The EFM Feature
Dodge, from Flickr user tkw954, used under a Creative Commons license

I just read this blog post by Emily Schulteis at POLITICO on L’Affaire Jeffress & Perry.  It is one of many places (another is the excellent blog written by Jennifer Rubin) where Herman Cain and others are being accused of dodging questions about Gov. Romney’s faith.  This might surprise you coming from a Romney supporter, but I think Mr. Cain and others (yes, including Gov. Perry) are exactly right to refuse to opine on whether Gov. Romney is a Christian.  It would be foolish for them to do so–just as it would be foolish for my fellow evangelicals to take Robert Jeffress’s advice.  Two reasons why:

1.  Being a Christian is an issue of an individual’s heart–whether he personally believes that Jesus atoned for his sins on the cross 2,000 years ago and is today the cornerstone of his life–not the church he joins.  How would these people know the true state of Gov. Romney’s heart?  And even if the question is a bit different (whether Mormonism is a Christian religion, not about Gov. Romney personally) these are politicians, not theologians.  Who cares what they think?  Mr. Cain is right:  They aren’t running for theologian-in-chief, there’s a difference between that office and commander-in-chief, and they should speak accordingly.

2.  Even if Gov. Romney’s fellow candidates actually had some wisdom to offer on the state of his heart or complex doctrinal/denominational disputes, those issues–while very important ultimately–are not what we as a nation need to sort out in order to pick our next president.  The key question is this:  Should self-identified Christian voters require that the president be someone who is, in their minds at least, a Christian?  Pastor Jeffress says yes.  We believe that stance is both unbiblical and unwise.  Whether you agree with us or not, that’s the key issue–and that’s the one on which Ms. Schulteis, Ms. Rubin, and other journalists would do well to focus like a laser.

While I’m at it, here’s an even more controversial statement:  I don’t think the claims Pastor Jeffress has made qualify as “bigotry,” as many are saying.  Christian pastors have every right to state their views on what is and isn’t Christianity–and even to give lousy political advice.  I also give Gov. Romney credit for not playing the victim card, as some of his supporters have.  The world might look different today if another national political figure had adopted the same strategy more frequently.

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.

6 Responses to Not a Dodge

  1. Lori says:

    Charles, respectfully disagree. Jeffress lifting himself to be the arbiter of all things Christian and decider of things non-Christian is bigotry. Not because he points out differences in the two faiths. But because declaring that his flock have a duty to vote for those he deems true Christians makes it very clear that those not of his faith are inferior and unworthy of their votes with rare exception. He further says so in a political setting, making sure those of his faith know that members of a minority religion are unworthy of Christian support.

    My own opinion is that his statements were vulgar and low, and hurtful, and dishonor the American Constitutional protections of religious liberty, tolerance and the barring of religious tests for office. Is this not prejudice and bigotry? Before answering that, try substituting two different creeds, races, ethnicities, all constitutionally protected classes for Christian and Mormon in this same context. Jeffress is a bigot.One might as well say so.

  2. Rex McBride says:

    To flollow on to Lori’s post, and Charles article, I believe that if a person who professes one religiion refuses to vote for a person of another religioin (such as if I as a Mormon refused to vote for Kennedy as a Catholic, because of his religion, or Santorum as a Catholic, or Perry as a Baptist) then that is intolerant. It’s nobody’s business but mine, if I am intolereant.

    Where I think you cross the line from intolerance to bigotry is if you make a categorical statement that all persons of one religion should not vote for any candidate of another religion, because it is God’s will — where you appoint yourself to judge in God’s place — that is bigotry.

    In our free country, any person is free to be intolerant of someone else’s faith. Likewise, every person is free to be a bigot and lift himself as God’earthly jduge of others.

    However, those who observerve bigotry — undertaken in the name of God — are free to point out that the New Testament says “judge not” and teaches that only God can judge the hearts of others.

    Bigotry is a lower, more toxic version of intolerance.

    Rex

    Rex

  3. Jonesy says:

    The man states that it is better to vote for a pro-choice “Christian” than a pro-life “Mormon.”

    Yes, Romney has been smart to just overlook this classless man’s opinion. And Romney’s supporters shouldn’t focus on this. We are not victims. This is really not that big of an issue. But to say this guy isn’t a bigot cuts against the weight of the evidence in my opinion.

  4. JediMormon says:

    As one who, for several decades now, has had conversations almost on a daily basis with those who claim that Mormonism is a cult, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter what they think–or say. Folks like Jeffress can rage on all they want, but politically, they won’t make much difference at all in the way people vote. The smart voters will realize that Romney’s religion doesn’t have a whole lot to do with how he will perform as a U.S. President.

    On the religious front, Mormonism being a cult or not is a debate that will probably continue for, well, who knows how long. But it’s a debate that is best kept outside of the political arena.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>