Romney is right in saying that American tradition holds that there should be no "religious test" for holding public office in the United States. Unfortunately, the implication that this dictum applies to the personal opinions of individual voters is egregious and deceptive. The phrase is from the founding documents of the United States and is concerned with the kind of government bar to office that the founders had experienced as subjects of the British king. It would have been a good idea for Romney to stick to the truth in his speech today rather than resorting to the kind of marketing rubbish that so dominates politics today.
I attended graduate school in Salt Lake City. This is essentially a Mormon city. I found Mormons as a group to be decent, incredibly hard working, honest Americans. The only faults I would ascribe to them are an inclination to sacharine sentiment and an excessive apppetite for pie. This latter trait may be brought on by their self denial of stimulants.
I would not have difficulty in voting for a Mormon for president or any other office. I would not have a difficulty in voting for a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist or any other category of believer (or unbeliever). What I would be concerned with in each case would be my appreciation of the person’s character and policy positions.
Romney’s problems on the religion "front" are not with people like me. His problems are with those who believe deeply and fervently that the "rapture" is coming soon and that the Bible is literally true, word after word after word. In my version of Christianity we waited for the rapture on hilltops a thousand years ago. It did not come and now we are inclined to be less literal about scripture.
In my opinion, Romney’s faith is incompatible with that of orthodox Christians and evangelical Protestants will feel that strongly. Reverend Land’s statement is indicative. As the months pass that incompatibility will become increasingly evident.
Romney should have left this topic alone, trusting in the essential fairness and tolerance of Americans. Now, we will see what we are really about in this country. pl