This is, methinks, why God created weblogs. There's quite a bit of buzz out there right now in evangelical circles about a series of informational videos that are up and running at CitizenLink.org -- which is part of the wider kingdom linked to an activist by the name of James Dobson. The videos feature clips of recent webcasts with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
Right now, everyone is asking -- will Dobson endorse either (gasp) Mitt Romney or (gasp!) John McCain? It is in that context that the following blog item by Michael Scherer appears at Time, with the pushy headline: "A stealth Mitt Romney endorsement from the religious right's powerbrokers?"
The clip on Rudy Giuliani is harsh (note that reference to dancing in drag). No surprise. The McCain video says voters have no way of knowing what the senator will do next. No surprise. Then the video on Mike Huckabee is surprisingly critical. No surprise?
After praising Huckabee's social views, both Perkins and Tom Minnery, a policy expert at Focus on the Family, hammer the former Arkansas governor for his foreign policy views. Minnery suggests that Huckabee does not understand the cause for which American troops are dying in Iraq. Then Perkins suggests that Huckabee lacks the fiscal and national security credentials needed for a conservative presidential candidate. "The conservatives have been successful in electing candidates, and presidents in particular, when they have had a candidate that can address not only the social issues, [but] the fiscal issues and the defense issues," says Perkins. "[Huckabee] has got to reach out to the fiscal conservatives and the security conservatives." Ouch.
Now hang on, here comes the buried lede.
So what about Romney? He comes up roses. "He has staked out positions on all three of the areas that we have discussed," says Perkins. "I think he continues to be solidly conservative." Then Minnery defends Romney from criticism that he is too polished and smooth. "Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith," Minnery adds. "But on the social issues we are so similar."
Now wait just a minute. Romney said what?
There was, of course, the quote in the big religion speech in which he said:
"What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history."
Yes, here we go again. But let's focus -- oh ye comment-link clickers -- on the journalistic fact here that must be chased. Where in the heck did Romney acknowledge that "Mormonism is not a Christian faith"? Did Scherer realize how controversial that statement is for millions of people on both sides of the issue?
What did Romney say and where and when did he say it? Or are the Dobson folks grasping at straws as they prepare their flock for an endorsement?