Today, Jon Huntsman has said he will formally withdraw from the presidential race after finishing third in the New Hampshire primary behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. CNN reported that Huntsman will endorse Romney, his distant cousin and fellow Mormon. Throughout his campaign, Huntsman tended to distance himself from his Mormon faith, saying in an interview with Fortune that he wasn’t “overly religious.” By contrast, Romney has and continues to be an active member of the LDS. He served as a bishop in the Belmont, Massachusetts ward and as President of the Boston stake. In LDS-speak, this means he was a volunteer lay minister in Belmont and leader of several wards around Boston. Today, he regularly attends church services. This may help explain why Mormon voters tended to favor Romney over Huntsman.
The upcoming primary in South Carolina may very well determine the Republican candidate for President. As a state with a conservative reputation, (I’m thinking John C. Calhoun conservative, who looks eerily like a muppet) many have speculated that Romney’s Mormon faith is likely to affect voters’ decisions. Indeed, the recent decision by a coalition of Christian leaders to support Santorum could sway some evangelical voters. However, despite its reputation, South Carolina is experiencing increasing religious diversity which could better the odds for Romney. At any rate, a win for Romney in South Carolina puts him one step closer to being the first Mormon President of the United States. On this Martin Luther King Day, I hope that we can celebrate diversity and not judge a candidate whose church before 1978 would not let our current President hold the priesthood(3:05).