Why the newest Romney viral video on Mormonism shouldn’t really bother you

As Hurricane Sandy started to release its stranglehold on news coverage, a 2007 video of Romney angrily defending Mormonism from his 2008 presidential run resurfaced and quietly exploded on the internet over the weekend, picking up over 1.6 million views.

In the video Mitt defends his faith from a line of questioning by Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson and insists that, no, he doesn’t believe the second coming of Jesus Christ will occur in Missouri, he believes it wil happen in Jerusalem just like mainstream Christians—he just believes that after his return, Jesus’ law will reign from two places—Jerusalem and Missouri.

Romney claims the video was the result of a hidden camera. Mickelson says the camera was in plain view. Either way, the video resurfacing a few days before the election is clearly a response by progressives to try to marginalize Romney by making him appear as a weirdo. Wether or not you’re a progressive there are plenty of things about Mitt Romney that should bother you—but this video isn’t one of them. Here’s why:

First, as Mitt says, his Mormon beliefs aren’t so disimilar from mainstream Christianity. Once you’re talking about believing in resurrection from the dead and that a human man will be showing up soon as a personal delivery from the creator of the universe, isn’t arguing over geography kind of splitting hairs? Is it really that much “crazier” that he would appear in Missouri than in Jerusalem? If you’re willing to take Obama as a totally “normal” Christian for his espoused beliefs, you’re being kind of a dick for calling out Romney on his theology—spaceships, magic underwear and all.

Second, in the video what Romney actually says is that his anti-choice position on abortion doesn’t come from his faith—he says Mormonism actually allows for a live-and-let-live philosophy, and that while it says Mormons shouldn’t have abortions others should be able to do what they want. Romney says it’s his own political conviction—outside the tenets of his faith—that makes him think abortion should be prohibited.

This is a little surprising because we’re used to hearing conservatives argue against abortion because their faith doesn’t allow for it. But Romney’s stance here isn’t such a bad thing—he’s actually saying he’s able to make political “secular” decisions outside the precepts of his religion. Another way to put this is the separation of church and state. Which is a good thing.

What should bother you about Romney is that outside the influence of his religious beliefs, on purely political grounds, he believes that women should not be able to decide for themselves whether to have abortions. It should bother you that he’s stood on every side of every divisive issue confronting America, including the abortion issue. It should bother you that his idea of leadership after Hurricane Sandy was sending stuff to the Red Cross that they didn’t want, and collecting it in a photo-op setting.

If you want to find things about Romney that should bother you, there are plenty. But this video doesn’t really count, as it basically just boils down to Romney defending himself against the media’s xenophobic predilection for focusing on the one thing that makes him an “outsider.” If progressives don’t like middle America focusing on Obama as exotic and different because of the color of his skin and his heritage, they shouldn’t participate in the same behavior by latching on to Romney’s Mormonism.

We may have elected the first black president, which is progress, but we’re still a long ways off from electing a non-religious president. As long as that’s the case, should the particular branch really matter?