A Mormon In The White House details how the political left began attacking Mitt Romney's religion in 2006. The most vicious and bigoted attacks have come not from fundamentalist Christians or high profile evangelicals but from prominent left-wingers like Jacob Weisberg of Slate, Newsweek's Kenneth Woodward writing in The New York Times, and in The New Republic. I wrote the book because my reporting on the LDS Church for PBS in 1996 had alerted me to the anti-Mormon current in America and I knew the issue would be center stage and would require a serious assessment, but even I am continually surprised by the MSM's indulgence of brazen attacks on religious belief that have no precedents in modern mainstream American journalism.
Yesterday in Politico.com, long time Democratic operative Garry South added his bile to the pile. South --who gave California Gray Davis among many other public services-- repeats all the bigoted canards and does his best to goad folks into imposing a religious test against Romney. "I want to make clear that I give no quarter to religious bigotry," South wrote, before indulging it in a way that would be shocking if you were to substitute the word "Catholic" or "Jew " in every instance that South uses Mormon. I am more than a little shocked that Politico.com even ran it as it is a piece worthy of the anti-Semitic papers one finds in various newspaper boxes around D.C.
The hard left --and South is among its creepiest operatives-- is clearly concerned that Romney has great momentum, organization, and money. I have been in Colorado since Tuesday, and have spoken to three party organizations and have polled twice on the presidential contest. The activists are evenly divided between Romney and Giuliani here, with almost zero support for McCain and just a fraction for the hypothetical Thompson campaign. The left seems to sense that Romney would bring by far the most cross-over appel backed by solid conservative support to November '08, and is thus repeatedly employing rank bigotry in an attempt to getsome sort of traction for an anti-LDS reaction among evangelicals. It isn't working. In fact, the acceptance that Romney's faith ought not to matter among religious conservatives seems to be nearly complete, even though many of them remain undecided about which of the big three --Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson-- to support.
As one more evidence of the acceptance of religious toleration as a core political virtue among values voters, see this other Politico.com piece from yesterday by leading evangelical strategist Mark DeMoss. (There's also a long post on the two articles at Article VI blog.)
The deep-seated and open religious bigotry on the left no longer surprises me and shouldn't startle anyone who has watched the left's effort to drive faith from the public square over the past two decades.
But I am amazed that editors continue to indulge rank bigots who attack the Mormon faith in terms that would never get past the door or the in-box if applied to any other religious or racial minority. It is a huge blind spot among the MSM elite, and though the bigotry has been underscored again and again, still it continues to be encouraged by editors more eager to run attacks on Romney than to uphold long-established standards of journalism that have rejected as acceptable or "newsworthy" such attacks when leveled at other minorities.
The number and quality of writers willing to go public as religious bigots is dwindling, as hopefully will be the number of editors willing to print such garbage.