RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY RAISES ITS UGLY HEAD IN GOP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CAMPAIGN

Imagine a weekend in which a group of voters held a conference in which the leader of said group declared that his followers can’t vote for a particular presidential candidate because of his religion. Then guess the what year the weekend occurs. 1928, when Catholic Al Smith was the Democratic presidential nominee and despite widespread support, was unpopular among certain segments, including Southern Baptists and German Lutherans, who believed the Catholic Church and the Pope would dictate his policies? 1960, when John F. Kennedy faced similar questions? No, it’s 2011 and it’s Mitt Romney who has had to try to douse the flame of religion bigotry.

The “Value Voters” convention in Washington, DC wrapped up this past weekend with what should be an appalling example of religious bigotry. The event, organized by the Family Research Council, drew 3,000 Evangelical Christian voters to hear speeches by all the Republicans seeking the nomination except former Utah Governor John Huntsman. It concluded with prominent pastor Rev. Robert Jeffress basically disqualifying former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. Jeffress said the Mormon Church is “cult” and that the voters at the convention should support a “true Christian.”

What’s worse than bigot Jeffress is the lack of condemnation of him and his comments by the other contenders. On CNN Sunday morning, new front-runner Herman Cain and single-digit diva Michelle Bachman both begged off saying they believed Romney to be a Christian or even repudiating the Jeffers’ hate speech. Jeffress is a Perry supporter (natch).

Think for a moment if there was a religious leader who said publicly that Judaism or Catholicism is a cult and anyone belonging there is disqualified. There would be howls from all corners of the nation (I was part of those howls against religious bigotry when I worked in Manhattan, pre-Shad).

The Shad is not in line politically with Romney’s views. However, in this day in age, in which all groups are in some way “protected” from bigotry, it seems it’s OK to bash Mormonism if there are enough votes at stake. It’s absolutely outrageous. Where’s the outrage?