Herman Cain: Mitt Romney can’t win because he hasn’t explained his religion

Huh? Again, would this be relevant if Mitt were Jewish or Catholic? What a complete crock. If there is any doubt that Herman Cain shouldn’t be taken seriously as a candidate, well, we now have confirmation.

Here is Herman Cain on why Mitt can’t be elected.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

23 thoughts on “Herman Cain: Mitt Romney can’t win because he hasn’t explained his religion

  1. Contrary to the headline, Cain says in the video that Romney hasn’t done a good job of _communicating_ his religion, not _explaining_ his religion. Maybe that isn’t significant, but it seems to feel different to me.

    And to his credit, he does say that he personally doesn’t have a problem with it and that he supported Romney in the 2008 election. So I don’t think that this is the same as what Huckabee did. He seems to be making an observation that there are a lot of southerners who are suspicious of Romney’s Mormonism and that Romney has not successfully countered those suspicions.

    If you think the observation is made as a subtle way to stoke more anti-Mormonism, I can see how it could be spun that way, but it is tenuous, cynical view.

  2. “Contrary to the headline, Cain says in the video that Romney hasn’t done a good job of _communicating_ his religion, not _explaining_ his religion. Maybe that isn’t significant, but it seems to feel different to me.”

    Seriously? Communicating or explaining religion is a distinction without a difference. Religion has no legitimate place in the debate for the Presidency of the United States–period–no exceptions.

    Cain is obsessed with religion, including his nonsensical assertions that Muslim mosques can and should be banned if local residents want such bans.

    Defending Cain on any of these extremist ideas doesn’t even rise to the level of defending the indefensible . . .

  3. I really hate to say this, but I kind of agree with J. Max here. Cain’s statements about Mormonism weren’t too bad. His statements about Muslims, on the other hand (and his comprehension of the First Amendment and the freedom of religion) are pretty disgusting. For that reason, I can’t take him seriously as a candidate.

    Of course, once the field narrows down, and assuming Romney stays in and Cain (somehow) stays in, we’ll see what happens. I seem to remember Huckabee’s anti-Mormon statement (and McCain’s mother’s anti-Mormon statement) coming closer to the primaries. We’ll see what happens in the next few months.

  4. Communicating clearly what one’s religion is (what Herman Cain thinks Romney needs to do as a matter of strategy in order to win) is different from explaining/justifying one’s religion, which the headline implies. So I’m with J. Max here too. However, I agree with Tim that Cain has ruined himself forever by being a bigot towards Muslims.

  5. For the record, I agree with all of you regarding Cain’s bigoted statements regarding Islam. I’m not a Cain supporter, even though I do agree with him on some of his positions. I just think that this is being mis-characterized.

  6. Seriously? Communicating or explaining religion is a distinction without a difference.

    Yes, seriously. As Jeff said, it depends on which definition you are using for “explain”

    1. Make (an idea, situation, or problem) clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts or ideas.

    2. Account for (an action or event) by giving a reason as excuse or justification.

    “Communicating” does seem synonymous with #1, but not with #2.

  7. My question would be: why even bring it up? Again, if we Cain were saying that a Jewish candidate has to explain his religion better, the whole country would be up in arms. Why is it any different for him to say this about Mormons?

  8. “”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, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and 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.

    “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

    “For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew–or a Quaker–or a Unitarian–or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim–but tomorrow it may be you–until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

    “Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end–where all men and all churches are treated as equal–where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice–where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind–and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.” ~ John F. Kennedy

    The Republican party’s emphasis on religiosity, in particular Christianist religiosity makes this ideal more difficult for any member of a religious minority. For example Atheists are, for all practical purposes, prohibited from running for office in a religious climate which requires one to have the “right” religious views. Unfortunately for Romney and other Mormons who have cast their lot almost exclusively with the right wing of the Republican party, the right will accept their time and treasure but doesn’t like them very much and won’t vote for them in the long run.

  9. C. Biden,

    Why are the public polls indicating that the Democrats are the ones least likely to vote for a Mormon for president? I know that many people perceive the religious right as the most bigoted large electoral bloc, but recent polling seems to contradict this.

    So where are atheists unelectable? I’m sure there are as many atheists as Mormons in the US congress.

  10. I think the biggest reason people (on the left and right) don’t like us is their ignorance about who we are. And, quite frankly, the right has had a much greater opportunity to learn about us than the left has. Not only does a large percentage of the right live in states with a lot of Mormons (Utah, Idaho, Arizona, etc.), but one of the forerunners in the last Republican primary (as well as this Republican primary) is Mormon.

    Unfortunately, most Democrats haven’t had the same opportunities to get to know us. Most of my well-educated liberal friends are entirely ignorant about the fact that Harry Reid is LDS (or at least were until they found out from me). And when Democrats think of Mormons, they tend to think about Proposition 8 or blacks and the Priesthood. They may not even realize that a Mormon could be anything but right-wing.

    I think those Gallup poll numbers would change a bit if an LDS Democrat ran for president.

  11. Herman Cain seems like a nice guy, most of the time. His probability of winning the nomination, however, is zero. Winning a major party nomination, let alone the general election, is difficult for someone who has never been a governor or a senator – and Cain has never held elected office. If he wants to make a difference on the national stage he should run for Congress. He might even win.

  12. Having watched Herman Cain in the two debates and in a few interviews so far, his problem is that he is not very good at articulating what he means. If you watch the interview, what he meant to say was that people in the South are not comfortable with Mormonism and that Mitt needs to be a better job making them more comfortable with his religion. This is I think the point Jmax is trying to make. But even that is an incredibly stupid statement. Everybody reading this knows that there are many people who are not comfortable with Mormonism. But there are also people who are not comfortable with Judaism, atheism, evangelical Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and on and on. The problem in a diverse society is that it really shouldn’t matter if you are comfortable with Mormonism or not. That is your problem, not the candidate’s problem. The issue should be: would Mitt Romney make a good president or not? Personally, I think he would be OK, but there are other people who would be a lot better. But the fact that he is Mormon doesn’t really enter into that statement at all, nor should it. I voted for Clinton twice (he was better than the alternatives), and to this day I don’t know what religion he belongs to, although I suppose it is some kind of mainline Christianity. But the point is it was completely irrelevant for me. I knew Bush was a Methodist (I think) because I identified with his late-life religious conversion so I read about it. I know about Obama’s religion because of the controversy about his pastor, but again it is irrelevant to his quality as a president.

  13. I’m with J Max here. From the original post, I was expecting some sort of outrageously stupid (i.e., Cain-esque); instead, I just heard Cain observing what countless others (including Mormons-a-plenty!) observed: Romney suffered in the South in ’08 because of his religion. The only thing Cain added to that was that he thinks Romney hasn’t done a good job of overcoming that problem.

  14. Easy. It’s okay to say something about Mormons we wouldn’t say about Jews because being Mormon is a lot more mysterious and less humorous.

    Plus, sending people to invade their neighborhoods makes it FEEL a lot more like their business.

  15. I grew up and converted to the Church in Texas which then considered itself the South. I still live in Texas. Mr. Cain made an observation with which I concur. We may not like it. It maybe should not have bearing in today’s political environment; but, there it is. Romney will lose because he is a Mormon.
    If Romney wanted to help the Church, he might want to announce that he is dropping out of the race because there is still too much religious bigotry directed towards his religion.

  16. I like Herman Cain. I would vote for him before I voted for Romney. As a Utah-bred Mormon now a LDS southerner, I agree with Cain’s analyzes.

  17. If Romney loses either the GOP nomination or the general election by a narrow margin, then a good case could be made that his Mormonism was responsible for the difference. I doubt either contest is likely to come out that close though.

  18. My own take on this:

    I *do* think religion is relevant to politics to exactly the degree that it is relevant to politics.

    What I mean is that I’d expect a liberal that does not like conservative view points to see “being Mormon” as “a probable problem” on the grounds that active Mormons tend to be very conservative, and often for religious reasons. To me, this is taking the data available to you and using it. I do not see this as intolerant if it was a pure case like this. (And let’s admit it’s usually not pure and that this is a hypothetical situation.) I would have no more concern with the above scenario than I would with choosing to vote for Romney (or someone) “because he’s Mormon” on the grounds that that is probably a pretty good indicator of politics in a way that I probably can’t tell from TV spots.

    On the other hand, if this scenario is correct, then we’d expect our hypothetical liberal to drop the Mormon angle for someone like Harry Reid, where his politics are well known and consistent with his own views. Here “being Mormon” is not conveying any information worth considering.

    Far more troubling is when Evangelicals — whose politics are more likely to match that of a Mormon candiate — reject that candidate solely for religious reasons. i.e. they do not wish to further legitimize an ‘enemy’ religion.

    This is, of course, just pure bigotry plain and simple. It’s their right to be bigots, of course, but it’s hatefulness and nothing else. But we live in a world where Mormons are hated by 1/3 of Evangelicals for religious reasons and that does, unfortunately, mean that a Mormon can’t be elected as president. If he/she were running as a conservative, they’d never survive the bigotry of the Evangelicals. If they were running as a liberal, they’d lose so much of both the Mormon and Evangelical vote for betray of their principles (as many would perceive it) that they’d lose that way too. So I can’t see a current case for a Mormon winning as president eitehr way. And I suspect a Catholic would face much of the same problem if running as a liberal like John Kerry did.

  19. Bruce – I agree with what you’re saying, but I think there is definitely more to it. I think ultimately it comes down to a value judgement. For a so-called liberal, who supports Harry Reid, the issue is they support the issues Reid is standing for more than they care about religion. So their issues win out. In a case with Romney, not only do they not support his religion, but they disagree with him on several issues, so he has multiple negatives.

    With the Evangelical types, for many of them, their creedal principles are more important than the issues.

    In both cases, each side is sticking to what they value more. The so-called liberal values the issues more, and some evangelicals value the principles more. However, there are definitely plenty of liberals who “have” to maintain some kind of public respect for Catholicism, Judaism, Protestantism, etc. because these are typically much older faiths and are viewed as more of a tradition. Certainly, these individuals view true believers as dangerous, but generally they view a lot of their religious neighbors as just going along with traditions. It’s the Mormons who are crazy enough to believe in something so young, and believe in miracles happening today that are truly nuts, to many on the left and surprisingly some on the right.

    I don’t think this entirely disagrees with what you’re saying, just adds some shading and extra elements to the picture you painted.

  20. Geoff writes, “My question would be: why even bring it up? Again, if we Cain were saying that a Jewish candidate has to explain his religion better, the whole country would be up in arms. Why is it any different for him to say this about Mormons?”

    His point was not that Romney’s religion has an objective need to be explained. His point was that he doesn’t think people in the South would *vote* for him absent a better explanation than he has so far given. He is making an observation about Southern voters. He may be right or he may be wrong, but I don’t see why he should be faulted for making an observation about the world around him.

    If anyone should be offended by his remarks, it should be Southern voters, not Mormons. Similarly if he had said he didn’t think a black candidate could win in the South: That would be an insult against Southerners, not against blacks.

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