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David Ripley: The Question of Romney’s Faith

October 11th, 2011 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

There were a number of interesting developments to come from the Values Voters Summit this past weekend. One of the dominant stories involved the Perry campaign’s use of Mitt Romney’s religion against him. This is another self-inflicted wound that may prove mortal.
In responding to the national controversy, FRC Chairman Tony Perkins issued a public statement:

“America is a country where religious freedom is constitutionally protected and where we respect the right for people to practice their faith publicly and peacefully in a free nation…. We clearly recognize the fact that Mormon theology includes doctrines that are distinct from Evangelical theology and Catholic theology. At the same time, the goal of the values voter movement is not to build a ‘National Church’. Our goal is to build a national coalition based on the shared values of respecting human life, strengthening natural marriage, defending religious liberty, promoting personal and fiscal responsibility, and maintaining our national security.”

Let’s be clear: There are many reasons to be concerned about Mitt Romney. His role in pushing abortion rights while governor, his support for socialized medicine in Massachusetts leading the list. But his faith is not an appropriate “wedge issue” for political advantage – such a strategy can only produce fractures in the conservative movement. And, we might add, a more divided nation.

And there are legitimate places to discuss the tenets of LDS theology – in the home, as a matter of personal faith. Or in seminaries, or in public debates between clergy and theologians; or even between friends over a cup of coffee (and orange juice).

But it is hard not to see the Perry camp’s use of Mormonism as a heavy-handed attempt to argue that Romney’s faith somehow disqualifies him from being president. Can you imagine anyone taking a public podium to argue that a person should not be president because he or she was Catholic or Jewish?

This event is more than presidential politics. It strikes close to home. The pro-Life movement in Idaho is vitally dependent upon the active support of people from different faith backgrounds – but who share a passionate belief in the value of all human life. We are grateful for the generous support we have received over the years from many great folks in the LDS community. It is not too much to say that we would not have achieved the victories we’ve enjoyed without their help.

Our sympathies go out to our many LDS friends for this sordid public moment, which has surely been hurtful.

As for Mr. Perry: He would be well-advised to quickly and emphatically distance himself from this unseemly misuse of religion. During that press conference he might go on to fix a couple other serious problems as well.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

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