The general response to this story is "Oh please -- what's going to be Romney's next excuse for not releasing his tax returns?" But I see something else going on: an end to Romney's silence on Mormonism, and a pivot to a strategy of using the religion to try to win votes -- by claiming persecution at the hands of liberals and elites, a complaint right-wingers love to hear:
Mitt Romney says in a new interview that one of the reasons he’s distressed about disclosing his tax returns is that everyone sees how much money he and his wife, Ann, have donated to the LDS Church, and that’s a number he wants to keep private.I said a couple of days ago that I thought perhaps the Republicans were pivoting to a campaign that places a new emphasis on claims of religious persecution -- see Paul Ryan, a couple of days ago, boasting of being a Catholic who proudly clings to guns and religion; see the plans for a closing prayer by the highest-profile religious leader to pray at a political convention in years, cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York (a master at claiming persecution); and see the recent "war on religion" ad:
"Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given," Romney tells Parade magazine in an edition due out Sunday. "This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church." ...
I think Romney and Ryan are going to look for any excuse to portray themselves as aggrieved people of faith -- and that would definitely be a change for Romney. I think they may have figured out that evangelicals love tales of religious persecution more than they distrust Mormons (and certainly more than they distrust Catholics, who are now seen, if they're right-wing, as almost more evangelical than the evangelicals). We'll see if I'm right, but I think we're going to hear a lot of this from the ticket from now on.