Why, as an evangelical Christian, I will vote for Mitt Romney even though he is a Mormon.

I am an evangelical Christian. I just finished reading an article in Christianity Today that cited an evangelical pastor who would not vote for Obama because of his ethical views on gay marriage and abortion. On the other hand the pastor said he has difficulty voting for Romney because he is a Mormon. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/october-web-only/largest-block-of-undecided-voters-pastors.html)

I am having no such anxiety because I am not voting for someone to be my pastor, but to be the president of the country. I wonder what other past presidents this pastor might have not voted for even though he might have agreed with their ethical positions because they didn’t fit his litmus test for religious orthodoxy. Certainly our early Deist fathers would have to fall into that category.

It is not the specific religious practices or beliefs that are crucial in selecting a president or senator, but her/his foundation beliefs concerning the world,  human nature and ethics which will influence his/her political policies and principles. What I want in an elected official is someone whose foundational beliefs correspond with mine as much as possible so that their policies will be configured with them too. Unless someone has plans on enforcing their particular religious practices or ideas on the rest of us, how do those things come into play?

I happen to believe in believer’s baptism. Does that mean that I wouldn’t vote for someone who supported infant baptism? Not unless they were going to try to pass laws enforcing that position. But if that were the case, there isn’t much of a chance that they would get elected anyway. Thomas Jefferson didn’t believe in the Deity of Christ, but he had strong principles regarding the role of government with which I strongly agree.

Those of my ancestors who were part of the great Puritan Migration helped found Hartford, Connecticut. In their day, a person had to stand up and make a public confession of faith in order to be a full, voting citizen of their community. Thus, anyone who would have been eligible for elected office would have had to meet the same standard. At that time, there was no separation of church and state. They were one and the same. We are not in that place, and haven’t been for a long time.

As a child, I remember when John Kennedy ran for President and the fear that having a Catholic in office would mean the Pope was really in charge. (Interestingly, this fear of loyalty to a “foreign power” was the same reason John Locke thought that Catholics should not have freedom of religion in his time. Of course I can give Locke some latitude here given the bitter and bloody disputes for the English crown of the day. ) Do we have people today that worry that Romney would be subservient to the elders of the Mormon Church in his role as President? Do we have any evidence for that? No, we don’t.

Is the Mormon belief of baptism for the dead going to have any impact on economic or social policy proposals under Romney? I can’t imagine how. Will the Mormon’s unorthodox (in my view) perspective on the person and work of Christ have any impact on Romney’s political stances? I can’t conceive of those possibilities. And frankly I could care less if Mitt Romney wears special garments.

However, his views on such foundational ideas such as human nature, the value of human life, the meaning of marriage, liberty, freedom, responsibility, the role of humans with respect to the rest of creation….. well, all of those ideas will make a huge difference in the policies that he will propose as president. And as I examine what he has said, and what his positions are, I find, that as an evangelical, that my beliefs on those fundamental principles align with his.

On the other hand, I find that President Obama and I view the world with diametrically opposed perspectives. Our views on human nature and its impact on economic policy, on the value of human life, on marriage, on the role of government itself, on liberty and freedom… on a whole host of foundational concepts… are in essential opposition.  (And yes, I accept that President Obama considers himself a Christian, but then what he means by that, and what I mean by that are two different things as an older interview with Christianity Today clearly exhibits. (http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2008/11/obamas_fascinat.html)

We are not a “Christian” nation in the sense that we have been inhabited or governed by only Christians. However, our governmental structure and principles are ones that came from a worldview that was coherent with and built on a foundation of a Christian worldview.  John Locke may have been a deist, but his father was a staunch Puritan and Locke saw the world through that lens.  The founding fathers built our government based on that worldview and their own Christian heritage, but they built a country, not a church. They designed a system to give us leaders that shared that worldview, and to assure us the rights given to us by the God they worshipped.

I want a President who supports that worldview and that role of government. I find in Mitt Romney a person whose own worldview on crucial foundational ethical and political positions corresponds to mine, even though I also see a person with whom I theologically vehemently disagree. I would not vote for him to be an elder in my church. However, I will vote for him for President … and do so enthusiastically. I hope and pray that many of you will do the same.

One thought on “Why, as an evangelical Christian, I will vote for Mitt Romney even though he is a Mormon.

  1. Jim, I am enjoying your blog immensely! I had no idea defensemen could be that smart. 🙂

    I hope you are able to keep it up, unlike me. Since I have gone back to work, my blog lies abandoned and lonely. *Sigh*

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