BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Mitt Romney’s appearance at Liberty University  was altogether astounding given the fact that applicants to the school must specifically reject the Mormon concept of God and acknowledge that the Book of Mormon is not divine revelation. Be that as it may, he took the present-company-accepted opportunity to genuflect his steadfast concurrence with the Christian “tradition” of marriage being between one man and one woman (he opposes civil unions and supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as well)  and it got me to thinking about his own rather dubious religious heritage and the inescapable bit of hypocrisy that could easily attach thereto. Just in case you’re one of those who remain in the dark about Romney’s religious affiliation, it’s the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints better known to most as Mormonism. Anyway, getting back to the hypocrisy part, you’ll forgive me for thinking that if the very founder of my religion had sanctified polygamy — and practiced it as had Romney’s own great grandfathers — as a “divine commandment” revealed to him by God, I might at least have a few itsy-bitsy teensy-weensy second thoughts about emphatically avowing my always-heldunwaveringheart and soul belief in quite the opposite. Then again, so fluctuate the religious “traditions” of the politically pious.

As long as we’re on the subject why don’t we take a closer look at this so-called “traditional” style of coupling and see just how well its ardent till-death-do-us-part (not hardly as you’ll soon see) born again Christian proponents adhere to its tenets. According to a pretty reliable recent study by the Barna Group, a respected Christian research organization, approximately one-third of all so-called “traditional” first marriages will end in divorce. Gee wiz, right off the bat that seems like a whole bunch of disregarded vows, no? Hold on though, the situation only gets worse. The divorce rate among born again Christians is the same as in the rest of the population! Yes, even if you’re born again, it seems you’re destined to disregard your solemn vows at the same rate as everyone else! And here’s the real kicker, folks: atheists and agnostics divorce one another at a rate three percentage points lower! Ah, the shame of it all. Finally, in one of the few national studies conducted to date, the rate of divorce among gays turns out to be about one-third that of the general population! So much less lying, so much less acrimony, so fewer struggling single moms and dads, so fewer damaged children forced to divide their loyalties, so much less pretense, so much less hypocrisy. Come to think of it, just the kind of “traditions” any loving God should want his followers to nurture and promote.

So here we are with a right wing Republican presidential wannabe telling us which selected human rights he believes need to be denied to some; a conservative would-be presidential nominee who professes that what he wants most is to get government out of peoples’ lives, but crosses all his fingers (it’s amazing there’s any skin left on them given they’ve been wetted and put to the wind so often) when it comes to the most private aspects thereof; a self-proclaimed true believer who says that marriage should be exclusive to “one man and one woman” while professing fealty to a religion the very founder of which taught that polygamy was a “divine commandment.” I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell don’t want a president who believes it prudent to appeal to the most base fears and divisive attitudes of a wholly insular and self-righteous segment of the population. I want a leader with the probity and decency to accept us all for what we are and the courage and fortitude to stand up to the bigots who won’t. When I listened to Mitt bloviate at Liberty I was reminded of Pi’s words in Yann Martel’s award winning novel Life of Pi, “These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy…walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, ‘Business as usual.’ But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.” The country desperately needs a common-sense centrist with a conscience, Mitt, not a phony far-right religious panderer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.