Romney can’t talk about his faith; Romney must talk about his faith

But the piece exposes the dilemma at the heart of the Romney campaign: the former governor can only be understood and appreciated as a human being in the light of the deep faith that informs and guides his approach to life, but few Americans understand what that faith is and how it works. Worse, while a tolerant society no longer persecutes Mormons or drives them out of town, many Americans view Mormonism as a cult and as an aggressive competitor against orthodox Christianity rather than as just one more stripe in the coat of many colors that makes up the American Christian world. (On the left, many find Mormon evocations of traditional American values and social norms both hackneyed and threatening; for these people, the profound theological differences between the faiths are obscured by their conservative social agenda. Either way, Romney loses.)…

If voters like Mitt Romney, Democratic attacks on his record at Bain won’t make much headway. If voters don’t like or don’t trust him, any mud thrown in his general direction is likely to stick. The central dilemma for the Romney campaign: Romney’s faith is unpopular and that isn’t likely to change in the course of an election cycle. But that faith makes him behave in ways that are popular for the most part: helping neighbors, contributing to his community, standing by his word, making sacrifices for his beliefs. So central is this faith to Romney’s life and character that if you keep faith in the background it’s hard to project a coherent and likable portrait.

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