Since EFM is featured on Townhall.com today, I suspect we’ll be getting a few new readers. With that in mind, I think it’s worth exploring a topic we’ve looked at before. And that’s what I’ll call “Why We Don’t Not Support Governor Romney.”
Let me explain. Our Townhall piece is very similar to our new “Why We Support Mitt” explanation. And while there’s a lot discussed in there — probably too much for one op-ed, actually — we couldn’t hit everything. And if you’re an undecided conservative evangelical clicking over from Townhall, I bet there’s one major issue left in your head. It’s the same one, incidentally, that’s been getting a lot of play over at the new “Pastors for Huckabee” blog. And that is: Would having a Mormon president hurt our evangelism?
That’s a serious issue. In fact, it was the major thing of which Steve — and several others I know — needed to be convinced before signing on as a supporter of Governor Romney’s. I’m positive there are many others like that. And you know what? That’s a good thing — because evangelicals who think that way are aware that spiritual matters are infinitely more important than political ones.
Having said that, obviously we all think having a Mormon president would not hurt our evangelism — otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.
Why is that? Well, in general terms, I would suggest that those who think electing a Mormon president will foil God’s plan of salvation need to rethink their view of the Lord — because He, and His Truth, are much more powerful than that.
Let’s unpack this.
One fear some folks express is that if Governor Romney is elected, Mormonism will get much more attention than ever before. That might be so. But why is that a bad thing? If you are a convinced evangelical, why are you afraid of what will happen when a bright spotlight is put on what you believe and what Mormons believe, side by side? Don’t you think the Truth will win out?
I thought about this again while watching Meet the Press yesterday. There, Tim Russert pressed Governor Romney on the comments Bob Jones III made in the course of endorsing him. Among other things, Dr. Jones called Mormonism an “erroneous religion.” Russert seemed to think that was an awful insult, one that a supporter of Governor Romney’s shouldn’t levy. Thankfully, the Governor is a big boy and can handle himself. But really — what is the big deal there? If Dr. Jones didn’t think Mormonism were an erroneous religion, he’d be a Mormon. And if Governor Romney didn’t think our religion were erroneous, he’d be an evangelical. There’s no shame in saying that. And there’s also no shame in our saying that if Governor Romney’s election leads to more comparisons being made between the two faiths, evangelicals will have nothing to fear. Why? Because the Gospel is the Gospel, and the Book of Mormon is not. Surely the Ruler of the universe will make that known to whomever He wills, no matter who the president is.
Another fear we often hear is that the LDS church would use a President Romney as a “celebrity endorser” to market Mormonism. For one thing, I wonder if the people who say this have thought at all about the impact our recent evangelical presidents (Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush) have had on public sentiment toward our faith. Frankly, I suspect it isn’t good, and it isn’t clear to me why Mormons would fare any better. These are polarized times, and the U.S. presidency is a polarizing office — both at home and abroad.
But that’s just me musing. Here’s the real stuff. I have seen no better response to this idea than David‘s recent e-mail to Jonah Goldberg:
In my mind, this line of reasoning is more responsible than any other for the religious-based objections to Mitt Romney’s candidacy. It is also so theologically and intellectually flawed that it almost makes me want to weep.
Do religions really stand or fall based on the attractiveness of their most famous adherents? Or does God perhaps have a say (I would say the decisive say) in the process? I presume that your correspondents would never stay in a Marriott hotel, fly Jetblue, or root for the 49ers when Steve Young was throwing touchdown passes to Jerry Rice. Because, after all, they don’t want to endorse anyone or anything that brings credibility to the LDS church. I suppose God stands helplessly by as religions compete for souls by offering up a series of accomplished, attractive politicians and celebrities. (“I see your Steve Young and raise you a Kurt Warner.”)
In fact, as we know from the Bible, God more often uses the “least of these.” The King of Kings came not as a prince but a carpenter and allowed himself to be executed between two petty criminals. His apostles did not run Roman provinces but were instead chased across an empire, met in caves, and were sometimes torn apart in arenas for public amusement. And yet Christianity has endured and flourished. Why? Because – perhaps, just perhaps – God is in control.
So when I see Christians say that the eternal souls of men are in danger because a Mormon of genuine integrity and real accomplishment is running for president, I wonder who (or what) they have faith in: the sovereignty of a loving God who holds the nations in his hands, or the persuasive power of a Mormon missionary who can add one more celebrity to the list of famous LDSers (“we’re right because Gladys Knight, Danny Ainge, Dale Murphy, Harry Reid, and – yes – Mitt Romney say so!”)
One final objection we’ve heard is that we need a president with the correct theology so that God can use him more powerfully. But as Professor Wayne Grudem points out, there are many examples in the Bible showing that God works through leaders of all faiths to protect his people:
Or have we come to the point where evangelicals will only vote for people they consider Christians? I hope not, for nothing in the Bible says that people have to be born again Christians before they can be governmental authorities who are used greatly by God to advance his purposes. God used Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to raise Joseph to a position of authority over the whole country, so he could save his people from famine (Genesis 41:37-57). God used Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to protect and raise up Daniel and his Jewish friends to positions of high authority over Babylon (Daniel 2:46-49). God used Cyrus, King of Persia, to restore the Jewish exiles to their homeland (Isaiah 45:16; Ezra 1:1-4), and used Darius, King of Persia, to protect the Jewish people as they rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-12). God used Ahashuerus, King of Persia, to raise up Esther as Queen and to give Mordecai high authority and honor in his kingdom (Esther 6:10-11; 8:1-2, 7-15). In the New Testament age, God used the peace enforced by the secular Roman Empire, the Pax Romana, to enable the early Christians to travel freely and spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world.
Here in the United States, God used not only Founding Fathers who were strong Christians, but also Deists such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, to build the foundation of our nation. Jefferson even became our third President in 1801, a demonstration of the wisdom of Article 6 of the Constitution, which says, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
The Bible tells us to pray not just for Christians who happen to have government offices, but “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2). It is not just Christians in government but all governing authorities who are “instituted by God” (Romans 13:1) and whom Paul can call “God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:4).
So, to sum up, there are numerous positive reasons to vote for Governor Romney, as discussed in EFM’s piece on Townhall. And if you, as a conservative evangelical, want a president who has those but you’re worried because you believe — as we do — that Mormonism is an erroneous religion, then you should be confident in the following:
- God is more than powerful enough to make sure his Truth triumphs over the things of this world, including incorrect doctrine.
- God is more than powerful enough to overpower any “celebrity endorser.”
- God is more than powerful enough to work through a Mormon, a deist, a Babylonian, or whomever in order to keep his covenant promises.
Being confident in those things, you should then pick the president who’s most likely to govern based on the values God’s law instills — and remember that in order to govern, the person has to win first. If you do that, we’re confident that you will end up making the same choice we have.