Thus, one would expect Romney to stand against those who, seeking a “wedge’’ issue, are making a cause out of the plans for a mosque to be built in Lower Manhattan. They are playing on ignorance — the notion that all Muslims somehow share responsibility for Al Qaeda — and intolerance. As a very small minority religion in the United States, Islam can be easily stereotyped by self-proclaimed experts, and maligned by every crank who has access to email. Just as Romney’s critics took pieces of Mormon doctrine and twisted them to create rumors of current-day polygamy and rejection of Jesus Christ, some critics of the mosque in Lower Manhattan have sought to portray all of Islam as warlike, and the decision to build a mosque as an act of triumph.
THERE IS, in this country, an “essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom.’’ Indeed, “religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.’’ We know this because former Governor Mitt Romney reminded us of it when, during his presidential campaign, some fundamentalist Christians started raising objections to his Mormon faith.
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