When Faith Matters

No one but Romney can know how his beliefs might affect his judgment. Instead of focusing on his faith," writes Stephen Stromberg in The Washington Post, "it would be much more worthwhile for voters to judge Mitt Romney on his evolving political agenda -- as Republicans did when George Romney ran in 1967." Well, to be sure, people should judge Romney primarily on his "evolving" political agenda. Part of his "evolving" political agenda, however, regards his late-in-life conversion to a certain set of views about, in his press secretary's words, "the sanctity of life." Romney, at the time a pro-choice Mormon, first garnered attention from traditionalist Christians when he took a stand in defense of what many Christian traditionalists, including the president of the United States, defined as "the sanctity of marriage".

It's difficult to erect a sharp dichotomy between an "evolving" political agenda and matters of religious faith, when so much of Romney's political "evolution" regards his views on the sanctity of this or that. Obviously, one shouldn't neglect Romney's health care agenda or whatever he may have to say about world affairs, but he's clearly trying to reconnect with orthodox Mormon political views in an effort to increase his appeal to traditionalist Christian voters, so it's hardly crazy to think this has some relevance. Stromberg asks us to "Consider the divergent examples of other well-known Mormons -- those of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), say." But while Hatch and Reid certainly do have divergent views on a variety of political topics, their views on the sanctity of life -- against legal abortion, for federal funding of stem cell research -- are very similar and seemingly based in part on Mormon theology so, again, it's perfectly reasonable for traditionalist Christian voters concerned about these issues to interest themselves in Romney's Mormonism.