Alex Massie

Romney’s Faith-Based Problem

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What should Mitt Romney say in his impossible-to-live-up-to-the-hype speech in Texas tomorrow? Noah Millman puts some fine words into the governor's mouth here:

“This is the place.”

That’s what Brigham Young said when he came to the valley of the Great Salt Lake for the first time. I don’t know if he heard him say it, but my grandfather’s grandfather was there, so he might have. The man who had led his people through the wilderness had come to the spot where he, and they, would build their permanent homes.

It’s a great American story. A group of hardy pioneers, setting off westward to find a place where they could live according to their consciences and reap the fruit of their own labor. But it’s a unique story, too, because my ancestors weren’t leaving Europe to make their new life. They were leaving America.

Forty nine years – seven weeks of years – after Brigham Young spoke those words, when the Utah territory became the state of Utah, my grandparents’ generation became fully party of the United States of America again. And that’s another great American story: how a group of people on the margins of society were welcomed back into the bosom of the land that gave them birth.

I have been asked, more times than I can count, by more people than I can remember, as I’ve crossed and re-crossed this great country on my campaign, what do I believe? Well, there are a lot of ways I could answer that. I could talk about the power of prayer, to heal broken bodies and broken marriages. I could talk about my wife of thirty-seven years, and the love and devotion we share. And those answers would be absolutely true, and would tell you a lot about me. But there’s a more important answer, just as true, that matters much more to this campaign.

I believe in America.

Count me among the people who need no anti-Mormon prejudice for their dislike of Romney. I mean, really, it's harsh to blame him for something he can't do very much about when there are so many other perfectly sound reasons for being creeped out by his robotic phoneyness.

It's Romney's misfortune that the personality cult to which he subscribes is only 170 years old, a sort of 19th century Scientology that, rather unfortunately, sometimes seems to be the sort of thing that could have been made up by Monty Python. What, you mean John Cleese didn't narrate the audiobook version of The Pearl of Great Price? And don't even get started on the underwear... 

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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