The Corner

Beware The Mormon Captivity Cont’d

Well, waiting for specific examples of what, exactly, a Mormon president might do that warrants explicitly voting against a Mormon is a bit like waiting for Godot. Most of the responses I’ve received flatly admit that there is no problem with Mitt’s conservatism, it’s the Mormonism. And it’s not what he would do in office, but the simple fact that he would be in office, that vexes some — but by no means all — Christian conservative correspondents. In short, the majority view among readers is that a Mormon president would be … too good for Mormonism. I should be very clear that quite a few evangelicals responded that they’d have no problem voting for Romney if he was their favorite and some said he was their favorite (and I’m sure more would have said so if I was taking a poll — I wasn’t, and I’m not). But pretty much no one made a serious case that Romney’s Mormonism would have a public policy impact that warrants voting against him, which I think is very revealing.

A few examples, the first two from explicitly religiously-oriented institutions or organizations:

Mr. Goldberg,

From my conversations with evangelical Christians about the Mormon-as-president issue, it seems to me that their concerns occasionally have a policy angle. Of course their main problem is that it would give “respectability” to what they view as a cult, which in turn would help Mormon evangelical efforts. This, though, seems to go part-and-parcel with a policy concern that Romney would use the position of the presidency to bolster the Mormon church in some way through his conduct and his policies. Damned if I can figure out how, but it does seem to worry some people. I, myself, suspect that some evangelicals also fear that having some guy worshiping the gods from the original Battlestar Galactica in the White House would probably annoy the Almighty, who in turn would cease to guide our country in some act of Old Testament retribution. No one I know will admit to that one, though; I think it’s mainly the respectability and Mormon evangelism issue.

And:

I can’t speak for the email you’ve received, but based on discussions in my corner of the evangelical world, I think you’re asking the wrong questions. I don’t know any evangelicals concerned that Romney’s faith would cause him to do anything unacceptable. However, I know quite a few evangelicals, myself included, concerned that a Romney presidency will create a platform for mainstreaming the Mormon faith. If you start with the belief that Mormonism gets essential Christian doctrine wrong (e.g. Christology), and if you believe that getting it that wrong has eternal consequences, it would be strange to ignore the religious implications of your vote. Frankly, the discussion of Romney’s faith to this point has only heightened my concern. For example, some of the comparisons between Kennedy and Romney imply that this is a theological dispute within the Christian faith. I’ve also seen non-Mormon commentators (including K-Lo) refer to Mormonism as a denomination, rather than a religion. The sharper the contrast between Mormon and orthodox Christian doctrine, the better. Different people will come to different conclusions about what, if any, impact a Romney presidency would have on this contrast, and they’ll come to different conclusions about how the religious implications of their vote compare to the political implications, but the fact they are considering these issues seems reasonable to me. To address one obvious objection, voting for a Jewish, Muslim, or even atheist candidate does not carry the same set of concerns. Unlike Mormonism, none of these other belief systems attempt to position themselves within the Christian faith. I can’t say my view is representative of a large number of evangelicals, but I bet it represents a larger percentage than those worried about Mormon public policies.

And then there were piles of responses along these lines:

Jonah, Speaking for myself, there is no policy that I think a Mormon would pursue that I find objectionable. I will not vote for a Mormon because they claim to be Christian, when they are not Christians. Electing, or even nominating, a Mormon continues to send the message to Americans that Mormons are fine and dandy, Christians like everyone else. Thousands of Christians are converted to Mormonism each year, and it is done under false pretenses. From what I have read, Mormons are very good at appearing to be orthodox Christians with new recruits. It’s only later that the blatantly non-orthodox views come out. So, I rule out voting for a Mormon not because of actual policies they might pursue, but because of the message their election would send to Americans. Let me make a couple more quick comments. I would vote for a Jew. I would vote for a Hindu, an atheist, etc. Also, I do not support a “religious test” for people running for office. I can decide my vote anyway I wish (short of selling it I believe). So I am getting tired of people claiming that I cannot take Romney’s membership in a cult masquerading as a Christian church into account when I vote. I’ll take the candidates eye colors into consideration if I feel like it. I don’t think I’m a bigot, I would just like the fastest growing faith in America to call itself what it is, a new religion that sprung out of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Anyway, those are my thoughts on the issue.

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