That still leaves the concerns of more secular voters. Weisberg observes that modern political discourse seems to permit the exploration of candidates’ every secret except their most basic philosophical beliefs: “The crucial distinction is between someone’s background and heritage, which they don’t choose, and their views, which they do choose and which are central to the question of whether someone has the capacity to serve in the highest office in the country.” He would raise the same concerns, he notes, about a Jew or a Methodist who believed the earth is less than 6,000 years old. Weisberg’s characterization of Mormonism as “Scientology plus 125 years” did not stop Romney from naming L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth a favorite novel. “Someone who believes, seriously believes, in a modern hoax is someone we should think hard about,” Weisberg argues, “whether they have the skepticism and intellectual seriousness to take on this job.”
“Weisberg” there is Jacob Weisberg, of Slate, who published this broadside against Governor Romney. And in his TIME interview, he made crystal clear that his objection isn’t just about Mormonism. It’s about anyone who embraces a “hoax”–such as the idea that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago. (I’m sure he’s real sympathetic, too, to the belief that the Savior of the world was born of a virgin in a manger and lived a perfect life, after which he was raised from the dead and ascended into Heaven.)
Okay, evangelical readers, raise your hand if you would pass Weisberg’s test. Still think this is just about Mormonism?