JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Mitt Romney and religious mindlessness

A couple of days ago the New York Times ran a fascinating piece about Mitt Romney and his lifelong devotion to Mormonism.

To the shock of conservatives, the story was actually somewhat flattering. Romney, it turns out, is devoted to his religion. He’s (mostly) honest, supportive and intent to do what, in his opinion, God desires. Were you a supporter of Mitt Romney before the piece, you’d almost certainly be an even bigger supporter afterward.

Not me.

Put simply, I don’t want a religious devotee as my president. I don’t want someone who views himself as a servant to God; someone who thinks he answers to a higher, all-knowing power. Why? Because: A. I find the idea largely ludicrous; B. Because God has nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with government; C. Because I think, to a certain degree, it says something about the person’s capability to lead.

If one considers himself a servant, can he be a leader? Can he separate himself from his religious views? Can he guide his fellow man, even if that guidance might conflict with what he believes God desires? Furthermore, an absolute belief in anything is dangerous. I understand “thinking” and “believing” there is a God who shares your convictions. But knowing? To me, knowing is impossible. Right now, there is an Orthodox Jew who is as certain of his viewpoint as God as Mitt Romney is of his. There is a Muslim man and a Hindu man and an agnostic and an atheist and a Catholic and a Baptist—all as 100 percent convinced as Mitt Romney. Obviously, at the most one can be right—and probably none are.

To me, the perfect presidential candidate doesn’t give a shit about God. Maybe he believes, maybe he doesn’t. But either way, his first loyalty is to humanity.

To serving.