I never thought I would say this, but I miss Mitt Romney.
After three full days of having to interpret, explain and apologize for Reverend Jeremiah Wright I am feeling a little religiously defensive. So I started fantasizing how different this would be going down if Mitt Romney were still challenging John McCain for the Republican nomination.
Instead of us Obama supporters sweating, Romney and his supporters would be fielding calls all day to explain Mormonism, polygamy and the relationship of Romney’s faith to the cult compound in Texas. Does Mr. Romney believe that 14 year-old girls should marry? Does Mr. Romney plan to take additional wives in order to fulfill the moral requirements of his religion? If not why has Mr. Romney stayed affiliated and raised his children in a church with whom he so vehemently disagrees?
Yeah, Yeah, we know he gave some big speech about this issue earlier in the campaign, but how does he respond to what those women with the long skirts and weird hairdos said on the Today Show this morning? . . . Maybe a little black liberation theology would have looked tame next to the FLDS.
Best of the Web’s James Taranto responds:
Harris-Lacewell claims that her own mother is a lapsed Mormon, which, if true, makes the professor’s ignorance rather stunning. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did originally sanction polygamy, but you have to get up pretty early in the Mormon for that. As LDS Church Web site notes, the church banned polygamy in 1890, “and any member adopting this practice is subject to losing his or her membership in the Church.”
The FLDS, to which Harris-Lacewell refers, is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a group that split with the Mormons precisely because of the latter’s rejection of polygamy. Were Romney the nominee, his foes might well try to suggest that his LDS membership somehow puts him in league with the FLDS. But they would be arguing in bad faith.
Since Harris-Lacewell brought up the comparison of Mormonism to “black liberation theology,” it’s worth noting that early Mormons suffered persecution at the hands of their neighbors in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. They ultimately settled in Utah in 1847, and their abandonment of polygamy 43 years later was a price they paid for integration into American society.
It was just about as long ago–44 years this summer–that America took its most definitive step in ensuring equality for blacks, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Progress toward integration has been uneven since then, and the antagonistic attitude toward America of black leaders like Jeremiah Wright is arguably the greatest remaining hindrance.
Me: It is disgusting to see Romney’s faith distorted, particularly to score political points. Harris-Lacewell’s attempt at moral equivalence misses badly because of her loose association with the facts, as Taranto explained. Still, her slander of Mormonism reveals the lengths to which Obamaniacs will go to excuse the personal relationship Obama had with Wright. Harris-Lacewell excuses her own gross negligence because she comes from Mormon ancestors and a disaffected Mormon mother. It is sad that this kind of excuse carries water with a Princeton professor.