In Sunday’s Atlantic, James Fallows “Just for the record: anti-Mormonism is bigotry, too.”
To be against Mitt Romney (or Jon Huntsman or Harry Reid or Orrin Hatch) because of his religion is just plain bigotry. Exactly as it would have been to oppose Barack Obama because of his race or Joe Lieberman because of his faith or Hillary Clinton or Michele Bachmann because of their gender or Mario Rubio or Nikki Haley because of their ethnicity. . .
But for people to come out and say that they won’t back a candidate because he’s Mormon and therefore a “cult” member is no better than saying “I’d never trust a Jew” or “a black could never do the job” or “women should stay in their place” or “Latinos? Let ’em go back home.” Maybe it makes things more “honest” for people to be open about their anti-Mormonism and discreet about other prejudices. The only two biases people aren’t embarrassed expressing publicly are anti-Southern (the “Bubba factor”) and anti-Mormon. Still, it’s bigotry.
No it’s not. Doesn’t Fallows realize that someone’s embrace of a superstition like Mormonism is not the same as their being a black, a Latino, or a woman? You have no choice about your ethnicity or gender, but you do have a choice about your religion. True, saying “never trust a Jew” is bigotry, but when voting for a political candidate, especially in these times when we often seem to be verging on theocracy, we can surely weigh whether or not that candidate embraces untenable and unevidenced views.
And highly religious political candidates are in a particularly dangerous position, for they might be tempted to impose their religious views on the rest of us. I wasn’t particularly opposed to Francis Collins’s being named as director of the National Institutes of Health (though I was worried about what he might do with stuff like stem-cell research), for it’s hard to impose religious views on science itself. Politics is a different kettle of fish.
And yes, embracing religion, except, perhaps of the most innocuous form (e.g., the Unitarian Universalists), is a character flaw, and should be weighed before you pull that lever in the voting booth.
h/t: Grania Spingies