On last night’s Special Report (which I assume all of you watch), Shannon Bream did a segment on the attacks on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and religion in politics generally. It was a good piece but one soundbite hit an off note.
Ryan Clayton, a Democratic strategist said: “I don’t think people should be attacking Mitt Romney for his faith, just like they shouldn’t be attacking President Obama for his Christianity. You know, faith and politics, if you mix it together, becomes kind of a tinder box and can explode in your face.”
But there’s another way to read it as well. I understand that theologically, there’s a lot of controversy about how to characterize Mormonism. Many devout Christians believe Mormonism isn’t Christianity and believe it is important to say so. Many devout Mormons believe it is. I am not going to wade into all of that.
But this formulation from Clayton clearly picks a side. When you say “we shouldn’t criticize Romney for being a Mormon anymore than we should criticize Obama for being a Christian” you are declaring yourself in the Mormonism is not Christianity camp, at least rhetorically.
Update: From a reader:
Jonah,Just for your information, coming from a “devout” Mormon, all devout Mormons consider themselves Christian, without exception. I’d say even the non-devout ones would not deny that we worship Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. After all, the actual name of the church since it’s inception has been “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” The Mormon sobriquet was originally applied by antagonists toward members of the religion and only later adopted by the church as an acceptable label for its members. Most members of the church remain mystified that opponents could ever consider us non-Christians though we understand their basis for doing so. I suppose it is true that our understanding of who and what Christ is diverges from the Nicene version which, by the way, was not universally accepted as valid by many believers in Jesus when it was originally formulated.