The EFM Feature

…has put together a fabulous post on why “Mitt Romney should be a serious option for thoughtful traditional Christian voters.” It begins:

Mitt Romney is nearly a picture perfect Republican candidate for President. With a long family Republican heritage, he is a popular and successful governor and that is the job that has been the best stepping-stone to the Presidency in my lifetime.

And then (later) he comes to the objection we’ve all been waiting for:

But to be blunt, Romney carries extra baggage: He is a member of the LDS (Mormon) Church. Will Evangelicals and traditional Christians vote for a candidate that they believe worships in a fringe cult?
If Romney cannot get traditional Christian votes, he cannot win in the primaries let alone the general election.
Should Christians oppose Romney on religious grounds?

He continues, using language that sounds just like EFM’s:

First, let me dispose of the weakest argument against Romney that his Mormonism by its very nature disqualifies him from office.
We are electing the President of the United States not the Patriarch of Antioch, the Bishop of Rome, or the President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Right on! More:

Christians believe that their faith can inform politics, but have learned through the centuries that tolerance to other worldviews that inform other political points of view is the best policy. We believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all areas of human life and attempt to manifest that Lordship in our persons, but are wise enough not to try to be Messiah in the lives of others. Until Christ returns, there will be a public space in which tolerance, and the openness to the possibility of our own error in our fallen state, must be our guide.
A traditional American Christian will only be intolerant of those who will not play by republican rules of government or who wish to deny the self-evident, God given, right to life, liberty, and individual flourishing.
I do not deny the Lord Jesus, when I attempt to use peaceful persuasion and humility to advance His claims and forgo the forceful imposition of views distasteful to my foes, since the Lord Jesus Himself allows them the freedom to have those views in this life.
There is a stronger religious argument against Romney and that is that the LDS Church embraces notions so weird that they disqualify someone who holds them from the support of rational persons. I have heard this argument made on occasion in private by traditional Christians. In other words, to be a good Mormon (assuming he is one), Mitt Romney has had to adopt views that no sane man could hold. Failing the test of sanity in a major area is a good reason to doubt general personal fitness for the job of President.
After all, if one ran for President as a member of a Cargo Cult, this would seem good enough reason to dismiss such a person from contention.
It should be noted that this is a dangerous argument for any religious person to make without great care. Secular extremists often label any religious idea “nutty.” Minority views are often correct (as Christians in the early era were in my own view!) and so there is no easy majority test for what is acceptable belief in the public square.

Yep, absolutely. And he goes on:

Religious believers should also be wary of the trite response from pro-Romney folk that religion is a matter of the heart and religious beliefs should not count at all. Religion claims knowledge and some of that knowledge is testable. Both traditional Christianity and Mormonism believe the tomb of Jesus Christ to have been empty by end of Easter morning. This is, at least in theory, a testable proposition about the real world.

Obviously, EFM has not made this “matter of the heart” argument.
Reynolds goes on to set out a distinctly EFM-esque view of doctrine as it relates to public policy:

Second, the group in question should not have religious claims that will naturally lead to horrific, or at least far out, public policy.
If a religious group believed Whites or African-Americans were sub-human, this would be the sort of evil and foolish idea with public policy implications that would disqualify members from such a group from holding office.
If the Mormon Church ever had views that would have led to weird public policy positions, they are part of its past. One must be careful to argue against the LDS Church as it exists and not as it existed in the distant past or from slanders in non-expert writings like those of Arthur Conan Doyle.
The LDS Church has a remarkable record in the area of care for its members and in support for family values. In those areas where LDS views might suggest public policy ideas to a Mormon politician, opposition to abortion and gay marriage, such views are well within the American political mainstream.
I can see no reason to think that Mormon ideas will lead to irrational public policy in the mind of a thinking Mormon or to doubt public descriptions of a Mormon public policy.

Indeed. And later there is this:

Opposition to Romney on the grounds of his religion is not, therefore, sensible. If not sensible, it is bigotry. Traditional Christians, commanded to love their neighbor, cannot vote their fears or prejudices. They must vote their best selves and that means they cannot vote irrationally.
Unless I hear further arguments, I believe Mitt Romney deserves a chance to make his case to traditional Christians without his religion being an issue. I have invited him to Torrey Honors at Biola University to make this case.*
Of course, traditional Christians might oppose Romney for his political beliefs. They might oppose Romney because they favor another candidate, but they cannot be consistent and oppose Romney for his religious beliefs. Mitt Romney should be a serious option for thoughtful traditional Christian voters.

Okay, I’m done. Read the whole thing. It is excellent.
Hat tip: reader Cary.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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