In an interview with Christianity Today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses the questions some readers may have about a Mormon candidate. But Romney apparently blames the media and those “who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others”:
[Q.] How do you think relations between Mormons and Trinitarian Christians have changed during your lifetime?
I don’t know that there’s been a significant change relating to doctrine. [But] several months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California. He said, “Far be it from me to suggest that we don’t have the same values and the same objectives.”
[Q.] Have you seen changes between 1968, when your father ran for President, and now?
In terms of the relationship between the faiths, I don’t see any particular differences. I know the media today focus far more on people of faith. In some circles, the bias against believers is pronounced. There are some people who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others. So people of faith are routinely scrutinized in a way they were not when my dad ran in 1968.
Blaming the media for questions about Romney’s religion is something we’ve seen before (although blaming people who want to “replace all religion” with “secularism” may be a newer one). But if Romney is looking for someone to blame, perhaps he should start with the religious-right activists he’s been trying hard to court. As we posted before:
A prominent and powerful evangelical Christian leader, James Dobson, said yesterday that the Mormon faith practiced by Governor Romney of Massachusetts could pose a serious obstacle if Mr. Romney makes a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
“I don’t believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon but that remains to be seen, I guess,” Mr. Dobson said on a syndicated radio program hosted by a conservative commentator, Laura Ingraham.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public-policy arm: “But he’s gotta close the deal. Only Romney can make voters comfortable with his Mormonism. Others cannot do it for him.”
Selecting presidential candidate Mitt Romney as its May commencement speaker has riled some of Regent University’s students and alumni who say his Mormon faith clashes with the school’s bedrock evangelical Christianity.
“What we’re against is the fact that Mormonism is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Christian values and what we believe,” said Doug Dowdey, a Virginia Beach pastor who said he graduated from Regent’s divinity school last year.
How many voters does insurance broker Frank Senger of Newport Beach, Calif., represent?
“No way will I be voting for Mitt Romney,” he insists. A Republican and a lifelong Baptist, he abhors the thought of voting for a Mormon for president and says “there’s more to it than just some prejudice. It bothers me a whole lot that someone that bright could fall for the stories about where Mormonism came from, and all that blather about the golden tablets. If he’ll fall for that, do I want him in the same room and at the same table with Kim Jong-il of North Korea or Ahmadinejad from Iran?”
While some evangelical Christians are defending the presidential candidacy of Mormon Mitt Romney from an attack by Al Sharpton, another prominent pastor is going further in his condemnation – saying a vote for the former Massachusetts governor is a vote for Satan.
That’s the word from Bill Keller, host of the Florida-based Live Prayer TV program as well as LivePrayer.com.
“If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan!” he writes in his daily devotional to be sent out to 2.4 million e-mail subscribers tomorrow.
Larry Gordon, senior pastor of Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, said his initial instinct was to rule out Mr. Romney because of his faith. But after his son, who is also a pastor at the church, came away impressed by Mr. Romney after an event, he began to examine him more closely.
“If nobody better comes along, I’m going to vote for him,” Mr. Gordon said. “But I’m hoping somebody better comes along.”