Readers have a wide range of reactions to this remarkable video. One writes:
Romney gets as prickly about his Mormonism as Tom Cruise gets about Scientology.
The most disturbing thing about that clip isn't the content of the discussion; it's how quickly Romney became angry and aggressive. Is this how he will react to threats from Iran?
On the other hand:
As an atheist Democrat skeptical of religion and Mormonism, I found the whole video in context to be much more balanced and makes Romney seem far more reasonable and human than the shorter version. The radio host was clearly being antagonistic, especially by quizzing Romney on a book the host says he hasn't read. It's not shocking Romney was flustered by the end of it. I'm still not voting for him, but after having jumped to the same conclusion having seen the short version, I found my own biases challenged.
Another is on the same page:
As someone who is terrified by the prospects of his presidency and who has been bolstered by the recent polling surge for Obama, I was touched to see Romney defend Mormon Democrats. His frustration with the intransigence and bigotry of that Christianist talk radio host echoes my own. I feel for the guy. It sounds like he actually has a quite nuanced view of his faith in politics and a conciliatory attitude towards those in his church who are of different politics from him.
It's a shame that his party is more radical, destructive and bigoted than his faith and it's a shame that he feels the need to dance to their tune. He's wasted six years of what could have been a much more productive life in this futile quest for the office, perpetuating his party's worst tendencies. I almost pity him.
I most say that as an ardent Obama supporter and agnostic lapsed Catholic who really couldn't care less about religion, I've never been more impressed by Romney during this entire campaign than seeing him candidly discuss his personal faith in this video. Sure I think he totally misunderstood where the host was coming from (he's probably used to people being misinformed or simply attacking his faith), but could you imagine if he produced this kind of passion on ANY other topic during the last year?? We'd likely be preparing for four years of President Romney.
Instead, to the public he has presented nothing but his creepy-smiled, soulless-eyed, Ken Doll-meets-Ward Cleaver persona. In the video, he actually looked, sounded, and acted human!
Unfortunately, political strategists and consultants will probably point to this video as Exhibit A of what not to do, when in my opinion it should be required viewing for anybody who wants to run. If you can't show this kind of passion for every aspect of your platform, you shouldn't be running for elected office. Period.
A final reader tackles the substance of the video:
As a Mormon who sports a "Mormons for Obama" bumper sticker, I appreciate the attention you have continued to place on the role of the LDS Church in Romney's life and the formation of his character. Mormonism is THE central defining aspect of everything he is – as it is with me.
That being said, I understand Romney's frustration in the video of his radio apperance over the wide misunderstandings of Mormon theology. He is absolutely correct when he tells the radio show host that Mormons believe Christ will return to Jerusalem – in particular to the Mount of Olives – NOT to Missouri as is usually reported in the press. A literal interpretation of LDS Church theology places Jesus's return and reign in Jerusalem while a New Jerusalem is built in Missouri and ruled over by others (Adam – who is, according to Mormon theology, really Michael the archangel) under Christ's authorization.
It should be noted, too, that Mormons reject the entire Anti-Christ, seven years of tribulation, and Rapture theology that has been central to the Evangelical Right since the publication of "The Late Great Planet Earth" in the late 1960s and early '70s. So the narrative of events leading up to the Second Coming is completely different in Mormonism than in Christianity. (As a Mormon, I consider Mormonism a religion distinct from Christianity.) According to the LDS Church, the world has been ready for Christ's return ever since the establishment of the LDS Church and its Priesthood. Mormons do not await the appearance of an Anti-Christ or any of the garbage contained in Evangelical popular fiction, such as the awful "Left Behind" series.
Perhaps if more Evangelicals realized that the Mormon end-times narrative contradicts the Evangelical narrative, they'd be less inclined to vote for Romney.