PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
11/27/2014

Media get it wrong regarding Romney and religion

Brian Chatwin
Staff Writer

On paper, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is a very attractive presidential candidate. For those who don’t know who Romney is, Troy Senik, a friend of mine, described the Republican: “He is the smartest kid in his class that is also quarterback of the football team.”

His academic credentials read valedictorian of his undergraduate class and graduate of both the Harvard Business and Law Schools. From there Romney founded Bain Capital, a successful investment company that launched Domino’s Pizza and Staples. 

Romney then went on to be the savior of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by pulling the games out of the tailspin they were in and making them among the most profitable Olympic Games in recent history. Take a trip through Montreal, a city still decimated by Olympic mismanagement, to learn the importance of good Olympic management.

From there, Republican Romney was elected governor of the ever-liberal Democratic state of Massachusetts. So to recap: Romney is top in academics, top in business, top in non-profit work, and top in politics. Not bad.

Oh, and by the way— he’s a Mormon.

What’s the big deal about Romney’s religion? Of course, it is important to know which way the needle points a president’s moral compass. Most Americans like to know that the president believes in God— as per Carter/Reagan/Bush I and II, or at least acknowledge God— as per Clinton.

But beyond that, who cares about which denomination the president associates himself with, as long as he invokes the name of God on occasion, and try to be noble.

But recent media outlets have not given Romney such latitude on his religion. Woody Paige, of the Denver Post called Mormonism “a cult.” Slate magazine said the same thing.

While I admit that Mormonism is not the most mainstream religion, equating it with cultism goes too far. Funny how these same media types have no trouble with Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate minority leader being Mormon, or have a problem with the CEO’s of Marriott Hotels, Fischer-Price, Albertsons and Oakley Sunglasses belonging to the same “cult.”

No, the persecution of Romney’s religion serves only as a nice cover for the liberal media to drive a wedge between Romney and the electorate. 

The media sense blood in the water and are trying to exploit it. The conventional wisdom is that Romney’s Mormonism, or Church of Latter Day Saints, will alienate the evangelical conservatives—a major voting bloc in the Republican Party. There is some legitimacy to this argument.

Some evangelicals are lukewarm to the prospect of a Mormon Commander in Chief. The partisan media, sensing the strength of candidate Romney and fearing losing the White House yet again, are trying to capitalize on this weakness. But the media, as usual, have misunderstood Middle America – home of the evangelical Christian.

While evangelical Christians are not crazy about a Mormon president, they are even less enthusiastic about the perceived, godless, liberal left using their megaphone to persecute a fellow believer.

While there is more than an arms length distance in ideology between Mormons and evangelicals, they share a common history of religious persecution. If this history, felt as a deep wound, is prodded, poked, and otherwise irritated by journalists like Woody Paige, these ideological strangers will become good bedfellows.

In other words, the estrangement between the two groups that the partisan media are trying to exploit, will only serve to unite the groups under the Romney banner. Evangelicals, understanding that Romney shares the same political morality as they do will rush to his side. Romney will be the candidate of God, the Christian God that both Mormons and evangelicals can agree upon.  

Contrasted against the agnostic McCain and the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Giuliani, Romney will emerge as the sensible choice for evangelicals uniting the Republicans, not dividing them. Once again, the media have got it wrong.