Mormonism & Schism on the Christian Right
I sketched out Romney's problem in an article, just published in Conscience, the excellent quarterly published by Catholics for Choice. (You can read the whole thing, here.) I talked this over with Rachel Tabachnick, who was raised as a conservative Southern Baptist, and knows the thinking of that world. (She has since converted to Judaism and is a progressive Democrat.) She believes that a lot of the kinds of Baptists she knew will not be able to vote for Romney.
She points to books and articles, currently available on the SBC's website for its LifeWay publishing empire and bookstore chain, suggesting that this mistrust of Mormonism remains unchanged for many. Indeed, a LifeWay Research poll of 1,000 American Protestant pastors last fall found that 75 percent of respondents did not consider Mormons to be Christians. Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, explained, "A person can respect a religious group and even appreciate their commitment to traditional moral values without equating their beliefs with Christian orthodoxy." They can, but whether they will is another question.
A more organized effort was launched by You Tube evangelist, Jerry Johnson and some fifty seminary professors, broadcasters, and pastors, mostly conservative Reformed Presbyterians of various sorts, called For the Sake of the Gospel. They argued that if conservative Christians are going to support Romney they should "clearly and unequivocally distancing yourself and Biblical Christianity from his Mormon beliefs."
They don't want there to be any uncertainty about whether "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and historic evangelical Christianity are one and the same faith. This we adamantly deny!"
Right Wing Watch reported in May that
Johnson explained, he personally will not be voting for either President Obama or Mitt Romney because that is like having to choose between "voting for the Beast or the False Prophet."
It appears that about six hundred people signed onto For the Sake of the Gospel's declaration, and the site does not seem to have been active since May. But this is probably the tip of one of many anti-Mormon icebergs.
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