Mitt Romney’s campaign for president

I typically don’t blog about religion. There is good in any religion that teaches tolerance, virtue, integrity and service to others. But I’m so impressed by a Jan. 6 article published by Harvard professor Noah Feldman in The New York Times Magazine about Mitt Romney’s struggle for the U.S. presidency as a Mormon that I wanted to share a few thoughts about it.

How can you live in this time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not be slightly intrigued by politics? I’m really not much interested in politics. I do my best to vote for candidates I feel would best represent my family’s values but I do not give allegiance or much thought to any political party.

What I’ve observed over the past year or so is increasing media and public attention directed toward the Mormon faith as a result of Mitt Romney’s run for president. After I heard Romney’s speech on faith and how it would guide him as a president I thought he had served his purpose for running, even if it cost him millions of dollars (that’s money put to good use) and the opportunity of being president.

But as I’ve observed the political campaigning, media coverage and public dialog, I have to agree with Feldman that “Something troubling is afoot here.” A religious test for political office is prohibited by our constitution, yet many voters appear comfortable voting mainly on the basis of religious familiarity and acceptance.

I’ve heard others say for years that our country would never elect a black, or African American, as president. I’ve heard that said of a woman. And I’ve heard that said of a Mormon. Three bigoted ideals for sure.

Perhaps Feldman is right that the LDS faith has a lot further to go to become accepted by mainstream America. Perhaps shifts in practice or theology will take place. Who are we to determine how God wants a church operated?

I’ll just add my voice of concern to all that’s being bantered about. It seems to me that Iowans at least have determined the conservative coalition would not elect a Mormon. Who’s to say if that’s the national temperature or idiosyncratic of Iowans?

It also seems to me that the Republican Party has had its turn and now it’s the Democrat’s turn. I’m curious to see if the country will stay the course by electing the white male, or if it will choose the woman or black man.

If we overturn any of the three ideals noted above, that’s progress. And I’m all for it if the candidate is the best option, but not if it’s just for the sake of trying something new.

I’ll close with Feldman’s own closing paragraph:

“Today the soft bigotry of cultural discomfort may stand in the way of a candidate whose faith exemplifies values of charity, self-discipline and community that we as Americans claim to hold dear. Surely, though, the day will come when we are ready to put prejudice aside and choose a president without regard to what we think of his religion.”

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