I have some thoughts on Time’s most recent bout of Mormon musings:
Mitt Romney belongs to the fourth-largest church in the United States, one that includes many kinds of people with many kinds of political views. Mormons tend toward conservatism, but the church itself is largely apolitical, and Romney’s membership in it tells us very little about what kind of president he would be.
Which is to say, the Romney-religion story is precisely the opposite of the Obama-religion story. Barack Obama belonged to a smallish and eccentric congregation with an explicitly political orientation, and an outlandish, racially obsessed one at that. And Time magazine’s coverage of the issue has been exceedingly careful about exploring the finer points of Jeremiah Wright’s “black-liberation theology.” To the extent that it was covered at all, it was largely covered as a potential political setback for the promising young savior, not as something that told us anything substantive about the candidate — which it obviously does. Twenty years in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s pews tells us a great deal more about what kind of political animal Barack Obama is than a lifetime of conventional Mormon piety tells us about what kind of political animal Mitt Romney is. The Mormon faith produces Mitt Romneys, but it also produces Harry Reids. Is black-liberation theology comparably diverse in its political consequences? No, it is not. Instead of acknowledging this bare fact, we have Joe Klein disputing the notion that Obama has much in the way of a religious orientation at all, which is very much of a piece with Amy Sullivan’s embarrassingly obsequious coverage of the question last time around.