By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter:@BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
There are three reasons why evangelicals have little reason to fear a Mormon presidency.
The first is that Gov. Romney’s Mormonism will be contained within the walls of the White House. Romney knows that 74% of evangelical voters currently support him, and that this represents his single biggest voting bloc. He can ill-afford to do anything that will alienate them between now and November 6. And if he is elected, he knows he cannot afford to alienate them at any time during the next four years, because he will need them again in 2016.
This means for all practical purposes he will be virtually silent about the distinctives of his Mormon faith. Even the Washington Post has observed that the governor does not talk about “Judeo-Christian-Mormon” values on the stump, but only about “Judeo-Christian” values, making a concerted effort to minimize the distinction between his faith and the faith of orthodox Christians.
The governor honestly acknowledged in his speech at Liberty University that Mormons and Christians follow “different faiths.” And certainly they are different faiths. Followers of Joseph Smith have a different view of revelation, as Mormons treat the Book of Mormon as “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” a view which Christians reject, believing only in the divine inspiration of the Old and New testaments.
Mormons have a different view of the Godhead, believing in polytheism rather than the monotheism of orthodox Christianity. They have a different view of Jesus Christ, believing that he is a man who became a god, rather than the eternally pre-existent God who became a man. They have a different view of humanity, believing that men may themselves become gods, a view rejected by orthodox Christianity.
For these reasons and many more, historian Stephen Mansfield, in his book The Mormonizing of America, suggests it would be more accurate to consider Mormonism a different religion altogether, and viewed as a fourth Abrahamic faith alongside Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
If elected, the chances are nil that a President Romney would use the Oval Office to proselytize America on behalf of the LDS church. He knows that were he to do that, the outcry from the evangelical base would be long and loud and the political risk for him would be just too great. He knows he will need the same voters again, and will be anxious to avoid doing anything that will turn them off.
Strikingly, his tenure as the governor of Massachusetts provides some odd reassurance along these lines, since there is no evidence he used the power of his office there to proselytize on behalf of his Mormon faith. In fact, on a number of issues, abortion and the homosexual agenda chief among them, he actually governed against the deeply held tenets of the Mormon church, demonstrating that he is not beholden to LDS orthodoxy in his public service.
In fact, Gov. Romney’s problem in politics is not that he’s Mormon but that he has not been Mormon enough.
So if Mitt Romney is not going to make a big deal of his Mormonism, maybe evangelicals don’t need to either.
Secondly, it is likely that Gov. Romney sincerely thinks that he believes in and is talking about the same God in whom the Founders believed, the God who is revealed in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Since he is unlikely even to talk about the differences between the Mormon view of God and the Christian view of God, most Americans will think he is talking about the same God they believe in too. His words, paradoxically enough, could wind up strengthening the faith of orthodox Christians. In that case, his advocacy of the public acknowledgement of God may do some genuine good.
Third, while the Mormon church’s view of theology is not orthodox, its view of politics is. One of the best pamphlets I have ever read on the proper role of government was written by Ezra Taft Benson, who was a card-carrying member in good standing of the church of Joseph Smith.
Benson argues in “The Proper Role of Government” that government’s role is restricted to “protection against loss of life, loss of property, and loss of liberty,” and that government “cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will.”
In other words, if President Romney were to listen to the political advice of his fellow Mormon, he’d be the next Ronald Reagan and go down in history as one of our greatest presidents.
Bottom line for Mitt Romney: the less Mormon he is theologically and the more Mormon he is politically, the better he will be as our next president.
(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.)