Defending one's faith
I saw Karl Rove (President Bush’s former bag-carrier) repeating the truism that Americans do not mind what faith a candidate professes, provided that he or she has some faith.
Let us assume the Bishop Rove is right. Where does this leave Mitt Romney?
Supporters of the Mormon Republican presidential candidate say voters in New Hampshire have been cold-called by "pollsters", who point out that the Mormon faith is odd.
At a party here in Washington recently, I conducted a scientific survey of my own.
I asked all those I met what they thought of Mormonism. The respondents (including a very senior member of a mainstream Christian denomination) all thought it was weird, weird, weird.
Several sniggered about multiple marriages, despite the fact that official Mormons have not been polygamous for a century.
My point is this. At the moment, with Mitt Romney refusing to get drawn into a defence of his faith, people are free to characterise it as they see fit. Perhaps he does need to address it full-on, and ask people to think about what Mormons do and what they stand for?
He would, after all, be taking a cue from Mormon culture, where the missionary aspect of the faith is hugely important.
I think if he began a thoroughgoing discussion of his faith, Americans would be fascinated, interested, and end up having their minds put at rest.
To continue my (un)scientific thought: the Latter Day Saints approached me more than a year ago through a Washington-based public relations company.
I have no particular sympathy for religion (as some have noted!), or indeed for public relations companies, but the experience was, well, transformative.
I met many Mormons, and not one I didn’t like. I do not care, and more importantly I do not think Americans will care, about their belief that the Garden of Eden might be located in Missouri.
Much more important, their hearts are often in the right place. They are good to their kids and thoughtful about the world. Not bad starting qualities for a president.