COLUMN: Religion could play a part in 2012 presidential election
With the 2008 election of Barack Obama, America broke through a race barrier that had once prevented black people from drinking from the same water fountains as white people.
It was a triumphant moment in American history and showed the world what great possibilities America holds.
This election season, there is the possibility of another barrier being broken — no it isn’t the election of the first woman (sorry, Michele Bachmann). This time the broken barrier would be religion.
With the possible election of Mitt Romney, our country would experience its first Mormon president.
Romney is the most viable candidate for the Republican nomination, with Gov. Rick Perry increasingly faltering in debates and channeling an obnoxious Texas bravado that seems to have a lot of confidence but not many answers.
Unlike some of the more extreme candidates, Romney doesn’t suggest America do away with Social Security or taxes, or let people without health insurance die in the emergency room. He seems to grasp the reality of 21st-Century American life, and he is moderate enough to perhaps be able to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans.
One disconcerting aspect of Romney for many people is his Mormonism. Though this hasn’t been a huge part of the campaign yet, if Romney becomes the presidential candidate for the Republican Party, questions are bound to be asked about a religion that many Americans deem fringe.
He has been questioned about his Mormonism, but as of yet, he has not discussed the official doctrine of the Mormon church. Certainly, his faith will affect the decisions he makes to some extent. One of the tenants of Mormonism is the belief in the restoration of the 10 tribes of Israel, and Romney has already expressed his support of Israel.
But there are some issues Romney has been down-right liberal on that might not sit well with the traditional conservative values that are common in the Mormon faith. For example, though Romney changed his stance toward abortion in 2005, he was initially pro-choice, a stance that appears to contradict the family centered values the Mormon faith promotes.
However, Romney is someone who embraces his Mormon faith. So the question is to what extent do his beliefs affect his life and should this exclude him from being president?
Though I personally don’t think Obama is responsible for the nation’s economic crisis, many Americans blame him for it. If the economy does not get better before the election, it is possible Americans will oust Obama simply because the economy is poor — although he has accomplished other things worth celebrating, such as the death of Osama bin Laden and the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
This could possibly leave the United States with Romney, a Mormon. It will be interesting to see if Americans can open their minds to accept a president from a minority religion like they opened their minds to accept a president from a minority race.
Janna Gentry is an English education senior.