One of the surprising and encouraging aspects of my research and interviews through 2006 was the number of evangelicals and Roman Catholics eager to stand up and denounce the assault on Romney's beliefs — beliefs which the same speakers do not share. They recognize, however, that theological debates should never degenerate into assaults on religious liberty or the right of any citizen to hold any office for which they are qualified.
Will Romney's religious faith hurt his candidacy? That remains to be seen, but if it does, it will have hurt the country much more than him. The bigotry that was thought to have been buried in 1960 will have been exhumed. It will be difficult to kill a second time.