Mitt Romney is right, of course, when he argues that his Mormon religion shouldn’t be a factor in judging his quest for the White House.
Nevertheless, his attempt last week to put the issue to rest was disheartening. Romney’s speech in Texas clearly was designed to evoke John F. Kennedy’s address to Protestant ministers in Houston in 1960. Like Kennedy, Romney stressed the importance of separation of church and state, to allay fears that he would serve a particular denomination or take direction from his church’s leaders.
But there the similarity ends. Kennedy’s assurance of separation was unqualified and was what his audience at that time wanted to hear. On the other hand, although Romney invoked separation to divert scrutiny from his own Mormon beliefs, he hardly argues that religion is an irrelevant political consideration. Indeed, he emphasized his Christian credentials, deplored “the religion of secularism” and argued that a society must possess religious faith to achieve freedom. That seems to place non-Christians and people of little or no faith lower on his American pecking order.
Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal editorial