Religion. There's a pride to it. Along with the faith that comes with being born to a faith comes a strong, stubborn desire to defend it, because what you're doing in most cases is defending the beliefs of your parents and grandparents, the very roots of your existence.
So don't make fun of someone's religion. Don't do it because it is a direct affront as well as a direct assault. Someone speaks badly or speaks down on the religion you were brought up in and there's either going to be trouble or sadness or both, because it hurts.
We Americans take a wonderful view of religion as a country. Our constitution says there can be no religious test for public office. None. You can't ask, much less demand, an answer to the question. You can't even ask the question. People in this country are entitled to believe what they will about the existence and nature of the universe in which we are all born and live our lives.
So this is the heart of it. It's not the value of a particular religion. We're unlikely to resolve that biggest of all questions. It's the pride of a person born into one. More than good manners say, "Don't make an issue of it!"
Mitt Romney should or should not be president of the United States starting January 20, 2013. His religion should have nothing to do with that decision.
Speculate all you wish about Mormonism. I got my start in politics because of a Mormon. Wayne Owens of Utah gave me my first job in Washington. I have no idea what he believed about God. What I know is that he was a deeply committed supporter of Bobby Kennedy and a positive American politician who was elected U.S. Congressman from Utah and died working for peace in the Middle East.
I can say the same of Senator Frank Moss of Utah - for whom I worked in my first job in the Senate and whose personal endorsement won me my job working for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, which led to my working in the White House. What a fine, good man he was - and all the years I knew him I found him to be solid liberal.
I could say the same of the great Morris Udall and Harry Reid and any number of other good Mormons who were also good Democrats - along with the many more who are conservative Republicans.
I bring all this up to make a simple, practical point. There are good reasons to vote for or against Mitt Romney for president. His religion is neither because it is, in my experience, hardly a guide to his politics. I have known enough Mormons to know that. More importantly, I've known enough people in my life - of a variety of faiths - to know enough of each faith to know their religion is a useless predictor of their views - or to their worth as leaders, which this country sorely needs.