religion colored his presidency more than George Bush's Evangelicanism? I don't why there's so much talk about Mormonism now when there was so little about Evangelicalism then. We've never hesitated debating the question of a Catholic, and god forbid a Jewish president, but where we when this crazy Evangelical was making the rounds?

Posted by: mdsand on May 12, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Romney self-destructed before his campaign really got going."

That's pretty much the way I remember it.

"It was never clear to me why the rather innocuous comment he made about being brain washed by the military brass when he visited Viet Nam disqualified him so quickly"

Because the right wing machine and their allies in the press jumped all over it. The line was... "Someone capable of being 'brainwashed' obviously can't be president".

Think of the Edwards 'scream'. History repeats itself.

Posted by: Buford on May 12, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK
I think that's because Sen. Reid doesn't wear his faith on his sleeve, like Gov. Romney is currently trying to do.

Rather the reverse, actually, since the Democrats are spending more time talking about it than Romney himself is. And of course, I include the press in this. Anyone still under the illusion that the press is controlled by the right, needs to cut down a little on their consumption of hallucinogenic a material.

Posted by: Bithead on May 12, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, as I remember, no, it was not an issue. I always approved of old George and planned to vote for him until his rather stupid brainwashing remark. I, however, have learned more about the Mormons since especially from Jewish friends, since deceased, who lived through Auschwitz. I would not vote for the current Romney on a bet.

Posted by: Robert R Clough on May 12, 2007 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

My memory of it pretty much coincides with Daveb99's also. With the added caveat that back in the day, National news was pretty much controlled out of New York - you had the networks, the NYT, Time, Newsweek, and Life magazine - and maybe Newsweek was the only one that wasn't out and out liberal in a "modern" sort of way, where modern America was supposed to have shed prejudice and intolerance and media types were very very conscious and aware that being in the 60s was supposed to be very different and grown up about these sort of things than the white bread conformist 50s. John Kennedy was of recent memory and glamorous and part of his impact was that intolerance and distrust based upon such things as one's religious belief was old fashioned. Maybe Romney's religion was whispered about and was a bigger deal in local circles, but in the national media at the time - i.e., the NY-dominated media, it would not have been brought up as a serious subject simply because it was distasteful and out of tune with the times. Sort of how we're now supposed to consider Hillary and Obama and Bill on their achievements and expericence and not on their gender and ethnicity. Funny how the fundies have completely reversed that when it comes to religion.

Posted by: Ethel-to-Tilly on May 12, 2007 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, I'm still 64. I switched my politics when I was in my early 30's. This thread explains one reason why.
Posted by: ex-liberal

You left along with the other white Dems who felt uncomfortable with the Civil Rights Act, and found solace among the unapologetic racism of nixon's southern strategy?

Sounds about right to me.

"From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats."

from Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips


At least the man's religious beliefs are rooted in an essentially American character, unlike the slave religion our country is at war with now.
Posted by: Toby Petzold

oh look, another klan member who switched to the republican party. I can only wonder why.

seriously, the sooner this last batch of over 60 bigots dies, the better America will be. Hopefully, the inevitable browning of their lily white neighborhoods will do them in.

Posted by: ex-moron on May 12, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ex-Liberal

"Tripp, I'm still 64. I switched my politics when I was in my early 30's. This thread explains one reason why."

Why do so many of these guys choose to define themselves politically according to their supposed "liberal" affiliations in the 1960's and 70's?

Is it because they think that it somehow gives them more credibility? And isn't that tactic pretty much completely worn out at this point?

I'm 41, and I was a rightwing Republican during the Reagan years of the 80's, but I'm actually ashamed of that and think mentioning it these days only makes me appear to have been shallow and air-headed when I was a kid.

And even if I wasn't ashamed of my decades old previous political beliefs, I have no idea how calling myself "ex-conservative" these days would have any relevance at all to either how I relate to the current political environment, or why I would think that it has any relevance at all to a political discussion being conducted in 2007 on 2007 political issues.

I mean, even the Romney in 68 topic has little to no relevance to "ex-liberal"'s 60's and 70's professed political beliefs.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

Posted by: patm7 on May 12, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

mdsand: there was a *lot* of talk about Carter's open religiosity in '76 and especially in '80 and it was one of the reasons I distrusted him at the time. He used to go on about how he'd never lie because he was a good Christian.

Reagan, who was a tactical Christian, avoided much of that talk for general consumption and fooled a lot of people. But he's the one who opened the spigots to bigoted Christianists and relied on their political mobilization (is it an accident that the word "saint" gets used about him so much?) and he did it by putting in the coded buzzwords all the Rethugs use now. See _Reagan Speaks_.

Almost all the big media types and organizations give these people a pass now and have for probably 15 years. Partly they're in love with professions of GOP religiosity-- it's a nauseating variant of what digby's always talking about, some weird self-delusional image thing they have going.

Personally, I think this Higher Broderism is partly that they love their fathers' hypocrisy now. They love the sanctimonious lies of the 50s, believe that the Great Unwashed need those lies in order to know how they should live, and of course exempt themselves from actually living up to the lies because they know better. A sort of Straussian updating of the 50s, maybe. But that's another story--

Posted by: Altoid on May 12, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

I was away in the service in '68, but still tried to follow what was happening stateside, and don't remember it being much of an issue.

My memory pretty much jibes with the posters who recollect feeling that Mormonism was seen as a somewhat eccentric branch of Protestantism, but nothing to get really upset about. I'm pretty sure that people felt the same way about Ezra Taft Benson when he was in Eisenhower's cabinet.

Today is different. As Mormonism and its influence has grown, so has knowledge of just how bizarre its basic tenets and beliefs actually are.

I find it interesting that Romney named "Battlefield Earth" his favorite book. The more I learn about Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard, the more one seems the precursor of the other, and the more Mormonism seems like a 19th-Century version of Scientology.

BTW, one of the best readings in the theology of Mormonism that I've come across is Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven."

Also, Christopher Hitchen's new book, "God is Not Great," has a very informative chapter on the founding myth of Mormonism.

Posted by: Zak44 on May 12, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Buford: It was the DEAN ``scream'' not Edwards. Edwards is the $400 haircut. You're mixing up your meaningless media frenzies.

Posted by: secularhuman on May 12, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

No it wasn't an issue. The "I was brainwashed" line had to do with his earlier support of the Viet Nam war, if I remember correctly. In the context of 1968, there was precious little room for any politician to maneuver on the Viet Nam issue, and Romney's remark suggested personal or mental weakness. It got played up as his story line, and once that was the case, he was pretty much done for. Whatever the case might have been regarding his religion had he lasted longer, he didn't, so it wasn't. I remember him as a very minor player and very much of a darkhorse candidate; those types get winnowed by the press and the public early on, and he was no exception.

Posted by: Bob G on May 12, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

No, the elder Romney's LDS faith wasn't an issue, and likely would never have been an issue.

It's true Mormonism was seen as an eccentric form of Protestantism. What's also true is that American politics was far more secular then than it is now. Religion was still seen as a private matter. Faith could and did inspire activism, as in the civil rights movement, but theology was not considered a proper basis for policy.

When Jimmy Carter made his faith a major part of his campaign, and his persona, it bothered a lot of people, including Democrats. It felt as if an important line had been crossed - not in terms of ideology, but in terms of blending religion and politics. In those halcyon days, that was still a no-no.

It's still a shock to me how much things have gone topsy-turvey since then; that deep religious beliefs are now considered a prerequisite for public office. We've gone from fearing that JFK would be too obedient to the Pope to bashing Kerry for not being completely obedient to the Pope. This blows my mind.

Posted by: CaseyL on May 12, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

As one who was voting in primaries in 1968, I can assure you that George Romeney's religion was not an issue in the 1968 primaries. You may want to review Iacocca's recent "Where Have All the Leaders Gone" which briefly addressed this matter. Remember that less than a decade earlier, John Kennedy had addressed his faith issue as his campaign was developing; and many just didn't think that one's faith was any longer a factor in their performace of their elected position. Sadly, all this has changed over the past 40 years.

Posted by: Denverdem on May 12, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven."

I read that book about a year ago. It made my skin crawl. Fawn Brodie has done some exemplary writing on the subject as well. And there is a Frontline (I think) piece that I caught part of the other night that was also very informative.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 12, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

"missionary in France"

Weren't the Coneheads missionaries in France?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 13, 2007 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

I know lots of folks have a hard time equating Christianity with tolerance, but there was a time when that was the case.

Well, for starters, killing the unborn hadn't yet been declared a constitutionally protected right. It was a lot easier in those days to be a, er, tolerant Christian.

We've gone from fearing that JFK would be too obedient to the Pope to bashing Kerry for not being completely obedient to the Pope. This blows my mind.

Don't be absurd. Anybody on the right whose public policy positions are guided by religious-based morality is regularly "bashed" today by liberals. Should, say, Senator Brownback's candidacy gather enough momentum to give him a substantive chance at the nomination, you can be sure he, like JFK before him, will indeed be "bashed" for being excessively obedient to the Pope.

Posted by: Jasper on May 13, 2007 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Was it an issue for Harry Reid, when he ran for and assumed office? Why is it only an issue with Romney?

Because Republican voters (a) care about the religious faith of their candidates to a large degree, and (b) have plenty of alternatives among the candidates that more closely conform to the evangelical protestant background of the Republican base. Democratic primary voters are far too religiously diverse to be able to demand that a candidate adhere to a set of religious beliefs that the base will find acceptable.

It was pretty well decided early on that he would never be able to get around the constitutional requirement that a president had to be native-born.

I think that as long as a president is born an American citizen, regardless of the physical location of his birth, the Constitutional requirement is met. Lowell Weicker is another prominent politician who is American by birth, although he was born in Switzerland.

Posted by: Constantine on May 13, 2007 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal,

You switched parties in order to vote for Nixon, and against Humphrey?! Yes, I can see how HHH's nomination must have convinced you that the sensible liberal party you grew up with had drifted too far toward dangerous extremism.

At least you aren't claiming to have been a liberal until the Johnson-Goldwater campaign...

Tripp, I'm still 64. I switched my politics when I was in my early 30's. This thread explains one reason why.
Posted by: ex-liberal on May 12, 2007 at 5:29 PM

Posted by: keith on May 13, 2007 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's pretty fair to say that the Mormonism of George Romney was at the very most a minor issue in his candidacy. I think it's also fair to say that it is already, at this very early stage, a major issue for Mitt Romney. That is, we've gone significantly backwards in the last 40 years on this point. Simply put, the exact nature of one's religion has become greatly more important politically than ever before in American history.

But there's a reason for this. My view, which I've mentioned before, is that we've entered a kind of Ideological Armageddon, in which all the reactionary forces in America are now arrayed in a final, existential battle with progressive forces. This is the inevitable outcome of the Conservative movement, which brought the forces on the right together. Indeed, the process has been literally scientific: the right has employed every known, well established means of shaping public opinion to gather to their cause the maximum number of voters. It has been precisely a technique of polarizing the public on the most deeply felt issues of our time: the more profoundly the issue effected people, the more electoral punch it achieved, bringing those issues to the fore. Not surprisingly, how people incline on these issues has actually been shown to depend on profound, possibly innate differences in personality -- perhaps down to the DNA.

Religion, of course, is one such issue. The exact stripe of one's religion is going to be key. The difference between a liberal Methodist, for example, and a fundamentalist Christian, is far greater than between that Methodist and a purely secular, non-religious person.

There's really no getting around these differences. This is a battle that in fullness of time had to be engaged.

But the outcome is certain: the fundamentalists will lose. What isn't certain is when that happy day will come to pass.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 13, 2007 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Let me just add to my post above by noting one irony. Namely, the one area in which the Republican Party has been relentlessly scientific is in the manipulation of public opinion. In this, they are second to none, and perhaps without peer.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 13, 2007 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Keith,

About a month ago, FAUX-Lib wrote a post where he stated his supposedly "liberal" activities as a young man. However, he said the tipping point was a legal case emanating from the California Supreme Court, Li vs. Yellow Cab. This case came down in 1975, or thirty two years ago, when he was 32. This case changed California law from Contributory Negligence to Comparative Negligence.

FAUX, said that because of the terrible decision by a very liberal court, he became, by 80, a Reagan Democrat. Now, to my knowledge, the only folks who would have become sooooo outraged by such a legal decision, are either those who worked for large insurance companies, or civil defense lawyers. Can't see many folks running and screaming "To the barricades" over a negligence payout system. Either that, or FAUX was the Yellow Cabbie who was driving southbound that day when Mrs Li turned left.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 13, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Toby Petzold,

"American character"? "slave religion"?? surely you're aware that the latter was a common criticism of Christianity (see Gibbon, or Neitzche), and just what is it that you think is so "authentically American" about the character of Joseph Smith?

It's hard to believe that "memory of the events leading up to Utah's statehood," which occured in 1896, were any more relevant in 1968 than now.

As for the "general opinion of Mormonism," that's less the question than is perceived deviation from Protestant orthodoxy. That's where things get interesting, since Mormon politics were much, much further from mainline Protestant politics 30 years ago than they are now, but doctrinal issues may now be more important than political issues to some number of Baptists.

Or not. Like veterans, fundamentalist Christians frequently claim that their particular identity guides their voting choices, but when given the choice between a liberal who lines up with their views (Jimmy Carter: evangelical navy vet; Al Gore: Baptist army vet) and a conservative who does not (Ronald Reagan: divorced, non-Church-going, no service; George W. Bush: Methodist, national guard "champagne" unit), they vote politics rather than identity.

As for me, I'm with my fellow Hawaii resident in that I couldn't care less about Romney's faith.


This idea that Romney the Elder's Mormonism was less of an issue in 1968 than it is believed to be with his son in 2007 is counterintuitive. Is it really so that the general opinion of Mormonism and the related national memory of the events leading up to Utah's statehood were more favorable 40 years closer to the original events than they are now?

I don't believe that.

At least the man's religious beliefs are rooted in an essentially American character, unlike the slave religion our country is at war with now.
Posted by: Toby Petzold on May 12, 2007 at 8:14 PM |

Posted by: keith on May 13, 2007 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

1968 was the second election in which I was fully engaged and politically aware. There was some talk when Romney threw his hat into the ring about whether his Mormonism would become an issue. The CW (yes, Virginia, there was a CW even then) very swiftly decided that John Kennedy had proven it was no big deal whether someone was a Protestant or not.

And to the secular elite who ran the newsrooms, "Mormon" and "Catholic" were just two different ways of not being Protestant.

Fundamentalists wouldn't have seen it that way - but in those days, (1) fundamentalists tended not to bother with voting, and (2) they didn't have the rapprochement with conservative Catholics that the anti-abortion and anti-gay campaigns have forged since then. Today, they see Mormons as a non-Christian cult, and Catholics as deeply misguided Christians. Back then, they saw both as non-Christian cults.

Posted by: nicteis on May 13, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

keith,

Just one nit pick - Capt Ronny did serve and reported to "Ft Roach" in Hollywood, where he made training films. Helped stop a great deal of VD among the troops, perhaps - Of course, during the 80s, he did help in destroying social reforms for the masses.

But, as to Utah coming into the Union in 1896, it was on their seventh application over a forty year period. A great deal of concern had been voiced in DC about having a theocracy entering the union. Polygamy was used as an excuse, but, the Elders in Deseret did have to drop the usage of Deseret as their state name, and to abandon polygamy as an authorized practice in order to be admitted to the Union.

Much of this was forgotten by most citizens outside of Utah by the time George Romney ran. However, this has caused resentment within Deseret, er Utah to this day. How, they hated to have to adopt an Native American name for their religious state, the BeeHive of Deseret.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 13, 2007 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

The issue about Mitt Romney’s faith is the inherent tension between the Evangelicals who like to think they control the Republican Party and Mormonism. There is a lot of weird stuff in Mormonism, such as people becoming gods in heaven. The evangelicals consider this to be blasphemous.

Interesting reference back at the beginning of the thread that before 1978 blacks could not become ministers in the Mormon Church. At the time if you asked a Mormon, he would tell you they didn’t have ministers, that all the men of the Church served in that role, at least all the white men.

Posted by: fafner1 on May 13, 2007 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Bithead: "Rather the reverse, actually, since the Democrats are spending more time talking about it than Romney himself is."

No, actually, Bithead, we're really not -- any more than our party's presidential hopefuls are running around the country addressing various commencement exercises at evangelical Christian colleges.

You don't appear as much interested in a discussion as you are repeatedly imparting to us your ill-informed, GOP-inspired talking points about Democrats and religion.

And that, in and of itself, speaks volumes about the true state of affairs regarding the Republican Party's own relationship with its evangelical Christian activist base. Its leadership is committed to the nurturing of Christian principles only so long as that base delivers its votes to the GOP.

If the Druids constituted a significant voting bloc in this country , both Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani would be calling for the right of judges to construct a replica of Stonehenge on state courthouse grounds.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 13, 2007 at 6:11 AM | PERMALINK

"Was it as issue for Harry Reid . . . ?" No, but Harry Read was running to represent Nevada, a state with a substantial Morman population. Mitt Romney is trying to become President of the United States, a nation with a quite small Mormon population. Simple enpugh?

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on May 13, 2007 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Funny thing: about the same time that Romney got run out of the campaign because of the "brainwashing" comment--a rather apt description of the dog and pony show he was subjected to in Viet Nam--I remember people in high school describing themselves as "Christians". Told that most of us were Christians--Methodists, Catholics, Lutherans et al.--they responded "But we're CHRISTIANS".
Romney in Michigan was the same kind of centrist Republican that Romney in Massachusetts was, but dad never had to suck up to the extra chromosome crowd.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on May 13, 2007 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know about George Romney running for President, I was too young then. I do know about Mitt Romney running the 2002 Olympics--basically he was brought in to save the Utah Mormons from themselves. In the Mormon 'culture' there is a huge gap between Utah Mormons and 'the other' Mormons. Believe me you need to worry about a Utah Mormon trying to become president...Mitt is not one of them. Maybe the media needs to focus on that differance and see if it really exsists.

Posted by: Leslie A. on May 13, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK
No, actually, Bithead, we're really not -- any more than our party's presidential hopefuls are running around the country addressing various commencement exercises at evangelical Christian colleges.

You're furthering, not diminishing my point.
The very are reason that Romney is under attack for his religious belief, is because religious belief is not popular among the democratic base. That's why the democratic party's presidential hopefuls aren't addressing various even Jolla "Christian colleges; they know the base would reject it.

So, tell me again, who is making a big political deal out of religious belief?

Posted by: Bithead on May 13, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

I was in Cambridge during that election. I don't remember any negatives attached to George Romney's religion. It was noted, but nobody seemed to care.

Posted by: anandine on May 13, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Then there was John Anderson, who ran as a liberal republican in 1980 and got a fair amount of Democratic support. I was mildly for him until I discovered that he had introduced a bill to make American officially a Christian nation. By 1980 he had disavowed the effort, but I thought it displayed not just an example of bad judgment but a fundamental lack of understanding of the Constitution.

Posted by: anandine on May 13, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Weren't the Coneheads missionaries in France?

The Coneheads claimed to come from France in order to blend in.

But, it suddenly occurs to me, French Missionary Stew must be excellent. He's lucky to have escaped with his life from those cannibal gourmands.

Posted by: cld on May 13, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

oh puleeze. The Democratic party does not bash religion. Nor do party officials or serious candidates for national office. If you think otherwise, please provide proof.

Yes, there are *individuals* who bash religion -- they hail from all over the political spectrum.

There must be a whole lotta newly minted libertarians fleeing the Republican ship who are staunch atheists.

For everyone who isn't repeating GOP talking points, thanks for the enlightening discussion. I was totally ignorant of the fact that Romney's father had run for president.

Posted by: Librul on May 13, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Is Mormon an ethnicity?

Posted by: cld on May 13, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

There is a BIG elephant at this table, so somebody should point it out: abortion.

Before 1973, the principal issue on which folks who described themselves as "Christians" who voted, and (crucial point) who were credible to OTHER Christians who voted in that description, was civil rights.

This was downright decisive for most northern congregations in the 1954-1965 timeframe, from the Montgomery bus boycott through the Voting Rights Act.

Before some anti-religious bigot says something stoopid, remember: the rump southern "Christians" who opposed civil rights were well-known to most self-identified Christians (and Jews) as bigots: civil rights was the great moral issue of the times for organized religion.

That has changed.

After '65, self-identified Christians began to split apart over Vietnam and, later, what became known as "social issues", even BEFORE abortion.

When Martin Luther King, Jr., condemned the Vietnam War, he lost a very large chunk of his reflexively patriotic support among white ethnics, as they're called today, long before they were called "Reagan Democrats" -- and the issue was primarily national security, and only later became social spending. Millions of Americans believed King was simply 180 degrees wrong -- that King has squandered the moral authority of the civil rights movement by injecting himself into opposition to the Vietnam War. (And so did many civil rights leaders, btw.)

George Romney's religion (as noted by Teddy White's contemporaneous quote above) was seen largely in that context, in which he BROKE with the Mormon heirarchy over civil rights: he was NOT, as somebody said, a Utah Mormon. Trying to gauge his cratering as a candidate (over Vietnam) AS IF it was about his religion (which, at the time, was largely a matter of civil rights issues) is a bit of a stretch.

But since 1973, what has defined the "religious vote" in the U.S. has largely been abortion.

It's legit to change your frame of reference regarding an historical event or pattern, but try to only do it once: look at Romney in 1968 from the perspective of 2007 OR from the perspective of 1968, but don't keep skipping over the impact of civil rights, Vietnam, and abortion: they moved votes.

Posted by: theAmericanist on May 13, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0:

I think it's pretty fair to say that the Mormonism of George Romney was at the very most a minor issue in his candidacy. I think it's also fair to say that it is already, at this very early stage, a major issue for Mitt Romney.

Because liberal Big Media have decided that it is a hook to Romney the Younger's "story." Probably tied into the recent news item on the renegade Mormon polygamist guy who got busted for marrying underaged girls to overaged guys. Oh, and probably that HBO series with Bill Paxson. Seriously. That's why it's of interest to anybody.

That is, we've gone significantly backwards in the last 40 years on this point. Simply put, the exact nature of one's religion has become greatly more important politically than ever before in American history.

That simply isn't true. Have you ever seen a land title from the 1910s or 20s in which the sale to a Catholic is illegal? Do you know anything about the qualifications for office-holding in the 19th Century or the compulsory church attendance in previous centuries in America? Time to admit that secularism is alive and well. No theocracies here, pal. Not even in Utah.

But there's a reason for this. My view, which I've mentioned before, is that we've entered a kind of Ideological Armageddon, in which all the reactionary forces in America are now arrayed in a final, existential battle with progressive forces.

Ha, ha. Nice way of not employing the language and ideas of your inferiors, citizen.

Posted by: Toby Petzold on May 13, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

In the scheme of things, I'm not sure Mormonism is any more bizarre than any other religion.

The fact that people suspend all rational thought and actually claim to "believe" is what is truly astounding.

Death is freighting. So we make up stories so that it is less freigtening.

I like the idea of being a God. I also think we should bring back some pagan gods. Why did paganism get such a bad rap? And why is monotheism such a great advance for mankind? Seems to me to be a way to legalize misogyny.

Posted by: Erict on May 13, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Have you ever seen a land title from the 1910s or 20s in which the sale to a Catholic is illegal?

No. But I don't doubt they exist. Your problem is to show where a challenge to such a thing was upheld in court.

What religious qualification for office holding was there in the 19th century?

Compulsory church attendance? Show us the law.

Posted by: cld on May 13, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

And why is monotheism such a great advance for mankind?

Ironically, I don't think there's one word about monotheism in the Bible. Not in the Old Testament, at least.

Posted by: cld on May 13, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

cld, according to Wikipedia, in the Jewish understanding, the first of the Ten Commandments called for monotheism:

"I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me..."
This commandment is to believe in the existence of God and His influence on events in the world, and that the goal of the redemption from Egypt was to become His servants (Rashi). It prohibits belief in or worship of any additional deities.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 13, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

You shall have no other gods before Me. . .


Doesn't say there actually aren't any.

Posted by: cld on May 13, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

If I recall freshman philosophy of religion correctly...Admittedly a HUGE "IF"...

Prior to the flight from Egypt, and the introduction of the Decalogue, God was perceived to be a caretaker of the land and the people therein. The different lands worshiped and were ruled by different gods. When the Jews fled Egypt that commandment was a mechanism to allow them to transport their God across state lines.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 13, 2007 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

What religious qualification for office holding was there in the 19th century?

Lots of states had 'em. Jews weren't allowed to hold public office in Maryland until the 1830s or so. You had to believe in the Holy Trinity.

Posted by: hamletta on May 14, 2007 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK
It prohibits belief in or worship of any additional deities ex-lax at 7:20 PM
That is the same story as Akhenaten's Monotheism. Go Ra! Posted by: Mike on May 14, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

As Christians, we all need to read and re-read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis and his prologue. To summarize:

- Put all religious dogma/doctrine aside and discuss Christianity from a unified moral framework
- Lewis compares Christianity to a great hall with many doors.
Each door represents a particular organized religion.
1st step is to enter the hall based on a personal belief in Christ and his "moral" teachings
Then patiently wait until God inspires you to enter a door.
After entering a door, do not disparage or ridicule people entering into other doors.

If we all followed Lewis advice, we would move past our doctrinal differences and recognize that Romney represents the core values of the "Moral Majority"; values that can and will shape the future of our country for the good, regardless of whether he is Mormon, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, or even a non-Christian, value-based religion like Judaism.

Please share this message with others and help unite the moral majority to win this election. We cannot afford to be divided over doctrinal bickering in a time of great moral decay.

Romney is the best candidate for the republican party based on experience, leadership, and moral values.

Posted by: monte on May 16, 2007 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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