Which is why Reynolds’s closing sentiment, much as I agree with it, is just preaching to the right-thinking NYT-readership choir who thinks all this true-believer stuff is silly:

Amid the passions of this election season, it’s time to revive the tolerant spirit of the founding fathers. Religious competition of any kind, they believed, can breed bigotry, repression and hatred. The founders made an earnest effort to keep religion out of politics. Let’s do the same as we carry out the important work of choosing our next president.

The reason Romney hasn’t done much worse with their votes is that Mormons and evangelicals share nearly identical political views and because there hasn’t been a standout social conservative candidate this year.

There are varying degrees of fundamentalism, and polls have shown that most evangelicals would vote for a Mormon in the primary. But they’ve also shown that there’s a significant group that won’t.

There are limitations, of course. If Romney wins the nomination, they’ll fall in line (most of them, I should say).

For evangelicals, just about anything’s better than a pro-choice, pro-gay-rights Democrat, even if it’s a formerly pro-choice, formerly pro-gay-rights Mormon Republican.

* fixed spelling

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.