By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
I received a query from a member of the print media regarding some conclusions the Religion News Service drew in the wake of the Values Voter Summit. Below are the three questions as they were put to me, and my responses.
By the way, an LDS church in Sandy, Utah, prohibited any children from coming to a Halloween-type event in cross-dressing costumes. I stand 100% with the LDS church on this. It’s a common sense stand and honors gender norms established by Scripture.
Naturally, a nattering nabob on the left immediately accused the LDS church of “fear-mongering” and was “appalled” at their “hate-driven” standards. Lady, chill out. The LDS church is not afraid of anybody, and there’s nothing remotely hateful about respecting time-honored sexual standards.
The LDS church remained unmoved; the bishop of the church correctly pointed out that anybody who didn’t like the rule didn’t have to come. Good for him.
1. Mitt Romney's Mormonism will be a political issue. The Rev. Robert Jeffress made headlines when he called Mormonism a "cult" at the summit. Former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett denounced Jeffress' comments, but polls show that Jeffress' opinion is shared by a significant portion of conservative Christians.
I think Mitt's religious views will be in an issue, but it will be the mainstream media rather than evangelicals who make it one. It will be part of their effort to prop up Obama in 2012. The New York Times and the London Telegraph have already published extensive pieces about Romney's Mormonism, with the Telegraph saying that questions about whether he believes the Mormon version of the history of the American continent are fair game. (Mormons believe that native American Indian tribes are of Jewish descent, a theory which advances in DNA testing have proven has no basis in fact.)
The media knows that while 20% of Republicans will not vote for a Mormon, 27% of Democrats won't, so they know that making an issue of his faith is an asset for them in knocking him off. By the way, it's worth observing that if deciding not to vote for Mitt because he's a Mormon is some form of bigotry, this makes Democrats even bigger bigots than Republicans.
The media's double standard on the faith issue, by the way, is nauseating. The media jumped on Rev. Jeffress for his comments about Mormonism, bloviating endlessly about the Constitution's prohibition of a religious test. (That test prohibits the federal government from applying a religious test, but certainly does not prohibit voters from applying any religious test they want.)
But when Michelle Bachmann's statement about a wife's submission to her husband came up, the same media pounced all over her and beat her about the head and shoulders regarding what impact this would have on a Bachmann presidency. You didn't hear a single member of the media, to my knowledge, saying that such scrutiny was improper and a violation of the religious test prohibition.
The media wants Mitt to be the guy because they know he's beatable, and so they will provide some cover for him in the primaries. But look for them to pounce if he gets the nomination.
(Note: shortly after I sent these thoughts off to the reporter, I came across this scathing attack on Romney’s Mormonism in the New York Times, of all places. And here all we’ve been hearing is that it is rank bigotry to talk about his religion! This makes the Times, by its own standards, the biggest bigot in the United States.)
2. This time around, Romney will not attempt to explain his faith. At the summit, Romney did not directly address the controversy over his faith or attempt, as he did in 2008, to show commonalities with conservative Christianity.
As far as Mitt talking about his faith, I agree with you that he won't. He can read polls just like anyone else, and he knows it's a liability. If he talks about it at all, it will be to try to convince voters that Mormonism is just another denomination of Christianity. That thesis falls apart on even a rudimentary examination, so I think he'll stay as far away from that whole issue as he can.
In fact, he has largely avoided social issues altogether this time around. He made social issues a feature of his 2008 campaign, but rarely talks about them now. He knows he has credibility issues on social issues, since he campaigned for governor of Massachusetts as a pro-abortion candidate in 2002, and was pro-abortion until as late as 2005.
He also imposed same-sex marriage on Massachusetts and the United States by executive fiat in 2004, by ordering clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses contrary to state law or get fired. (Although the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council urged the General Assembly to change the state's marriage law, it never did. Same-sex marriage is still today technically illegal in Massachusetts.)
His sudden conversion to pro-life and pro-marriage positions came just in time to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, which makes it look suspiciously like his conversion was one of political convenience rather than political conviction.
3. Social conservatives will swallow hard and vote for Romney
If we have another four years of President Obama, there may not be an America left to save by 2016. As I told the media at the Values Voter Summit, "I'm not staying home in 2012 and I'm not voting for Barack Obama. I'm voting for the other guy."
The problem with Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate is that he will be another John McCain. He will generate no enthusiasm from the base (he's avoided the Tea Party like the Black Plague), and a lot of conservatives will either stay home or vote for a third party candidate.
A Mitt Romney nomination is the only chance Barack Obama has to be re-elected. The Obama campaign is already running against Romney since they hope he'll be the guy and they want to wound him before the head-to-head bout begins.
In fact, I predict the Ron Paul folks will launch an independent effort to run him if Mitt gets the nomination, since Paul will just be too old in 2016. Paul has no chance to win, but he (or another third party candidate) could punch a big enough hole in Romney's boat to sink him.
I frankly think a Romney nomination could pragmatically be the end of the Republican Party as an effective political force. Too many conservatives will leave and never come back. Mitt represents ruling-class Republicans, Republican elites, the kind of politicians that created the vacuum the Tea Party has filled, while everybody else in the field represents citizen-class Republicans, Tea Party Republicans.
If the ruling-class Republicans get their guy, a whole lot of citizen-class Republicans will realize there is really no room for them in the GOP's mythical "big tent" and check out of the party permanently.
The future of the Republican Party is at stake in this election cycle, but far more importantly, so is the future of America.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)