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So Reasonable… And Yet So Wrong

Julian Sanchez picks up Ron Paul's statement on Romney and Mormonism: The recent attacks and insinuations, both direct and subtle, that Gov. Romney may be less fit to serve as president of our United States because of his faith fly … Read More

By / December 6, 2007

Julian Sanchez picks up Ron Paul's statement on Romney and Mormonism:

The recent attacks and insinuations, both direct and subtle, that Gov. Romney may be less fit to serve as president of our United States because of his faith fly in the face of everything America stands for. Gov. Romney should be judged fairly, on his record and his character, not on the church he attends.

Julian's gloss: "[I]t says something about contemporary politics that it's sort of astonishing to hear a Republican candidate…say something so mild and reasonable on the subject."

Well, sure, Paul's comment is fine in its we-are-the-world sort of way, and it's exceedingly mild and reasonable. The only thing wrong with it is that it isn't true. As I've observed before, it's one thing to attack a candidate on the grounds that he or she isn't Christian enough (which, to be fair to Paul, just about exhaustively characterizes the attacks on Romney's Mormonism from the right), and a completely different matter to noted that upholding a particular creed commits one to affirming provable falsehoods so blatant that they do indeed reflect poorly on the judgment of anyone who maintains them. (I mentioned some of the Mormons' archaeological and anthropological hoaxes in that earlier post; I neglected to mention the single most glaring, namely, that Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA analysis of native Americans demonstrates conclusively that they're not descended from the ancient Israelites. Which is as much as to say that the entire narrative of the Book of Mormon has been proven false.)

Likewise, there's a big difference between, one one hand, smearing Romney for his ancestors' polygamy,* and on the other hand, asking Romney, who was an adult in 1978 and had already spent years as a Mormon missionary, how he felt about his church's dogma about the aetiology of dark skin before and after Joseph Smith came to the church elders in a vision to let them know the whole thing about the Lamanite curse was an elaborate cosmic joke. The same would go for a professing Catholic candidate who was around for Vatican II and the RC church's about face on that small matter of the Jews' blood-guilt for killing Jesus.

In other words, certain faiths at certain times make demands upon their followers that they adhere to immoral, illogical, or just plain stupid beliefs. How the faithful cope with such demands does indeed tell us something about their character and competence.

*Incidentally, while I'm well aware that in practice, polygamy generally entails horrific abuse of women and children, I can't see what shape a principled objection to a consensual polyamorous marriage as such might take

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