Romney's Religious Problem: Karma?

Mitt Romney; candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination

Like a pestering child who erupts in a hissy fit the moment the tables are turned, Republicans are whining about a potential problem they’re largely responsible for creating. Yes, a bevy of boo-hoos from the Grand Old Party are pouring in over the notion that President Obama and his alleged BFF – the media (dun, dun, dun) – are conspiring to use Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith against him. The first to say such was Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who told a crowd in Draper, Utah, “You watch, they’re going to throw the Mormon Church at him like you can’t believe it.”

Another Republican politician, Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID), echoed Hatch’s sentiment, and went one step further to allege that the media was in cahoots with the Democrats and their “war on religion.” Labrador cited MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell as an example of this purported dastardly plan to assail Romney on faith.

The popular MSNBC host was criticized by many on the Right for denouncing Mormonism, and its founder, Joseph Smith, when he claimed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it. Forty-eight wives later, Joseph Smith’s lifestyle was completely sanctified in the religion he invented to go with it, which Mitt Romney says he believes.”

O’Donnell certainly has the right to his opinion about Mormonism, but how common sense deficient must one be to think he was commissioned by the White House to state it?

Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has since refuted the allegations that Obama was about to go to war on Mormons and simultaneously pointed out the delicious irony in all this woo is Romney talk. She said: “Let’s remember that President Obama has had so many things hurled at him – birth certificate questions, whether he is or is not a Christian.” She also added “they need to take a look inward at the accusations that their party and their supporters have hurled before they take that step.”

Yes, look at yourselves, GOP. It is the "Religious Right" of the Republican Party that has predominately damned Mitt Romney’s faith publicly – with various GOP holy rollers (on paper anyway) lambasting Mormonism as a cult that is undeserving of first amendment rights under a presumption that its followers worship a “false God.” In fact, just this week Rick Warren explained (albeit more tactfully) to ABC News’ Jack Tapper why many Christians take issue with Mormonism, noting that they deny the Holy Trinity – a key belief among Christians of varying denominations.

It was also a Ron Paul supporter who questioned Mitt Romney about his religion’s anti-miscegenation (race mixing) dogma. I imagine if the former Mormon bishop is asked about the faith’s racist past and their divide-and-conquer tactic using present in the general election, it won’t be from Team Obama. Whatever is asked of Mitt Romney about his controversial faith, it’s Republicans’ fault for creating the climate to which voters feel the most personal thing about a person deserves public scrutiny.

Republicans are the ones who emboldened the Religious Right; it was they who championed former President George W. Bush as behaved as if he had a direct line to God; they’re the ones who questioned Obama’s Christianity, only to later accuse him of declaring war on religion.

Religion shouldn’t matter to the depth that it does in American politics, but that reality is rooted in Republican behavior over time. To that end, if Mitt Romney is placed under a spiritual microscope, consider it karma. Then maybe, just maybe the other side will see how silly and distracting it can be to use a religious litmus test for a secular job title.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer currently based in Los Angeles. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick