From my e-mail bag, a correspondent offers this to buttress his claim that EFM, by its very existence, is “clearly doing a disservice to the cause of Christ”:
You are providing comfort to those lost in a deadly cult by embracing and actively promoting an LDS candidate. Again, this is even more troubling given that your active support of this man comes not in the context of a general election when there is no other choice for social conservatives, but several months before the primaries.
Obviously, I don’t agree with this. Let me briefly explain why, in case it’s helpful to any of our evangelical readers.
First of all, even if one takes this gentleman’s description of Mormonism as 100 percent true, EFM isn’t guilty of his charge. Nowhere do we say we agree with Mormonism, and we make clear so often that we don’t that it gets us a lot of displeased e-mails from LDS folks. In any event: We’re not endorsing the theological claims of Salt Lake City; we’re endorsing the political views and governing methodology of the former CEO of Massachusetts, the Olympics, and many successful business endeavors. The two are not equivalent.
Secondly, even if you assume that having a Mormon president is some sort of endorsement of Mormonism, I think it’s a mistake to assert that such an endorsement will necessarily inhibit evangelical evangelism (isn’t that a mouthful). As I’ve written before, I’m more than confident as to whether orthodox Christianity or Mormon theology will win the day if both are placed in the spotlight–as many predict will happen if a Mormon president is elected. (And as a Calvinist, I also believe that God, being infinitely more powerful than any American president–or even an e-mailer–will save whom he wishes no matter what. But that’s a whole different can of worms.)
Finally, this e-mailer suggests that it’s a different matter to support Governor Romney over, say, Governor Huckabee in the primary–as opposed to, say, Senator Clinton in the general election. That is a point all of us here have thought and prayed over, but I’m not sure we’ve ever addressed it specifically in public. By way of doing so, please allow me to direct your attention to the words of our friend Mark DeMoss, who recently did an interview with Article VI Blog and encapsulated the issue better than my words could:
Too often I think evangelicals have approached a national election in this way. We have said, let’s go find the person who is the most clearly Christian, or most clearly evangelical candidate, the most like us in every way, and try to get them elected. The problem I have with that mindset is that it gives almost a disregard for competence and other qualifications. And so, I’ve got lots of — a lady called me last night from California and said, she had read my book and tracked me down, and said, how are we going to get a Christian elected in ’08? We have to do this. You have to help us.
I think that is the wrong approach, because I don’t just want a Christian in this office, in the Oval Office. I want somebody who has run and managed big things, with big budgets, with lots of people, with complex problems, and who has shown leadership ability and on and on. And even the Washington Post, in an editorial, not an Op-Ed, the Post editorial, the week that Romney announced officially, they suggested in their editorial that while they didn’t agree with all of his positions, that his experience, his management experience and skills, set him apart from the rest of the field.
I think that is a huge point. This man, arguably, is the best rounded, most qualified person to ever run in President in my lifetime. And I say that for this reason, you could suggest that people like Ross Perot and Steve Forbes certainly had the business experience that Romney has, but neither of them had governing experience.
So, if you combine Romney’s business experience at Bain Capital, his leadership and management experience with the Salt Lake Olympics, and his governing experience as a Governor of a state with an opposition majority party, I don’t think anybody can even mention a candidate that has ever run that has those three components like Mitt Romney does. So, I think that’s an important point.
We are — if I had a religious litmus test for candidates, Governor Mike Huckabee would be my candidate. I wouldn’t look anywhere else. I think he’s the guy. But I don’t have that litmus test. I think that is an absurd test to put forward for who we want to lead us.