In the recent debate among the Republican candidates seeking their parties nomination, former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said he will not distance himself from his Mormon faith. Romney once again misses the point of what the pundits are asking. They do not suggest he should distance himself from his faith, they want him to distance himself from his church.
As I was a cradle Mormon myself as Romney himself is, I cannot see why he finds it so hard to make the distinction between the two. The controlling attitudes of the Mormon hierarchy and its attitude towards obedience among its members are generally well known even if most people cannot tell you the significance of the phrase September Six. Perhaps he may feel that his record as governor of Massachusetts makes issuing such a statement unnecessary as he has taken positions that are in opposition to the church that claims twelve million members worldwide.
Romney did in fact pass legislation as governor to legalize civil unions in his state. His current positions on the issue may seem to fill a void perceived by many voters in the Republican party as there is no perceived truly conservative candidate, although the recent announcement by Fred Thompson that he intends to seek the nomination may change that view.
I am not naive enough to think that Romney will be the Conservative version of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan more correctly fills that role, but unfortunately the denomination to which he belongs forces that this question be asked of him and the refusal to distance himself from the leadership of the church when something that the church opposes may in fact be better for the country will make people question his loyalties. Perhaps as someone once commented to me who attended the same church that the Romneys went to he does not intend to run for president of the United State at all, but has his sites set on becoming a general authority of his church. Statements such as the one he made may please the gerontocracy in Utah, but do little to earn him votes.
There is however one factor Romney may have going for him. His religion displeases many Conservative Christians who moderates feel already has too great a stranglehold on the Republican party. Unfortunately, many of his positions mere those that would likely have been echoed by the late Jerry Falwell, although perhaps not as extreme as the former Reverend’s statements.
If nothing else, we can believe that God approved of Romney’s statements since a lightning strike from a nearby thunderstorm did not knock the speakers out when he answered this question, unlike a question about a portion posed to Rudi Giuliani.