The EFM Feature

Mitt Romney is, according to Warren Cole Smith.  And you know what?  So am I.

I’m not kidding.  Check out Mr. Smith’s piece at Patheos, where David also hangs out.   He writes the following:

For evangelical Christians, Romney has some additional explaining to do. On such essential doctrines as the Trinity and the role of Jesus in salvation, there are major differences between orthodox (biblical) Christianity and Mormonism. But the real problem is that Mormons believe and teach an American history that is in many particulars completely unsubstantiated and in others demonstrably false. Mormons believe that the “lost tribes” of Israel actually ended up in America, and that Jesus visited America and these tribes during his incarnation. These are just a few of Mormonism’s highly idiosyncratic views of history.

Does Mitt Romney believe these views? Why or why not? Does he believe historical facts are matters of personal opinion? More to the point, does he really believe that, if he were to become the GOP nominee, he would not have to answer these questions before the world? Romney will face a Hobson’s choice. He will either affirm certain beliefs about reality and American history that most Americans will find false or flimsy, or else he will reject them be thereby “outed” as a hypocrite or traitor to his own belief system.

Notwithstanding the fact that I don’t agree with the various oddities of LDS teaching, this is a profoundly dangerous argument.  Why?  Because there are countless things I hold dear that sound just as weird (if not offensive) to an outsider to my faith as what Mormons believe about Missouri.  Just to give you a partial list, I believe God actually created the world as described in Genesis, I believe a virgin in the Middle East actually bore God’s son as described in the gospels, I believe there actually was a flood that destroyed everything that wasn’t on an ark that a guy named Noah actually built, I believe a man named Lazarus actually died and was raised and that the same thing happened to the one who raised him, I like Jonathan “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” Edwards a whole lot, and I believe in unadulterated Calvinist predestination.  I’d be willing to bet Mr. Smith also holds to many, if not all, of those views.  I’d also be willing to vote for someone (for instance, Gov. Bobby Jindal) whose religion teaches that you can turn bread into flesh and that after you do so, you’re supposed to eat it, as well as someone (let’s call her Parah Salin) who belongs to a brand of religion that’s big on letting your tongue make noises that sound to others like a seizure but count in your mind as true worship.

So…is Mr. Smith’s argument profoundly dangerous because it would keep me from being elected president?  No.  If anything, we should have more arguments that keep me far away from the big, red nuclear button.  My point is that if you grant his premise with regard to Mormonism (it’s just so kooky that anyone who believes it has to explain it, and by the way it’s so kooky that you can’t) you will disqualify a lot of others, including probably yourself, from the presidency in the process.

Toward the end of his piece, Mr. Smith makes a related argument that I want to address, too:

I believe a candidate who either by intent or effect promotes a false and dangerous religion is unfit to serve. Mitt Romney has said it is not his intent to promote Mormonism. Yet there can be little doubt that the effect of his candidacy—whether or not this is his intent—will be to promote Mormonism. A Romney presidency would have the effect of actively promoting a false religion in the world. If you have any regard for the Gospel of Christ, you should care. A false religion should not prosper with the support of Christians. The salvation of souls is at stake….

The Mormon Church of today is, by the lights of biblical evangelical Christianity, a false religion. If Mitt Romney believes what the Mormon Church teaches about the world and how it operates, then he is unfit to serve.

There he really boils it down:  Anyone who believes a false religion is “unfit to serve.”

Here’s the problem.  If you can actually enforce this, at least if you’re as radical a right-wing reactionary nut as I am, you’re going to disqualify a whole lot more people than Mormons.  And furthermore, I defy you to enforce it, because you can’t tell on TV what someone’s deeply held theological beliefs are.

What I mean by this is simple:  Finding false religion isn’t just as simple as rooting out Mormons, Muslims, and Hindus.  The Bible I read indicates there’s a lot more false religion out there than that, much of it within what calls itself the Christian church.  The number-one manifestation of this I see is the gospel of works–the idea that you can earn your way into heaven by doing the right thing.  The God of the Bible rejects the sacrifices and despises the religious feasts of those whose hearts are far from him.  Yet most mainline Protestant churches teach this false gospel of works.  Are we, then, to refuse to vote for Episcopalians?

My guess is someone like Mr. Smith would respond that no, not all members of wandering denominations believe a false gospel.  That’s absolutely right.  But here’s the rub:  You can’t tell that much about a man’s heart on the boob tube.  You just can’t.  Unless you know a presidential candidate personally for years, you’re relying on soundbites and scripted debates, all screened by the media.  And if you do that, you open yourself up to being played for a fool by people who know how to speak Christian-ese well enough to make you think you know their hearts.

Guess what?  I don’t know what’s in Mitt Romney’s heart.  I’ve met him for less than five minutes total in my life.  I could tell you that he said some phrase to me that just made me sure, or that the Holy Spirit just reassured me…but the truth is, I don’t know and neither do you.  And you shouldn’t try.  It’s a dangerous game that leads nowhere.  Instead, look at his life–not to divine his secret theological leanings, but to see what kind of president he’ll be.

Look at his marriage and his family, which is a record of behavior lasting decades.  Look, too, at his political record.  Contra Mr. Smith, he’s never supported “gay marriage” and he fought it bravely and wisely in the most liberal state in the union.  He came around on abortion–which is the point of this whole pro-life movement, no?–and opposed embryonic stem cell research even though his wife suffers from M.S. and allegedly would have benefited from such research.  I recognize that’s not a perfect solution.  But the one Mr. Smith proposes (I’m sure with the best intentions in the world) would be disastrous.

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.

Comments and Discussion

Evangelicals for Mitt provides comments as a way to engage in a public and respectiful discussion about articles and issues. Any comment may be removed by the editors for violating common decency or tempting flames.

35 Responses to Are You Too Kooky to Be Prez?

  1. standfortruth says:

    Thank you for the assessment and opinion. As I realize the error/hypocrisy in dissecting someone’s religion as a basis for presidential qualifications, I am a bit concerned of the perspective of some of our country’s conservatives. I wonder how well they understand the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ purposes……especially God who inspired the Constitution.

    Is the candidate a honest and moral person? Do they believe in God or Creator? Do they serve and help others? I was actually looking for the first part of this quote but thought the last half is applicable to the point.

    Benjamin Franklin
    Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Unites States Constitution

    “Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped.

    That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.

    As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see;

    But I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive, that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.”
    –Benjamin Franklin wrote this in a letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University on March 9, 1790.

    One thing about Glenn Beck’s efforts in the past year or so is to UNITE people of faith whether, Christian (that DOES include Mormons, Catholics—others who view the glass differently than some Evangelicals), Jew, Muslim. He “zooms” out far enough to promote good, common sense and sanity WITHOUT dissecting individual doctrinal differences. The GOOD and TRUTH in all religions should be a uniting point.

    My biggest concern would be that religious freedom for ALL be protected by the POTUS not diminished. In the past 2 1/2 years, many freedoms, religious and otherwise, have been undermined. I want a POTUS who will protect that for us! Who better than a man whose religion is ridiculed by other “religious” people?? But you know……I really think Romney’s mission is to get us MORE fiscally viable and more protected in the international world.

    Thanks, EFM, for the good you do!

  2. Doug Campbell says:

    Great response to Warren Smith. Another point is Obama’s church, has his being elected president changed the credability of his church? Thanks for EFM I have followed it since the last election cycle. It’s great. Doug

  3. Arlene Heiner says:

    I’ve never commented on a blog like this before but I just couldn’t help it. Great article using just good old common sense. I agree that you can determine what a person is like by the life he leads. The more I learn about Mitt Romney the more I like and trust him.

  4. Liz says:

    I enjoyed this read. So, what false religion did that fella that said it was the end of the world already belong to? Al Gore is false too. I think the earth is supposed to be consumed by global warming catastrophe just about now. Yep, under this analysis, pretty much everyone is unfit to be POTUS except for God. And that’s a problem, inasmuch as God expects us in large part to conduct our own affairs. It’s become clear to me that outward declarations of religious affiliation can have little or no relation to the inward reality. Especially in politics. I completely agree that you need to look at the fruits born by any given tree for a more accurate understanding of what that person values.

  5. ogrepete says:

    Awesome post, Charles.

    “Look at his life.” This reminds me an awful lot of “by their fruits shall ye know them.”

  6. David Walser says:

    If Mr. Smith is right to worry that having a Mormon in the White House would promote a false religion, shouldn’t he be more concerned about the thousands of Mormons serving in our public schools? I’ll bet a favorite high school teacher has a stronger influence on the lives of our youth than does the President and there are tens of thousands of Mormons who are high school teachers across the US. Of course, it’s not just the teaching profession that’s infected with Mormons, these believers in a false religion also serve in our public libraries, lead our scout troops, play professional sports, and entertain us on stage and TV. Shouldn’t Mr. Smith focus his energies on this much larger problem of having so many unfit people serving in such positions of influence over our children? I’m NOT suggesting we drive Mormons out of the country or out of public life, we just shouldn’t let them be seen by our children in a positive light. I mean, what would happen if people as popular and as famous as Donny Osmond, Steve Young, or Johnny Miller were Mormons? How, under such an onslaught of positive influence, could any Christian family keep their children from becoming Mormon, too?

    Or, perhaps Mr. Smith could swallow a large perspective pill and realize if it’s alright for our children’s teacher to be a Mormon it might be okay for their President to be one, too.

  7. Nate says:

    Kudos, Charles. I read Mr. Smith’s article and found it so odd and so unAmerican. I am glad I am not alone in this. How would Mr. Smith enjoy the shoe being on the other foot and another religion being in the majority declaring he is unfit to serve because of his belief in a false religion that didn’t jive 100% with the majority’s?
    The doctrine of the LDS Church is different, however it is never explained correctly by those who obviously have an agenda against it. For the most part he was right, but either by ignorance or intentionally he didn’t explain the beliefs correctly. This isn’t the forum to correct LDS doctrine, but it is frustrating to see.
    I really love this website and am excited to see what happens next. We really have some great candidates! I am for Mitt but could easily vote for Palin, Bachmann, Cain, Pawlenty, or even Newt. Who knows maybe Rudy, Perry, and Christie will jump in.
    One question though. . .
    Is Mr. Smith going to write an article examining the Religion of each of these so we can get the holy stamp of approval from a believer in the one true Faith that their beliefs are acceptance to him as a Christian?

  8. Robert says:

    Consider the ramifications of Mr. Smith’s position. He thinks Mormonism is a false religion, which disqualifies Governor Romney from consideration. What if Mormons take the same view? We disagree with some tenets of Evangelical religion. If a significant number of Mormons decided they would follow Mr. Smith’s lead and refused to vote for Evangelicals, it would be a real problem for Republicans. Can you envision an electoral map leading to a Republican victory if the candidate loses Mormon support in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona?
    Insulting Mormons seems like bad politics.

  9. Stan Moon says:

    That is an excellent response to Warren Smith. I would like to see more think like you, Charles. Thanks for the good work.

  10. Timotheus says:

    There ma be a theocracy one day when the Lord comes again, until then, I am willing to live in this pluralistic society and yes, vote for people of a variety of different faiths for public office.

  11. Charles Mitchell says:

    While helping with EFM’s latest makeover, I’ve been going through old posts. Here’s an excellent one (excellent because of what Charles Spurgeon, not Charles Mitchell, says) that speaks directly to one of Mr. Smith’s arguments.

  12. Pingback: Too Kooky for President? | Philosophical Fragments

  13. Wren says:

    Warren Smith breaks the commandment “Ye shall not Judge” when he asserts that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a false religion and our nation would be harmed by a man like Mitt Romney. One would only have to listen to an LDS Conference talk, attend a local LDS meeting, hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or research the background of Mitt Romney to think otherwise. With our nation fast going down the tubes, there are more important issues with which to spend your time.

    • Lance Ellinghaus says:

      If anyone wants to read/hear what we believe, a good way is to read/listen to the General Conference talks..
      This last April had some really good talks…
      Some of the talk titles are:

      The Sabbath and the Sacrament
      Followers of Christ
      The Atonement Covers All Pain
      LDS Women are Incredible!
      Guided by the Holy Spirit
      Establishing a Christ-Centered Home
      AThe Essence of Discipleship
      The Spirit of Revelation
      The Eternal Blessings of Marriage
      The Miracle of the Atonement

      There are many more and the are great to listen to.

  14. Lance Ellinghaus says:

    Charles (snd the rest of the EFM staff), Thank you for being open minded and able to look at the world in a reasonable way!
    This is a great article. We all need to work together, just as we did for Prop 8 in California.

  15. Charles Mitchell says:

    Wren, I appreciate your interest and your comment, but I’ve got to defend Mr. Smith here. Jesus himself spent much of his life condemning false teachers such as the Pharisees. There’s nothing un-Christian about saying what is and isn’t false teaching; to say this is to say we either are supposed to believe there is no false teaching, or that there is but we shouldn’t speak against it. What’s wrong with Mr. Smith saying Mormonism is a false religion? If he believed otherwise, he’d be a Mormon (as would I). If you believed evangelical Christianity were the true religion, presumably you’d be an evangelical Christian. My beef isn’t that Mr. Smith thinks his religion is true and others are false; it’s that he says he could only vote for someone for president who could also be his pastor.

    • Lance Ellinghaus says:


      I agree. This is one of the basic foundations of this Great Country! We can have religious differences and still live in the same country. Mr. Smith has every right to say my religion is false. That is his personal belief. I would never tell anyone that they cannot believe what they want. I have friends that are many different religions.

      The point is, as you stated, it is wrong for him to say that we can only vote for those of the same version of religion. We are supposed to seek out truth in all that we do. We find truth in other religions. I do not have a problem with that. I have a problem with closed minded people that act like Mr. Smith. If he wants ONLY his brand of Evangelical Christians to be in office (and there are MULTIPLE versions of Evangelical), then he really should move someplace else. I take it he has not voted before in many elections? It would be very interesting to hear who he has voted for before and see if they ALL meet his requirement of being the same Evangelical version that he is.. Or is this just an anti-mormon statement (as I believe it is)?

      This country would not have been formed if the founding fathers had Mr. Smith’s attitude.

      • Charles Mitchell says:

        Lance, let’s disagree but not impugn (including not pretending we know the other party’s motives, which onyl God does). Sound good?

        • Wren says:

          By Mr. Smith, or you, saying The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a false religion he is making a judgment that only God himself can make.

          • Lance Ellinghaus says:


            What I have never understood is how different followers of Chirst can determine who is a “Christian” and who is not based on their own determiniation.

            Afterall, the term “Christian” came about BEFORE the Council of Nicea and meant ANYONE that follows Christ (The only two instances of “Christian” in the KJV are 1 Peter 4:16 and Acts 26:28).

            If the definition of “Christian” depends on the Creeds made by the Council of Nicea, then how could there be “Christians” before the 3rd and 4th Century AFTER Christ’s death?

            I think anyone can call themselves “Christian” if they follow Christ, just as they were in Paul and Peter’s time.

            If someone says they follow Christ, The only thing I can do is see if they do follow Christ or if they just say they do. Either way, it is not for me to say they are not “Christian”. That is between them and Christ.

          • Charles Mitchell says:

            Wren, one more response on this, not because I think I can convince you, but because it’s an important point for all of us to understand. If your religion is true and mine is different, then mine is false. If you refuse to concede this point (which is also true in reverse) then you cross the line into postmodernism. We don’t need to do that in order to have a sensible view of religion and politics.

  16. gene hand says:

    Is that KOOKY picture Charles ?
    I thought he would be much meaner looking calling us Mormons false !? Ha Ha Ha.
    Somewhere in this beautiful mind of Charles he forgot that an Apostle said faith with out works is DEAD,DEAD,DEAD!
    Charles, you and David and Nancy are very appreciated .
    Over all this is an excellent article. This Smith guy is way beyond kooky. A scripture says it would be better to have a wise non-believer than a foolish beliver in charge !

  17. Jim Tills says:

    Mr. Smith definitely has a bias against Mormons because he gives statements about the faith that are factually not true. Then, adamantly maintains the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) is false and therefore, we should find Mitt Romney unfit to be POTUS. How patently absurd! The Mormons do NOT believe that the ten tribes ended up in America and that Jesus visited them after His incarnation as Smith states. The Latter-day Saints believe a portion of one of the ten tribes (Joseph through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh) came to the Americas and were visited by the Savior after his resurrection (see John 10:16). What is absurd about that?
    The American Indian legends of over 20 different American tribes teach about a bearded white God that visited the Americas. Why not? Jesus loves all people and visited the disciples after His resurrection in Judea. Why couldn’t He have visited righteous people living in the Americas? My point is that the belief is not so bizzare that it would be considered insanity and therefore disqualify such a person who held such a belief from having moral values and love of the Constitution sufficient to be an excellent President of the United States. I believe there is noone more qualified to lead our Nation our of its current quagmire of joblessness and socialistic induced depression than is Mitt Romney.

  18. gene hand says:



    • Bro says:

      And by “Saving” do you mean shipping all of our jobs overseas to save huge corporations money and then telling us that he’s looking out for American businesses?

      What about American employees/families?

      Why did he pass pro-abortion legislature?
      What about signing gay-marriage into law?

      He believes Jesus came to America and gave some random guy a new Bible to live by.

      This is a cult! This is not Christianity. Any Christian who supports Mitt is going against the Lamb of Judah.

  19. Bro says:

    Lol. Man, I love Jesus and I know Jesus would not want me voting for a Mormon to lead the nation he so loves and adores.

    There’s no way I will roll over and accept Romney as the candidate.

    We need a true, strong Christian leader in America.

  20. Tina says:

    This site should be called:

    Mormons (who are lying and calling themselves evangelicals) For Mitt …

    Why are Mormons so sneaky?

    • Katherine P says:

      We probably are following this site for similar reasons that some Evangelicals who are opposed to Mitt are following this site – to discuss similarities and differences in opinion.

      Just when I was about to “like” this site on Facebook, I read your comment and had a change of heart because I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I think I was confusing Evangelicals with Protestants for a minute.

  21. Lynne Kohler says:

    I’m a Mormon who has been following this site with interest. I truly hope that most of the participants are evangelicals. I would hate to think that evangelical ministers are teaching their congregations to be prejudiced against Mormons. That would be very a very unchristian thing to do. But it really puzzles me why some evangelicals hate us so. Do evangelicals hate Catholics and Jews as well? Are there Mormons who have hurt these people in the past causing deepseated feelings that they are now taking out on Mitt, who would never hurt anyone, much less say anything disparaging about another person’s religion. I’m really curious. Do you have classes that teach you about the Mormon religion in a way that would make people distrust us?

  22. Lynne says:

    You don’t need to answer my question. I already know the answer, but to be honest I did note some very Mormon sounding people responding. The problem is that Mormons have been taught from the time they are young to share the gospel. Mormons are very excited about what they believe and have a hard time passing an opportunity by to tell about their church. I know this turns evangelicals off, but it is how we are. But perhaps there should be some rules here so we don’t get sucked into to our ‘habit’. Could there be a request that if Mormons enter information they need to identify themselves as Mormons right from the start. That way we can avoid the label, ‘sneaky Mormons’. If your readers don’t want to find out what Mormons really believe they can skip that part. But let’s face it. There are a lot of lies going around out there about our church and it is like an itch. We are going to scratch it.

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