The EFM Feature

According to Matt Lewis of Townhall.com, “It’s Official: Romney is the Social Conservative Alternative.” I guess I won’t argue with him, though I’m loath to be unduly sanguine.
I will tell you something else I’m sure is official, though. I am officially sick of e-mails that question our salvation (and our sanity, but the former is what really drives me nuts) because we support Governor Romney. I don’t know about Nancy and Steve, but I’m getting an increased number of them these days. I used to respond to them, for the very reason that all of us needed some convincing in order to support Governor Romney, and we know others who were the same way.
However, as I think about it more, there’s a significant difference between some of the people I’ve tried to convince and the e-mails I’ve gotten lately. Namely, it’s one thing to have some questions and even to be a little discomfited–but it’s entirely another to launch vicious attacks and, in case you haven’t gotten the memo that I don’t like this, questioning someone’s salvation on the basis of a political disagreement.
With that in mind, I’m announcing–I know, you care–a new e-mail policy. If I get an e-mail along the lines of the former mindset–which, I should say, was Steve’s mindset before we had some conversations!–I’ll happily respond. But if you feel compelled to tell me there’s no possible way I’m a Christian because you disagree with my choice in a Republican primary, save yourself the typing and just read this Q&A post, inspired by Dean Barnett.
How could you possibly support a Mormon presidential candidate as an evangelical?
Well, the short answer is we believe Governor Romney is not only acceptable to conservative Christians, but that he is clearly the best choice for people of faith. He is right on all the issues, and he has proven his positions with actions. He is a gifted and persuasive spokesman for our political and moral values. Here is the bottom line: the 2008 election is for president, not pastor. We would never advocate that the Governor become our pastor or lead our churches—we disagree with him profoundly on theological issues. But we reject the notion that the president of the United States has to be in perfect harmony with our religious doctrine. In fact, that is not a test that has been applied before—after all, Jimmy Carter was probably more theologically in line with evangelicals than Ronald Reagan, yet we believe that Reagan was clearly the better choice in 1980.
Okay, so what’s the long answer?
It’s the statement on the left navigation bar titled “Why We Support Mitt.” Unfortunately, few of the people who send enraged e-mails seem to have read it, or anything beyond the name of our site. Seriously, please read it. That’s why we wrote it. And it’s kind of disrespectful to e-mail someone demanding answers after you’ve ignored what they’ve written just for people like you.
I don’t think you’re really a Christian. No true evangelical would support a Mormon for president. Don’t you know that Mormons believe [insert incorrect doctrine here].
First of all, if you think it’s your place to decide who’s a Christian rather than God’s, perhaps we really do differ on what it means. Secondly, yes, we know about Mormon doctrine, and we profoundly disagree with it, as we say over and over. Thirdly, we reject the notion that every single theological matter is relevant in a political campaign. That doesn’t mean theology is irrelevant in general–far be it from us to make a statement like that. But it does mean that not every part of it affects how someone would govern, and political campaigns are about precisely that. For more on this, please read David’s post “When Does Theology Matter?
How can we possibly vote for a presidential candidate whose faith is different from ours?
You can start by recognizing that many, if not most, of the leading lights of American history were not orthodox Christians. For instance, Thomas Jefferson denied the divinity of Christ. Yet he drafted the Declaration of Independence, laying the groundwork for our great nation on Judeo-Christian principles. For more, see my post “I’m No Theologian.”
Do you have an example from Scripture?
Yes. See my post “What Does Ezra Have to Tell Us?” See also Professor Wayne Grudem’s endorsement on Townhall.com.
Wouldn’t a President Romney try to evangelize for Mormonism? Wouldn’t he take the oath of office on the Book of Mormon?
Fortunately, we don’t have to use our imaginations on this point. Governor Romney took the oath of office in Massachusetts on the Bible, and he’s never done anything during his time in public office to push his faith. However, he has been a great advocate for the values evangelicals and Mormons share, including a belief in the sanctity of life and traditional marriage. See our “On the Issues” page and also the letter on his record from Massachusetts pro-family leaders.
Wouldn’t having a Mormon president hurt evangelical evangelism?
We don’t think so. See my post “An Excruciating Decision.”
Okay, really. How can an evangelical support Governor Romney? Is there anybody other than you guys?
Because he shares our values and has defended them on the most hostile terrain imaginable. And other than Professor Grudem, social-conservative stalwart Paul Weyrich has also endorsed him. So have Bob Jones III, pro-life attorney Jim Bopp, evangelical PR guru Mark DeMoss, and John Willke, a founder and former president of the National Right To Life Committee.
What else you got?
If we as evangelicals torpedo Governor Romney’s candidacy because we disagree with his doctrine, we’ll be shooting ourselves in the foot. The poll numbers for “I wouldn’t vote for an evangelical” aren’t much better than those for “I wouldn’t vote for a Mormon”–because the secular left can’t stand either one of us. For more, see David’s post “I Told You We’re All in This Together.”

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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