The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Romney and Mormonism, politics and faith

Anyone who pays attention to the inner workings of the country will notice that religion is a major factor. Sometimes though, religion and politics can be a delicate combination, especially for an elected official. With next year’s presidential elections gearing up, the religion of a candidate can truly influence their chances at the polls. Mitt Romney, the newest Republican candidate and a devout Mormon, has had his fair share of controversy over the issue of his religion.

Mormonism is looked upon as suspicious by some for its former practice of polygamy and its enigmatic reputation, although polygamy was renounced in 1890. This is especially difficult for Romney because it was revealed by the Associated Press this past Saturday that ancestors in his family practiced polygamy six years after the after it was condemned. However, if Romney wants to end the chatter surrounding his faith and how it will effect his presidency, he has to be willing to address peoples’ concerns, speak about it openly, and soon, before the murmurs become shouts.

But perhaps it is not as significant as the media is portraying it to be. A Feb. 13 Gallup poll revealed that 72 percent of Americans would be willing to vote for a “generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be Mormon” in the general election. While it is a notable margin, Rudolph Giuliani may have more of a problem. In the poll, the”generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be married three times”, only garnered 67 percent of voters polled.

It would be in Romney’s best interest, at this point, to listen to those who suggested that he address his religious affiliation rather than pretend it is not an issue. By having open discussion and answering questions from the constituency and the media about his beliefs, he may gain the trust and understanding of the American people. It would appear a lot better to the people of America if he were more willing to share with them how his religion factors into his every-day decision making.

As presidential candidates go, Romney is not the first to meet religious discrimination in his campaign. In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy addressed the same type of issue when he openly discussed his beliefs and the Catholic Church.

He stood by his faith, as well as his presidential beliefs. He was the first Catholic president that this country had seen. While, that was more than 40 years ago, and the views on religion as a society have changed, the fundamentals are the same.

Americans like to see a well-rounded, family oriented candidate. God can have a huge part in these ideals. So whether or not Romney will be voted into office, his religion will play a factor. It is his approach to discussing his religion, and how it might possibly play into his decisions as the President of the United States, that may actually help his campaign rather than hinder it.

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