Damon Linker wrote an article in TNR about Mitt Romney and Mormonism. He seems to be advocating for playing a redux of JFK’s Catholic/Houston moment in which JFK said that he wouldn’t take direction from the pope. The blog community is getting in a tizzy over this. Some people think it is a legitimate question. Most however, do not.
Count me in the "not" category, but for a different reason. On at least one issue, Mitt Romney has spent his entire career on the opposite side of his church on the issue: abortion. Well almost. He has been pro-life since 2005 when he seemed to decide to run for President. And for a little bit in 2000 and 2001 when he was thinking about running for Governor. Even when Romney was a Mormon bishop, he was pro-choice. Romney claims a conversion, but a totally secular one, not one grounded in his faith. Linker tries to handle this by saying:
“Romney may have undergone an authentic religious rebirth during the last few years—a rebirth that has led him to embrace the fundamental tenets of his church more fully than ever before in his political career. If so, voters need to know it. And they need to think long and hard about the possible consequences of making such a man the president of the United States,”
But it is clear from other sources that this is not how Romney describes this. In fact, this is somewhere where Romney is between a rock and a hard place. In fact people challenge his "conversion" on these issues because there is nothing that grounds them … other than running for office (like the last time he became pro-life). This point was made by Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council in a National Review Byron York article (and explicated by me):
“Christians generally like for someone to have a conversion experience and a mea culpa moment,” says Smith. “But he doesn’t have that to turn to. He can’t say, ‘My faith changed, and therefore my views changed.’ That’s the normal thing with Republicans who move to the right on some issues — they claim to have had some spiritual transformation.”
I think that the Linker article points out why.