The Mormons Strike Back

Mike Gallagher

8/7/2007 9:12:13 PM - Mike Gallagher

Sounds like the Mormons are getting a bit testy over all these questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and how Mitt Romney's religious practices could impact his quest for the presidency.

This week, Gov. Romney was caught on a running video camera arguing with an Iowa radio host about what Mr. Romney felt was an unfair focus on his religion.

I've noticed a number of angry and agitated emails in my inbox at lately from Romney supporters who seem perfectly comfortable in labeling me a religious bigot for daring to even publicly discuss whether or not Romney's Mormonism should be a factor for voters trying to decide who to elect.

One particular emailer taking me to task actually helped make my point for me. He chided me for commenting on the sacred undergarments worn by many Mormons and wanted to know if it would matter if a presidential candidate wore a yarmulke, the Jewish head covering worn by devout members of the Jewish faith.

The politically correct answer would be, "Of course not. It doesn't matter."

But of course, the reality is that it would.

Millions of Americans would wonder what kind of president an Orthodox Jew would make, at least in terms of complicated issues like the way many devout Jewish people observe the Sabbath. I once shared a stage with a wonderful colleague, Michael Medved, at a trade industry function which took place on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. In fact, Michael appears regularly at this event, which always falls on Saturdays, but addresses his fellow conventioneers by shouting to the audience as opposed to the rest of us who are amplified with microphones. His way of observing the Sabbath at this industry convention is to refuse to speak using an electronic device like a microphone.

I was so fascinated with this practice that I invited him on my radio show to explain his beliefs.

I kept thinking about the hotel where this convention takes place with it's electronic door locks on the rooms. He helpfully described how he puts tape on the door jam so his door won't lock, puts a "do not disturb" sign on the door, and hopes no one ransacks his room while he's away. All so he can go in and out of the door without sliding the card in the electronic slot.

Now I admire Michael's devotion immensely. And I was once privileged to be a guest at Michael's home for a Sabbath dinner where I was able to witness the beauty and spirituality of the Medved family's beliefs and practices.

But anyone who thinks those type of practices wouldn't be scrutinized by the electorate in determining a president is fooling themselves. And we all know it.

And there's nothing bigoted about that.