Jake Tapper responds to my initial piece on his suggestion that Mitt Romney should be expected to explain his faith to voters. He questions why, if Romney can say he is religious, voters should be expected not to ask what that claim means to Romney. Others in the blogosphere have similar questions. It’s clear that despite some well-defined standards for respectful discourse, we as a nation simply haven’t come to an agreement about what is and is not fair game in discussing the religion of a candidate for national office.
I would like to submit a few suggestions from a Mormon perspective. First, it is important to note that the Tapper position (in which questions about any of a candidate’s beliefs appear to be fair game — he posits that he should be able to ask Romney about where he thinks he’ll end up in the eternities), while appearing even-handed, would raise a de facto bar from office to any person belonging to an ill-understood religious minority. Imagine the scenarios under this model. Catholic X runs for president and has to answer a few questions about abortion and maybe an odd question about transubstantiation (maybe). Mormon X runs and the door is wide open for direct questioning to the candidate on everything from polygamy to church history to the most obscure statements of past church leaders.
Why the difference? Continue reading So What Can We Ask Mitt? Agreeing On Some Boundaries