Millions of Christian conservatives have the same angst I do: we’re willing to vote for Mitt Romney for president, but unwilling to compromise our Christian faith in the process.
Calling us “bigots” and claiming that any discussion of Mormon theology is “out of bounds” only aggravates our deepest concerns and makes our vote for him more difficult and perhaps less likely.
As Christians, our deepest allegiance and commitment is to Jesus Christ and His Word. We are Christians first, Americans second and conservatives third—and we’ll support the Republican Party as long as it maintains fidelity to our deepest core values.
My whole Christian life has been spent fighting to maintain a prominent place for the Christian worldview in the market place of ideas against the forces of secularism that would seek to silence that voice. Ironically, many well-meaning Christians are now unwittingly working with these forces to prevent the discussion of Christian theology in the public square—all for the sake of improving the chances of a single candidate to win a single election. My vision, and the vision of many Christians, is more long-term than the ’08 election. We’re defending a Gospel and a Kingdom, not a party and certainly not a candidate.
It is a very short step from saying, “We can’t talk about what Christianity has to say about Mormonism and politics” to “We can’t talk about what Christianity has to say about anything in public.” Christians must resist both of these attempts at what amount to a soft form of censorship.
If the Christian voice is effectively censored and rendered unable to defend itself against the claims of Mormonism in the public square in modern political discourse—which should be the most open discourse of all, seeing that religious liberty is our most precious liberty—then how will it maintain the right to defend itself in the science classroom against the claims of macro-evolution and naturalism, or the philosophy classroom against the claims of atheism and secularism, or in the ethics classroom against the claims of moral relativism and post-modernity?
How is it that simply stating official Mormon theology draws the now-predictable “bigoted anti-Mormon rhetoric” response—like the throwing of a political foul flag? If I was a Mormon I would relish the opportunity to talk about what my religion teaches in the public square, and what better opportunity to get the message out than when a Mormon is running for president? As Paul Edwards pointed out most recently (here), are Mormons themselves bigoted for stating what they believe at www.lds.org?
You can bet Romney supporters would be leading the charge with Mormon theology if they believed it could help Romney’s presidential bid. The very fact that they won’t talk about it makes Christians suspicious. If there is an unwillingness to talk about what Mormonism teaches, how can we work towards cooperation and understanding in the realm of shared values?
Merely telling us that Mormons and Christians share the same values is not enough. For example, Atheist Michael Newdow and I both believe in equality and rights, but the chasm between us is the Source of that equality and those rights. The idea that the “ends justify the means” when it comes to values doesn’t cut it. I want to know the Source of those values—that’s where the huge cultural debate is with secularists, and one of the many points of conflict between Christianity and Mormonism.
Dennis Prager recently offered an analogy (here), pointing out that Christians view Mormonism like Jews view the group “Jews for Jesus.” Both resent the latter calling itself by the name of the former. However, the Mormon situation is far more egregious: Jews for Jesus don’t claim Judaism was in “total apostasy” and in need of “restoration,” or that they are the “true” Jews. Jews and Christians share the Old Testament in common but differ over whether Jesus is the Messiah. Theologically, Mormons and Christians share almost nothing in common, other than the former’s use of terminology meant to be intentionally misleading.
For example, Romney recently said two things desperately in need of translation. First, when he said, “I believe the Bible is the Word of God, absolutely,” he seemed to violate Article Eight of his own LDS Articles of Faith: We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. “As far as it is translated correctly” means any time it disagrees with Mormon theology, it’s wrong.
Second, when he said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind,” he did not also include that, according to Mormon theology, there are an infinite number of “sons of Gods,” that Jesus is a Son of God along with his brother Lucifer, and that Jesus is only the savior of this world, since Mormon males can become the God, Creator, and Savior of their own planet one day.
Mormonism teaches man, angels and gods are all of the same species, spiritually evolving from one to the other.
When it comes to Christians and their support of Mitt Romney for the presidency, I am concerned about where their ultimate, most fundamental allegiance lies. I would be comforted, somewhat, if there was an acknowledgement of some concern for what a Romney presidency would mean in terms of money and profile of the LDS church, increased boldness of Mormon missionary efforts and the converts those efforts would yield.
Do they not wonder that, though we may not hear much from Romney about Mormonism during the campaign, we may in fact hear volumes from Salt Lake City after the inauguration?
Like I said, I’ll vote for Romney—if I have to—since it will mean keeping a Democrat out of the White House. But should he become president, I, along with millions of other Christians, will expose each and every attempt by the LDS church to advance their false religion into the world, for we are aware of the potential spiritual challenges of having a Mormon in the White House.
This is what makes the decision very difficult.