Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the highest ranking member of the LDS Church in the Congress, and some other members of their faith, seem to think Governor Mitt Romney is misrepresenting their faith and giving their LDS Church a bad name. In Harry Reid: Mitt Romney 'Sullied' Mormonism, Isn't The Face Of The Religion, Nick Wing reports on Senator Reid's reaction to the blog comments of Mormon author and former Romney supporter, Gregory A. Prince, who wrote:
"His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share -- the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is 'to take care of the poor and needy throughout the world,'" Price wrote. "My first impulse was to rent an airplane towing a banner: 'Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism!'"
Senator Harry Reid agreed with Prince's sentiments in a conference call.
"He said that Romney has sullied the religion that he, Prince and Romney share," Reid said. "And he’s so disappointed that in his words, ‘It’s a good religion and he’s hiding from it.’" ... "I agree with him," Reid continued. "[Romney's] coming to a state where there are a lot of members of the LDS Church ... They understand that he is not the face of Mormonism."But, other members of the faith strongly disagree, as Wing reports that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) objected to Reid's and Price's ganging up "on Romney over the way he embodies faith."
"Shame on them," Chaffetz said. "Harry Reid seems to be making this way too personal and consequently throwing the religion under the bus for his own personal gain. That’s not where anyone should be going with this. He’s taking this two steps too far."
While I've agreed that Democrats should not make people's religion political issues, this case may be a little different in that this is a news report of two members of Romney's own faith, expressing concern that members of the general public not that familiar with their beliefs, and church, might come to inaccurate conclusions about what their members believe. [Update: Cany asks if my intent in this paragraph is to suggest no-one outside of a religion should make in comment about it, in an election, which it was not my intent. I was just trying to be respectful - but will attempt clarification in an update below, rather than change this now]
A few months ago, I reported stories on the Nuns on The Bus tour, where Catholic sisters challenged both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney to reconcile their Catholicism with social policies lacking compassion for the poorest amongst us, and a similar message from the Franciscan Friar's Action Network.
But, many here, including myself, complained of the over-the-top, attempts to smear President Obama with 24-7 videos of Pasteur Wright. So, we need to tread cautiously in these matters.
Perhaps, it is best if we let members of these religions hold presidential and V.P. candidates accountable for the extent to which their social policies are consistent with their own faiths, and to what extent their behavior reflects well on their own faiths?
I know that many members of our own community, here, have strong and divergent feelings on the role, if any, a person's religion should play in elections, and some believe these issues should not be brought up at all, by anybody. On the other hand, others seem to think the speeches by Presidents' Kennedy and Obama on the role of religion and race in their lives represented great advances in our collective understanding and tolerance of religion, and also that the positions of POTUS, and V.P. are so powerful any aspect of their lives, and upbringing that helps us understand their psychology, character, judgement, social influences, and possible decision-making processes in a crisis should be discussed and better understood so voters can make our best decisions.
So I ask that we all try to be as respectful to the diversity of opinion here, and avoid any sweeping generalizations that would reflect intolerance, or be disrespectful. Especially, on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.
2:00 PM PT: Cany has appropriately asked if I am suggesting that people shouldn't express any views on others people's religions, which was not my intent. I was trying, perhaps, to hard, not to appear to be encouraging any gang pile on of a religion, while finding a balanced way to discuss what appear to be relevant issues. Let me try to think of how to articulate this better. Or, perhaps, someone else can do it better? (see comments below.) I am happy for others to express any opinion of Romney, or Reid, that they like. But, was just sharing my own struggle to find the right balance between fair comment, and piling on.