Friday, December 07, 2007

The Potential of a Mormon Presidency: My Thoughts

In the wake of Mitt Romney's speech last night, many born-again followers of Jesus are asking if his Mormon faith should be a factor in their decision of whether to vote for him as President in 2008. Given all the discussion surrounding this issue in the news media and on the blogs, I thought I'd share my own feelings on the issue, and tell you how Romney's faith affects my views of him as a Presidential candidate:

Now that we have that issue out of the way, let's talk about Mitt the candidate, shall we?

Seriously, the idea that Romney's Mormonism should even be a factor in this race seems overblown to me. On the contrary, at the intersections of faith and public policy, there are many issues on which Mormons and evangelicals stand together. With this in mind, it just may be that this Latter-Day Saint could make a much better President than, say, the last two Southern Baptists who have occupied the office.

This is not to say that I'm unconcerned about Mormonism and the deceiving affect it has on its adherents. Nor am I seeking to get in line behind James Dobson, who in an attempt at supporting Romney seems to be warming up to the LDS church in a way that really makes me uncomfortable. And I would be the first to repudiate Richard Land's recent goofy remarks about Mormonism being a "fourth Abrahamic faith." Mormonism is about as close to orthodox Christianity as is Hinduism. In fact, I think in the end, Mormons have more gods than the Hindus, and that polytheistic leaning would betray any attempts to allign this sect with anything Abrahamic.

So in the end, I've been very dissapointed to hear evangelical leaders suggest that Christians can vote for Romney because "Mormonism is OK." It's not OK. We shouldn't vote for him because his faith is "OK." We should vote for him because, in spite of his heretical faith, he is a family man who holds to the same general values as those who genuinely follow Christ, and would encourage such values as President. The truth is that you don't have to like Mormonism to like Romney.

At the same time, I must say that Romney is not my first choice. Nevertheless, should he become the nominee, his Mormon faith is not reason in my opinion to deny him a Pennsylvannia Avenue address.

We don't have to pretend that he shares our faith. We just have to remember that he isn't trying to be anyone's pastor.


Debbie Kaufman said...

In all good conscience, I personally disagree here Joel. I cannot in all good conscience vote for Mitt Romney, I will not vote at all if Mitt is chosen to run against the Democrats. I truly hope it doesn't come to that. I can't believe that his religion would not play a role. Religion played a role in how our forefather's wrote the constitution for example. Religion does play a role, it can't help but do so. What you believe is usually how you will live, vote etc. For me personally it is a big deal and not overblown.

Starting To Learn said...

Debbie, it might be less of a big deal if you found out that what you think is Mormon theology, actually isn't.

Many sensational things have been said about what Mormons believe, but a short visit to their website, will give you a clearer picture of what is actually taught and believed in the Church.

Perry McCall said...

great thoughts!!

Debbie Kaufman said...

starting to learn: If you truly believe what you have written in your comment, I'm not the one who is being fooled.

Starting To Learn said...

It's just that I have heard many things stated as being doctrines of the Mormon church that actually aren't at all.

Since Mitt Romney would likely believe what his church teaches, I'm wondering which of the teachings at the website make you worried about a Romney presidency?

Debbie Kaufman said...

I'm more concerned with the beliefs of the Mormon church that are not on the website, starting to learn. The Mormon's do not tell everything that they believe, they want to be identified too much as Christian, which they are not.

Starting To Learn said...

If it's not on, it's not Mormon theology. It is a website of resources for members of the church. All of the LDS scriptures, all of the lesson manuals, all of the church conference addresses and more are on that website which is designed for and used by leaders, teachers and members of the church each week to study and teach.

There is no secret doctrine. It's all there for anyone to see. For example, I have been teaching a New Testament study class for the past year and Old Testament the year before. The exact lesson manuals that I have used (which are used throughout the world) are available on the website.

I won't bother you again, I had just hoped to clear up any misconceptions.

Double O Balloon said...

Personally I believe the moral backing of Mormonism is very much in line with Christianity. The same can in no way be said of their theology. A friend of mine wrote an interesting blog on Romney's speech here:

Joel Rainey said...

Honestly, I'm hearing a lot of evangelicals say exactly what you are saying. As I said in the post, in the political arena, Mormons and evangelicals have almost identical views, particularly where social issues are concerned, which is why I'd be comfortable with Romney in the Oval. I'd be interested in how you think, in particular, Romney's faith would affect public policy in a way that hurts the Gospel. I'm asking specifically for examples.
That said, I always look forward to hearing your views.

Starting to Learn, the only similarity between evangelical and Mormon theology is our vocabulary. Unfortunately, the respective dictionaries used to define our common terms are vastly different. Assuming that you are Mormon (why else would you be using their teaching material?) you must begin to compare these differences and be intellectually honest about them.

I would also challenge you to be honest about the volatility of Mormon theological foundations. I'd invite you to begin by looking at your own "Doctrine and Covenants" chapter 84, and tell me how the lack of this prophecy's fulfillment affects the legitimacy of Joseph Smith's prophetic ministry.

Mormonism has no leg to stand on; theologically, historically, or Biblically. I have no problem voting for one as President, but I'm afraid I can't allow this site to be used to advocate Mormon belief in any way.

Joel Rainey said...

A friend just sent me an email in response to this post which contained a quote from Martin Luther . . .one that I had forgotten and was glad to be reminded of:
"I'd rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian."
For some reason that quote caused me to draw an automatic paralel between Romney (the turk) and Guiliani (the "Christian")
Just more food for thought. :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Joel: I think a reading of Alan Cross's post on this subject would be the same answers I would and have given. A Turk is a whole different ball of wax than Mormonism. This is a deep personal conviction with me. Mormonism is a dangerous cult in my view and I'm very surprised how Mitt is embraced by those in the Evangelical community I don't think we need to get what we want at any price. It's not his social issues I am concerned with. They are very moral as Mormons are very moral people, except they do lie. They do not tell everything they believe. Lying by omission is lying, so really how moral is that? From a practical standpoint, what else would Mitt be willing to lie about by exclusion of details? Why don't we get behind Mike Huckabee? I never could understand why he wasn't endorsed from the beginning. I do think that Mitt is not going to be all that those who embrace him think him to be in the White House. But the bottom line is I do not want a Mormon, who America has no idea what they are getting, in the White House.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Another thought. Should this be disregarded? The belief of Mormons of where black people came from? Their view of women in heaven? That may or may not have a bearing in the White House, but just as my faith is who I am in my daily life, I believe Mitt will not be able to just drop his faith in the White House. Who would his spiritual adviser be?

Joel Rainey said...

Let me be clear; I am not "embracing" Romney. In fact, I believe I have shared in this post that I am also uncomfortable with the way Dobson, Land and others have "warmed up" to him. Although you and I obviously disagree about the degree to which his Mormonism would affect his Presidency, I share your concern that many evangelicals are dismissing these concerns on the grounds that Mormonism is "no big deal."

Also, your questions are going to cause me to do something I didn't want to formally do here: personally endorse a candidate. Mike Huckabee is my guy. I like him, and come primary day, I will cast my vote for him. (ACtually, my real choice was Ron Paul, but since the chances of him getting the nomination are the same as the survival chances of a snowball in you-know-where, Huckabee ties for first place with me.)

I think he would make a superb President, and it appears from recent polls that he is not nearly so much of a "long shot" as some thought earlier.

My point in this post was not to endorse Mitt. However, I was just sharing that in the event that he gets the nod, I would have no problem voting for him. But the way you feel about Mitt is the way I feel about Giulianni.

Its always good to interact with you.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Ha ha. I feel the same way about Guiliani. It's a pleasure to interact with you as well Joel. Thank you.