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Keeping the Faith

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Updated

As Mitt Romney prepares to deliver on Thursday what is being billed as a major speech about religion, presumably to stem concerns about his Mormon faith in the same way that John Kennedy addressed his Catholicism in 1960, there will be a series of documentaries that seek to directly confront the role of religion in politics. On Jan. 15, a bipartisan team is releasing “Article VI,” which refers to the portion of the Constitution that says no “religious test” should be required as qualification for public office.

“Every minority religion feels attacked,” the film’s director, Bryan Hall, tells The Politico. “Then it was shocking to hear people in the mainstream religions – the Protestant religions – pointing out evidence of their religions being attacked. I never realized that all these other people feel the same way I do.”

Hall is a Mormon, and likes Romney, but he tells the Politico that the film doesn’t amount to boosterism.

“I was originally interested because of the questions being posed to Mitt Romney about a year ago,” Hall said. “It took about a month of filming before I realized it was much bigger than me and my church. The entire discussion of Mormon doctrine, or anything that can be construed as what Mormons believe or I’m just defending Mormons, we took it out.”

Meanwhile, on Dec. 12 will be an initial screening in Salt Lake City of “A Mormon President,” which details the history of founder Joseph Smith’s bid for the presidency in 1844. It is directed by Adam Christing, who is not a member of the Mormon church but is a member of the Mormon History Assn. The movie, Christing says, features Mormon and anti-Mormon experts. Christing’s film is hoping to land wide distribution or a TV deal.

Romney did not grant an interview for the documentary, but Christing says, in a statement, “If Romney gets specific about some of the unique teachings of his Mormon religion, he will only raise more questions. If he skates around the controversial elements of his faith, he will be seen as evasive. It’s almost a no-win situation. Mitt has caught a Catch-22.”

Frankly Franken: The New York Times follows Al Franken in his campaigning for Senate in Minnesota. Monica Davey writes that it’s “an odd balancing act between being the guy people expect to be hilarious and crassly partisan and being a candidate voters need to be convinced will be earnest and sedate enough to look right in a senate chamber.” On his biggest drawback — whether he’ll be taken seriously in a state still recovering from Jesse Ventura, he says, “There’s not necessarily a contradiction certainly between satire and being serious. To me they’ve always been part and parcel of the same thing. What a satirist does is looks at a situation, finds the inconsistencies, hypocrisies, absurdities, and cuts through all the baloney and gets to the truth. That’s pretty good training, I think, for the United States Senate.”

Grisham Endorsement: John Grisham is the special guest at a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton at D.C. Union Station on Thursday.

Fox Rejects Ad: When the advocacy group Center for Constitutional Rights submitted an ad for airing on Fox News, it was rejected. The ad, featuring Danny Glover, features an image — metaphoric, I presume — of the Constitution being shredded. An ad rep sent the group an e-mail saying that they could not accept the ad “with it being Danny Glover’s opinion that the Bush administration is destroying the Constitution. If you have documentation that it is indeed being destroyed, we can look at that.” Obviously the group, and Media Matters for America, were not happy about it and a bit bemused at having to come up with a photo of an adminstration official breaking through the glass at the National Archives to get to the document (perhaps a screen grab from “National Treasure”?) CNN and MSNBC did accept the ad.

Anyhow, Fox feels that “these guys never played it straight,” Paul Rittenberg, senior vice president for ad sales for the news channel, told James Oliphant of the Tribune Co.’s Washington bureau. He believes that they wanhted to use the rejection for publicity purposes. To say the least, Rittenberg says that the group took the original e-mail a bit too literally, but added, “To say the president is destroying the Constitution is a pretty heavy claim.”

Anyhow, the ad is below.

Quotable:  “I’m more than pleased with the fact that I live in a condominium.” John McCain, reacting to Mitt Romney’s firing of illegal immigrants who had been contracted to do yard work on his home.

Quotable II: “To the extent that I have money from show business — he gets it from big pharma, big insurance, big tobacco, big coal. I get it from big comedy. And big comedy doesn’t want anything from me. Big comedy doesn’t want me to put the seventh fleet off of China so they don’t make any more knockoffs of ‘Caddyshack.'” Al Franken, to the New York Times, on charges by opponent Sen. Norm Coleman that he’s a creature of Hollywood contributions.

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