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Conversion

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Via Ross Douthat, Noah Millman and Russell Arben Fox offer their views of what Mitt Romney ought to say in his big speech about religion. Probably he should stay in keeping with his main campaign themes and just tell Republican primary voters that he’s willing to say whatever they want him to say about Mormonism and explain that he’s only had trouble with this issue because it’s not clear what people want from him.

For that matter, if you could just replay this whole primary campaign, it seems to me that Romney’s big mistake was failing to flip-flop on the question of his faith. Back when he was a culturally moderate Bay Stater, religion wasn’t especially central to Romney’s political identity. And while flip-flopping on “the issues” is generally held in low esteem, flip-flopping on religion — converting, in short — is usually celebrated as long as people like your new religion. So why not find Jesus? Back when he was considering that stem cell bill, Romney could have consulted with a wide array of religious leaders including, say, a baptist minister. And maybe the minister in question is really convincing and Romney decides to abandon the faith into which he was born. Religious right types have to be prepared to believe conversion stories, and the experience of being “born again” would be the perfect opportunity to flip-flip on an array of issues, lending the flops a pseudo-plausible veneer of respectability. And who, then, would speak of Mike Huckabee?

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