Marc Ambinder asks some good questions about Mormonism and politics, including number two “Are those who object to Mormonism on theological and doctrinal grounds religious bigots?” I think the answer there needs to be a clear “no.” Obviously, people are going to disagree about theological matters and there’s nothing wrong with that. The question of bigotry concerns the possibility of irrational prejudice against people who subscribe to the tenets of Mormonism. Clearly, an aversion to the idea of a Mormon president exists out there. Some of this, perhaps, is bigotry. But some isn’t. For example, Marc asks “Is Mormonism objectively similar to widely accepted variants of evangelical Christian theology?”
In other words: Is Mormonism a kind of Christianity? In some ways, it’s not really my place to judge. But obviously a lot of Christians think it isn’t. And I think they have a plausible case. (Not just Evangelicals, either, the Catholic Church says Mormon baptisms are invalid). Nothing wrong with not being a Christian, but the fly in the ointment is that Mormons say they are Christians. To me, this isn’t a big deal. But that’s because, not being a Christian, I don’t really care about the integrity of Christianity.
But I’ll say this: Like most Jewish Americans, I’m perfectly reconciled to the fact that there are all these Christians running around and I think I harbor no prejudice against them. But I really don’t care for “Jews for Jesus.” The problem isn’t that Jews for Jesus aren’t real Jews; the problem is that they aren’t real Jews but insist on saying they are. Now if faced with the choice between a Democratic Jew for Jesus promising universal health care (yes! even via a mandate), fully auctioned carbon permits, an end to the war in Iraq, a grand bargain with Iran, etc. and a conservative Republican or Joe Lieberman or what have you, sure, I’d cast a ballot for someone who’s religious views bug me. But given the choice between a Jew for Jesus and a plausible alternative candidate, I think I’d go for the plausible alternative. Insofar as there are orthodox Christians out there thinking they’d rather not vote for a Mormon along similar lines, I can certainly sympathize with that, especially since the best case one can make for Romney on the merits is that maybe he doesn’t believe any of the things he’s saying.