Lauren Hale questions the Religious Right’s flip-flopping on the endorsement of Mitt Romney, based upon his religion.
I grew up in a strict Christian household. We didn’t subscribe to a particular denomination. I wasn’t Presbyterian, Brethren, Baptist, Episcopalian, or any of the other myriad of denominations which exist within the Christian faith. We were Christian, raised to believe in the Bible as the Holy Word of God, the Holy Trinity, the sanctity of baptism as a symbol of Christian salvation, and the moral expectations set forth by the Word of God.
I never felt Christianity was shoved down my throat, it was simply the way our family functioned. Raised outside a specific Christian denomination, however, presented its challenges as I grew up. To this day, I do not feel as if I fit in with any particular church or faith. Many who identify as a specific denomination within the Christian faith often do not know how to respond to me when they press for further clarification of mine. For many mainstream Christians, according to the modern expectations, I am classified as unchurched, despite my strong moral beliefs and faith in God.
You see, within the Christian faith, there are flavours of Christianity. All the flavours translate aspects of the scripture differently. Some require baptism, others don’t. Some require works of faith to gain access to heaven. Some subscribe to belief in additional religious texts, while others claim those who believe in anything other than the Bible are members of a cult and do not follow the one true faith as set forth by God and the sacrifice of His son, Jesus.
Much like Mitt Romney and those of the Mormon faith, I have experienced first-hand the skittish nature of those who are entrenched in what is known as the Religious Right in this country. These experiences left me questioning my Christianity and belief systems because they didn’t match up exactly with the strict guidelines set forth by their governing churches and organizations. Was I doing something wrong? Had I failed God? Forsaken Jesus? Gone astray?
After a lot of prayer, soul-searching, and turning to God in prayer, I realized it does not matter what man thinks of my faith. All that matters is that I am true to God and His commands for my life, and that I follow His word as it is set forth in the Bible. I follow the truth in my heart, lean on God in both good and hard times, and don’t waiver in my commitment to Him. My responsibility here is to love others, where they are and how they are, and offer support without judgment. It is not man’s place to judge my personal faith. It is God’s and God’s alone, a judgment I will accept without hesitation when my day comes.
As this protracted primary season marches toward a close with Romney emerging as the presumptive Republican candidate, it’s time for the Religious Right to finally make endorsements. With many mainstream Christian leaders fully believing Mormonism is a cult, along with the protracted battle to arrive at a candidate, there is considerable hesitation to throw endorsements behind a candidate who doesn’t fit the standard mold of a member of the Religious Right. But that seems to be changing now that Romney has surged ahead.
Is it too little too late?
Primary season for the Republican Party this year has not been kind. Politics is a tough game. When people are polarized, it gets even tougher. With the economy, wars, and increasing intrusions into personal liberty, the American public is more polarized than I’ve seen during an election season since I was first able to vote back in the 90s. More people are vocal about their beliefs and ideas for what the landscape needs to be after the election.
Within the party, there have been divisions about the candidates, divisions which have been ferociously fed upon by the left and the undecided general public. Add to that the hesitation of the Religious Right to endorse a candidate, and you have a conservative and religious nation unsure of where to throw their full weight as the primary season chugs along.
This week, Robert Jeffress, a megachurch pastor in Texas, who previously referred to Mormonism as a cult, endorsed Romney. Joel Osteen also endorsed Romney just last week in an appearance on CNN. I expect more leaders of the Religious Right will continue to throw endorsements toward Romney lest they be perceived as endorsing Obama, who is viewed absolutely as not supporting their beliefs. The Religious Right has historically thrown their weight behind Republican candidates. It’s been easier to endorse in the past as Republican presidential candidates have been of a “traditional” Christian denomination.
Endorsing a candidate who is not of the traditional Christian faith, however, is difficult for many evangelicals –including Bryan Fischer– who had this to say about the dangers of endorsing a “spiritually compromised candidate” like Romney:
The reality is that there are just a number of Evangelicals that just will not vote for Romney because they do not want to put somebody who believes in a different god in the White House, which is perfectly understandable. He’s a spiritually compromised candidate; that’s the only way to put it. If he goes into the Oval Office, he will be the first polytheist that we’ve ever had as a president. Mitt Romney would be the first non-Christian president that we’ve ever had; the first president that we’ve ever had that did not emerge from a stream of historic Christian orthodoxy.
So this would be unprecedented, and it would be unprecedented spiritually. You remember the prophets, this is one of the things that they were toughest on the kings about is departing the worship of the true and living God for alternative gods. This was something that weakened a nation and so we’re looking at that, if Mitt Romney becomes the president, we have a spiritually-compromised president who will be the first polytheist to ever hold tEhe Oval Office, the first president who has ever believed in a multiplicity of gods, the first president who has ever believe that man can become a god, and that God didn’t used to be God, he used to be a man who progressed to godhood. So this would be completely uncharted waters for America. - Bryan Fischer-
Here’s the thing, though: many Christians I have known are casual about their faith. In the past year, I have come in contact with many Christians who have deep faith and actively participate in a Church, read their Bibles, and live their lives in a Godly manner. But how often do you ask someone what their religion is and hear “Christian, but I don’t go to church?” Chances are, if someone tells you they are Mormon, they are active in their church. They’re participating, attending church, living their lives according to their faith, and ascribing to higher moral beliefs.
For me, I would much rather have someone who is active in his faith, subscribing to higher moral beliefs, and constantly working to improve himself in office than someone who is casually “Christian” for mere appearances, or someone merely using Christianity to gain the approval of the Religious Right. I want a candidate who will respect and reinstate the liberties which are supposed to be afforded to us as Americans. I want someone in office who isn’t afraid to be himself and refuses to change his own moral compass simply to kowtow to the Religious Right or other organizations.
Editor’s note: This post is not about whether Christianity or the author’s religion are inherently valid. But rather whether you think Mitt Romney is the type of candidate who refuses to change his moral compass to kowtow to the Religious Right. What do you think?
Should religion play a role in determining who is best suited to be president?
What about Barack Obama’s Christianity? For the Religious Right who believe that Romney’s Mormonism is heretical, wouldn’t Obama’s affiliation with a more standard Christian church make him a more valid candidate?