Now that Mitt Romney has won the New Hampshire presidential primary, on the heels of winning the Iowa caucuses, it would seem he will be the one to beat.
It also is likely to mean we will begin to see attacks on his religion, because attacking him on just the issues isn’t doing his opponents the good they had hoped for.
If that happens, it will be a shame. One’s religion should be a personal matter when it comes to politics, although some people do try to capitalize on their faith.
Romney is a life-long Latter-day Saint, along with former Utah Gov. John Huntsman. Having two Mormons in a presidential race is statistically almost off the charts. There are about 14 million Mormons worldwide — about half of them in the United States. That means less than 3 percent of the population is Mormon. Who would have thought 28 percent of the Republican candidates would be members of that church?
In a way, though, that isn’t surprising. In the West, Mormons often run for office and govern because the LDS church in the West has had a profound influence. Most nonMormon westerners have Mormons in their extended families or know Mormons in their communities. And in the West, a person’s religion doesn’t count as much as other qualifications when qualifications for public office are taken into account.
At one time Catholics were considered unelectable as far as the presidency was concerned, but that changed with the advent of John F. Kennedy. Also, Kennedy was elected at a time when religious bigotry was on the wane vis a vis politics.
At best, a politician’s religious faith should be something which he or she uses as a benchmark for his or her character. It shouldn’t be a flag he or she waves to get out the vote.
Nor should it be something on which opponents try to seize. After all, we’re choosing the commander in chief, not the priest in chief.