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Wag the Blog Redux: Readers Talk Back

We asked and, as always, The Fix community answered.

Nearly 300 comments were made to this week's Wag the Bog question on whether former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-Mass.) Mormonism is a legitimate issue in the 2008 presidential campaign or not.

We plucked out the best and brighest of the comments so far. The discussion continues here.

Mind the Law, Not Religion:

"Absent historical evidence that an individual's religion informs him to become bigoted, or antisocial, or violent, or unethical, or ultimately unable to preserve and defend the Constitution, we should treat it as an irrelevancy."

Posted by: Mark in Austin

Heed the Constitution:

". . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." (US Constitution, Art. VI).
Many individuals commenting here apparently do not believe in the Constitution since they seem to think a religious test IS appropriate.

Posted by: Diane C. Russell

Why Should Mitt's Mormonism Matter More than Harry's?:

"Odd how the press wasn't obsessed with Harry Reid being majority leader and being a Mormon."

Posted by: Karen

Reject Religious Bigotry:

"Look, I don't think religion and politics should be mixed at all ... I am just sick of hearing that Mormons are a cult, Mormons are secretive, Mormons wear special underwear. NO ONE REALLY CARES... It's religious bigotry no matter which way you slice it."

Posted by: Janine

Mormon Views Matter:

"How can any politician -- especially a Republican -- say that one's faith shouldn't matter in a presidential race when the GOP has been making that issue number 1 for years? "

Posted by: Tony Story

Religion Shapes World Views:

"If we are to more thoroughly understand how a candidate will view and respond to the issues they will face as a national leader, it is essential to have an understanding of how their religious views color and shape their perception of the world."

Posted by: Kenneth in South Carolina

Identify the Religion You Identify With:

"To that question, I say of course it should. If one's religious faith does not help shape his or her world-view, what's the point of acknowledging that one believes in the teachings of that faith?"

Posted by: marklemagne

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 21, 2007; 4:36 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Comments

MSN I NIIPET
MSN

Posted by: Bill | June 30, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

MSN I NIIPET
MSN

Posted by: Bill | June 30, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't you post the fax, the you say you obtained? I read the paper the fax was sent to you by The Asian American Business
Roundtable President. It would have been
better for the reader

Posted by: Mike | June 26, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I have voted for Catholics and protestants, and if he convinces me that he has conviction and will have principals. Yes I would vote for a mormon, lack of principals will gurantee a no vote. Glad to see Liberman back in office!!! Have a nice day!

Posted by: h1m912009 | June 25, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who really want to know what the mormons believe and what motivates them please check the real "Mormon's" Web site

http://www.mormon.org

Posted by: Will in DC | June 25, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I remember that Mitt's father ran for President back in 196? The fact that he was Mormon was barely mentioned and was not even really an issue. I had learned in school that one of the enduring principles of our government was the SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. We had just had a Catholic president, and that tenant had held up just fine. In those days, I believed it always would--that separation of church and state was a value that we, the American people, held and would always hold supreme. That's what I thought in those days. I NO LONGER THINK THAT.

Sadly, with the Presidency of Bush and with his faith-based-initiatives funneling tax money (illegally, in my opinion) to religious institutions, I no longer feel I can count on the idea that a president's religion doesn't matter, especially one as politically charged as Mormonism. (Everybody should watch the PBS series, MORMONS. Even Joseph Smith, Mormonism's prophet, dreamed of running for President before he was assassinated.) Political-economic control was central to Mormon communities. That's why they kept getting run out of them and finally had to leave the United States and settle in Utah Territory. It is a religion heavily invested in two doctrines that could be problematic: 1) strict obedience to church edicts; and 2) gaining converts. Every male Mormon, in fact, is expected to do a mission.

FROM THE MORMONS WEB SITE:
http://www.pbs.org/mormons/faqs/mission.html#1
"The rigorous training can last up to three months of sixteen-hour days. The trainees learn six basic lesson plans designed to take the potential convert to the goal of baptism. Every aspect of their behavior and appearance is scrutinized. They are taught how to listen, to smile, to find common ground with a stranger on the street, and to answer difficult questions or deal with hecklers. The location where missionaries serve is entirely determined by the church." Mitt went to France.

One has to wonder.

Posted by: Little Old Librarian | June 22, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that when common sense starts to be spoken on these blogs, instead of inflammatory BS, everyone suddenly stops blogging.

If suddenly Christians start turning up on these blogs that
a) aren't bigots
b) aren't republicans
c) are intelligent and articulate

Then it seems suddenly, there is a lot less for people to garble on about.

Jon has made some good sense here. And seems to have had the final word. I don't add this comment to take that final word from him, but to enhance it... and once again take my pants off and salute him.

Jon - from one Gen X pastor to another (albeit from the other side of the world here in Australia) ... keep the conversation going. We have been embarrassed by people who have unfairly decided to speak on our behalf. But they won't be the only voices heard this time around.

Posted by: Tony Story | June 22, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

First. Let's get on the same page with what I mean by character.

Merriam-Webster's definition of character: "one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual"

It makes sense why the term character can be confusing. I'm using the term more generically. I'm not loading it with the baggage that conservatives do.

For those who don't care at all about religion or spirituality, they have the right to ignore it in a candidate. Some people don't care if a candidate comes across as arrogant, as opposed to poised and caring. I suppose they have the right to ignore that as well. But, attitude can also impact how a president does the job. (Ex: "Bring it on!")

As a Christian, I'm embarrassed to be associated with Bush's actions and attitude. It's similar to how someone might be embarrased to be associated with living in a particular town when a horrible story gets plastered in the media. Bush does not represent my faith. I'm not ashamed of my faith, but I am ashamed of his actions.

Religion is not a litmus test for me in how I vote. What I believe is that it helps paint a picture of a PART of a person's character.

If we view faith as making up a portion of a person's character, then the problem may be less that we give it any attention at all, but that we instead stereotype and give it only cursory attention.

I don't care if a candidate says that faith is a part of their upbringing but they struggle to determine how it really makes any difference in their daily life. That doesn't disqualify them in my eyes. But, it helps me understand how faith is going to function (or not) for them in their decision-making. If instead, someone claims to be a Christian and for them the most important parts of their faith relate to following God's laws and that God judges people and society must penalize those who are immoral, then that's very important information. I want to know that, because I will not vote for that person. If instead, a candidate talks about the love and grace of God and forgiveness and how faith has given them a sense of compassion for others--even those who don't share their faith... that's important--I'll be more likely to vote for that person.

Would the tenets of Methodism tell us more about a candidate? Possibly. As a whole, it's a pretty mainstream part of the Christian tradition. There's been a lot of infighting in that church about moral issues of the day, like other Christian denominations. How have they responded to those conversations? More interesting might be whether the candidate is Pentecostal and believes that God speaks directly to them through prophecy and tells them what they need to do. That might make me nervous as someone making decisions about going to war or not, not to mention others. Should Mormonism factor in? Sure. I don't know enough about it. I don't think many do. But, people should understand what it's all about.

So yes, the practices, piety and tenets of a particular stream of faith whether it's Christian, Muslim, atheist, Hindu or Buddhist make a difference.

Again, maybe we know too little about faith and over-categorize it and how it affects the character of our candidates.

Why do you think there's a huge upsurge in liberal and moderate faith-based organization this year? They/we want to take back the conversation about faith. We've been misrepresented and embarrassed by those who claim to speak for us.

Posted by: Jon | June 22, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Tony, you can stand up and saltue. I'm not about to.

It's painfully obvious from posts on this blog over the past year and more that many people here have no idea what other religions are about or what their core beliefs are.

Would knowing more about Methodism have given any clue as to what George Bush was about? I doubt it.

I'll stick with the candidates accomplishments and track records in the public arena.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

It's a sad state when people believe that a person's religion somehow reflects their character. The amoral behavior of the current "religious" administration speaks louder than words about tying individuals' professed religion to their moral values. If you believe that a person's religion tells you about their morality and character, does that mean that a person that does not subscribe to any religion is morally bankrupt? In well over a half century of life spent in all parts of this country and overseas I have met only one person that leads a truly "Christian" life and she would be the same whether she attended church or not. The problems with Romney go well beyond the fact that he is a Mormon, a group that I have found to hold some of the most bigoted (as in they believe in their superiority and cast out all whose beliefs differ) individuals in this country (not unlike other religious groups). He will say whatever he thinks people want to hear to get elected. Interesting that The Line has put individuals at the top of both tickets with the same contempt for the electorate.

Posted by: vmi98mom | June 22, 2007 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Everyone stand up and take your pants off, in silent recognition of some of the most relevant common-sense ever posted in one of these blogs.

Jon, you make a very good point.

And with my pants around my ankles, I salute you.

Posted by: Tony Story | June 22, 2007 2:26 AM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A White House meeting planned for Friday about the future of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has been canceled after The Associated Press reported the Bush administration was "nearing a decision" to close the center.

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said there would be no meeting Friday, but he would not comment on the reasons for the cancellation

Earlier Thursday, AP reported that officials were close to a decision to shut down the facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that the administration had scheduled a meeting to discuss a proposal to transfer the detainees to other military prisons.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 22, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Jon, good point.

Jessica (from 07:49), you say "Mitt Romney seems to straddle the moderate middle ground the most. His work as Governor proves that he's willing to compromise with liberals and pursue effective reform plans regardless of their party affiliation."

-I live in Massachusetts, and I disagree. To the extent he was 'willing to compromise,' it was because he had to with a Democratic Legislature. His true colors were shown when he took almost his entire last year off to traipse around the country badmouthing Massachusetts. None of the "effective reform plans" you mentioned would have passed without Democratic input and support, and some - including the health care reform about which he is currently preening - were passed over his veto. In light of this, his record as a leader is unimpressive and short. Barack Obama, about whom lack of experience is always mentioned, has served at both the state and national levels longer than the Mittster.

Posted by: Bokonon | June 21, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Gen-X pastor. I don't think the specific religion should matter, constitutionally or practically. But, I think we should all take the NATURE of a candidate's religion into account when we vote, and I think that's a fair test. If a person's religion leads them to hate and exclude others--that matters. If it leads them to lift up those who are poor and excluded--that matters. If it's really more of a veneer and it really doesn't impact their life--that also matters. If they're a rationalist or existentialist or atheist... OK--that matters. Everyone can draw their only conclusions. But, a person's religious faith helps draw a picture of a person's character and how they approach life. I think we all care about our candidates' character ultimately. We may disagree with it or reject it, but it matters. How will this person be likely to react in a given situation? It's neither unwise nor unfair to examine the basic beliefs and practices of the religion or faith they profess to follow. They can always say how they agree or diverge from those basic tenets. But all of this seems relevant to me. And I'm not a Republican.

Posted by: Jon | June 21, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

To quote the West Wing:

"The Constitution says nothing about the seperation of Church and politics."

Posted by: Zach | June 21, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

On principle I am opposed to anyone who needs to read a book to be able to tell right from wrong.

Beggars cannot be choosers, though, when it comes to U.S. politics.

Posted by: roo | June 21, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

The point is not that Mitt Romney's Mormonism disqualifies him from being president. The point is it may disqualify him from being the GOP nominee for president. And that Karen, is why it is an issue with Romney and not with Harry Reid.

Posted by: Greg in LA | June 21, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

The point is not that Mitt Romney's Mormonism disqualifies him from being president. The point is it may disqualify him from being the GOP nominee for president. And that Karen, is why it is an issue with Romney and not with Harry Reid.

Posted by: Greg in LA | June 21, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Religion is a personal tool and should be treated as such. It usually provides one with a guideline for action. It is the actions religion produces that need to be scrutinized. Of all the Republican candidates, Mitt Romney seems to straddle the moderate middle ground the most. His work as Governor proves that he's willing to compromise with liberals and pursue effective reform plans regardless of their party affiliation. Yet, if elected, I can only hope that he will extend his liberal work into more global areas as well. For example, I would like to see him fulfill the United States' commitment to the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting world hunger in half by 2015 and eliminating it altogether by 2025. Indeed, it is estimated that the expenditure of a mere $19 billion would eliminate starvation and malnutrition worldwide. In a time when the current defense budget is $522 billion, the goal of eradicating world hunger is clearly well within reach and it is my hope that whoever becomes president in 2008 addresses this pressing issue.

Posted by: Jessica | June 21, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Good evening, and thank you all for cominc on such short notice. There's no cause for alarm, but Mitt and I wanted you all to know that we ran into a, a situation this morning while combing... What? Yes, a knot. Neither of us knows the source of the knot, but we have our suspicions. After lunch, we went for a walk, and while passing a small hill near the hotel... a "knoll," if you will... there was a sudden gust of wind. Of course, normally thia would not be a problem, but it seems someone... we don't know who yet, but we're working on it... someone had been eating an ice cream treat on a stick, and the discarded stick, still with some ice cream residue, was blown into me from the right to the left, apparently attaching itself to the upper right. What? No, it didn't hurt at the time... I think we were both in shock. When it hit, our immediate reaction was to jerk the head back and to the left. Back... and to the left. Back... and to the left. What? I don't see why this should be funny to anyone. Of course, we discontinued our walk and made an emergency visit to the nearest salon. Where's Pierre? ... Over there, in back... Stand up, Pierre! Pierre here is the hero who did his best, but I'm afraid some hairs were lost. What? Yes, a memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow. It's private, but you all will be provided with a DVD when it's over, including special music written specifically for the sad occasion. ... By Celine Dion. And we --- I'm sorry, I can't finish. This has been a very painful day for both of us.

Posted by: Mitt Romney's Hair | June 21, 2007 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Sorry that I missed my opportunity to rail against Mormons. Thanks for pitching in all of you other bigots!

Posted by: MikeB | June 21, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Also, Nevada has a higher population of Mormons (about 7.5%) and is right next door to Utah so Nevadans are less likely to be upset or concerned about someone's Mormonism due to the benefits of this education. The same rule applies to Muslims, in fact, although it is being ignored by bigoted Americans with much greater ferocity than the Mormon context.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | June 21, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I harbor no intelligence so I must simply insult. forgive me, without Kos I have nothing else.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 21, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

CC don't know much about history...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 21, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Heed the Constitution? The Constitution has nothing to do with this! The Constitution says that no religious test can be required BY THE GOVERNMENT to hold office. Nobody's advocating anti-Mormon laws. The debate is over whether individual voters should take a candidate's religion into account, not whether there should be laws dictating the religion of candidates.

That was quite possibly one of the stupidest on-topic posts in the thread. It showed no understanding of the issue whatsoever. And you think it was one of the best posts? No wonder this place sucks.

Posted by: Blarg | June 21, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I guess CC likes Mitty a lot, since almost all the views for pro-romney.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 21, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

"Odd how the press wasn't obsessed with Harry Reid being majority leader and being a Mormon."

Posted by: Karen

Harry Reid doesn't want to be POTUS. And Mitt is much more closely connected to top Mormon leaders (past and present) than Harry is. But mitt doesn't want that to come out.

Speaking of Mitt, his posse is now chasing down reporters for the NY Times. Fun...
http://political-buzz.com/?p=235

Posted by: chrisfl | June 21, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

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