As I perused the stack of stuff this morning I was stunned by how much of it came from the Washington Post – five, count them five, articles:
- Will Romney’s Mormonism be a boon or bane to his candidacy?
- Mitt Romney: How Mormon bishops lead
- The elephant in the GOP? Mormonism.
- What Mormon women want
- Is 2012 good for the Mormons?
Oh yeah, and then Breitbart ran a refutation to one that did not make it on to our radar.
Forget what is in those pieces, by the sheer volume WaPo is attempting to make the faith of Mitt Romney THE topic. Let’s step into the Way Back Machine to 2007 to April 2007. The NYTimes had just published a lengthy piece by Ken Woodward – attempting to write the “definitive” piece on the Mormon issue. I said:
One of the more truly amazing things about this is that the newspaper that considers itself “American’s paper of record” is so far behind the curve here. Woodward’s piece is remarkably similar to the dozens of others we have seen and linked to on this blog over the last year. When everybody read just their local paper such pieces were not part of the news, but instead they were THE news, but now they simply have the appearance of piling on. The Old Grey Lady is reduced to attempting to have the final say instead of THE say.
The days are gone when the old media – and especially the old PRINT media even if it is distributed on the Internet – can define THE topic. In this case, I am not even sure they are reflective of the topics that are out there. The ’08 cycle was one heck of an inoculation, and those that were not inoculated in ’08 were by this cycle’s primary. Mormonism is unlikely to be a discrete issue. Things that reflect Mormonism will – “weird” and its relatives – but not Mormonism discretely.
How ironic it will be if Catholic voters, about 27% of the electorate, put the first Mormon in the White House some 50 years after John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic president. More telling, though, about the current state of the American mind will be the fact that after more than a thousand days and events in Barack Obama’s presidency, the reason for this result will be an unexpected reaffirmation of an American principle older than the country’s first presidential election: the free exercise of religion.
Some things don’t change, though, and among them is an American antipathy to being pushed too far. Americans are a tolerant people, but past some point they push back. With the HHS mandate upon them, a lot of Catholic voters are thinking resistance. It’s an old American tradition.
The Catholic lawsuits filed against the HHS mandate are based in the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause. That’s the legal issue. But the reason so much hell broke loose after the Obama administration’s decision is that it runs afoul of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause against creating a state religion. The issue here isn’t the parsings of constitutional law but the American religious experience that led to the Establishment Clause.
Mr. Romney is sensitive about his religion, as most believers are in a skeptical age, but the issue seems not nearly as hot as it was four years ago when he gave a strong speech emphasizing the separation of church and state. “I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion,” he said, “but I will not separate us from the God who gave us liberty. Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage.” He would be no more beholden to Mormon holy men than John F. Kennedy was to the pope.
In this campaign we see a man whose faith has shaped his family values. With his wife, Ann, he raised five accomplished sons with a work ethic. There are significant doctrinal differences separating Mormons and evangelical Christians but they aren’t about governing the country. If religion plays a part in the campaign, it will be over concerns for religious liberty, not parochial doctrine or Mr. Romney’s faith or the president’s religious tutelage by the notorious Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Obama in his assault on religious liberty has completely changed the playing field. And in doing so he has left the Washington Post and their seemingly incessant “Mormon” drumbeat looking completely out of touch with the real topic that is on the mind of most Americans. Whatever differences exist between Mormonism and more traditional Christian churches appear minor and insignificant in the face of an assault by an Obama led government on the most basic of religious expression.
I cannot pretend to know the political mathematics on Team Obama that have brought us to this point, all I know is that they are not working for Mr. Obama. We do not like being bullied. And we especially do not like being bullied when it comes to our faith. In an effort to be gracious, a deeply ingrained trait developed in us by our faith, we have worked hard to make accommodation for those that do not agree with us – that is the great American compromise. But now we are being told that there is no accommodation for us. That is unacceptable.