Last week we noted that several high-profile Religious Right leaders were part of an effort to express thanks and support to the Mormon Church for its efforts to help pass Proposition 8 in California. But just because the Right is appreciative of the role that Mormons played in the effort doesn’t mean that they are necessarily ready to actually vote for a Mormon for president, as Christianity Today points out:
Evangelicals were content to partner with Mormons on Proposition 8 because the groups agreed on the end goal, said Gerald R. McDermott, professor of religion at Roanoke College and coauthor of Claiming Christ: A Mormon-Evangelical Debate.
“The outcome is to have a marriage policy that is completely agreeable to evangelicals. Before, the outcome was someone in office who, to a lot of evangelicals, represented a theology that was completely disagreeable,” McDermott said. “They agree on these horizontal issues while they disagree with the vertical issues, which are theological.”
While some, like early Mitt Romney supporter Jay Sekulow, are trying to tie the two issues together, saying that the cooperation between evangelicals and Mormons on Prop 8 will only strengthen Romney’s chances should he choose to run again, the militantly anti-Mormon activists in the movement want to make it clear that that is not going to be the case at all:
During Romney’s candidacy, Robert Jeffress, pastor at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, told his congregants that they should prefer Christian candidates to Mormon candidates, but he is grateful for Mormon involvement in helping pass Proposition 8.
“I think there has been a strain in the relationship with Mormons, but I think Christians need to understand that Mormonism is not Christianity,” Jeffress said. “The differences between Mormonism and Christianity aren’t just minor theological differences that can be erased just because we agree on moral issues.”
Of course, Jeffress was far more radical in his opposition to Romney than were most right-wing leaders, repeatedly declaring that “Mormonism is a cult” and that they “worship a false god,” so it is not very surprising that he is still opposed to Romney. But still, it should serve as a warning to Romney and any of his backers who are hoping that the Right’s gratitude for the Mormon’s cooperation in furthering their anti-gay agenda will somehow overcome their deep distrust and opposition to his faith.