There are some Americans -- presumed usually to be evangelical Christians -- for whom voting for a Mormon for president of the United States is difficult, if not impossible. While I will try to show these voters why that decision is wrong on religious as well as moral grounds, it is important for the rest of us to understand their opposition.
Most traditional Christians regard Mormonism not merely as not Christian, but as a falsification of it. It does not matter to the vast majority of evangelicals if a candidate is a Christian. Most are quite prepared to vote for a non-Christian -- a Jew, for example. And they are certainly prepared to vote for Christians with whom they differ theologically -- whether non-evangelical Protestants or Roman Catholics.
But they do not regard Mormons as fellow Christians with whom they differ theologically; they regard them as having a theology so different from mainstream Christianity that they are no longer Christian. It is quite possible, even likely, that if Mormons simply announced they were not Christian, but a new religion, even one based on belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, evangelicals would have fewer objections to voting for a Mormon with whom they shared social values. Rightly or wrongly, many evangelicals resent Mormons calling themselves Christian.
It is analogous to the resentment among Jews of "Jews for Jesus." What Jews resent is not that a Jew who adopts Christian beliefs has become a Christian -- most Jews recognize that in a free society people convert to and from all religions. What many Jews resent is that "Jews for Jesus" call themselves Jews and not Christians after leaving Judaism (even while continuing to identify ethnically as Jews) and embracing Christianity. So, too, it is that Mormons call themselves Christians while embracing a different belief system that rankles so many traditional Christians.
It is not for this Jew to define a Christian. I only explain evangelical Christian opposition to Mormons calling themselves Christians to make the point that even as I understand their opposition to Mormons calling themselves Christian, I equally oppose voting for anyone based on his theology. Evangelicals have the right to proclaim Mormons as non-Christians, but they hurt themselves and their country if they measure a candidate's theology. They should concern themselves with a man's theology only when choosing a religious leader. When choosing a political leader, theology should not count.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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