(RNS) The unexpected evangelical silence on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Southern Baptist researcher Ed Stetzer defines Mormonism as a “theological cult,” not the classic “sociological cult.” His research shows that a full 75 percent of Protestant pastors believe that Mormonism is either a cult or simply a different religion.

Stetzer says he’d be concerned if the significant theological distinctions between Mormons and mainstream Christianity are blurred or overlooked in the name of political expediency.

“I think it is more helpful to call Mormons another religion, distinct from biblical or historic Christianity, as just about everyone from Catholics to Methodists to Baptists have clearly stated,” Stetzer notes. “It’s a different religion that uses the same words to describe very different things.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsMormons

Posted June 12, 2012 at 6:20 am

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/43379/

1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Mormons are not Christians. Next slide, please. Article VI of our Constitution prohibits a religious test for any office. If it was good enough for the framers, it’s good enough for me. That Harry Reid is a Mormon is not why I have a problem with him as Senate Majority Leader. If Nikki Haley were still a Sikh (as were her parents) and was nominated for VP my concern would pertain to her experience, not her faith. Ditto Joe Lieberman.

My intense disapproval of Mr. Obama’s presidency has nothing to do with his having a Muslim faith and cultural background deep enough that he asked Jeremiah Wright to help him square it with American Christianity. This is America, folks. Romney could be a devout Buddhist and it shouldn’t matter.

If you actually read Article VI, para 3, what’s clearly important is dedication to the Constitution. Mr. Romney would appear to have that dedication. Talking salamanders are irrelevant.

June 12, 8:50 am | [comment link]
2. Sarah wrote:

I’m not certain what Article VI has to do with American citizens choosing not to vote for someone because they disapprove of his religion—obviously Article VI does not address private citizens and their assessments at all.

I’d vote for a Scientologist if he were committed to the Constitution, and the principles of limited government, private property, and individual liberty. But I’d certainly understand if certain other private citizens chose not to vote for the Scientologist just because he’s a Scientologist.

Obviously I won’t be voting for Romney—his Massachusetts record demonstrates his commitments and priorities, and I don’t vote for non-conservatives offered by the Republican Party any more.

But I think the evangelical silence has to do with two main issues and one more minor one.

One, most of us agree that we’d prefer to have conservative candidates, regardless of their religion. The religion is a very minor priority in regards to running a government.

And two, most of us recognize that Romney’s committed to a different faith from Christianity.

Those two things make discussion about his religion in the context of his nomination pretty irrelevant other than of course countering any assertions that really Mormons are a branch of Christianity!

The third reason why they’re being silent—and I put this into the more minor category—is because they’re terrified that Obama’s going to win again, and they’ve decided that Obama is the end-all, be-all of evil and doom for the nation. I don’t personally think that—I think our addiction to the trough and ever-expanding power and bloat of the Federal Government is the end-all, be-all of evil and doom for the nation—that, and the fact that we have a Party that’s supposed to be the Party of limited government putting up candidates who are for grotesquely inflated government as our standard-bearers.  Those two things are simply going to kill our freedom, economy, initiative, and so much more.

But that’s not what most evangelicals have decided.

June 12, 9:32 am | [comment link]
3. Ad Orientem wrote:

Art VI prohibits any religious legal qualification for office. As Sarah noted, it in no way precludes private citizens from voting on any issue that motivates them. All of which said, Gov. Romney’s bizarre religious beliefs are not among the reasons for why I will not vote for him.

June 12, 5:34 pm | [comment link]
4. David Keller wrote:

My mama told me in 1972, my first presidential election, when I didn’t want to vote for Nixon or McGovern, that life is full of hard choices. Deciding to avoid them does not give you the moral high ground. She really said that. The choices you have are Romney or Obama. Get over it. Do what is best for America not your private problems.

June 12, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Deciding to avoid them does not give you the moral high ground.”

I agree—do not avoid the hard choices—make the hard choice and refuse to vote for Republican candidates who are not even remotely conservative.

RE: “The choices you have are Romney or Obama.”

And “neither”—there’s that choice.

RE: “Do what is best for America . . . “

Exactly. Do what is best for America. What is best for America is not electing a guy who will make the same choices he made in Massachusetts [because that’s what he believes] and then force the Republican Party to divide and found a new third party in 2016 and 2020 that will doom us to many Obamas for the rest of our lives.

Make the hard choice.

Refuse to vote for non-conservatives pawned off on us by the party that’s supposed to be nominating conservatives.

Refuse to vote for the candidate that will eventually spawn the third party that will kill our country and divide Republicans permanently.


How easy it is to turn canards on their heads.  ; > )

The first group of people in line to complain and moan and gnash their teeth and be all “ain’t it awful” when the Republican Party splits and spawns a new third party after Romney’s disastrous actions will be the group that demanded everybody vote for him because the alternative would be just too too awful. But there is a much more awful alternative than one more term of Obama—and that’s the many many many more terms of Obamas once the Republican Party splits after conservatives figure out the game.

The raving liberals in the US don’t just have one Obama in their pocket—they’re lined up and around the block and down Main Street. And they’re who get to lead our country once conservatives recognize that after Romney, it gets even worse from the Republican Party.

June 13, 9:28 am | [comment link]
6. High_Church wrote:

I’m also puzzled by all the talk of the religious test found in the Constitution (Article VI), because it has nothing to do with whether or not individual voters or parties for that matter make judgments about a candidate based on religion.  To suggest otherwise is a kind of intellectual totalitarianism.  That aside, I also think the tenor of the debate over the religious faith of Mr. Romney has been rather silly (like much of public discourse).  Several points to consider here:

1) American is not Christian nation in a legal or theological sense (i.e. either from the perspective of the state or the church), but it historically has been so in a cultural sense.  To that end, it is reasonable for voters to choose a candidate that shares one of their paramount cultural traits and historically they have done so.  Moreover, if there is value in preserving or fostering that cultural heritage, then voting for a candidate who will do so it important.  (See Gary Scott Smith’s Faith and the Presidency….its a scholarly work, but very accessable)
2) What are the implications of surrendering our common Christian cultural heritage?  Especially when it comes to issues of how we define common goals and the appropriate means to achieve them within our society.  As a quick aside, I recent did a conference paper on how the Courts of upheld or failed to uphold the “free exercise” of religious clause.  Aspects of the Constitution such as free exercise depend very much on some shared consensus about what constitutes religion and what does not.  At one time polygamy did not and preaching that homosexuality was a sin did.  I think we are headed for a time when that will be reversed.  My point here is to say that preserving Christian cultural heritage does have value.
3) Finally, particularly on the question of Mr. Romney let me say an important question is what is the difference between Mormonism and Christianity and how will that impact his policies. Of course this question would never be posed by the media who believe that religion is just sentimentalism and experience.  Let me suggest that the fact that Mormons beleive humans are good by nature and Christians beleive humans are sinful by nature could have a real impact on his policies.  But for that to be true both he and we would have to take was our faith says with some level of seriousness.

June 13, 1:28 pm | [comment link]

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