This is a serious question for my Evangelical Christian friends who are hoping that Mitt Romney is the next president of the United States. I am not being flippant at all but wanting to understand a question central to your faith in Jesus and the way you generally express that faith as it relates to local and national politics.
My question is how do you justify supporting Mitt Romney for president when he is a Mormon?
My personal experience in church, evangelical churches in particular focuses on the central personhood/divinity of Jesus Christ as not only the Son of God but being God Himself.
13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
This has been the litmus test for a ‘legitimate Christian’. And truth be told regardless of the denomination, this central core of the identity of Jesus at the very least united the fold.
This is slightly different than Catholics. Even the hard right ones tend to vote for the political persuasion of candidates rather than looking for them to specifically be Catholics. JFK is the one Catholic president we’ve had. Therefore, being Catholic is not a deal breaker when voting for president.
Evangelicals don’t share that same standard. For instance, George W Bush’s conversion to Christianity after alcoholism was a really big deal to White and Black Conservative Christians. In addition to his alignment with the pro-life, anti-gay, anti-stem cell stances, he was an easy choice religiously; so much so that the rest of his politics were automatically supported.
The subject of Mormonism had come up earlier in the primaries. Initially the Evangelical community were tremendously reticent on supporting Romney for this reason. It was only after the likes of Perry and Santorum were dismissed that the litmus test was rescinded.
In the Christianpost.com, a potential conflict played out between the views of mega preacher Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston and Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas differed. Osteen who many would consider a less controversial and less confrontational preacher said he accepted Romney as a ‘believer’ in Christ.
Said Osteen, “What I see about Gov. Romney is that he says ‘I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He’s raised from the dead and he’s my savior.’ I see him as being a believer in Christ like me.”
Contrast this with Robert Jeffress, who said, “Rick Perry’s a Christian. (Former presidential candidate) He’s an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity, it has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.”
This certainly fits with what I understood Christians to believe for many years now. I was taught this about Mormons in my own church experience. More specifically, the differences centered on several scriptural beliefs that including the one aforementioned regarding the person of Christ. Here are more from an article also posted in Christianpost.com.
Other differences that Mormons don’t believe that are key to Christian doctrine are items such as the Trinity. Mormons don’t believe in it. Nor do they believe in original sin of Adam, salvation through grace and faith in Jesus Christ, and among other things that the Book of Mormon is equal to the bible. Further study of Mormonism would reveal a lot more than that Christians would find strange and rather off beat in comparison to their own beliefs. I won’t get into those specifics here but I wanted to focus on core doctrinal differences in posing my original curiosity.
Ironically enough, since Romney became the Republican nominee Jeffress has now changed his tune saying that he endorsed Romney all along. He goes on further to say that President Obama ‘opposes biblical principals.’
Lets just see now… Barack Obama, Christian man who has been married to one woman, father of two, the quintessential family guy, claims Jesus Christ as his savior, church going and former community organizer opposes biblical principals. This president even targets his policies and campaign partially on issues that Jesus Himself found important according to scripture, i.e. the poor, the downtrodden, the sick and so forth. But the Mormon whose religion Christians have been calling a ‘cult’ for decades, who has not done anything to show forth the works and concerns of Jesus in the marketplace should now get the vote over Obama? It doesn’t add up!
Strangely enough, Jeffress believes Romney and other Mormons are going to hell. He also says that he believes that President Obama is a Christian. But yet he will vote for the man he believes is going to hell not the one he believes serves the same lord and savior he claims to serve himself.
Now in hoping that my friends on the right are willing to give me honest and sincere answers, let me first offer two answers that won’t cut it.
A) Obama is not pro-life.
I have yet to meet anyone who is pro-abortion. The ability for a woman to choose whether to carry pregnancy to term has several complicated factors within it. They range from poverty, rape, incest, life of the mother and so forth. Church denominations have always differed in the level of importance they’ve held to this topic. Most do not see this as a central theme of faith but a personal choice whose merits will ultimately be decided by God’s providence. Even former Vice President Dan Quayle said that if his wife were raped and became pregnant she would have a DNC. This is clearly a distinction without a difference. The truth is that rich women have and always will be able to obtain the safest care in terminating a pregnancy regardless of the laws or what they claim to believe in public. With all of these factors, surely one cannot with a straight face make a presidential choice based on an opinion that he has that is already the law of the land anyway.
B) Obama’s faith is not ‘like ours.’ Look at his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright
Christians cannot legitimately rail on Wright as an excuse to say bad things about Obama’s faith. Not when they have their own pool of radical preachers who’ve said controversial things like Pat Robertson, who said of the US State Department in Washington DC, "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up." Then there’s Jerry Falwell who said, "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers … AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." I can only imagine what would happen if Wright had said something encouraging terrorism and violence against American citizens.
Obama has had one wife and two children. He’s never had any family scandal, and his wife and kids are a reflection of the American dream. They show what one can do when starting with little and making the very best of what they have. They were not born into wealth. They are both highly accomplished people in large part because they worked their asses off and on top of that, they used those talents to help others not just themselves. Till this day. President Obama’s biggest income generators has been the books he’s written. This is more of an example of Jesus than any other candidate that has run for president in several decades in the least.
So I am asking for real answers. It seems to me even when it comes to Christianity, many Christians are willing to compromise when it comes to the politics of race. I can only imagine if President Obama were claiming some other religion where there was a history of polygamy, an unwillingness to ordain white men in ministry as recently as less than 40 years ago, there is no doubt to me that this religious thing would be a much bigger issue than it is now among White and Black evangelical Christians. He would be perceived as having an un-American womanizing anti-Christ belief system. Right leaning Christians would easily be comfortable rallying against him all the way through November on faith principals alone. Instead, right wing Christians have totally given Mormonism a free pass, while turning their backs on the Christian already in the White House. I’m merely curious as to how it is justified.