Here’s to wishing a wonderful Season of Passover and Easter to all!
As an American, I do not think that a presidential candidate’s religion should be a determining factor at all in whether that person is considered a viable presidential candidate. I do however think that since our nation’s founding documents were formulated and written, based upon Judeo-Christian values and ethics, any American president’s life, record, and stated policies should exemplify those values. Governor Romney’s life in service as a Christian, combined with his public service record, provide immutable evidence that he is an exemplar of the highest of Judeo-Christian ethics.
In this season of Passover and Easter, I felt it appropriate to draw some attention to the natural affinity many Jews feel toward Romney, in part because of his faith — especially in light of recent bigotry exhibited by Christians and non-Christians alike (see Jayde’s article here).
Michael Medved, a Jew, wrote a piece for The Daily Beast, called, Why Jewish Voters Might Like Mitt Romney: His Religion. Following are some excerpts:
Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, so often described as an impediment to his political prospects, might work to his advantage with one crucial segment of the electorate: Jewish voters.
The very fact that his Mormonism makes him less popular among evangelical Christians almost certainly makes him more popular among American Jews. Academic analysis of the intersection of religion and politics suggests that Jews maintain a distinctly—and surprisingly—favorable view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Concerning Mormons, Campbell and Putnam wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “We suspect that Jews’ warmth toward Mormons stems from solidarity with another group that is small and subject to intolerance. Jews and Mormons are the two American groups most likely to report that other people disparage their religious beliefs.” If this analysis accurately describes Jewish sentiments, then every time some born-again clergyman attacks Romney for his Mormon faith or describes the LDS church as a “cult,” Jews probably look at Mitt more favorably, especially given the irrational, unjustified—but undeniable—Jewish hostility to evangelicals.
Of course, most evangelical leaders similarly show their love for the Jewish people by backing Israeli institutions, leading tours of the Holy Land, and even defending our religious liberties when they’re threatened in the United States. When aggressive efforts to ban all infant circumcisions were undertaken last year in San Francisco and Santa Monica, evangelical Christians provided crucial backing to turn back the assault on our right to our rite.
There’s a special historical affinity between Jews and Mormons that may play a role in Romney’s relative popularity in the Jewish community.
But the prominent, powerful involvement of evangelicals in conservative politics alarms many in the Jewish community, which remains overwhelmingly liberal; 64 percent of Jews describe themselves as Democrats. Since most Jews also count as decidedly irreligious, shunning synagogue or temple membership and avoiding traditional patterns of observance, the chief sense in which they see themselves as distinctively Jewish involves their rejection of the core claims of Christianity. This means secular, liberal Jewish voters react with particular horror to any mixture of Christianity and politics. John Marttila, a pollster for the Anti-Defamation League, told the Jerusalem Post that “he believed that the rhetoric of the Republican primaries, particularly on religious issues, was alienating moderate Jews who might otherwise consider voting for the GOP.”
Romney has been a victim of that rhetoric far more than the source of it; he recognizes the lingering doubts about his own faith and has tried for the most part to avoid combining preaching and politics. This may not build his popularity among evangelical voters in the upcoming primaries in Pennsylvania or Texas, but it makes him far more viable in the Jewish community than his remaining Republican rivals.
“Bigotry and intolerance, silenced by argument, endeavors to silence by persecution, in old days by fire and sword, in modern days by the tongue.” ~ Charles Simmons
“The rising sun can dispel the darkness of night, but it cannot banish the blackness of malice, hatred, bigotry, and selfishness from the hearts of humanity.” ~ David O. McKay