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Sunday, September 25, 2016

March 26 (Bloomberg) — Mitt Romney has a persisting Mormon problem. Less certain is whether this is limited to the Republican primaries or it’s a general-election worry, too.

“This nomination would be in the bag if it weren’t for the Mormon factor,” says John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University who works on the intersection of religion and politics.

The exit polls from a plethora of primaries confirm that. Romney, a deeply devout leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gets clobbered among white evangelicals and those who believe the religious views of a would-be president matter a great deal. This has caused him to lose a few primaries and denied him decisive wins in others.

Sometimes this hostility is openly articulated. Last year, Robert Jeffress, an evangelical leader who is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, called Mormonism a “cult,” and suggested Romney’s faith wouldn’t get him to heaven. It’s expressed by some rank-and-file conservatives, too. Scott Thomas, a Catholic and Rick Santorum supporter in Broomall, Pennsylvania, wondered if Romney, rather than President Barack Obama, “is the Antichrist.”

Usually this anti-Mormon bigotry is expressed more subtly, camouflaged by voicing doubts on other matters. Some pollsters say surveys don’t really capture the reservations; though they surface more in focus groups.

In political circles there is division over how religion might play in the fall campaign.

  • I would like to believe that Romney’s religion would not present a problem for him in the primary or general election. For me one’s religion, or lack of one in my case, is of no concern. I’m more concerned with the candidates world view and their grip on reality based decision making. All of the hyperbole regarding Mormonism is just a waste of valuable time and space. Unfortunately, it seems that far too many of the evangelical’s are getting their shorts in a twist over the Mormon problem. Too bad really, for religion should be among the bottom concerns in picking someone to lead the entire country. This country is awash in many religious followings and putting one aside because it may or may not conform to your own beliefs is tragic. The world and the nation are facing far more pressing issues than birth control, public radio, the so-called liberal media and Planned Parenthood. A little maturity on the religious issue would certainly be refreshing. With the likes of Santorum running off at the mouth at every chance we will unfortunately be stuck in the poorly expressed religious argument.

  • I just wish people would leave religion out of politics completely. It should be illegal to even discuss your faith. I’d vote for an atheist anyday over these phony right wing “christians? Romney isn’t phony about his religion at least. I mean gingrich and his ilk.