Losing Huntsman's religion?

Remember when people used to take a break between campaigns? There would be an election and then some time off before the next campaign? What happened to that? I miss that. I hope it's just because I live in Washington, D.C., but it's hard to get a break from politics. So it's with a bit of dread that I highlight some of the early religion coverage of the 2012 crop of GOP nominee wannabes. Melinda Henneberger has a profile of Jon Huntsman for Time. Headlined "Jon Huntsman: The Would Be Republican Presidential Candidate Democrats Most Fear," it included a discussion of religion that is getting some notice among Mormons and other interested observers.

Let's let KSL.com take it from there:

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said it's "tough to define" whether he's still a member of the LDS Church and described himself as spiritual rather than religious in a lengthy profile in Time magazine posted Thursday about the would-be GOP presidential candidate. ...

When asked about whether he still belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Huntsman was so cryptic the author wrote that she knew even less after questioning him:

"'I'm a very spiritual person,' as opposed to a religious one, he says, 'and proud of my Mormon roots.' Roots? That makes it sound as if you're not a member anymore. Are you? 'That's tough to define,' he says. 'There are varying degrees. I come from a long line of saloon keepers and proselytizers, and I draw from both sides.'"

What's great about the KSL.com piece is that it doesn't end with these revelations. It uses them as a hook to discuss how the comments might play among evangelicals, the irreligious and Mormons. Scholars were quoted about regional variances in religious treatment. It even included some history:

It's not the first time Huntsman has been vague about his religious beliefs.

Last year, a Fortune magazine interview that appeared on CNNMoney.com, called Huntsman's Mormon "soft," unlike his more devout family. His father, Jon Huntsman Sr., is an Area Seventy and his grandfather was the late Apostle David B. Haight in the LDS Church.

"I can't say I am overly religious," Huntsman is quoted as saying by Fortune. "I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies."

This was a nicely reported piece by Lisa Riley Roche.

For more discussion of Huntsman's Mormonism, you may be interested in The New Republic's just-posted piece by Matthew Bowman. The article gathers interesting cultural observations to make the case that there is a weird generational gap between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney. The article attempts to say that Romney-era Mormonism is very different from Huntsman-era Mormonism. I didn't personally find it convincing -- the more important generational differences probably took place outside the church rather than in it -- but I still think it's an interesting read for Huntsman watchers and Romney watchers. And many of his observations are on target.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons.)

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