Open letter to the Religious Right:

To Whom It May Concern:

I write this letter on behalf of Mitt Romney, a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Mr. Romney, as you know, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Mormons"). I realize that has caused a stir. Patriotism, family and religion kindle our deepest passions and Mr. Romney, it seems, has been igniting all of those.

Some are uncomfortable with his religious beliefs and practices. That's understandable. Leaps of faith often land a person in territory that others find unfamiliar — even threatening.

I think of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, whose religious tradition asks him to avoid working on the Sabbath. Since operating a machine is seen as work, each Sabbath the senator tries to steer clear of automobiles, elevators, can openers, telephones and other devices.

I think of many of you who — in being true to your faith — believe serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer found grace at the end and is with Jesus while many great religious figures such as Gandhi and Mother Teresa must wither in the flames.

As a Latter-day Saint, Mr. Romney believes heavenly messengers appeared to a boy in New York in the 19th century and not only gave him the "good news" of Jesus Christ but gave him the authority to implement it. That doesn't make Romney irrational. It simply makes him a man of faith.

Sometimes having religious faith means having faith in the visions of those who have gone before.

In fact, the majority of us in America — Jews, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, the Amish, Latter-day Saints — believe the reason we're alive at all is because long ago, a talking serpent tricked a woman into betraying her promise. If we are able to accept such a thought on faith in our own lives, surely we can allow for the improbabilities we see in the faith of others.

Being sarcastic is easy. Being earnest is hard.

Perhaps there have been times in history when letters like this were unnecessary, when the world could afford the luxury of of moral people tearing at each other. But that is no longer the case. As someone has said, a single deed by an evil person can undermine the good done by a thousand others. With the advances in technology and communication, that is especially true now. Today, good people of every stripe must link arms. We can no longer afford to judge the value of each other's beliefs; we must look to the value of each other's hearts. More than ever, true believers must believe in each other.

In the end, it comes down to trust. If you can't trust the tenets of Mr. Romney's faith, at least trust the honesty and authenticity with which he holds them. He may not be able to embrace your beliefs, any more than you can embrace his. But he can — and I think he does — believe in your basic goodness and purity of your motives. I suspect he knows that religious faith never stands as a contradiction to the notions of the world; it is, by nature, more real than the world. Let the world have its irony. Others must be willing to vote for an earnest person of faith — even if that faith is not their own.


E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com