Religion and Politics Fifty Years Later

I want to take on another peeve I am still witnessing in the national arena. I am old enough now that this has happened several times in my life and I wonder if others don’t have a functioning memory, are so stupid as to not see history repeating itself, or are simply so egotistical that they don’t think a nonsensical judgement can happen to them. As is usually the case in life, I suspect all three are in play to some extent. The last time this déjà vu happened in politics, it was about four years ago and Mitt Romney was running for president on the Republican side. I am certainly no fan and would not vote for the man, but what struck me as totally asinine were people wondering if he should be elected because he is Mormon? Is the voting public still so bigoted and paranoid about someone who is “different” from them? I thought this argument, at least in the realm of politics, was laid to rest half a century ago.

The presidential election of 1960 was the first election in which I was old enough to be interested. Living in the South where Roman Catholics (I was raised Roman Catholic) were only two steps up from Blacks and Jews, I heard all the OMGs from folks thinking the Pope was going to rule the US through JFK. Conversely, I also had an Aunt that stated she was voting for JFK because he was Catholic. I remember thinking at the time how stupid and myopic both arguments were. I don’t remember thinking the former bigoted, probably because I wasn’t introduced to that idea yet, just stupid. Knowing uncles and other men that were Catholic, even at six I knew they were not the Pope’s lackeys. Reverent and obedient to their faith when practicing their faith, these men (and women) seemed to do their best to live their secular life according to the tenants of their faith, but when it came to the law and life in the United States, they were Americans; I figured JFK would be the same as all the Catholics I knew, even the clergy, were Americans first and Catholic second in their every day affairs.

To even suggest Romney is anything but an American and interested only in bettering America is ludicrous. Further, having known a few Mormons in my life and seeing the love, respect, and drive to succeed they instill in their children, I have to say we could all benefit from learning how they achieve this consistently with all children, regardless of their faith. I would ask those that question how Romney’s religion might play a part in his governance to substitute a few different words into the sentence and see how it sounds. “I’m not sure how good a presidency it will be, remember she’s a woman.” “I’m not sure how good a presidency it will be, remember he’s a Black.” “I’m not sure how good a presidency it will be, remember he’s a cripple.” Geraldine Ferraro, Elizabeth Dole, or Hillary Clinton might not have made good presidents, but I sincerely doubt it would be because of their gender. You might take issue with President Obama, but his successes or failures has nothing to do with his skin color. Likewise, you may think FDR is either a great president or not, but I hardly think his being paraplegic entered into the equation. Isn’t it time we put every form of bigotry behind us and discuss the issues as nonjudgmental adults?

Continue Reading