BOSTON (CBS) – It has happened again, a political adversary of former Gov. Mitt Romney injecting anti-Mormon bigotry into the campaign discourse, and you don’t have to be a Romney fan to wonder how much lower politics can go.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

The latest incident involves a Tea Party activist in Iowa who was hired recently by Newt Gingrich to be political director of his campaign in that state.

Before he was hired, Craig Bergman was part of a focus group discussing the campaign, where he informed everyone that Romney’s Mormon faith was going to hurt him in Iowa.

“A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon,” he said, according to an Iowa newspaper.

“There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”

To their credit, the Gingrich campaign immediately demanded Bergman’s resignation and disavowed his comments, which is more than Texas Gov. Rick Perry did when a pastor introducing him at a campaign event also referred to Mormonism as a “cult.”

But this is just the latest incident in a recurring pattern whenever Romney appears on a ballot.

Mike Huckabee pulled the same stunt four years ago this week, wondering out loud to a reporter if “Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

No, they don’t.

And around here, some of you may recall that then-Congressman Joe Kennedy repeated falsehoods about the Mormon Church during his uncle Ted’s senate race against Romney, a move that the campaign disowned but which served its purpose by damaging the little-known challenger.

That sleazy little trick wasn’t repeated when Romney ran for governor in 2002, in part because those who might have used it recognized that Massachusetts voters were more familiar with Romney and tolerant of Mormonism, and also because of the significant presence of Mormons here and the understanding of what outstanding neighbors they are.

But all these years later, vile religious slander is still being used as a political tactic.

And even if you can’t stand Mitt Romney, anyone with any decency ought to be revolted by it.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (39)
  1. JohnC says:

    I am not a huge Mitt Romney fan, and probably wouldn’t vote for him for president even if I had a chance to do so (which I doubt). His religion however, will not be a factor in that decision. It seems that there are many in government and who would like to be in government, who are determined to mix religion and politics. That is a very bad combination, and always has been.

  2. Willow says:

    I, for one, am revolted. So what kind of candidate should we be considering, an atheist, so that no one can use negative religious beliefs as a campaign tactic? Why are we not concentrating on the important issues for this country, instead of what someone’s personal beliefs are? Is this the only way an election can be won? It’s just plain disgusting.

    1. massman says:

      An atheist for President? One can only dream.

      1. tsal says:

        was Jefferson an athiest? And with all due respect I don’t understand why it would be a dream – doesn’t that bring religion right back into politics where it doesn’t belong? I probably took you too literally :)

      2. tssal says:

        Was Jefferson an atheist or deist? Either way and I may be taking your comment too literally but no religious belief should be held as qualification to be president – or to hold any other office.

      3. Mikey Cyrus says:

        Atheists who don’t shut up about it and let you practice what you want are just as bad as hard core religious people who do the same. When it comes to political elections, religion should not be a factor of the candidate nor the public. We just need whoever will do the best job.

      4. gggrrramps says:

        Structured Religions with the exception of ‘Islam’ are wonderful outlets for people who fear death, constantly need their hands held or were never taught right from wrong….

        When people thank ‘God’ for winning some trophy or championship it turns my stomach, does that mean he/she dislikes the other team or player?…pure ‘DRIBBLE’!

        I was born & raised catholic, 12 years of ‘sisters & brothers, until I reached the age of reason…..


      5. tsal says:

        Mikey C – hi and you are right!

    2. buzzardbill says:

      Atheist? Probably not but likely an agnostic or what is best described as a secular humanists. St Ron was a user/opportunist when he spoke of religion. All else was just a show.

  3. tsal says:

    I’ve said it before – numerous times – there has never been religious tolerance in this country. From the time the Pilgrims landed until 2012 and I am sure beyond. Perhaps the only group that tolerated varying religions – and then only to a small degree – was our founding fathers. In large part that was due to the fact that many were Freemasons.

    And yes it is revolting. A person’s religious beliefs or non-religious beliefs is something personal and has no place in politics or any other area.

    1. StanleyRamon says:

      Okay, let’s try commenting one more time and see if it gets past the comment nazi.
      I like the way your thinking tsal, what we need more of today are Freemasons running for office. Of course, I’m a bit biased in that regard.

      1. tsal says:

        Stanley it seems BZ wants to blame us for not having posts show up – but the blog needs to be set up correctly to begin with – such as having people register. I’d say this on the topic about spam but can’t post there without several tries either.

        I find Freemasonry and it’s basic tenets fascinating. My grandfather was a Freemason and my mom a member of Eastern Star. I got as far as Rainbow girls and rebelled – suppose that surprises no one :)

      2. tsssaaall says:

        I find Freemasonry and it’s basic tenets fascinating. My grandfather was a Freemason and my mom a member of Eastern Star. I got as far as Rainbow girls and rebelled – suppose that surprises no one :)

  4. emom says:

    Politicians today have lost sight of whats truly important. They look for the monetary gains and the notoriety. The campaign like spoiled brats, picking on the beliefs of others , judging others by what they did or didn’t do in their personal lives, Throw money around as a way to assure they stay in the race even though they are not qualified all to oust the other candidates. Claim they can do so much better but to only fail miserable once there.
    There is and has been to much MUD SLINGING with the politics in this country, It has become a norm to bash each other to discredit them so as to gain those votes, Yet what some believe or do in their personal life should not always be under the microscope.. Religion should be a person part of their lives, not a public one unless that person is trying to invoke their beliefs and ways onto the American people. Politics have become extremely muddled with looking for faults & differences. None of which should be part of their campaign mud slinging, what they plan on doing as a politician should be ridiculed, But personal stuff, not so much. Religion should be a off the table subject.

  5. StanleyRamon says:

    The ignorant comments by Mitt’s competition reveals more about them than it does Mitt and why I would never vote for them.

  6. massman says:

    How comical is religion? It is a BELIEF system, and people are fighting over who is right. You all believe there is some other being that created and is looking over us. Both catholics and mormons believe that some guy named Jesus, was sent to Earth by this being, approximately 2000 years ago, being born to a virgin, and walking on water, in order to “Save” us. As someone who can’t believe grown adults in the year 2011 actually believe any of this, what exactly is so different in what Newt and Mitt believe? It’s absolutely revolting that any of this religious nonsense is taking place in American politics.

    1. tsal says:

      massman – you know I agree with you on your political beliefs. However, like everyone else here you do not have a crystal ball and the only answers. I don’t think anyone has the right to judge anothers beliefs. They are personal and as important as your belief there is no God. You have the right but have to allow others to have the right to believe.

      1. massman says:

        Hi TSAL. You’re right, I don’t have all the answers. Scientists are working on that. You are wrong to say that “I believe there is no God”. You “believe” in God, and I do not. I’m not preaching Atheism. I am condemning religion in politics. We have real issues in this country. Income inequality and poverty in America are at an all time high. We have an entire party, which has continued to fight for the inequalities bestowed upon homosexuals. We are still at war. We have serious issues. And the people who claim to be the most religious, are the least Christ-like people running. So I’d like Newt and Mitt to stop with the religious bickering, and tell us how they’re going to help the people in need in this country.

  7. tssal says:

    Definition of a Freemason – would be nice if more lived by it – and for anyone who is an atheist the meaning still can apply – good for the sake of good……….simple really but sadly seems to exist less and less

    The real Freemason is distinguished from the rest of Mankind by the uniform unrestrained rectitude of his conduct. Other men are honest in fear of punishment which the law might inflect; they are religious in expectation of being rewarded, or in dread of the devil, in the next world. A Freemason would be just if there were no laws, human or divine except those written in his heart by the finger of his Creator. In every climate, under every system of religion, he is the same. He kneels before the Universal Throne of God in gratitude for the blessings he has received and humble solicitation for his future protection. He venerates the good men of all religions. He disturbs not the religion of others. He restrains his passions, because they cannot be indulged without injuring his neighbor or himself. He gives no offense, because he does not choose to be offended. He contracts no debts which he is certain he cannot discharge, because he is honest upon principal.

  8. baboon2 says:

    I reserve the right to think that certain religions are crazy and that people who deeply believe those religions are at least partly crazy and unfit for public office.

    1. FireGuyFrank says:

      So, baboon2, in your opinion, which religions/beliefs make one unfit for office? There was a time when US voters thought a Roman Catholic was unfit because he would let the Pope call the shots. John Kennedy dispelled that myth.

    2. tsal says:

      So any religion that doesn’t fall into your limited approval – based on your beliefs – might qualify?

  9. FireGuyFrank says:

    I got the following from–

    So what do Mormons believe? Below you can find some of the most basic doctrines of the Mormon church. They are fundamental to our faith and help us through our perilous journey here on this earth.

    God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us very much and He desires that we return to to him.
    Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the Savior of the world. He saves us from death by overcoming it through the Resurrection.
    Because of what Jesus Christ did for each one of us, we can return to live with God if we obey His commandments.
    The Bible and the Book of Mormon are the word of God.
    The Holy Ghost is real and He can help us to recognize truth when we find it.
    The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    The Church of Jesus Christ, which existed here on the earth in ancient times, has been restored to the earth through a prophet.
    The priesthood authority of God necessary to act in the name of God and to perform church ordinances exists in His Church today, just as it did in the original Church.
    God reveals His will to prophets today, just as He did anciently.
    Each one of us has a special purpose on this earth.
    Families can be together forever.
    By serving others, we become more like Jesus Christ and come closer to God.

    Given those tenets, one can see where Christians balk at Mormonism because, in Christian doctrine, only The Bible is the God-breathed Word of God. That is, God breathed the words into the various authors.

    Hope this helps the discussion.

    1. tsal says:

      Mormons also balk at Christians and other religions. It’s pretty much the rule of most religions. I think someone on this blog said as much recently – every religion believes it is the one true religion.

      I’ll stick with Freemasonry’s tenets which I have always believed anyway – nothing to do with Freemasonry – just what seems common sense for me.

      1. FireGuyFrank says:

        No question — every believer states their beliefs are the one, true set. Those poor, delusional Yankees fans. :-)

    2. buzzardbill says:

      I question my Catholic teachings daily but have faith. The Church goes back 2000 yrs as Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. The protestant religions are C 500 yrs old and were breakaways from Catholicism (Luther and Henry VIII were Catholics) and had various reasons, some good some bad. Mormonism is a 19th C American-founded religion knowledge of which was till then unheard of and thus unknown. The mythology is fascinating but hard to believe and Jos. Smith was a less than honest man through much of his life. However all religions have mythologies which range from the sublime to the ridiculous and it’s tough to talk a man out of his funny undies. I kid. One example of arrogance is when a “Christian” says “I was a Catholic but now I’m a Christian”. Religious intolerance, like racism is immortal.

  10. JohnC says:

    One of the (few) constants in this world is that all religions and their adherents believe that their religion is the one and only “true” religion. All others are evil. I was brought up by a devout Christian. My mother believed with every fiber of her being until the day she died. I don’t. Carl Sagan was once asked “How can a person as intelligent as you, not believe in God?” His response was “How can a person as intelligent as you believe in God?”

    1. FireGuyFrank says:

      JohnC, I believe you have swerved right into the same issue. What is the difference between someone saying, “I’m a [insert religious belief here] and I know I’m right” from your assertion that ALL religious believers are wrong; i.e., you are right?

      There is no difference.

      By the way, Sagan, who I think did a lot to make science fun and understandable, never answered the question.

      1. tsal says:

        Frank I agree – it’s what I felt when massman commented. I have a tremendous respect for both massman and JohnC and have great discussions with both. Religion is a tough one, isn’t it?

  11. Willow says:

    Romney wants to become president, not a preacher. Can we all please remember that.

  12. Pawwsumm says:

    Okay, here’s the deal: You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re NOT entitled to your own set of facts. In this article, Jon Keller, in an attempt to suggest that there was “vile religious slander” being aimed at Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith, said, “Mike Huckabee pulled the same stunt four years ago this week, wondering out loud to a reporter if ‘Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’ No, they don’t.”
    The problem is, yes they do. And they put it in writing.
    There is a Latter Day Saint publication called Ensign that published an article on the subject of Jesus and Satan’s brotherliness in 1986 written by Jess L. Christensen, Institute of Religion director at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. There are also numerous references to their kinship found in the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants, the other books that Mormons hold on a par with the Bible. And throughout the years, Mormon Presidents and Apostles, stretching from the 1800s to modern day, have also explained and defended the concept. To suggest Mormons don’t believe this concept is naive at best and ignorant at worst.
    To an uninformed world that doesn’t know the difference between Jesus Christ and Peter Criss, one in which ALL religions are the same, all it takes for most people to conclude someone is a Christian, for example, is if the suspect says, “I believe in Jesus!” The problem is there’s more to it than that. About 2,000 years ago a guy named James wrote, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this … and they tremble in terror.”
    I find religious slander reprehensible but I don’t see how accusing someone of what they truly believe as being slanderous. This is along the same lines as slandering Jews by claiming they worship on Saturday or by slandering Catholics by claiming they confess their sins to a priest.
    Mr. Keller, you may be uncomfortable with the question but it might be a good idea to get some information before you go off on this topic next time. Remember, it’s better to have people think you’re an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    1. stanleyramon says:

      Okay, but actually, the deal is that Jon Keller’s opinion actually had less to do with religion than it did about slander. Who cares what anyone’s religious beliefs are, so long as they are capable of running this country. The fact that anyone feels the need to make comments on another’s religion reveals a discriminatory nature that would most certainly affect their decision making should they become President. I have not seen any proof that Mr. Romney has remarked about the Catholic, Muslim or Protestant faiths, slanderous or otherwise.

      1. tsal says:

        Pawwsumm there is truth to what you say – not the insults – but stanleyramon is right. There is no place for anyone to judge a person’s qualifications to be president or to do anything else because of his/her religious beliefs. Off the table – period.

        Jon – when are they going to fix this posting problem. It’s getting foolish

      2. Pawwsumm says:

        I thank you for your comments and insight but I believe you miss the point. Slander is defined as: “A malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report.” You cannot slander Adolph Hitler by calling him a Nazi. Hitler was indeed a Nazi, and although we find the term today to be malicious and defamatory, it is an absolutely correct definition when applied to der Führer.
        Jon Keller should know that definition. And he should do some research before he makes such an erroneous claim. That is, at the very LEAST, what we should expect from journalists. When he brought up the Huckabee quote about whether, “Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers,” he stridently replied: “No, they don’t.” Again, yes, they do and they have put that belief in writing for nearly 200 years. Keller used that example as a slanderous remark against Romney for purposes of his column. If Romney is indeed being slandered on the basis of his faith, I’m sure there are reams of evidence toward that end. My only point is that this particular little peek into Mormon theology, a concept that mainstream Christians find abhorrent and without justification, reflects ignorance on the subject and makes me wonder what else Keller has gotten wrong.

  13. revolution#9 says:

    President George W. Bush shunned advice from his father about invading Iraq saying he got advice from a higher source (God). I won’t vote for a candidate that claims she/he will be getting advice from God.

    1. tssal says:

      I think George Jr. heard voices in his head on a regular basis. Personally, I think he was dropped on his head at some point. I don’t believe Romney has made any such claim.

      1. tssal says:

        Before you take the comment too seriously, it’s said tongue in cheek. Although – Bush Jr may top my list as a person I’d use the “I” word for because it would be the kindest word I could come up with for him ;)

    2. buzzardbill says:

      Amen, brother, amen. And let the revolution(#9) be televised..

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