It should not be controversial that Romney is Mormon, particularly for believers in the separation of Church and State and religious freedom.
The New Yorker does a great job of summarizing this week’s church/state scandal. Mormons believe that (1) only Mormon baptism counts for salvation (they’re not the only ones who have exclusive baptism beliefs… ahem, Catholics), (2) since that’s the case, the dead can be baptised “by proxy”. This seems innacuous until they started baptizing Jewish Holocaust survivors into the faith. Nobel prize winning author Elie Wiesel and a crowd of other high-profile Jews have called on Mitt Romney to denounce the practice of baptizing dead Jews.
This calls for an episode of what I’m calling
If I were Mitt Romney in this case, I would say something like this:
I’ve received many requests from the Jewish community to stand up publicly against my religious faith on a controversial subject regarding baptism of deceased Jews by the Mormon church. I do have a personal opinion on this matter — but that’s exactly what it is: Personal. As a public servant, I do not think my place is to use my public role as a bully pulpit on the free exercise of religion one way or another. This matter does not affect public policy in any way, and for me to insert my opinion into the public debate would not be a faithful expression of the first amendment.
Of course… Romney won’t say this. If his record is any indicator of what he’ll do next, he’ll just ignore it and hope it goes away. Good luck with this one! Way too many people want Romney’s faith to get a spotlight for better or for worse, he can’t hide behind generic “american values” forever.
Afterall, he isn’t just a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, he’s actually been a deacon and served as deacon at several different churches. Now’s the time for him to step up and give himself some serious 1st Amendment credentials.