The Religious Double Standard

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen has very harsh things to say about Mike Huckabee today, likely the harshest things anyone has said yet about the surging underdog now second in Iowa and some national polls. Cohen wants Huckabee, the minister, to come out against religious intolerance. It is religious intolerance, after all, that Mitt Romney fears enough to give a speech Thursday about his Mormon "faith." Romney has watched evangelical Christians in Iowa rally behind Huckabee and has calculated that he must risk further criticism by attempting to assuage them with this address.

But Romney is in a box. While the speech is being compared to that John F. Kennedy gave in 1960 to address being Catholic, Romney already said he won't do as Kennedy did — ask that religion and public service be kept separate. Romney has told reporters his speech will talk about how "faith has disappeared in many respects from the public square ... I want to make sure we maintain our religious heritage in this country." The problem for Romney is he can't embrace Mormonism too strongly, but he also alienates Christians when he tries to sound like one of them.