Questions of Faith

Posted on June 25, 2007 In Blog

Jonathan Martin over at the Politico has the goods on a new blog, which is run by Ryan Bell, a Mormon lawyer (a lawyer who happens to be of the LDS faith, not a lawyer for the LDS church per se) which intends to rebut unfair attacks on Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign due to the Governor’s Mormon faith.

Bell writes in the blog’s opening mission statement “We do not believe that Romney’s Mormonism should be paid any more attention in the present campaign than Giuliani’s Catholicism or McCain’s Episcopalianism. However, as long as others continue to raise the issue and spread untruths about Mormonism, RomneyExperience will provide quick and accurate rebuttals and analysis.”

The 2000 election was P.B. – as in pre-blogosphere, and certainly before YouTube ever recorded a Macaca moment. But we recall very much the intense media speculation surrounding then vice presidential nominee Senator Joseph Lieberman, himself an Orthodox Jew. Wonderings and dare we say, murmurings made their way throughout the press and via email chains, over whether a Sabbath observant individual could fulfill the oath of office, and on the other extreme, that the Senator just wasn’t Orthodox enough. This latter prompted a zinger from Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel, in response to media inquiry, where he said the Senator was running for veep, not chief rabbi. (The OU’s own Nathan Diament had this to say on the matter in a WaPo oped after the Senator’s nomination.)

Still, we note that while to us insiders knowledgeable about the religion, and Judaism’s emphasis in both law and lore on the precedence of saving a life, for instance (as well as a record of how many Sabbath observant Israelis run a 24-7 government and state, from radar stations to hospital ER’s) we don’t think the questions of how an elected/appointed official can fulfill both their dictates of religion and their office are off base. The questions that are out of bounds are those that start from a premise that a candidate of religion X is not able to be my choice, either because they can’t fulfill their role or because I’m a bigot. No one seems to think it’s out of bounds to ask a Catholic candidate to indicate they will uphold/execute the law regarding abortion as currently enshrined, despite their personal faith. If it’s those types of explanations and questions Bell is working, we wish him the best of luck. If it’s a desire to see the door shut to inquiry, we ask him to rethink.