Mitt Romney Not Our â€œPastor-in-Chiefâ€
Nancy French Wednesday, May 23, 2007
There’s a question I’m often asked by my closest friends and casual acquaintances alike: “How could a committed Christian like you support a Mormon for president?”
I get that question a lot as co-founder of the Evangelicals for Mitt organization – especially now that Rev. Al Sharpton has apparently taken it upon himself to question the validity of Mitt Romney’s faith.
In fact, the news that I’m supporting Romney for president recently brought one of my Christian friends to tears – she couldn’t understand it.
The mainstream media often seems as incredulous as my friend. They maintain that Romney has no chance in the Bible-Belt, due to the differences between the Mormon faith and mainstream Christianity. However, my emotional friend’s reaction notwithstanding, the media have it wrong.
Let me explain why. To paraphrase Jerry Falwell, I wouldn’t want Gov. Romney as my Sunday school teacher, but that’s not the office he’s running for. The fact is, we’re not electing a â€œPastor-in-Chief.â€ Voters who care about traditional values are smart enough to keep that in mind.
In countless conversations with Southern evangelicals, here are the questions asked most frequently: Can Evangelicals and Mormons really work together and trust each other? The fact is that in spite of our theological differences, Christians and Mormons are already political allies. In fact, if Mormons weren’t consistently more conservative than their evangelical neighbors, Al Gore would be America’s president now – instead of his newfound role as the earth’s “weather psychic.”
Does believing “Mormon stuff” make Romney gullible? All religions require leap of faith that appears silly to outsiders. If a reporter questioned me about my religion, he’d raise an eyebrow over my belief that Noah was a floating zookeeper, that Jesus was the best sommelier in Galilee, and that he paid taxes with coins from a fish’s mouth.
No one belongs to the Church of the Scientific Method, so religion falls outside normal reasoning. Gov. Romney’s beliefs certainly require faith – including his quite miraculous notion that Jesus is his personal Savior.
In my experience, evangelicals loathe religious litmus tests, ever-since Democrats tried to disqualify Christian and Catholic judges because of their beliefs. And as far as gullible goes, well, don’t forget: Mitt Romney has two Harvard degrees.
Is America ready for a Mormon president? If someone asked me whether I’d support a “former alcoholic,” a “divorced Hollywood actor,” or a “Southern Baptist,” I’d pick the “Baptist” every time. However, when actual names are associated with the traits, I’d pick the former alcoholic (George W. Bush) or actor (Ronald Reagan) over the Baptist (Bill Clinton) faster than you can say “Lewinsky.”
The point is, individual personalities matter. As America learns more about Gov. Romney, his political triumphs will overshadow his religion. For example, after brazen judges legalized homosexual “marriage,” he stopped Massachusetts from becoming “gay Las Vegas” by refusing to marry out-of-state gay couples.
He also erased a $3 billion dollar debt without raising taxes, and has forcefully advocated pro-life positions. In other words, the question isn’t whether we’re ready for a Mormon, but are we ready for this Mormon.
What about Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee? John Mark Reynolds wrote that “my faith in the holiness standards of Baptists survived Clinton and my belief in their sanity survived Carter, though that was a closer call.” But Gov. Huckabee doesn’t deserve to be tainted by the dubious political legacy of recent Baptist leaders – i. e. Clinton’s moral failure, Carter’s weak foreign policy, Johnson’s social programs, and Gore’s use of the word “lock-box.” Evangelicals evaluate candidates on their political-merits and don’t vote for the “most Christian” person on the ballot. (Note the Oval Office absence of Alan Keyes.)
Doesn’t theology matter? Of course it matters! If a candidate belonged to the “Church of Killing Canadians,” to use an absurd illustration, voters would rightly ask whether he planned on invading Canada and stealing their moose. Some theologies do lead to flawed political decisions. But Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity have common moral and, therefore, political values.
In fact, the only difference between a Mormon and a Presbyterian at a cocktail party is the Mormon isn’t getting a chardonnay refill. Perhaps someone less scandalous than Ward Cleaver is just what a Mark Foley/Ted Haggard fatigued nation needs.
How many “first ladies” will Mitt bring to the White House? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints gave up polygamy in 1890. In fact, the polygamists and their bun-wearing wives on Dateline are as realistic a portrayal of Mormons as mountain-dwelling snake handlers are of evangelicalism. Romney’s been married to the same woman for 38 years â€“ while Rudy Giuliani walked down the aisle three times, John McCain twice, and Newt Gingrich three times. As Kate O’Beirne recently noted, the only GOP frontrunner with one wife is the Mormon.
Are you really a Christian? Please: I’ve eaten countless unidentifiable casseroles at potlucks and I’ve sung “Just As I Am” 73 million times. I just so happen to support Mitt Romney for President – in spite of our theological differences. I happen to think it’s more “Christian” to give the man a fair shake, than to pave the way for candidates without a commitment to social issues.
I’m apparently not alone – donors in Tennessee gave more money to Romney than any other candidate. Plus, he beat all current GOP candidates in straw polls in Memphis, Washington, D. C., and even Greenville, S. C. He’s also garnered endorsements by prominent evangelicals like Jay Sekulow, Mark DeMoss, and Hugh Hewitt.
Most importantly, though, the mere mention of his name makes the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the mainstream media break out into hives. That, of course, is enough to make any evangelical put aside theological differences, and take notice.
This comes from Nancy French is co-founder of www.EvangelicalsforMitt.org and the author of “Red State of Mind: How a Catfish Queen Reject Became a Liberty Belle”