The Mormon issue

One in six Americans believe the president is a Muslim, despite his repeated assertions that he is a Christian. And 36 percent of Americans do not believe Mormons are Christians. Pockets of the Deep South, where Obama is deeply unpopular, are home to some of the strongest anti-Mormon sentiment in the country. More than half the Republicans in Mississippi believe Mormonism is a cult. And you should hear what they say about President Obama.

Mitt Romney, who is running a risk-averse campaign with a real shot at winning the presidency, has chosen not to talk about his religion. So far, the Obama campaign has stayed away from the topic — this week, when Bill Maher called Mormonism a cult, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said attacking Romney's religion was "not fair game."

Yet no matter how the Obama campaign treats Romney's Mormon religion, others will continue to keep it in the spotlight. They fill my inbox with articles, videos, books and more asking whether the country is prepared for a Mormon president. Romney is all too aware that his faith presents a political risk; if he felt otherwise he would be speaking about it more directly, as he did in 2007. But he clearly feels the less said, the better, and that is why at his speech to the graduating class at Liberty University earlier this month he didn't mention the Mormon religion. He did, however, attempt to define his values and to note that he and all Christians have "shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview." He also stated that "what you believe, what you value, how you live, matters."

A New York Times story on his faith last weekend described his strong relationship with his church and quoted fellow parishioners who recounted how much the teachings of the Mormon faith have shaped him and define who he is and how he lives his life.

Certain voters will be skeptical of Romney's faith, and could find it a reason not to vote for him. Many of them are also likely those who believe Obama is a Muslim. That is too bad, for both men.

CAN OBAMA WIN WISCONSIN IF WALKER WINS THE RECALL? Ask A.B. returns Thursday, May 31. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to Thank you.

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