Jeff Pearlman

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Mitt Romney and religious mindlessness

A couple of days ago the New York Times ran a fascinating piece about Mitt Romney and his lifelong devotion to Mormonism.

To the shock of conservatives, the story was actually somewhat flattering. Romney, it turns out, is devoted to his religion. He’s (mostly) honest, supportive and intent to do what, in his opinion, God desires. Were you a supporter of Mitt Romney before the piece, you’d almost certainly be an even bigger supporter afterward.

Not me.

Put simply, I don’t want a religious devotee as my president. I don’t want someone who views himself as a servant to God; someone who thinks he answers to a higher, all-knowing power. Why? Because: A. I find the idea largely ludicrous; B. Because God has nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with government; C. Because I think, to a certain degree, it says something about the person’s capability to lead.

If one considers himself a servant, can he be a leader? Can he separate himself from his religious views? Can he guide his fellow man, even if that guidance might conflict with what he believes God desires? Furthermore, an absolute belief in anything is dangerous. I understand “thinking” and “believing” there is a God who shares your convictions. But knowing? To me, knowing is impossible. Right now, there is an Orthodox Jew who is as certain of his viewpoint as God as Mitt Romney is of his. There is a Muslim man and a Hindu man and an agnostic and an atheist and a Catholic and a Baptist—all as 100 percent convinced as Mitt Romney. Obviously, at the most one can be right—and probably none are.

To me, the perfect presidential candidate doesn’t give a shit about God. Maybe he believes, maybe he doesn’t. But either way, his first loyalty is to humanity.

To serving.

  • http://www.19thoughts.blogspot.com Byron

    I share your opinions on Mitt Romney, as a Massachusetts resident the only thing that I wasn’t underwhelmed about his term as governor here is the one thing that he denies, but this:

    “If one considers himself a servant, can he be a leader? Can he separate himself from his religious views? Can he guide his fellow man, even if that guidance might conflict with what he believes God desires?”

    Sort of sounds like something that Republicans were saying in the 1960s about JFK. A person who is very religious doesn’t make him or her unfit for leadership, it’s how he uses that religion in his leadership. As you know Mass is probably one of the most Catholic states in the nation and I don’t recall Romney pushing Mormonism or any of his religious beliefs on the commonwealth.

    Of the things I dislike about Mitt Romney, his religion is the last thing that I’d hold against him.

  • Bobby Fetter

    I think it’s wrong to go after someone’s religion because it’s a family tradition and it also offends the follower’s of the candidate’s religion but the more I read about Mormans, the more uncomfortable I am about them. Have you seen this:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/CTR_Ring_%28LDS_Church%29.jpg
    I think you should look up CTR and write an article about it, there’s something very “cult-like” about it.
    Of course, the mainstream media is not going to ask Romney about it because it’s not politically correct.
    The Presidency has largely been a W.A.S.P. club with the exception of Kennedy. Jews and Catholics have faced a great deal of prejudice in this country and middle America still does not trust them. If Romney were Jewish or Catholic, then I think the mainstream media would still back off of religious questions because these are ESTABLISHED religions.
    Judaism is 5 thousand years old and Catholicism 2 thousand years old. Mormons? They have been around for less than 200 years and DESERVE some scrutiny. I know the mainstream media will back off of the Mormon questions Jeff and I encourage YOU to ask the questions they won’t. Maybe you can interview a Mormon for the Quaz?

  • http://jeffpearlman.com Doug

    Put simply, I don’t want a religious devotee as my president. I don’t want someone who views himself as a servant to God; someone who thinks he answers to a higher, all-knowing power.
    Um, yeah, thats why you like the current guy, he thinks he is god.

  • Barry

    Bobby check out Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer if you want to learn more and be even more uncomfortable about Mormonism.

    • Bobby Fetter

      Thanks.

  • sanford

    Byron, while many people brought up Kennedy’s religion, I don’t believe he made a big deal out of it. I was only 13 and didn’t follow politics all that much, although at that age I think I knew more than my kids did when they were that age. Although Kennedy’s mother was know to be fairly religious, I have a feeling the kids weren’t. I am guessing Joe Kennedy wasn’t very religious either. I do have a problem with people who wear their religion on their sleeve.

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