What if Mitt Romney were Jewish?

The Mormon tradition dates back less than 200 years, to Palmyra, New York. What Mormons suffer from more than any other major religion is proximity. The foundation stories of Mormonism took place in the age of skeptical journalism, and they took place in the U.S. Most Christians believe in a Second Coming. Mormons believe the Second Coming will be in Missouri. Many Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven from Jerusalem on a winged animal, which has the ring of something mystical and transcendent. If Muhammad had departed for heaven from Tenafly, New Jersey, well, that would open up Islam to some level of derision.

Check that: It wouldn’t open up Islam to derision, because some Muslims — in particular a set of ill-tempered fundamentalists among them — have made it quite dangerous for anyone to mock their religion. Not so with Mormons. This is something else that causes suffering for the Latter-day Saints: their ineffable niceness. If radical Mormons had initiated acts of terrorism in Manhattan, do you think their religion would be held up for mockery each night on Broadway?

Mormons’ equanimity in the face of derision is refreshing, and speaks to the confidence they have in their religion. The Romney camp should also have confidence, and understand that not every reporter asking questions about their man’s religious practices is trying to subvert Romney’s candidacy or his church.

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