Mitt Romney

joesmith.jpg

Interesting news item today: Mitt Romney is gaining in the polls.

Romney is a Mormon. Mormons believe (among other things) that a 4th century American prophet wrote a Book of Scripture on golden tablets. Golden tablets! Then — more than 1400 years later — this prophet’s son, Moroni, returned as an angel, and led Joseph Smith to the (now-buried) tablets. Smith (pictured at right) then translated them from Reformed Egyptian. Then, as Smith watched, the tablets were, mysteriously, destroyed by God. 

Of course — one could argue that any religious story has to be believed, rather than empirically demonstrated. But still.

When I was living by myself in Vermont, I was rather lonely. Not much to do, you see, in a small Vermont town. It was winter. Everything was frozen. The Mormons, bless them, would go door-to-door. They looked cold. I invited them in for tea. We spent hours, actually, talking about the vagaries of their faith. These missionaries believed — with a passionate certainty — in a vision of Heaven that was akin to a child’s picture book.

I am not a Mormon. I do not believe Smith’s story. But my larger question is: Should a candidate’s faith — if it is unusual — be an issue in a Presidential campaign? And what, precisely, is an unusual faith?

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