DALLAS, October 12, 2011—It is funny, and not in a ha-ha way, that Romney’s Mormonism seems to bother so many when history shows us that Presidential religious affiliation really doesn’t matter.
Our country was founded under a more liberal mindset than we enjoy today. As stated in the Constitution, Article 6, Clause 3: “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
The Constitution should be good enough and one must ask where is the outspoken and vocal outrage by those self-anointed “defenders of the Constitution”? Their silence is deafening.
It is hypocritical to apply a test to Mitt Romney that the Constitution clearly prohibits. Which leads to the question of whether you know what the religious affiliation of any of the other candidates are?
Did you know the Jon Huntsman is a follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That he is a Mormon? Or that Cain is a Baptist? Perry is a Methodist. It bothers me that this issue of Romney’s being a Mormon is even a blip on the collective consciousness. It is because Mormonism is “weird” to them.
As a former evangelical believer, today it’s all weird to me: talking snakes, seas parting, pontificating asses, people being raised from the dead. These leaps of faith seem to be accepted by the masses, but once someone says he’s a Mormon, he is suddenly construed as not fit to serve as President of the United States, a role that religion should play little part in – other than the Easter Morning photo op.
It seems just too petty and small for a country as big as America to have. America, as a melting pot of many cultures and many beliefs, is supposed to be more tolerant of differences. Yet we paint a much different picture with a broad brush that is false and intolerant, when it comes to Romney, a Mormon, running for President.
Hasn’t history taught us anything? Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon were Quakers. John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft practiced as Unitarians. JFK was a Catholic.
Some of our most notable Presidents - Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, and Thomas Jefferson - claimed no denominational affiliation at all. And neither does President Barack Obama. Not only did Jefferson not claim a specific denomination, but while president he actually excised the miracles that Jesus performed from the New Testament, as well as what he saw as inconsistencies.
He literally used scissors to excise what he considered too “supernatural,” and created the Jefferson Bible. Jefferson was also behind of the principle of separation of church and state. In an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, he wrote, “…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The most common denominational affiliation of Christian presidents has been Episcopalian: Washington, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Pierce, Arthur, FDR, Ford, and both Bushes all worshipped under that creed while president.
History clearly shows that as a whole, we, the people, do not care about religious affiliation, for if we did, many of these presidents would not have been elected. Today there are over two million Episcopalians in the U.S. However, there are over twice that many Mormons.
So, if we go strictly by the numbers, perhaps it is Mormons who should perceive non-Mormons as “weird.” And wouldn’t it make sense that if the Mormons took offense, and voted for Romney BECAUSE of his religion, it would not make much of a difference what the religiously bigoted want?
Who really believes that the more “Christian” a president is, the better he does? At the end of his second term, George W. Bush had one of the lowest approval ratings of any president, but was one of the most outspoken when it came his Christianity. Some presidents have been liars, cheaters, and adulterers, all the while claiming to be Christian.
Undisputedly, being Christian doesn’t make you a moral president or a better one. President Jimmy Carter’s faith, which led him to admit to “lusting in his heart,” could not save him from public scorn over the gas or Iranian hostage crisis and he lost to Ronald Reagan, who was known to respect and embrace all religions.
In my business, my primary concern is the human condition and how we need to move on to a more modern society socially, leaving the archaic to history. Whether Romney is a Mormon or atheist shouldn’t matter to us, as people or as voters. Shouldn’t his policies and how he is going to implement them matter most?
Shouldn’t the strength of his personal being and convictions about things like war, economics, jobs, equal rights, instead of how he chooses to worship, be our guides? For a progressive modern nation, when it comes to the issue of religion, past generations were more modern than we are today.
In the 1800 election, Jefferson was smeared as being an atheist (he wasn’t), but he was still elected. JFK’s Catholicism was also controversial, but he was elected. Nixon was a Quaker, a tiny minority of the Christian faith that is less understood than Mormon, yet he was elected. We share the space around us with people from all walks of life. People with a variety of backgrounds hold powerful positions that have both been used to help us and hurt us.
Whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or if they worship rocks should never be part of our decision process on the value they hold as people. Rather, we should value religious diversity. As Jefferson wrote, “Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.”
But even if we don’t hold to that tenet, religion has no place in our electoral process, as historically it’s never made a difference. Does it to you? Carter Lee is the author of the soon to be released book, When Jonathan Cried for Me, President of Innovative Social Dynamics LLC., and is a professional speaker.
Carter Lee is the author of, When Jonathan Cried for Me, a professional speaker, and President of Innovative Social Dynamics LLC., and is a professional speaker. To learn more about his book click here. For a personal appearance or speaking engagement click here.
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