Mitt Romney, His Religion, and Evangelicals

What is the first thing that pops into the mind of an evangelical when they think of Mitt Romney?

“He’s a Mormon.”

Whether they like him or not, that’s probably the first thing that comes to mind. He’s one of those people that thinks he can become a god. You know, those folks that wear the weird underwear and practice polygamy. Well, for the record, the LDS church hasn’t practiced polygamy in over 100 years, but I think you see my point. Romney is a member of one of the largest yet strangest religions in the United States.

Now, I’m not here to defend Mormonism by any means. I’m a Christian, and I guess you could even call me an evangelical (though the connotation seems a bit deceptive). I would readily agree with most evangelical Christians in thinking that Mormonism is a cult. I’d also say that Mormonism is not a form of traditional Christianity because of some of its peculiar beliefs about Jesus Christ, among other things.

So I suppose I can sympathize with the reservation that evangelicals have concerning a Mormon president. Electing a Mormon to the White House will give that “cult” some form of “validation.” At least, that’s the logic that certain evangelicals have.

However, I take an alternate perspective. I have not and will not vote for a candidate on the basis of religion. I’m not voting for a religion, I’m voting for a candidate. If I was voting for the religion of a candidate, I never would have voted in my life. Not a single candidate I’ve voted for has a had a religion just like mine. Have I compromised my own beliefs or values in doing that? I hardly think so!

What is ironic in all of this is that no one is really discussing the religion of other candidates. Rudy Giuliani is a Catholic. Fred Thompson is a non-churchgoing member of the Church of Christ, which is by far the closest to my own religious affiliation. John McCain was an Episcopal and converted to Baptist (couldn’t that be considered flip-flopping?). Mike Huckabee is a Baptist. Ron Paul is some form of Protestant. Yet, their religious beliefs are not nearly as scrutinized as Mitt Romney’s.

While Romney may be the main candidate in this race scrutinized on the basis of his religion, he is certainly not the first. John F. Kennedy was also criticized for being a Catholic. The sentiment was that a Catholic would not serve the needs of Americans, but instead, he would yield to the authority of the papacy in Rome. However, as Kennedy’s presidency would show, this was not the case.

Believe it or not, a founding father of this nation would not be considered worthy by evangelicals today. This individual held beliefs like the idea that Christ was not divine, the Bible needed to be “corrected,” and that Christ was simply nothing but a great moral teacher. Besides the idea of “errors” in the Bible, these beliefs extended to an even further extreme past traditional Christianity than that of Mormonism. What kind of ghastly infidel such as this could dare make his way to the office of Commander-in-Chief? None other than Thomas Jefferson.

I certainly wouldn’t say that Jefferson’s religious beliefs were validated by his election to office.

On the flip-side, let’s look at a few evangelical Presidents. What about Bill Clinton? He’s a Southern Baptist, so he’s got the right credentials, doesn’t he? What about Jimmy Carter? He was also a Southern Baptist, even a Sunday School teacher as I recall. Would these men be better for our country than a Mormon? Are these men what we would call “evangelical standard-bearers?”

Personally, when people say they won’t vote for Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon, I can’t see it as anything but a form of bigotry.

Look at the top four candidates: Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Fred Thompson. Which one of those has been married to the same woman for the past 30 or so years? Mitt Romney. Doesn’t that count for something? Shouldn’t that speak volumes for his personal convictions?

Mormons are known for their moral lifestyles. Their values are generally on par with that of evangelicals. Why can’t we put aside specific religious beliefs to support a candidate that shares our values?

How many Baptists voted for Bush, a Methodist? How many Catholics? Mormons? How many people in the realm of Christendom have voted for a candidate that doesn’t share their exact religious beliefs? Most people vote for the politicians that share their values, not their personal religious beliefs.

And all this talk of Romney flip-flopping on abortion also grinds my gears. Whenever an evangelical says they can’t vote for Romney because he “used to be pro-choice,” it’s as if they are admitting that the pro-life movement is unable to change the hearts and minds of Americans: “The very idea of that Mitt Romney thinking he can be pro-life! You must be born pro-life! No one can become pro-life!”

Such reasoning is lost on me. If anything, as a fellow pro-life voter, I appreciate that Romney has embraced our values.

The sadly ironic thing about all of this is that there are actually evangelicals out there that would sacrifice their pro-life convictions and vote for Giuliani instead of Romney because Giuliani isn’t a Mormon and because he’s the “only candidate” can beat Hillary Clinton. And to those people, I say shame on you.

If you don’t like Mitt Romney, that’s fine. Disagree with his stances on healthcare, taxes, the economy, the war in Iraq, the federal government, or whatever. Just don’t be ignorant enough to not vote for him on the basis of his religion. And if you’re an evangelical, don’t be naive enough to think that his morals and values are all that different than your own.

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7 Responses to Mitt Romney, His Religion, and Evangelicals

  1. Verla Swords says:

    Thank you for such a nice article about Mitt. Amen to every thing you said. I am a 75 year old woman and have seen several Presidents come and go. I do beleive Mitt would be one of the most honest, best Presidents. we have ever had. You notice he never says anything bad about the other men running. I think he is the only ane that will be able to give us our country back. and we need it back for our children and granchildren.

  2. Bot says:

    Mitt’s church, the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) has been often misunderstood by Evangelical preachers in the past . . Some accused the Church of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion . .

    http://MormonsAreChristian.blogspot.com/ helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early (First Century) Christianity’s theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Mitt’s church believes in the Jesus of the New Testament, who prayed to his Father in Heaven in the Garden of Gethsemane, not the Jesus portrayed in the creeds of the 4th Century.

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) adheres to Early Christian (New Testament) theology more closely than other Christian denominations. . Perhaps the reason Evangelical preachers such as Dr Jeffress of Dallas promote this mis-representation is to protect their flock (and their livlihood). It is encouraging to note that Evangelical preachers such as Don Wilton and Bob Jones III (along with Jay Sekulow and Mark DeMoss) have dis-avowed bigotry and appear now to have a moral and competent president as a priority..

  3. Savea says:

    Your article made my day and the months to come. I still believe that once the general public know more about Mitt Romney they will embrace him. People are scared and, sadly, are ignorant of this man and his religion. We want a leader with moral values and the Christian principles we stand for. We should not judge him because of his religion. Just look at him and his family and he’s way better than all the other candidates. He’s not perfect like the rest of us, but he’s more qualified to lead us. Thank you.

  4. Joanne says:

    Fred Thompsons religion is scrutinized,

    http://presidentthompson.blogspot.com

    I agree with you to some point about choosing a candidate based on there merit, ability to do the job but then there is another side of a coin. There are those presidents who stand by there faith when voting, and making bills ect. I don’t want Mitt, his religion is a cult and they still do have several wives ect in their religion today.

    Nice article

  5. Braden says:

    Thank you Verla and Savea. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    Bot, thanks for that information.

    Joanne, you can trust that I’ll be the last to scrutinize Fred Thompson’s religion since it’s basically the same as mine (except I’m more of a churchgoer than Fred). The LDS church, which Mitt is a part of, does NOT practice polygamy today and they excommunicate those that do. In fact, they haven’t practiced it in over 100 years. Those that do practice it are fringe groups that are unaffiliated with the LDS. Saying that Mitt Romney is a part of a religion that currently practices polygamy is like saying that Fred Thompson is a part of a cult like the Boston/Crossroads movement that did arise out of the Church of Christ. Of course, Fred Thompson has nothing to do with that, just like Mitt Romney has nothing to do with polygamy.

  6. ARRA Editor says:

    I have nothing against Mitt Romney regarding his releigion. Also, if Mitt Romeny is the last GOP standing, I will support him over Hillary Clnton. However, before that final decision on which GOP candidate will be selected, it is important that we consider Mitt Romney’s own words on his various positions about abortion rights, pro-life positions, gun-rights, homosexual rights, marriage, etc. I recommend to following to readers: Flip Flop Mitt [Video documenting Mitt Romney’s positions]

  7. Jay says:

    Good post. Braden, you and I see exactly eye to eye on this subject.

    Go Mitt.

    We’re gonna win.

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