Thanks to the doomed candidacy of Mitt Romney, we're learning some interesting things about faith in these United States. It turns out that the founders' insistence on the separation of church and state was "profound," for one thing, which'll come as an unpleasant surprise to many of Romney's prospective voters.
Romney also claims to share "moral convictions" with Americans of all faiths. Although my moral convictions are at least as otherworldly as the next person's, I've seen no sign that Romney understands them, let alone shares them. Still, I suppose that when it comes to things that really matter - like killing Iraqis, or punishing the poor for their failure to thrive - the political differences between the hellbound fanatic Romney and his God-fearing rivals are indeed vanishingly small.
But then, that's Romney's whole problem. "I do not define my candidacy by my religion," he says. Unfortunately, many of the voters who were put on this good earth to appoint our nation's pietistic autocrats feel differently:
Fifty-six percent of white evangelical Christians — a major portion of likely participants in the early GOP presidential contests in Iowa and South Carolina — expressed reservations about a Mormon candidate. Among non-evangelicals, 48 percent said it troubled them. Almost a quarter — 23 percent — of evangelicals said they were very uncomfortable with the idea.Well, why shouldn't they be? Why on earth should they choose an unregenerate infidel like Romney over a Godstruck golden boy like Mike Huckabee? What's in it for them?
Nothing, that's what. And yet, Romney adds insult to injury by insisting that every faith - except for "the religion of secularism," natch - is basically equivalent, even though the rest of us know that "the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those that find it":
"If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."Romney's crazy if he thinks this is the way to win over suspicious values voters; America's cause is God's cause, and Mormonism's role in these final days is to lure otherwise viable souls to Hell. My problem with Romney's ecumenical platitudes is that I don't think he believes them; the evangelicals' fear is more likely to be that he does.
You don't have to be Karl Rove to see the solution: Conversion, in as media-friendly a form as possible. The prophetic dream (crescent moons rise to form a swastika in the sky over Jerusalem). The dark night of the soul (staying up late reading Left Behind). Long twilight walks on the beach with Michael D. Evans (honeyed light pours through a sudden break in the roiling clouds). Mormonism his path, not his destination (he has been humbled!). A manly tear before the baptismal font, while Mrs. R undergoes a tasteful but compelling attack of glossolalia. The zeal of the newly converted (girls gone wild? Not on Mitt Romney's beat!).
I reckon that if Romney took this approach, and spent a few million dollars more on his campaign, he could easily cut his unfavorable rating among white evangelicals to 16 percent or so.