Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mitt Romney Update

I know that many of you, like me, are following the news media's coverage the all-but-announced presidential candidacy of Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. One recurrent-- and to me, fascinating-- theme has been Romney's religion. It is both shocking and refreshing, in an odd way, to see how frank people have been in expressing their reservations about voting for a "Mormon" candidate. (Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are nicknamed "Mormons.") I've posted about this below here.

The Boston Globe reports that while Romney was in Memphis yesterday, speaking to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (photo above) , he "looked out over a crowd of about 2,000 mostly Southern Republicans yesterday and declared that he shared their staunch conservative values, even though he leads 'the bluest state in America.'"

That's just the lede. The story wastes no time getting to the religion question in the second paragraph:

But while Romney earned several standing ovations from the delegates to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, many expressed doubts that a Massachusetts politician, or a Mormon, could win a Southern GOP presidential primary.
The up-front candor continues later in the story:

''Obviously, there will be questions," [said one delegate]. ''I don't know much about the Mormon faith, but if people get ugly [about his Mormonism], especially people in the Christian community, that will be hurtful. I hope they listen to the man to see if his values line up with theirs."

Scott Magill, a conservative Christian from Missouri, was blunter. ''I need to hear more from him about the Mormon thing," he said ''Evangelicals are going to have a lot of trouble with it."

This frank acknowledgement that a candidate's religion is a significant factor in many voters' minds is not limited to the Boston Globe. Also today, Tom Bevan of the respected Real Clear Politics blog reports on Romney's SRLC appearance:

All in all Romney’s speech was well received. He came across as very articulate and passionate, and hit all the right notes with the crowd, including the issue of gay marriage, which received big applause. The question mark for Romney, of course, is the issue of his religion. It seemed a bit of an elephant in a room full of hundreds of GOP delegates, a majority of whom are evangelical Christians.

In other words, "Romney's a solid candidate; it's just his religion that's a problem."

This discussion is going on in 2006, in the USA. Does that not at least cause you to raise an eyebrow?

But I enthusiastically welcome the discussion. It will not be comfortable for many observers and participants, particularly Latter-day Saints who will see their cherished beliefs ridiculed, lampooned, misrepresented, and attacked. I am confident that most Mormons do not mind so much the negative attention; what does bother us is when attacks are made on a ridiculous caricature of our beliefs, rather than on what we truly believe. The sunlight of public attention should alleviate that problem.

For those who are curious about Romney's Christian beliefs, I can assure you that if he is a convinced, practicting Mormon (and there's apparently no doubt that he is), Romney's understanding of, and commitment to, Jesus Christ are expressed fully and accurately in this official statement. Again, go ahead and disagree with the official statement and even attack it if you wish; but please attack that statement, not a distortion of our beliefs fashioned by those who are either open enemies of our church or who think they, and not we, know what we really believe.

And where else but in America could such a discussion go on, without even the mention of bloodshed or violence? Such unpleasantness has occurred in the past, of course; but those times are long gone. Just one of the blessings of living in the freest country in the history of the world.


Blogger SkyePuppy said...

I'm an evangelical Christian who had a Mormon representing my Congressional district for a long time, until he retired about 4 years ago. His voting record was spot-on with where I wanted it to be. I wrote his office on occasion, but it was never more than giving him encouragement to keep on the right track (which he did).

If Mitt Romney is as faithful to his beliefs as he says he is (and as my former Congressman was), then he's going to be just the man I want in the White House after President Bush. I can pray for him to come over to evangelical Christianity on my own time, but my President doesn't need to share my faith--only my perspective on world and domestic affairs.

Here's one Christian who is leaning toward Romney for 2008. 

Posted by SkyePuppy

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 5:33:00 PM  
Blogger Malott said...

A person's religion can be a reason not to vote for someone. I wouldn't vote for a Muslim. But if Mitt Romney convinces me that he will lead and govern in a way that I approve, I'll have no problem voting for the man.

I don't believe in praying to Mary... I wouldn't send money to Benny Hinn... but I personally am leery of criticizing or belittling anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus. I don't think that's my job here. In fact, when you get beyond merely stating what you believe (and why) and go so far as to judge others, or maybe... call their religion a cult?... I think you put on the pharisee's robes. And I think that is very dangerous.

Once we evangelicals get to know Mr Romney a little better I think you will see a change in our attitudes. Remember, JFK faced the same problem.

Posted by Chris Malott

Thursday, March 16, 2006 5:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that link to the official statement from the Q12 is going to assuage the fears of the Evangelical community, for what it's worth. The reality is, Evangelicalism and Mormonism are profoundly different and opposed theologies. The LDS church was founded upon the testimony of a man who claimed God and Jesus told him ALL the other churches were apostate. There's just no way around this, shared moral values or not. It's much deeper than the Catholic/Protestant split. Perhaps the Evangelicals are now politically saavy enough to put this aside and support Romney, but I doubt it.  

Posted by MikeInWeHo

Sunday, March 26, 2006 9:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The religion of a candidate should have nothing to do with your loyalty. One should always carefully study the views and platform of the candidates, and not hold any bias for or against anyone because of their religion.

I think a key element we all seem to forget here is the Golden Rule. No one wants to be discriminated against for their beliefs. It's one of the most principle issues our nation was founded upon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous American Boy said...

This is an interesting discussion. Im a Latter-day Saint (Mormon). I would worry about any president who put his religious convictions over the Constitution of the United States. In the case of Romney or Huckabee I think neither of them would ever place religion over the responsibility of being commander-in-chief. I believe that either candidate is an honorable man, whose religious convictions would not allow them to misuse the office of president. With that said, let their policies and record of accomplishments speak for themselves. We have good men in the race whose lives are free from scandal. Im excited about the future of American, Mormon president or not.

Thursday, January 10, 2008 11:51:00 AM  

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