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Mitt’s weird faith should be an election issue
22nd August 2012
Mitt Romney is getting too easy a ride over his Mormonism. The New Republic offered on its cover last month “a personal history of America’s most misunderstood religion”, praising its ideals of community living. Michael Kinsley, a political columnist, urged the Republican candidate to “play the Mormon card”, pointing to the creed of hard work, family (indeed, very big families), no drink, drugs, or premarital sex.
After months of keeping quiet, Mr Romney appears convinced; his team is set to make his Mormonism a central theme of the Republican Convention that opens in Tampa, Florida, on Monday. There are three sorts of questions that should be put forcefully to this would-be president. After all, Mr Romney is not just a Mormon: he was a bishop of the Church and its highest-ranking leader in Boston; he gives at least a tenth of his income to the Church, including stock from Bain Capital.
The first is about the sheer weirdness of the founding beliefs and the sense in which he really embraces them. The second is the Church’s long history of racism and sexism, as well as its censorious ideas about the terms on which poor people qualify for community help. The third, with the most immediate implications, is whether the Church’s conviction that its members are direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and are now “members of the House of Israel” — as well as its belief that when a Mormon saviour one day arrives it may be in Washington — would make him more likely to attack Iran over its nuclear programme.
Bronwen Maddox | The Times
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