Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Romney: not possible

In order to win the GOP primaries Mitt Romney has to convince Christian conservatives that he's reversed many of his longstanding opinions. He also, incidentally, has to publicly renounce his religion and be born again as a Baptist ... (emphases mine)
The Presidency’s Mormon Moment - New York Times
April 9, 2007
By KENNETH WOODWARDKenneth Woodward, a contributing editor at Newsweek, is writing a book about American religion since 1950.

... Any journalist who has covered the church knows that Mormons speak one way among themselves, another among outsiders. This is not duplicity but a consequence of the very different meanings Mormon doctrine attaches to words it shares with historic Christianity.

For example, Mormons speak of God, but they refer to a being who was once a man of “flesh and bone,” like us. They speak of salvation, but to them that means admittance to a “celestial kingdom” where a worthy couple can eventually become “gods” themselves. The Heavenly Father of whom they speak is married to a Heavenly Mother. And when they emphasize the importance of the family, they may be referring to their belief that marriage in a Mormon temple binds families together for all eternity.

... handlers should be aware that Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals know Mormon doctrine better than most other Americans do — if only because they study Mormonism in order to rebut its claims...
Not to mention the nature of Mormon angels, or the apocalyptic battles of ancient high tech Amerindians ...

Mormonism is no odder or less respectable than many other well established faiths such as Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Bahai, Christianity, Shintoism, etc. It's arguably less odd than Scientology, an even younger faith that's not as far along the path to the conventional. Even so, I've not read any discussions of comparative religion that put Mormonism in the same ballpark as mainstream Christianity. I suspect if you held their feet to the fire, most scholars would put Mormonism somewhere "between" Islam and Hinduism, though culturally Mormons are very similar to conservative Christian Americans.

The catch for Romney is that the religious conservative heart of the GOP takes theology very seriously. I'm willing to bet they're already muttering about the "Romney antichrist".

So Romney is not a real contender for the GOP primary, and it's too late for him to switch parties. Giuliani? Huh? These people thought Clinton had behavioral issues? No way. McCain? Finished.

So it's none of the above. The press needs to look to the next set of candidates. Too bad, really. Romney would be easy to beat, and the country desperately needs to send the GOP to the badlands for a major rebuilding effort ...

Update 4/27/07: Hitchens cruel but familiar summary of early Mormon history. Romney doesn't have a chance.

No comments: