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October 31, 2007

Romney And Religion Again

I have to agree with this bit of advice being offered to my favorite presidential candidate -- don't try to equate Mormonism and Christianity.

As Mitt Romney scours the South for endorsements from evangelical leaders, he is getting some unusual advice on how to explain his Mormon faith: Don't try to be one of us.

``I told him, you cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, `I am a Christian just like you,''' said Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina, which is scheduled to hold the first primary among the Southern states. ``If he does that, every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences.''

This advice, which reflects the views of many Southern Baptists and other evangelicals, makes Romney's co-religionists bristle. ``The fact that we are Christians is non-negotiable,'' said Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

What you have here is a twofold problem. On one level, you have the theological issue of how to classify Mormonism. Most Christians, and certainly most evangelicals, would struggle with classifying the LDS Church as within the pale of orthodoxy due to its distinctive theology and additional scriptural claims. There is serious room for theological discussion, but not in the context of a presidential campaign. Romney needs to dismiss the issue, regardless of the adamant claims of LDS authorities that Mormons are Christians. It just isn't relevant to Romney's needs as a candidate.

Besides, that issue isn't relevant to the presidential campaign. What Romney needs to do is focus on the shared values and policies, as well as his independence from official church control. That should be easy to do, given both the social conservative stance taken by the LDS Church and its long-standing history of recognizing the political independence of the Mormon faithful, including officeholders. But Romney needs to act soon on this issue, lest it continue to be a distraction.

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Comments on Romney And Religion Again

I don't think Romney would dismiss his Christian faith anymore than you would yours - And for a Christian to expect a person to deny their belief in Christ is something I find repulsive

|| Posted by Jennifer, October 31, 2007 04:28 AM ||

And I'm certainly not suggesting that he deny his faith. What I am suggesting -- along with many others -- is that he needs to emphasize the shared values rather than the disparate theology.

In 1960, JFK dealt a death-blow to the religion issue not by convincing people that Catholicism was right or that it was Christian (a serious question among the evangelicals of that day), but by dealing instead with the issues of the policies he would support and his independence from church control. Romney needs to do something similar, because otherwise the theological issues will overshadow the political ones.

It isn't an expectation that anyone deny their faith -- it is instead a need to emphasize what is important in a political campaign.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 31, 2007 04:00 PM ||
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