By William McKenzie/ Editorial Columnist
2:01 PM on Tue., Jun. 28, 2011 | Permalink
Last week, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman got into the GOP presidential race, joining Mitt Romney as the second Mormon candidate in this year's Republican field.
Since Americans often prize our nation's belief in religious diversity, one might think their Mormonism would not be an issue. But polls have consistently shown that high percentages of both Republicans and Democrats are uncomfortable with a Mormon serving as president.
That reality creates a quandary for Huntsman and Romney. If they don't explain their religion, voters may remain uncomfortable with it and reject them. But if they explain it too much, they risk making their faith too large an issue.
So, here's this week's question:
How would you suggest they handle their Mormonism during their campaigns?
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas
The Mormonism of Romney and Huntsman may not be a major issue in their campaigns. Precedents have been set and America is moving forward.
We have come a long way in giving full value to our declaration that all men are created equal. The essence of this immortal phrase is yet to be realized; indeed it will remain hollow in part until the day we look to each other as American and nothing but American.
It took nearly a century for women to believe in that phrase until a woman's right to vote was passed in 1893. Native Americans were not even considered citizens in their own land until a 1924 congressional act. African-Americans, who built this nation, had to wait for nearly two centuries to believe in those words, until the Civil Rights Act of 1965 was passed.
Romney and Huntsman can borrow and expand on the speech of John F. Kennedy: "So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again, not what kind of church I believe in -- for that should be important only to me -- but what kind of America I believe in, " and "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act ... where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."
The freedom to speak, assemble, eat, wear or believe is a birthright of each one of us. Indeed, civil societies and religions call for creating heaven on the earth where no one is apprehensive of the other. Thanks to the founding fathers for giving America an eternal vision.
In 1960, the nation witnessed a sea change in electing a Catholic, John F. Kennedy to the presidency. In 1984 Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman to run for vice president. And in 2008 Hilary Clinton was a major contender for the presidency. Finally an African-American, Barack Obama, was elected president of the United States.
I wrote an emotional piece on that day, it is a realization of American vision, "all men are created equal." It is a model for the world to emulate.
With the exception of the United States and India, is there a country out there on the earth where the qualification of the candidate matters most rather than his or her religion, ethnicity or race?
All that Romney and Huntsman have to do is to understand the depth and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance and show this understanding to Americans in their words and actions to earn their vote. Americans are willing to reward those who are inclusive and dump those who pit one American against the other for political gains.
Dallas Morning News published 12 opinions including mine at: http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/06/texas-faith-how-should-huntsma.html
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer and a frequent guest on Hannity show and nationally syndicated Radio shows and Dallas TV, Radio and Print Media. He presides America Together Foundation and is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.
Over 1000 articles have been published on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, India and cohesive societies. Two of his books are poised to be released this fall on Pluralism and Islam. He is available to speak at your place of worship, work, school, college, seminars or conferences. His work is encapsulated in 27 blogs, four websites and several forums indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/