But former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is looking very strong in Iowa and New Hampshire, where presidential primary voting begins this week. Likewise, a current Rasmussen poll shows Romney with a six percentage point lead over President Obama in a hypothetical election matchup.
So things are looking very good for Mitt Romney, as he seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency. And this means that Americans will likely have to answer an important question in 2012: which would you prefer at the White House -Mormon theology, or Marxist liberation theology?
I wish I didn’t have to ask this question. But as Romney gets closer to the presidency, the criticisms of his church affiliation and theological convictions will get louder. And if you’re troubled by Mitt’s Mormonism, you should be even more concerned about the religious affiliations of our current President.
As for Mr. Romney, he has thus far run a good campaign and has managed to mostly stay out of theological debates. But in the last presidential election cycle the “Mormon thing” proved to be unavoidable, and as primary voting begins in religiously conservative regions of the country, his Mormonism will become a big deal again.
Given this certainty, here’s some advice for Governor Romney: don’t repeat your mistake of 2008 of trying to convince “them” that you are one of “them.” The more you stand in front of conservative Evangelical and Catholic audiences and ascribe terms like “born again” and “Christian” to yourself, the more they’ll be saying “oh no you are not!”
Leave the theological battles over “who is really a Christian” to other people, Mr. Romney, and talk to us instead about the values and policy ideas that America so desperately needs.
When questions arise about your church, tell us, Mr. Romney, why your Mormonism matters: your church informs your understanding of why our society must uphold the dignity of every human individual; it teaches you about the profound importance of human liberty (I love your church’s “Choose The Right” motto – try telling us why it is so important that each of us have the freedom to “choose”); and it affirms to the world that marriage is good for society. Try to convey that, while our theological differences are real, our values are more universal and uniting.
On this point, you might borrow from former President George W Bush. In a little-known March 2001 speech, Bush spoke at the opening of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. Bush, of course, is a Methodist-turned-Evangelical, yet he was still warmly received at the ceremony by the Catholic hierarchy.
And Bush didn’t try to pretend that he was Catholic, either. “I may not be a parishioner…” he stated as he began his remarks, “but I’m a sojourner with you…” He then brilliantly went on to say that we are “one” with our values, and that the Pope was a great teacher of those values. To those who would prefer to bash Romney’s church rather than seriously considering who should be our next President, I would ask this: have you scrutinized President Obama’s theological affiliations the way you’ve scrutinized Mormonism?
For the record, Barack Obama hasn’t been known for regular church attendance since moving-in to the White House (this puts him in good company with many of our previous Presidents). Yet his decades-long affiliation with the radical Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, a central outlet of liberation theology, is quite well documented.
This is to say that President Obama has been steeped in a theological worldview that essentially takes the economic and “class struggle” teachings of Karl Marx, and superimposes Bible verses over it. It preaches that successful people are oppressors who need to be conquered, and that the “oppressed” should live off of other people’s largesse. These sorts of ideas -which are inherently economic in their nature -are prevalent in governments throughout the third world, Latin America, and parts of Europe. And they are blessed and affirmed in churches that espouse liberation theology – which is all a part of our President’s religious background.
Are there theological differences between Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and the Evangelicalism and Catholicism that a majority of Americans embrace? Yes, there absolutely is.
But it is also true that the Mormon Church movement is an American-born religious movement, and teaches that freedom is something that is sacred and to be safe-guarded.
President Obama’s liberation theology, on the other hand, is at war with Western values. It teaches that freedom is inherently problematic (it inevitably leads to a society of oppressors and victims), and only through the power of government control can the evils of a free society be corrected.
I’d be delighted to see Mormonism replace the Marxism that presently inhabits the White House. But will Americans be willing to honestly examine them both?