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Max Mueller once went to a Boston LDS Church service with Mitt Romney's oldest son, and now Mueller believes he has some sense of what the presidential candidate might be like in a familiar Mormon environment.
Tagg Romney has the same chiseled features and graying sideburns as his dad's, and, like his father, his Mormonism was not Utah-bred.
In that church setting, Mueller says, "we can see how open, thoughtful, emotional and approachable Tagg is traits he learned from his father."
Mueller's analysis of Mitt Romney as a Mormon and what that means for his campaign is among the articles in the first issue of Religion & Politics, an online journal scheduled to launch on May 1.
With this religion-drenched campaign, it is an auspicious some might say providential time to produce a journal on two topics often deemed too controversial for polite conversation. But the publication has been part of the plan of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis since its creation in 2010.
"One of the center's missions was to be an academic hub, but also to produce an online journal," managing editor Tiffany Stanley said in a phone interview. "The founders didn't want it just to be an academic journal but a publication where we could take some of that academic knowledge and publish it to a wide audience."
The journal, which is funded initially through the endowed center, won't issue a lot of daily content, Stanley says. "We are trying to provide a space to do long-form content and thoughtful pieces. We like to think of ourselves as not doing more content but better content."
To that end, the first issue also will contain a piece by theologian Harvey Cox, who remembers his Pennsylvania roots, and another by "On Being" host Krista Tippett, who explores Oklahoma's socialist history. The New York Times' Mark Oppenheimer looked for religious themes on Jon Stewart's "Comedy Central," and former Time magazine writer Amy Sullivan analyzes the religion questions reporters pose to politicians.
Marie Griffith, the center's director and editor of the journal, is a widely respected scholar on religion, having taught at Princeton and Harvard, with an impressive number of books and other publications.
The journal has assembled an advisory board of academics who have also worked as professional journalists. Mueller has spent the past year as a George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation fellow in Mormon studies at the University of Utah, looking at Mormonism and race. He was one of Griffith's students at Harvard and will serve as the journal's associate editor.
"I see this journal as an opportunity for scholars of American political science and American religious history to connect events from the past with today's religious and political landscape," Mueller says. "We take the long view on these events."
On the Web
O To read the new Religion & Politics online journal, go to http://rap.wustl.edu/about/religion-and-politics-journal/