Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why Romney's Mormonism Matters

Mitt Romney finally addressed the issue of his Mormonism, and in light of current political tastes, his speech was a good one. But it really doesn't address why it matters that a man who is a Mormon is running for President.

We have freedom of religion in this country, and it is a right I whole heartedly support. But this addresses people's opinions of deities, and that is all it is supposed to protect. Believe in one god, thousands, or none, the government, and the people in civic affairs, should treat all the same. However, religious freedom does not give one free reign to say and do anything, as long as one claims it is part of one's religion. It doesn't matter if one's religion requires ingesting peyote, since doing so is illegal for secular reasons, one cannot do so in the name of religious freedom. Likewise for refusing medical treatment to children. It is insane that there is any tolerance for parents refusing proven medical treatments to children due to religious objections. Likewise, religious freedom does not give one free reign to believe any bizarro thing and be exempt from appropriate character judgements. If you believe a space shop is following a comet, you deserve derision, whether you call it a religion or not.

And here is the problem with Mormonism. This religion goes beyond believing in things unseen and unproven (ie Jesus' supposed resurrection), and leaps to believing things that are demonstrably false. For example, the pre-Columbian populations of the America's were demonstrably not descended from lost tribes of Israel. There is also the issue of polygamy, and apparently the Mormon church was officially racist within the last century. And don't even get me started on the magic glasses and the secret underwear.

But the point is this: A candidate that believes all animal species were created ex nihilo 6,000 years ago shows a grotesque ignorance of history, or astonishing stupidity, to be kind. This matters in a leader, whether he calls his delusion a religion or not. Likewise for believing the "Native American" population is descended from lost tribes of Israel. It matters that a leader be in touch with the realities of the world. If the last 7 years demonstrates anything, it demonstrates that. It's not good enough to have all the right opinions and be surrounded by smart people. Our next leader needs to be an intelligent, educated, reality-based man, and the beliefs of Mormonism, moreso even than Fundamentalist Christianity, runs counter to that goal. If that seems too bitter a pill to swallow, consider if Romney was a believer of Voodoo, or was a Scientologist, or a Raelian? Would you still maintain his religious views were irrelevant? If your opinion changes, then de facto what you believe in is freedom of religion, but only for large politically powerful religions, and tough noogies for everyone else. Sorry, that isn't what America was founded on.

Believe in the gods of your choice, and participate in the religious culture in which you are comfortable. I don't hold anyone who attends a Catholic service to everything the Vatican says. But when you start believing idiotic things about factual subjects, such as the Pope's supposed infallibility, I care, and so should everyone else considering giving you the position of Leader of the Free World. Romney needs to make it clear that he repudiates the idiocy of Mormonism, else he look to support it by his silence.

No comments: