My answer to the Caption of this post is a resounding YES! Romney has prostituted himself to the ugliest elements of the Christianist right and signed NOM's declaration of war of the rights to religious freedom of LGBT Americans and Americans who support marriage equality and to denominations like the the Conservative branch of American Judaism who have come out in support of religious same sex marriage. And lets not forget Romney's under the table $10,000 contribution in support of Proposition 8. Once you open the door to bringing religion into the civil laws as Romney has and is continuing seeking to do, then it is ALL on the table and open game for discussion and, if appropriate, condemnation. And that doesn't mean that critics are necessarily anti-Mormon. I only means that references to personal religious belief open the flood gate if those personal religious beliefs are detrimental to the civil rights of other citizens. A column in the Washington Post looks at Romney's disingenuous attempt to pander to religion, but demand that the scope of the discussion be limited to his terms. (Editor's note: In the interest of full disclosure, I grew up through high school in upstate New York not too far from where Joesph Smith purported to find the "golden tablets" and it is noteworthy that most locals still think that Smith was an utter nutcase). Here are highlights:
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has developed a simple method to determine whether coverage of the candidate’s Mormonism has crossed a line. “Our test to see if a similar story would be written about others’ religion is to substitute ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewish,’ ” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in objection to a Washington Post article last fall about the candidate’s role as a church leader in Boston.
She pointed out a passage that explained a central tenet of Mormonism. It described the belief that Christ’s true church was restored after centuries of apostasy when the 19th-century prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates that he discovered in Upstate New York.
“Would you write this sentence in describing the Jewish faith?” Saul asked in a November e-mail, adding: “ ‘Jews believe their prophet Moses was delivered tablets on a mountain top directly from G-d after he appeared to him in a burning bush.’ Of course not, yet you reference a similar story in Mormonism.”
Jodi Kantor reported in the New York Times that Romney’s aides often ask reporters, “Would you have written this about a Jewish candidate?” The guilt trip may be motivated by political calculation, sincere concern about religious bigotry for a faith that has suffered its fair share or some combination of the two. Regardless of its impetus, the campaign’s response gets at a crucial challenge for the news media: to educate the public about an unfamiliar faith unusually central to a candidate’s formation without treating Mormonism as biographical exotica that could fuel prejudices.
Now that Romney has secured the necessary delegates to become the Republican nominee, that challenge is front and center. Obama strategist David Axelrod has suggested that Mormonism is off limits as political ammunition. Yet news outlets delve into Mormon apocrypha, and comedian and Democratic super PAC donor Bill Maher launches salvo after salvo against Romney’s faith.
Romney clearly prefers to talk about his religion on his own terms. At an event in Wisconsin in April, a man began asking the candidate about some of the more controversial aspects of Mormonism, including its past ban on blacks in the priesthood. “I’m sorry, we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view, but if you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer your question,” Romney said.
Romney has declined to clarify whether he believed that the ban — which was still in effect as he entered the local church hierarchy in Boston — was divine doctrine or flawed teaching. He has refused to comment on the policy beyond expressing relief that it was lifted.
But Romney has also demonstrated an aversion to talking about subjects most Mormons proudly discuss, including the religion’s founding story. “Without the Joseph Smith story, you don’t have a Mormonism,” said Patrick Mason, a professor of Mormon studies and an expert on anti-Mormonism at Claremont Graduate University. “And there is no way, especially given Romney’s church positions, all that I can collect, that he is personally embarrassed by that story. I think what is going on is a political move.”
Mormonism does not enjoy the authenticating quality of antiquity. Because it came of age in a modern time, its theology and saintly visitations can strike people as stranger than those of older religions shrouded by centuries. As for Romney, church officials said it is up to the candidate how much he divulges about his beliefs and his role within the church. “But it is a matter of public record that he served as a Mormon bishop and a stake president . . . .
Asked whether it was inappropriate to discuss Joseph Smith and the core beliefs of Mormonism in connection with Romney’s time as a leader in the church, Otterson [LDS head of worldwide public affairs]said: “We’re very excited about Joseph Smith; it is absolutely core to us. But how to do that in the context of this kind of reporting? . . . It would just seem to me that you would want to run a sidebar.”
[M]any Mormons are wary about the assault the religion might come under from the secular left. Maher, the HBO comedian — who has given $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC — has reinforced that fear by repeatedly calling Mormonism a “cult.” It is understandable that the Romney campaign would be sensitive to such criticism. But its guard is likewise up against biographical descriptions of the candidate’s life in the church.
Frankly, in my opinion we need to get religion 100% out of politics and certainly out of impacting the civil rights of citizens. At the same time, all Americans need to remember how Smith is remembered in upstate New York. Wikipedia has this excerpt on how Smith was viewed in upstate New York:
Smith continued traveling to western New York and Pennsylvania as a treasure seeker and a farmhand. In 1826, he was brought before a court in Chenango County, New York, for "glass-looking," or pretending to find lost treasure. . . . . Smith had left his treasure hunting company, his former associates believed he had double-crossed them by taking for himself what they considered joint property. They ransacked places where a competing treasure-seer said the plates were hidden, the occurrence of which caused Smith to claim he could not accomplish the translation in Palmyra.
If Romeny wants to talk religion and pander to Chritianist extremists, then EVERYTHING is on the table about his Mormon religion is on the table for open discussion - including its founder who was viewed as a fraud and fortune hunter in upstate New York..