The front page of the Washington Post today says "Romney pushes aside Mormonism question." (The web version of the story has a different headline.) There is coverage all over the place about this weekend's Values Voters Summit, at which the Texas preacher Robert Jeffress, who introduced and endorsed Rick Perry, repeated his view that Mormonism is a cult, that Mormons are not Christians, and that voting for a Mormon like Mitt Romney "would give credibility to a cult."
This summer the New York Times ran an online debate on whether "Republicans Are Ready Now for a Mormon President." It was kicked off this way:
When Mitt Romney ran in the G.O.P. presidential primaries in 2008, his religion caused discomfort among some conservative voters who objected to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The ensuing Times discussion was intelligent, and I do understand the political handicapping aspect of stories about the "Mormon angle." It's like asking three years ago whether America was "ready" for a black president. Or whether we're "ready" for a Hispanic, female, Jewish, Asian, Muslim, atheist, gay, unmarried, overweight, etc President.
But it's worth saying something that often gets skipped past in the political handicapping. To be against Mitt Romney (or Jon Huntsman or Harry Reid or Orrin Hatch) because of his religion is just plain bigotry. Exactly as it would have been to oppose Barack Obama because of his race or Joe Lieberman because of his faith or Hillary Clinton or Michele Bachmann because of their gender or Mario Rubio or Nikki Haley because of their ethnicity. I also think that if we were reading handicapping stories about any of those other situations, we'd be getting frequent reminders that what we were talking about was, in the end, simple prejudice.