Placeholder on Mormonism in Politics

By James Fallows

My inbox is exploding with email about whether anti-Mormonism, like what the Values Voters Summit heard from a Texas preacher this weekend, is correctly considered "bigotry." As I said it should be.

Everyone disagrees with me -- but I take some consolation from the fact that the messages all disagree with one another too. I will put up a sampling some time tonight. For now, thanks. And, Uncle!

And as a preview: Yes, I understand that religious identity is different from race and gender, in being changeable. Even though the reality is that most people stay more or less in the religious tradition to which they were born. What are the chances that Mitt Romney would be a Mormon if he had been adopted by Joe Lieberman's parents and raised alongside Joe? Or by Joe Biden's parents, for that matter? It is not certain that the adult Mitt Romney would be a Mormon just because his parents were. But it's 100 times more likely than if he had been "born" Jewish or Catholic or Lutheran.

I also understand that when religious faiths take political stands, you can oppose the faith on that basis. But extending that opposition to individual members of the faith requires (IMHO) demonstrating that in fact they apply those religio-political views in their public life.

More later, including my handy checklist for whether a political opinion is "bigoted." Thanks for, umm, the stimulation.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/placeholder-on-mormonism-in-politics/246431/