The Washington Post  has come out with a piece on Mitt Romney’s role as a leader in the Mormon Church (retreading an earlier piece in the Times ) that is already being picked up by modern-day anti-Mormon zealots. On Twitter, Chloe Angyal of Feministing describes it thus:

In which Mitt Romney tells a middle-aged divorcee that her sex life is totally his business

Let’s set aside the question of whether or not Romney was sufficiently careful and pastoral in this delicate and difficult situation. The central fact is that whenever one chooses to enter a religious community—-as so many Americans do—-one precisely does makes one’s personal choices the business of one’s fellow believers. And in many congregations the responsibility for upholding doctrine and faithful practice falls to certain leaders, presumably, in this case, Mitt Romney. What was he supposed to do? Counsel his fellow believer—-a believer whose soul had been entrusted to his guidance—-to undergo a procedure that would violate the faith they shared?

It’s sad to see Angyal—-a very perceptive writer—-join up with the anti-Mormon left. The claim that Romney somehow illegitimately interfered in the private lives of women is just a personalized version of the anti-Mormon myth that emerged in the Prop. 8 debate:

Once again, we see intolerance coming not from religious actors, but from a narrow and brittle secularism that views any religious claims—-even when privately expressed between a leader of a religious group and a member—-as offensive and illegitimate.

Matthew Schmitz is the deputy editor of First Things . You can follow him on Twitter .

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