By Alan Caruba
Article VI, U.S. Constitution: “…No religious test shall ever been required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
First things first—I know very little about the Mormon faith system and, frankly, I don’t care. I may or may not have friends who are Mormon, but since I don’t ask and don’t select my friends on the basis of their religion, I don’t know if they are or not.
The simple fact is that virtually any religion you can name has aspects that seem odd to those not born into it, cause others to drop out of it, and provide rich material for those who mock of all religion. I personally feel more secure around people who have a religion—any religion—than around those who have none, but that’s just me.
So when the media, as usual, seized upon some obscure Texas pastor’s comments about the Mormon Church as a “cult” after he introduced the hapless Gov. Rick Perry at some event, the whole Mormon thing raised its ugly head again as various members of the chatteratti and various ink-stained wretches tried to raise the issue of Mitt Romney’s religion. It is also Jon Huntsman’s religion.
The question, generally stated, is whether Romney could be a good President as a Mormon? It is an idiotic question, the kind that was raised back in the 1960s when John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, ran for office. For my part, I would take Romney any day over the present occupant of the Oval Office who claims to have been a parishioner and close friend of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a racist and America-basher of the first order.
For deep dish conservatives concerned about Mormons serving in the White House, Stephen M. Studdert, a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, recalled that he “truly admired the Latter-day Saints. His administration included more members of the Church than any other American president ever.”
Among those close to Reagan during his eight years as the greatest president of the modern era was Richard Wirthlin, his chief strategist. Terrel Bell served as Reagan’s Secretary of Education, Angela Buchanan was Secretary of the Treasury, and Rex Lee was Solicitor General.
Reagan’s White House included Jon Huntsman, Jr., currently a former governor of Utah and a candidate for the GOP nomination. The national security advisor to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft, is now an elder statesman. Suffice to say there were many others. No one recalls that any those Mormons served with anything other than dedication and patriotism.
Still scared of Mormons? Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah was first elected to the Senate in 1992. John Doolittle formerly represented California’s 4th Congressional District. Jeff Flake represents Arizona’s 6th District. Mike Crapo is a Senator from Idaho. A former Senator from Utah, Jake Garn, has previously been an astronaut. Anyone caring enough to check will find many other Mormons who have honorably served in Congress.
One of the most respected members of the Senate is Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican. Indeed, all the Congress critters named to this point have been Republicans, but the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, is also a Mormon.
You can even go back to Eisenhower’s administration and find that Ezra Taft Bensen served as Ike’s Secretary of Agriculture for both terms.
History buffs will tell you that Leroy Eldridge Cleaver who, after a past that included thirteen years as a guest of the California penitentiary system for narcotics possession and assault, became the face in the 1960s of the Black Power movement. After renouncing the movement, Cleaver joined the Church of the Latter-day saints in the 1970s. And, yes, God does work in marvelous ways.
All of this is to say that, despite the misgivings of some Texas pastor and others, Mormons have an admirable record of serving their nation and doubtless, if elected, former Gov. Mitt Romney will do so as well.
© Alan Caruba, 2011