Okay, I've tried to be civil in my previous posts about the inexcusable anti-Mormonism that Mitt Romney's candidacy has exposed. It stops now. Hot of the press from the New York Times is this little gem from a 54-year-old Iowa woman named Barbara Heki, an evangelical and zealous supporter of one Mr. Michael Huckabee:
“Mormons spend two years of their lives as missionaries, preaching an anti-Christian doctrine,” she said. “I don’t want someone out there, if I can help it, who’s going to be acting on an anti-Christian faith as the basis of their decision-making.”
And then this zinger, from Danny Carroll, another evangelical Christian and co-chairman of Huckabee's Iowa campaign team. Carroll was formerly (are you kidding me?) the speaker pro tem of the Iowa House:
“I think [Mitt Romney's Mormon faith] causes some uneasiness as to how somebody is going to respond when heavy responsibility is placed on them.... I think the Christian would like to know that the person has a strong anchor and prays to the God of the Bible.”
Finally, we are treated with this piece of "wisdom" from Glenda Gherkey, yet another evangelical from Iowa and fervent supporter of Huckabee:
“I’m concerned a lot of Christians are thinking about the values issues and forgetting about the creator behind the values issues.... I guess I feel like this country and this world needs a president who would be able to pray to the God of the Bible and he would be able to hear his prayers.... [And I'm not sure Mitt Romney's prayers would] even get through."
Okay, how in the world could any individual with a good heart and a normal IQ make any of the above three statements? All three are so ludicrous as to not even merit a rebuttal. It is absolutely disgusting that someone would use any of these reasons as a basis to select a president. Some might say, "Hey it's America. People can vote for whoever they want." And you know what, that's right. And maybe this is just the problem with our political system. Even idiots can vote. But you know what, as a Mormon who is the target of these obscene comments, I'm not going to stand idly by and let these bigots spew their religious hatred without saying something. I'm not going to be play nice and let their poisonous rhetoric slide by the wayside. These people need to be called to the carpet and sharply criticized for their ignorant, mean-spirited comments. Of course I know that these bigots do not represent all evangelical Christians. I am acquainted with several fine evangelicals who would never even think such foolish thoughts. Nevertheless, I am concerned that these comments represent the thinking of a large number of evangelicals, perhaps even a majority.
I think it's obvious by now that I am extremely upset with this kind of rhetoric, not because of any political agenda, but because, as a Mormon, this kind of talk is deeply hurtful. It's impossible not to take it personally. When someone says I could never be trusted to hold a position of political responsibility because of my faith, that's hurtful. When someone says that my life doesn't have a "strong anchor," that's hurtful. When someone says that God won't listen to my prayers, that's hurtful.
I get the impression that the only suitable candidate for these people is another evangelical Christian who believes exactly the same as they do. In their minds, nobody else could possibly do a good job. How ridiculous is that? It scares me to death that bigots like this actually have a voice in our political process. But what scares me more is that these venomous comments will go largely ignored by the media, the same media who would absolutely crush any voter or political candidate who made disparaging comments about blacks, gays, Jews, or women. For some inexcusable reason picking on Mormons is still acceptable. And let me be clear: it is inexcusable. People might think they have good reasons for bigotry. But that's what the lynching mobs thought. That's what the Nazis thought. That's what the anti-suffragists thought.
You would think that the presidential candidates themselves would harshly condemn such crazy talk. I guarantee that if people started criticizing Mr. Obama because of his skin color that Mitt Romney and the other candidates wouldn't tolerate it for a minute. But when Romney's religion is attacked so viciously nobody says a thing. I don't see Rudy condemning it. I don't see Hillary condemning it. Yet perhaps most surprisingly, I don't see Huckabee condemning it. I mean, here's a man who claims to be a Christian, a former pastor for goodness sake, who just stands there and lets his supporters (even his own campaign managers) spew this garbage. What's worse, Huckabee is actually using the anti-Mormon sentiment among his evangelical supporters to benefit his political ambitions. Of all things! Are you kidding me? What kind of a Christian is Huckabee anyway, or is he? Listen to what The Huckster says here, from the same New York Times article:
Sneakily drawing a contrast between Romney's supposedly bizarre religious views and his supposedly "Christian" views, Huck says: “My views are what they are. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden where they come from." Nice job Huck! Way to criticize Romney's religion, implying that he's embarrassed of it, while slyly exalting your own! You even did it without actually stating your intentions explicitly. This kind of subtle trickery has found its way into Huck's TV ads in Iowa, where he brands himself "The Christian Candidate." Here again Huck is appealing to those suspicious of Mormons, implying that he is the true Christian candidate while Romney, as a Mormon, is just a pretender.
Huck tries to claim that he is above the fray, that he will refrain from mudslinging. But comments like these show that he's just another politician playing the game. Sometimes he'll even let his guard down and reveal his true colors. Acknowledging the anti-Mormon comments from one of his supporters, he actually had the nerve to joke: “I’m glad you’ve made your choice for me. I don’t care why. I’m just glad you did” (emphasis added). That's the equivalent of Hillary Clinton saying she's happy to accept the Ku Klux Klan vote even though she knows it's based on the hatred of Mr. Obama's black skin.
Shame on you Mr. Huckabee. Anti-Mormonism is not funny. Using it to benefit your political ambitions qualifies you as a genuinely shady character. You are certainly not presidential material. And you certainly may not call yourself a Christian.
For the full text of the New York Times article click here.