Is Romney’s Mormonism an issue?

Politics means playing hardball. And when religion is tossed into the mix, the results can be uncomfortable and, well, downright unseemly.

We had a moment like that last week when the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Baptist minister from Dallas, called Mormonism “a cult.”

And suddenly Brigham Young was in the room and in the presidential race. As everyone knows, Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons.

Let’s face it — Mormonism makes us nervous. Probably because we don’t know a lot about it and maybe because the religion used to endorse polygamy.

And in politics, pretty much anything goes. Jeffress supports Texas Gov. Rick Perry. It would have been nice if Perry had made the comment himself instead of sending a surrogate to do the dirty work.

To their credit, most of the candidates called the Mormon question a bunch of hooey when asked about it on the Sunday talk shows. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: “All I know is that every Mormon I know is a good and decent person, has great moral values.”

But, of course, all of the candidates are chasing the evangelical vote and Santorum wasn’t ready to completely embrace Romney.

When asked if Romney could be considered a “true Christian,” Santorum said, “He says he’s a Christian.”

Herman Cain had perhaps the line of the day. “I’m not running for theologian in chief,” said Herman Cain, a former chief executive officer of Godfather’s Pizza, in an interview yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Read the San Francisco Chronicle’s take here.

History tends to repeat itself and it wasn’t that long ago that some were worried whether John F. Kennedy’s Roman Catholic beliefs would hamper his ability to make important national decisions.

That one seemed to turn out fine.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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One Response to Is Romney’s Mormonism an issue?

  1. Doug W. says:

    Mormornism shouldn’t make you nervous. There are plenty of us milling around York County who would be happy to answer any questions you have, as well as dispel any rumors you may have overheard.

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