James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, talked about Gov. Romney yesterday on a radio show:
“I don’t believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon but that remains to be seen, I guess… He’s a nice guy. He’s a very attractive man. He’s got a beautiful wife and a lot of his principles and values are consistent with ours.”
So, what to make of Dr. Dobson’s comments? Is he (as some are saying) a bigot who’s unconstitutionally applying a religious test to a potential presidential nominee?
Or is he just making an observation that he himself admits is inconclusive: “…it remains to be seen, I guess,” he says.
I believe it’s the latter, finding what he didn’t say to be more revealing than what he did say. He didn’t say that Christians should not vote for a Mormon, he just expressed that he figured they would not. Plus, Dr. Dobson has every right to consider a candidate’s religion when sorting out whether to support him or her. This is neither “bigotry” nor “unconstitutional.” As David has eloquently pointed out, theology matters. We happen to disagree with Dr. Dobson’s assessment that evangelicals won’t vote for a Mormon (after all, a largely evangelical crowd in Memphis placed Gov. Romney above Rudy, McCain, Allen, and Huckabee in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference’s straw poll). But a response to his statement on the radio program should not be overwrought.
Much to the chagrin of the Left (and even some of the Right), Dr. Dobson is not shy in expressing his political opinions to the millions of listerners to his radio show. Why his reticence now? Perhaps he hasn’t made up his mind or perhaps he was just thinking aloud.
Either way, labeling him a bigot is neither accurate nor helpful.