Of all the reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney top of my list is that he’s utterly unprincipled. But the fact that he’s Mormon never enters into my calculations.
Yesterday at Think Progress, Matthew Yglesias posted a relatively short piece observing that Mittens
. . . has less of a “Mormon problem” than he does a “Christian problem.” Specifically, it’s very important to a lot of American Christians that other people be Christian. The media is dominated by secular people who aren’t invested in this sort of thing, and tend to accept at face-value the idea that Mormonism is one of several Christian denominations, but a great many Christians disagree with this diagnosis.
Even at Think Progress, this caused a discussion about whether or not Mormons are actually Christians. I find the whole discussion unbelievably dull.
Look, there’s much to criticize about Mormonism and I have been vocal in my criticisms. That said, my experience and observation suggest to me that Mitt Romney is not a typical Mormon. Most Mormons I know are fundamentally decent people who earnestly and honestly try to do the right thing. Like the rest of us, they get it wrong a lot but they try. I may not agree with their principles, but they hold them honestly and do their best to live up to their principles.
Whether or not Mormonism is a Christian faith or a Christian heresy strikes me as an oddly unimportant question. There’s much of value in Mormonism – the emphasis on charity, on community, and family are all strong points – but the esoteric questions of “What makes one a Christian?” are ultimately unresolvable.
That the Republican base finds Romney’s Mormonism a reason not to vote for him (as opposed to his status as chief panderbear of the Republican party), is striking. Romney is a grinning, gladhanding, self-promoter whose political views shift according to his audience’s mood. To me that’s why you’d vote against him – his Mormonism shouldn’t be a factor. Yet, research in 2007 and 2008, demonstrated that attitudes about Mormonism – generally negative – among evangelicals may move many Republicans to vote against Romney in the primaries.