Does Mitt Romney’s Religion Matter?

If Mitt Romney is elected president, he will be the first Mormon to do so. He will follow in the footsteps of John F. Kennedy who was the first Roman Catholic president to be elected. As with Kennedy, Romney’s religious beliefs are being questioned and scrutinized.

Many Evangelical Christians will not vote for a Mormon because Mormonism is classified as a cult. Opposition is beginning to wane given the “anybody but Obama” mentality that persists:

The GOP’s all-important social conservatives may be getting more comfortable with Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith — but liberals are increasingly wary about the candidate’s religion in the run-up to November, according to a new study. . . . Among liberal voters, 43 percent said they were less likely to vote for a Mormon presidential candidate in 2012, compared with 28 percent in 2007.

Liberals, of course, oppose anyone who holds religious beliefs, except, it seems, Islamic beliefs. I suspect that Liberals are more afraid of Muslims than they are of Christians. Christians won’t lop their heads off. When’s the last time you heard a liberal comedian making fund of Mohammad or Allah?

Christians had high hopes in 1976 when Jimmy Carter ran as a “born again” president. Liberals were so mystified by the term that they actually had to do some research on the topic. Billy Graham wrote How to be Born Again (1977), a book that “made publishing history with its first printing of 800,000 copies,”1 to help them out.

Carter’s Southern Baptist Faith turned out to be a huge disappointment.  Gary North comments:

“The fundamentalists were happy to receive attention at long last (although a majority of white voters in the South actually vote for President Ford), and a few of them realized that Carter’s preferred theologians were liberals: Karl Barth, [Paul] Tillich, and especially Richard Niebuhr. He was also appreciative of the existential philosopher, Sören Kierkegaard. It took a non-Christian, libertarian columnist Jeffrey St. John, to put this out in his 1976 paperback, Jimmy Carter’s Betrayal of the South.2

So what did Carter’s born-again status do for his administration? “The Carter administration had not a single self-proclaimed born-again Christian in the Cabinet, or in any other high position. It was staffed by liberals and Trilaterialists, along with some old hands from the Council of Foreign Relations who had not entered the inner sanction of Trilateralism.”3

What can we expect from Mitt Romney in terms of his Mormon faith? There most likely won’t me a “Monica Moment” in the White House. He’s flip-flopped on issues like abortion and homosexuality that it’s hard to tell where he will come down on the issues. Popular conservative pressure might do the trick. Also, a more pro-life Congress would help. We’re winning the abortion debate even though we’ve had pro-life presidents who have been indifferent. Other than vetoing legislation, appointing judges, and using the bully pulpit there’s not a lot a president can do. The action is with the states and a lot of conservative rebuilding.

Like Carter was, President Obama is “personally opposed” to abortion but does not believe it is right to impose his personal opposition on women. I wonder what he would have said to those who personally opposed slavery and civil rights legislation but did not want to impose their moral opposition on others.

Republican president have been a big disappoint over the years. Will Mitt Romney reverse the trend if he wins? Probably not. That’s why we need to get busy raising up new generations of constitutionalists who will keep their oath to uphold the Constitution no matter what office they hold. There’s a lot of work to do. One election will not save us. It took us decades to get to this point in history; it might take an equal number of decades to get us out of the pit.

If there’s one thing we can learn from liberals is that they never give up. They keep pushing. I remember after the conservative sweep in 1980 that conservatives went home saying “we won” and then went to sleep while liberals were plotting on how to get it all back.

  1. Maynard Good Stoddard, “Billy Graham: The World is his Pulpit,” Saturday Evening Post ((March 1, 1986). []
  2. Gary North, “Intellectual Schizophrenia” in Christianity and Civilization: The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, ed. James B. Jordan (Spring 1982), 7. []
  3. North, “Intellectual Schizophrnia,” 7. []
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