Richard Cohen’s column today about Mitt Romney’s reluctance to bring his religious faith into his campaign raises an intriguing paradox: Mitt’s Mormonism is irrelevant and we shouldn’t be talking about it, but we sure do like to talk about it, specifically about how we shouldn’t be talking about it. It’s like “Fight Club,” which may or may not have rules (PostScript fears that it has said too much already).
It would have been appropriate to discuss George W. Bush’s religion, Cohen asserted, since Bush deployed his faith quite publicly in ways that sometimes “substituted for thought.” Not so Romney, he added.
As Cohen said, it is impossible for an observer to tell what effect Romney’s religion has on him, since he doesn’t talk about it. Ergo, nor should we, once we have determined to our satisfaction, through vigorous and robust discussion, that the readers agree Romney’s religion has no discernible effect on his policies.
After the commenters had some 1,400 things to say, we’re pretty sure we’ve got it.
Two commenters argued that politics should not leave religions alone if religions don’t leave politics alone:
I couldn’t disagree [with Cohen] more. Mitt Romney’s church contributed heavily to fight gay rights in California. Based on their religious beliefs. And the Republican Party has been using religion to demonize Democrats for decades. They don’t now get to claim religion is ‘off limits’ because their guy has beliefs that are not the norm.
We need to reject this foolish notion that some ideas and beliefs are “sacrosanct” just because they’re justified with “faith” rather than reason. In a day and age when so many of the “faithful” around the world seem intent on using the most brutal and insidious means to force their will on others, religion, especially politicized religion, needs to be criticized more than ever.
Snoopsmom is not reassured that Romney keeps his faith private; if the public has concerns, he has a duty to address them:
Romney should have his Kennedy moment if people are worried about Mormons and the presidency. His quietness says too much.
SageThrasher thinks that reticence is just part of the game:
Romney downplays his faith because he understands Mormonism is viewed poorly by a lot of people. If he thought his faith was a vote-getter, he’d hype it.
Honeybell4 thinks Romney’s devotion to Mormonism counters the stereotype that he is fickle and inconsistent, willing to disavow any policy of his that proves unpopular. Romney knows Mormonism is viewed with suspicion, honeybell says, but “he was a bishop in the Mormon church. He believes.”
Lelliot4 says the heck with it all. We never know who these guys are, and we make decisions anyway:
As so many past presidents have proven, you never get the president you think you are voting for. I’m sure that if Romney is elected he will prove equally capable of disappointing his most avid supporters, as has Obama.
Ah, the one true church: The Church of Disillusionment, forever and ever! Amen.