Yesterday, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League charged the Obama campaign with “Mormon baiting.”
The evidence? A report in US News & World Report, based on one blog piece by Deal Hudson, president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network, a conservative Catholic advocacy group, who is accusing Catholics for Obama of staging an anti-Mormon “whispering campaign” against Mitt Romney.
Deal wrote that one Catholic friend told him she had been called by a phonebanker who identified herself as Catholic and asked, “How can you support a Mormon who does not believe in Jesus Christ?” Hudson alleged (without evidence) that the remark came from a “script” and that “Catholics across the nation should be prepared to receive these deceitful and dissembling phone calls.”
Catholic Democrats immediately responded with a statement that the report was “unequivocally false” and that if there were in fact “Catholic-to-Catholic phonebanking questioning Mitt Romney’s faith,” “our organization had no part in them.”
Catholics for Obama also pointed to a statement released last fall by a number of lay Catholic leaders decrying Pastor Robert Jeffress’ pejorative public declamation of Romney’s Mormonism as a “cult” and calling for civility in the 2012 campaign.
As the 2012 campaign heads into its final stretch, it’s not surprising that hearsay reports like Donohue’s and Deal’s are cropping up, and Mormons are feeling extra sensitive about the fate of the nation’s first major party presidential candidate.
But I’ll bet you a twelve pack of caffeine-free Diet Coke and a dozen pink-frosted sugar cookies that there is no anti-Mormon phonebanking script in use by Catholics for Obama. Anywhere.
Is anti-Mormonism real? Yes. But even if one poorly-trained rogue phonebanker veered off script into an anti-Mormon ad lib, it does not make for a concerted anti-Mormon effort. (Leave that to orthographically challenged “Heaven is Easy” ministry in Florida.)
May cool heads prevail as the race heats up in its final weeks. After all, spinning hearsay into broad anti-Mormon conspiracy in order to tar your political opponents is Mormon baiting too.