Mitt Romney is a Mormon

Mitt Romney is a Mormon

Mitt Romney may have been the first presidential nominee from either of the two main parties in the United States I can recall who did not use nearly every opportunity to talk about his faith during his campaign. Had one not known that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, one could be forgiven for wondering if he might be an atheist.

The Romney campaign almost certainly knew that roughly 18% of Americans polled at the time said they would not vote for a Mormon for president. Their solution was to have their candidate avoid speaking directly about his Mormon faith whenever possible. Romney did refer to his faith on occasion, but he did so in an unusually vague manner, often omitting the part about being a Mormon and attempting to steer the discussion away from it.

This strategy of avoidance was effective, as the same Gallup poll cited above found that 40% of Americans did not know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. This was good news for the Romney campaign because voters who did not know about Romney's faith were less likely to have questions about what Mormons believe.

Here in Mississippi where hatred of President Obama ran high, Mormons are not particularly popular. The Southern Baptist majority considers them a cult, and many question whether Mormons are even Christian. Romney did win Mississippi, but I suspect many of my neighbors were less-than-thrilled about voting for a candidate they might not have perceived as Christian. What did they tell themselves as they headed to the polls?

To the degree that we value an informed electorate, it seems like communicating the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon was justified. Do you think the media would give the first legitimate Scientologist presidential candidate a pass? And how about the first atheist presidential candidate nominated by a major political party? No, in these cases, everyone would accept the need to inform the public. And so, I think that's probably okay to do here.