Does It Matter?

Want to know how old fashioned I am? I think your religion makes a difference. That bars me from the public square of American discourse, but never mind, that’s where I’m at.

Somehow Mitt Romney’s run for President brings all this into focus. Not Huckabee. He’s main stream. He may not believe in evolution, but, hey, 51% of Americans don’t believe in evolution. I haven’t found a survey to tell me what percentage think the world is flat, but I bet it’s substantial. But we don’t hold what you believe against you. That’s private. If you believe the world is held up on the backs of four turtles, that’s your business and makes no difference if you want to run for president.

Somehow, though, Mormonism gets our attention this year. Back when George Romney ran, it didn’t. But back then, the evangelicals hadn’t learned how to vote.

Does Mitt Romney believe in evolution? I’d be curious to know. I do know that, as a Mormon, he believes in a book which describes historical events of which there is no record. The Book of Mormon records epic battles near Palmyra in upstate New York in 385 A.D. with hundreds of thousands “slain with the sword.” What happened to the bones? What happened to the swords?

If it turns out that Barack Obama believes in the tooth fairy, will that influence your vote?

Today’s New York Times features a very long article by Noah Feldman, who teaches law at Harvard and goes on at great length about religion in American life and Mitt Romney in particular. His last sentence is: “Surely, though, the day will come when we are ready to put prejudice aside and choose a president without regard to what we think of his religion.”

Maybe. We’ve chosen presidents without regard to their knowledge of the world also and see where that got us. But I find it frightening to think that someone whose religion encourages him to disregard modern science (Huckabee) or historical fact (Romney) might be sitting in the White House making decisions for war or peace that will affect the lives of millions in every country of the world..

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