Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mitt Romney's Religion

Salt Lake Temple

I read a letter to the editor this morning about Mitt Romney's religion. The author suggested Romney should used his political platform to advance his religion. This is what the letter writer advocated:

". . . he should actively make his Mormonism an issue and show how its tenets and values support his candidacy, and not downplay his faith or its contradictions with what other Christians believe."

I'm certain the writer is a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), but he is sadly misinformed about the role religion must never play in the political arena.

I write a blog about my views on politics and religion, attesting these topics are not taboo topics. There is nothing wrong with merging those two topics in the public discourse of America, particularly today in the desperate straits where we find ourselves. We can and we must advocate, testify and boldly declare true religious doctrine, and not be afraid to mix it up, take the incoming bullets of criticism and be prepared for a vigorous and enlivening exchange of ideas in the public square.

I believe that. But when you announce as a candidate for elective office in this country, you leave your religion on the doorstep when you step over that threshold. If anyone is paying attention to what the leaders of the Church are doing and saying publicly, when it comes to politics and their influence over the political hearts and minds of members of the Church they would know there is a well-established and consistent affirmation of a strict policy of neutrality in place contradicting the very idea the letter writer has suggested.

As a stake president, Mitt Romney should preach doctrine to his heart's content, which he did when he served in that capacity. But he would be well-advised to keep his mouth shut about his Mormon beliefs as a political candidate, and point his questioners to the governing document we have erected in America -- the Constitution -- for their answers about his suitability as a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America.

His suitability as the potential Commander in Chief may indeed call into question his religious beliefs in the minds of the voters (no one can force the human mind, now can we?), but the founders did everything they could do, going as far as the written word would take them, to assure what their intent was in these matters.

If only Americans would read the Constitution, believe it and act accordingly:

Article VI, paragraph 3, states:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

The problem with Mitt's candidacy has nothing to do with Mitt's religion, or whether or not he should advocate its tenets and defend his membership. Rather, the problem is we have strayed from our Constitution's founding principles.

America is the only country on earth that was founded on a creed, codified and written in a few pages of collective wisdom by the best minds among the luminaries living here at the time. It has been emulated repeatedly in attempts by other self-governing people to duplicate its results.

The guidance and foresight of our founding fathers have endured far longer than any of them envisioned.

At the time they were worried their union would not last ten years.

They invested their lives, fortunes and sacred honor for what? For a principle that free men, endowed with the moral compass of a divine Providence would triumph over all their enemies, foreign or domestic through self-governance.

I still believe it. Do you?

Then act on that belief and choose your candidates for public office based on all the factors before you, but don't limit the debate to which religion he or she espouses. The majority (68%) of Americans now say it doesn't matter if a Mormon is a presidential candidate.

To make a choice about who you will or won't vote for based solely on religion is un-American.

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