Mitt Romney's Religion Will Unnecessarily Hurt Him in 2012

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney looks like an all-American man. He is tall, good looking, smart, at times witty, and a model of for the capitalist system, but yet he has one giant black mark – he is Mormon. While this may be petty semantics to some, an astonishing 22% of Americans have reported that they would be hesitant for a Mormon to be president of the United States.

Religion, especially Christianity, has handcuffed American politics; politicians must pander to the religious base more than anyone, as turning your back on religious voters is the equivalent of political suicide. In order to be elected to any sort of elected office one must have some sort of connection to a religious sect and had better hope it is the right one. While religious diversity in American politics has improved throughout the years, we still fail as a nation to allow every belief a chance to be represented.

Protestantism has a strangle hold on Capitol Hill; our House of Representatives and Senate are presided over by Bible thumping zealots. Protestants make up over 57% of the 112th Congress, up from 54% in the 111th Congress, and they use their power to their advantage. They are leading the charge to strip women of their right to choose, “protect the sanctity” of marriage, and keep God in schools.

Sure, the system has improved its diversity immensely throughout the years, but it only encompasses a select few religious sects. Catholics used to have a problem being elected to public office, but now they make up nearly 25% of Congress. However, John F. Kennedy remains the only Roman Catholic to be elected president. Jewish politicians have also seen their numbers increase, but they still only represent less than 8% of the politicians on Capitol Hill. There has never been an openly non-Christian president.

Our political system does not accurately portray the diverse American public. Roughly 16% of the American public label themselves as unaffiliated to a religious sect, but there are zero unaffiliated members of Congress. The same can be said about Jehovah's Witnesses, who are only 1% of the population but still have zero elected officials representing their beliefs. The lack of Muslims in political office speaks to the uneducated fear that the majority of Americans have towards the Islamic faith; just look at the reaction Gov. Chris Christie received when he nominated a Muslim judge in New Jersey.

As we see with Romney and Huntsman, it is hardly viable to run for president as a non-Christian. President Kennedy remains the only non-Protestant to ever be elected president, and he faced numberous questions regarding his ability to lead based strictly on his faith.

The fact of the matter is, is that religion is a focal point in the voting process when it really shouldn’t be. Americans should not cast their votes based on the religious beliefs of a politician; that is how we got stuck with the last President Bush. Religion should be a nice footnote for a candidate, not a crutch – like it is for Gov. Perry – or a hindrance, like it is for Romney and Huntsman. We pride ourselves on maintaining a healthy separation of church and state, but given the dismal lack of religious diversity amongst our elected officials, that is just a pipe dream.

Photo Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Jeremy Los

I'm a San Diego State alum with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies and a minor in Political Science. Based out of America's finest city, San Diego, I was part of PolicyMic's initial intern class. I have a love affair with American politics, particularly with what transpires on Capitol Hill and elections.

MORE FROM

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale

'Han Solo' director Ron Howard recalls his first 'Star Wars' experience

The veteran filmmaker revealed 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas was talking about it as early as 1972.

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

The 'Will and Grace' revival will lay out the "rules" in the premiere

Series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are addressing that pesky finale

'Han Solo' director Ron Howard recalls his first 'Star Wars' experience

The veteran filmmaker revealed 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas was talking about it as early as 1972.