Romney have a chance with evangelicals?

Dr. Richard Land on Mitt Romney

Does Mitt Romney Have a Prayer with Evangelicals?

By Friday, June 3, 2011
When Mitt Romney makes his appearance at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Conference Friday evening in Washington, he won’t exactly be headed into the lion’s den—but it might seem that way to him. A Pew Research study released on Thursday showed that Romney has the most potential appeal of any candidate in the GOP field for 2012. But the key word there is “potential.” Twenty-five percent of all voters say they would be less likely to support a candidate who is Mormon, like Romney. And a full third of white evangelicals express an aversion to Mormon candidates.

Those numbers are essentially unchanged from four years ago, when Romney first ran for the GOP nomination. That’s bad news for the former Massachusetts governor, whose supporters have often argued that suspicion about the Mormon faith would fade as voters became familiar with a Mormon candidate. White evangelicals don’t have vague anti-Mormon prejudices—they have very specific theological disputes that can’t be overcome by personality or even shared positions on social issues. Many believe, and are told in their churches, that Mormons are cult members and not Christians.

Romney does not have the luxury of ignoring white evangelicals, although he has indicated that he may not contest the Iowa caucuses, which are dominated by social conservatives, as seriously as he did in 2008. White evangelicals have steadily become the largest single bloc that selects the Republican presidential nominee—in 2008, they made up 44% of all GOP primary voters. (Would Newt Gingrich be better off running as a gay man?)

The Romney campaign did its best to head off that anti-Mormon bias in 2008 by gathering endorsements from evangelical leaders like Chuck Colson and working with evangelical PR professional Mark DeMoss to communicate with the community. Romney even gave a speech in December 2007 in which he promised that he would not take orders from church leadership in Salt Lake if elected president. It was essentially an updated version of the same promise JFK felt obligated to make to Baptist leaders in 1960, distancing himself from Catholic leadership in Rome.

At the same time, however, Romney had to deal with vicious whispering campaigns and outright attacks on his faith. In South Carolina, many Republicans received bogus Christmas cards, purporting to be from the Romney family, that cited controversial passages from the Book of Mormon. Others received an eight-page anonymous document that described Mormonism as a religion built on hoaxes and compared founder Joseph Smith to the Prophet Mohammed. An e-mail circulated among Republicans, urging them to “trust your instincts” about Mormonism: “Those dark suspicions you hide deep inside yourself about Mormonism are trying to tell you something.” (PHOTOS: Romney on the presidential campaign trail)

Perhaps the most damaging attacks were not anonymous, but from religious leaders who simply told their flocks that Romney was not a Christian and that they could not vote for a Mormon. The pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas declared in a sermon that “Even though [Romney] talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.” Florida evangelist Bill Keller wrote a widely-circulated commentary titled “A Vote for Romney is a Vote for Satan.”

The attacks worked, and Romney’s past qualified position on abortion as governor of Massachusetts only deepened the distrust. By the time he dropped out of the race in early February 2008, Romney had gathered just over 20% of the white evangelical vote. (Romney makes it official: “Barack Obama has failed America”)

But now he’s back, fully aware of the attacks he’ll face, particularly if he appears to be the frontrunner going into next year’s primary season. ConservativeHQ.com, the site run by conservative godfather Richard Viguerie, has already claimed that a majority of Tea Partiers would vote for a third-party candidate in 2012 if Romney is the GOP nominee. Looking to wound Romney’s candidacy before he can take command of the field, evangelical Christian author Warren Smith released an essay last week calling Mormonism a “false and dangerous religion” and arguing that a Mormon president would threaten Christianity.

And then there’s popular culture, which just can’t seem to give Romney a break. The HBO series “Big Love” about polygamous Mormons passing as a regular suburban family premiered right around the same time Romney launched his first presidential bid. The Broadway smash hit of this spring is “The Book of Mormon,” a religious satire by the creators of “South Park” that does not exactly depict Mormonism as part of mainstream America. (See Romney’s top 10 gaffes of 2008.)

The best thing Romney has going for him is that evangelical voters may have no other options. No candidate currently in the race has the appeal of Mike Huckabee, the Baptist minister who inspired enthusiasm among evangelical voters in the 2008 primaries. And most of Romney’s declared and presumed opponents leave voters either yawning or slightly queasy. (One prospective rival, Jon Huntsman, is also a Mormon.) The same Pew poll found that nearly 40% of GOP voters said there was “no chance” they would ever vote for Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin. By comparison, only 18% of Republicans said they would never consider backing Romney. Some of those voters who don’t want to support a Mormon realize that they may have to.

Updated at 3:39 p.m.

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  • Sherwood Ellsworth Haisty Jr  On June 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Hi Everette,

    As a ordained Southern Baptist minister, the video clip of Richard Land (fellow Southern Baptist and head of our Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission), above is very disturbing to me. I for one cannot and will not support Mitt Romney for President even if he gets the nomination of the Republican Party. There is one big reason, and that is that Romney is Mormon. There is another reason even if he were not, and that is that he has no real convictions on abortion despite what Land said in the video.

    First, let the truth be made clear about Romney on abortion. Richard Land wrongly (and he knows better I would think) not only changed his mind on abortion. Richard Land calls that “seeing the light” in the video above. Talking about if Romney flip flopped on the issue, he said, “For most people in the pro-life movement don’t see it that way.” Well, if Richard Land speaks for Evangelicals, that is a shame, and I am not so sure that he has any data to back up his claim when making assertions about how “most Evangelicals” see Romney’s flip flops. I for one (and I can only speak for myself), I have real problems with Romney’s flip flops. I said flip flops not flip flop. He has changed his position more than once and Land has to know this but did not mention it. The truth is Romney was first pro-life, then pro-abortion, then pro-life again. He did not have a “conversion” to the pro-life movement and “come to see the light” as Richard Land said. For whatever reason (I am not sure), Bro. Land is not giving the whole story. A story that I would think he would know or at least should know. The flip flops of Romney are a matter of record. When he ran for U S Senate in Mass, former (now deceased) Senator Ted Kennedy himself even ribbed Romney about his flip flops on abortion. As most will remember, Kennedy was for abortion. He made this point from a pro-abortionist point of view, saying of Romney that he is not pro-choice, or anti-choice, but multiple-choice. Though coming from a liberal, it was still true. Romney has a track record that you could call “multiple-choice”. Ouch, but Kennedy nailed him. I would add that Romney is not truly pro-life, as much as he is just pro-Romney. He is not dependable as a champion for the cause. Oh, sure in the end Romney will appease the pro-life Republican base because he is pro-Romney if this appeasement will help him. But again, not be deceived. He is not a champion for the pro-life cause with real conviction. We have all learned the hard way what happens when you get a Republican who is not passionate about the unborn. I would not trust Romney with the lives of the unborn. Anyone who flip flops back and forth depending upon which election he is in and in which region (he was pro-life in Utah and pro-choice in Mass and now pro-life again) is a man who is void of either conviction or character or perhaps both. Romney fails the pro-life test if you are looking for a champion you can count on to go the distance over the lives of the unborn.

    Second, and more important that even the above, Romney is a Mormon. I cannot and will not vote for a Mormon for President. I made this view clear almost four years ago and was called a bigot by many, many people on my blog at the time. In fact, there was a huge push by a group of students at BYU who plastered comment after comment on my blog articles with ad hominem attacks. However, the essential points I made then on my blog I will here repeat now and they are as follows.
    _____________________________________________

    #1 Is Mormonism a false cult that deceives people and leads many to hell?
    Answer yes!
    #2 Is Mormonism evangelistic in that it seeks to grow by making converts to its faith?
    Answer yes! It is aggressively evangelistic and successfully as one of the fastest growing cults in our time.
    #3 Does Mormonism seek to confuse people by representing itself as a genuine Christian group.
    Answer yes! They have spent tons of money on add campaigns for this purpose. I have met many times with Mormon missionaries and their initial talking point is that “we are Christian too”. I have heard at least once or twice Mitt Romney himself represent Mormonism in interviews as a Christian group.
    Mormonism has a major agenda to deceive people by describing itself as a Christian denomination. They intentionally make less of their differences. For example, I will take a quote from the news this week regarding something that you have no doubt heard about. This is a response to a question Gov. Huckabee had asked if Mormonism teaches that Jesus and the Devil are brothers. Here is the response by the LDS spokeswoman that has run in almost every article I have read about the controversy over Huckabee’s question.
    “We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all,” said the spokeswoman, Kim Farah. “That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”

    The two parts that I have underlined represent false teachings of Mormonism that are put in here as if all “other Christians and Paul” believe and taught these too. The phrase, “only begotten in the flesh” sounds fine but Mormonism has a completely different take on it than Christians. They actually teach that Elohim came down and had sex with Mary and that is why Jesus is the ”only begotten”. See my blog page at Pastors4Huckabeeblog.com to read more or find documentation for this.
    #4 Would the election of Mitt Romney as President be likely used by Mormons in America and worldwide as a point of reference to assert that Mormonism is a respectable Christian denomination and would Mormon missionaries use a Romney Presidency to advance their own evangelistic attempts at redefining Mormonism and representing their religion in a good light?
    Answer yes! Absolutely, my experience with Mormon missionaries leads me expect them to seek to continue the rouge that Mormonism is really Christian. They would most definitely point to Mitt Romney -especially if he were a popular President with a good family life- and would use Romney as a lifestyle witness for their faith. They could say, “You can have what the President has, here is a book of Mormon, etc.”
    #5 Do I believe that the growth of Mormonism worldwide is harmful?
    Answer yes! Very, it leads people into spiritual darkness with a counterfeit gospel.
    #6 Do I value the souls of men and women boys and girls worldwide over my political concerns?
    Answer yes! I love my country very much and am a passionate conservative, but my countries welfare is only temporal matter. People being deceived and going to Hell is an eternal matter. I believe we should put eternal matters over temporal ones. I cannot in good conscience do anything that I believe would advance a false gospel that would lead others to hell. Therefore I cannot under any conditions vote for a Mormon for President because I believe it would have that undesirable effect.
    #7 Do I believe that voting for a Mormon who prays to a false god and a counterfeit Christ, would have any access through prayer to the true God, and do I think prayer matters?
    I do not believe that a Mormon praying to his god for help or wisdom has any hope for an answer to his prayer. I do think answered prayer matters. To say that answered prayer doesn’t matter is another way of saying that God Himself doesn’t matter. That a President by his own wisdom can make decisions and not be in need of Divine help. This idea is unacceptable to me as well. It is true that we have had Presidents who were lost and did not have their prayers for wisdom and help answered either. This is not to fail to acknowledge that the true God could answer the people’s prayers for their President. But it seems if we can choose between someone who prays to the right God and someone who prays to a false god that cannot hear, we would be wise to choose someone who can pray to the true God and get wisdom and help in time of need. We also must remember that not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is even if they go to a Baptist Church. But if we can see fruit in someone’s life who is a respectable Christian with a biblical worldview, I would think that he would be a far better choice than anyone else who has no hope of God hearing their prayers unless they themselves repent and get saved first. So I again could not vote for a Mormon.
    These are the questions that I ask myself. They are not the same set of questions that many are asking. It is a different matter than asking if I think Romney would make an okay President.
    I think that the questions that I have set forth are very, very, important and should be considered by all Christians before voting for a Mormon for President.
    Non-Christians and others who do not share my views regarding the values of souls, the reality of heaven and hell, and that do not agree that Mormonism is a false and deceptive cult, will likely dismiss my questions as irrelevant.
    There will be those in our post-modern era who will attempt to address my remarks as bigoted and intolerant because they reject absolute truth.
    There will be some Christians I feel who will wilt under the peer pressure of the politically correct culture and dismiss my questions as well.
    I can testify that as a guest writer on other blogs, that people will call you a bigot and say mean things if you take a stand and actually have the gall to say that you can’t vote for a Mormon for President because of his religion. Our tolerant society is not so tolerant of people with religious convictions.
    But for Evangelical Christians who live thoughtfully by their convictions, I address these questions to you for your consideration.
    Would you answer the seven questions that I have raised with the same answers as I have? If so, I think we have reached agreement. If not, at least we can understand each other.

    ____________
    For me, I cannot in good conscience vote for a Mormon for President. The implications and ramifications are just too high spiritually. Out of conviction, as a loyal Republican who wouldn’t vote for Obama for anything, I still would not vote for Mitt Romney if he won the nomination and were running against Obama. I would vote independent, third party, or not cast a vote. That is how strong I feel about not voting for a Mormon for President.
    While I am very disappointed in Richard Land (again a fellow SBC minister), I fully agree with Dr. Grant Jefferies who is Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX. His comments have shown much more spiritual discernment than that of Bro. Land in my estimation. You stated above, [The pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas declared in a sermon that “Even though [Romney] talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.”] Again Jefferies is correct. Any true Evangelical pastor who knows his Bible and know Mormonism will tell you that Mormonism is a cult that deceives people and leads people to Hell. We should pray for Mitt Romney’s salvation, but not vote for him or support his run for the White House.

    _______
    There is one other important point that I should add. It will no doubt be controversial. I believe in a literal personal Devil who is Satan. I believe there are demons that are fallen angels. I furthermore believe that much of the demonic activity in the world today is involved with false religions and false cults.

    Satan is the father of all lies.

    “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
    (John 8:44)

    While a true Christian is of God, the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.

    We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
    (1 John 5:19)

    Satan through his demons is certainly the spirit that works in the children of disobedience.

    And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
    (Ephesians 2:1-2)

    Having cited the above passages, I believe that Evangelicals who take their Bible seriously are naïve if they are not aware of the spiritual dangers in putting a man who is involved in a satanically inspired cult in the highest office of the land. This is not an attack on Mr. Romney himself (for I have no personal knowledge of him) as much as it is a direct attack on Mormonism as a cult that I believe was likely fostered by demons. Satan longs to be worshiped and he receives worship through false religion and false Christ that are anti-Christ. Romney (though perhaps himself not demon possessed) has NO spiritual defense against it in the future. He could become controlled by demons as President. He already has been blinded by the god of this world (see 2 Cor. 4:4) to believe one of the most absurd and ridiculous false cults that exist in our day. Again, we should pray for this man but we should not elect him to lead us.

    I am sure there will be plenty of people who gasp at my concerns about demons and the cult of Mormonism. Mormons will be offended. Secularist will laugh and make fun. However, I believe my Bible, and I tell others who believe the Bible to beware and be discerning.

    ____________

    If you are not a true Christian know this. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and those who are not saved must repent and turn in faith to Him for salvation or they will be judged by Him and justly tormented in Hell for their sins forever. Christ will reign one day and you can’t vote Him in and you won’t be able to vote Him out.

    And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

    Until He comes!!!

    A slave of Jesus Christ,
    Sherwood Haisty, Jr.

  • ChaChaCha  On October 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

    This Pastor and the loony Pastor who wrote a book need to look at themselves and ask who they think they are to pick and choose what they follow, who made them the judge, and think about WWJD? It wouldn’t be this. Abortion is terrible but Perry has killed more people with the Death Penalty then any other state. Thou Shalt Not Kill ring a bell? This Pastor Jeffries appeared more than a little ignorant. It made me feel sad for him and his followers. Pray for them. Mormons are ABSOLUTELY Christians. What Mormons believe can be summarized in these 13 Articles of Faith. . http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,106-1-2-1,FF.html

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