Do Evangelicals Hate Obama More Than They Love Jesus? We’ll Find Out In November

As a former evangelical Christian who was taught that Mormonism is a cult, I wonder how faithful God- and Obama-fearing evangelicals will be this November when it comes time to cast their votes. In order to rid themselves of our funky President, they will have to validate the funky religion of Mitt Romney.

And I will enjoy watching them wrestle with their biblical angst, as the election nears.

Mike Huckabee, at one-time a Romney rival,  gave us a peek at this theological anxiety when he famously asked in 2007, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Claiming the question was a “traditional smear” of the Mormon faith, Romney accepted Huckabee’s subsequent apology. Except what Huckabee suggested wasn’t a smear. Mormonism does consider Jesus and Satan brothers, but scholars assure us that long ago God had the good sense to give the rebellious bro a celestial ass-kicking and send him packing.

All of which goes to illustrate how strange is Mormonism, the 19th-century religious concoction that conservative evangelicals have always regarded as an ungodly cult. And it also shows how eager Mormons are to get the theological blessing of their fellow political conservatives.

According to a Pew Forum poll last November, 75% of U.S. Mormons support the Republican Party and 66% call themselves conservative. And while about half of all Americans consider Mormonism to be Christian, I have never met an evangelical who does. So, this November can conservative evangelicals really come to peaceful theological terms with an LDS church that considers itself the only true church?

Will they authenticate, via their votes, a religion that believes God actually bonked Mary to produce Jesus? Can they accept the Mormon practice of baptizing the dead by proxy? Or that Romney actually baptized some (hopefully grateful) dead folks himself from time to time? Or can they accept the contention that Jesus made a pit stop in the Western Hemisphere shortly after his resurrection? Or that all of us eternally existed as some kind of intelligence?

How about the Mormon idea that God has a body? And a wife? In fact, wives. Can right-wing evangelicals actually pull the lever for a man who is by all accounts fiercely dedicated to a church that believes that? Or that believes The Book of Mormon is also the Word of God? Or that humans can become gods?

It may startle some local conservatives when they consider that the Mormon writer Cleon Skousen—whose book, The 5,000 Year Leap, has been heavily promoted by Jasper County Republican honcho John Putnam during local Tea Party rallies—says that our earth was actually created near a star-planet called Kolob and then sort of U-Hauled to our solar system. I’d hate to see the size of that trailer hitch.

And Missouri evangelicals may cringe at the Mormon contention that the New Jerusalem, where allegedly Jesus will one day rule, will be built right here in our state. Which is perfect, since Mormon founder Joseph Smith believed that the Garden of Eden was somewhere in western Missouri, a place only those in the know regard as the real home of the Talking Snake.

For his part, Romney, a former Mormon bishop, has mostly shied away from talking about his faith, mainly for the reasons above. But he said in 2007,

I’ve made it very clear, I do not try and distance myself from my faith in any way, shape, or form. I’ve been asked time and again, “will you distance yourself from your church, will you disavow this practice?” and the answer is “no.”

But there are plenty of evangelicals who are eager to tell us why Mormonism is a no-no. One of them is the Reverend R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, a stone’s throw (for God, anyway) from what will be the New Jerusalem. The Southern Baptist leader believes that Mormons worship a false god, believe in a false Jesus, and preach a false gospel, a heresy trifecta.

Roberts told The New York Times that he doesn’t much worry about Romney “using his position as either a candidate or as president of the United States to push Mormonism.” His worry is much more important for a conservative Christian theologian:

The concern among evangelicals is that the Mormon Church will use his position around the world as a calling card for legitimizing their church and proselytizing people.

You see, it is the legitimization of Mormonism as a Christian religion that the election of Mitt Romney will most certainly guarantee. If this severely devoted Mormon makes it to the White’s House—and he can’t without the help of evangelicals—it will be impossible for conservative Christians, who fervently believe this is a “Christian nation,” to claim ever again that Mormonism is a cult.

Is that a price Bible-believing evangelicals are willing to pay?

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15 Comments

  1. ansonburlingame

     /  June 12, 2012

    I thought the election of a Catholic JFK long ago now settled this issue? We elected a man who believed that he was drinking blood and eating flesh everytime he took communion. As well the bones of a long dead man could cause miracles to happen as well.

    The next time around, a long time in the future we will have the same argument when a “good Muslim” runs for the White House.

    Most Americans still think separation of church and state is a good idea. We want Presidents that can GOVERN effectively and how or to whom they pray or worship is not a priority.

    AB

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  2. At the end of the day, we’ll have the best president money can buy. Religion is a non-issue.

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    • I have much sympathy with your point, Herb, even though I hope it’s not true at the presidential level this year. (It’s more likely to be true, though, at the Congressional and state level, where money definitely swings elections in the aggregate.) But to the extent what you say is true, part of that money is used to manipulate religious believers (mostly white) folks into believing that Obama hates Jesus (subtly expressed) and is conducting a war on religion (not-so-subtly expressed). Or at the very least, some of the money will be used to reinforce what they have been told through via the pulpit or church networking.

      Duane

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  3. Treeske

     /  June 12, 2012

    The Evangelicals and Fundementalists will vote the lesser of two Evils; A smart Black man is worse than a smart Mormon!

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    • Oh, I’m sure most of them will so calculate, Treeske, but my interest is in that X number who will decide that throwing the black man out of the White’s House isn’t worth validating a non-Christian religion. For some number of evangelicals, this is a very important point. The question is how many?

      Duane

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  4. Anonymous

     /  October 23, 2012

    From the article…”It will be impossible for conservative Christians, who fervently believe this is a “Christian nation,” to claim ever again that Mormonism is a cult.” Really?… and are you laughing at how absurb this claim is?

    First off, this is not a chrisitian nation, unless every Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist…basically every “church-goer” who uses the name Christian makes us a Christian nation. Religion does not equal Christian. I am reminded of the quote, “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than being in a church makes you a pew”.

    Secondly, are we assuming that President Obama is a christian here and then juxtaposing his “Christian virtues” against Romney? So then… does voting for Romney mean that I don’t love Jesus, or better stated voting for Obama means I do? I think I just threw-up a little in my mouth. At” best” I would hardly call Obama a poster-boy for Christ, his people, or his cause. At worst, we have two unbelievers running for President to lead a non-Christian nation. I lean towards the latter.

    Lastly, regarldess of the answer to the second point, evangelicals have a lot of genuine concerns with President Obama’s policies (high debt without a budget, pro-choice, very strong anti-biblical views on family and marriage…just to name a few hot ones.)

    In summary to further the author’s arguement, I guess any Christian who supports Romney in this election should just join the Morman church because he/she turned his/her back on Jesus. I am feeling that gag-reflex again.

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    • Hold on to your cookies, there Anonymous.

      1) I agree this is not a Christian nation, but a secular one. The point is that most conservative evangelicals believe it is.

      2) Yes, I assume President Obama is a Christian, only because I assume people who say they are Christians are in fact Christians. It doesn’t much matter to me one way or the other, and that goes for Romney, too. You see, the point of the piece was to explore whether a traditional belief of evangelical Christianity, that Mormonism is a cult, will be jettisoned in favor of ousting Obama from the White’s House. Get it?

      3) I don’t agree that there is a possibility that we have two unbelievers running for the job. Nope. I believe Romney is a True Believer in his religion, Christian or otherwise. It’s the one thing that I know for sure he believes in. But I do wish there would come a day in which two non-believers could in fact run to lead this non-Christian nation.

      4) To your point about evangelical concerns about “high debt without a budget, pro-choice, very strong anti-biblical views on family and marriage.”  One by one:

      a) George W. Bush ran up the debt and left Obama with a $1 trillion dollar budget deficit, which has continued for four years. Evangelicals voted in droves for him and voted in droves for his would-be successor, John McCain

      b) Evangelicals will this year vote for a man who was, at one time and when it was politically convenient, pro-choice. Enough said about that.

      c) Barack Obama does not have “strong anti-biblical views on family and marriage.” You may have noticed he has been married exactly one time and has a beautiful family, to which he is famously devoted. Evangelicals, on the other hand, have supported many, many candidates who have been divorced, including Ronald Reagan.

      If you are referencing Obama’s support for gay people’s rights to be first-class citizens, I’m afraid you’ll have to take that up with your prior argument that this is not a Christian nation. You are contradicting yourself. Even if Obama or anyone else thinks that gays are somehow not kosher with God, that has exactly nothing to do with their civil rights as Americans. Presumably, even evangelicals don’t want to turn this into a theocracy, right? Or do they?

      Not Anonymously,

      Duane

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  5. Galatians 1:8 Should real Christians vote for a man who is anathema? Remember, the Mormons advertise that they have “another gospel” and Mitt as a Mormon leader did indeed preach this other gospel.

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    • Michele,

      In some ways, what the Mormon church has tried to do regarding its standing as a mainstream Christian church, is what Romney himself has tried to do lately regarding his standing as a mainstream political candidate. Both are trying to hide or downplay their backgrounds in order to gain wider acceptance.

      Mormons have developed an “it’s okay to lie for the Lord” strategy of covering up their funky religious history, and we all have witnessed and are continuing to witness Romney’s attempt to life about all kinds of things, most notably his funky political history.

      So, it’s easy to understand where a Mormonized Mittens got his campaign strategy. What’s not easy to understand, as one who used to be a part of the evangelical right, is how hard-core right-wing Christian evangelicals can conveniently renounce their claim that Mormonism is a cult by voting for the most prominent Mormon in America, thus making Mormonism as Christian as, say, Southern Baptists.

      I can only conclude, that The Scary Negro is so scary that he is scaring the bejesus, if not Jesus himself, out of a lot of evangelicals.

      Duane

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  6. Yinka

     /  October 28, 2012

    Interesting piece. Am a born again christian from Africa. if I was in the US, I guess you would classify me as a conservative, right wing evangelical. I’ve been a born-again christian for over 25 years and for most of those years, I have been taught by pastors (mostly in the US) that Mormon is a cult, a false religion, heretical and just plain blasphemy. The warning has always been to stay clear of them, their religion and their books because I was told it had the potential of brain washing you. You can therefore imagine my shock at the loud silence within the leadership of the evangelicals on the subject of support for Mitt Romney a man who is not only a proud Mormon but who had been their bishop for several years. I stare in amazement to see such icons like Billy Graham endorse Mitt without a view of the irony and contrast of such decision especially after years of preaching / teaching against his religion. Are we now suppose to forget all we have been taught for decades or somehow re-calibrate our minds to accept the man “without (or in spite) of his faith?”… Guess what? am not surprised. Since the first presidential campaign of Obama in 2008, we have seen the unraveling of the christian right in the US. The embrace of John Mccain a divorcee who dumped his sick wife for another woman just after he came back from Vietnam against an Obama who was the very embodiment of family values that we hold so dear in the church. We saw such pastors like John Hagee and Roy Parsley walk back their teachings on the Catholic Church and Islam all because it was not politically correct. For years I had listened to these men and their teachings and I understood their teachings which was simply this – The Catholic Church is the great whore spoken in the bible and Islam was a false religion + Allah is a false god. There was absolutely no ambiguity in these teachings but suddenly these men because of political expediency had to somehow “clarify” their comments and teachings because they had endorsed Mccain – Endorsements that were later rejected by the candidate himself, a rude slap on the face of the church. It made me ponder….were these men not supporting Obama because he is Black?…… In 2008, we were told Obama must be the anti-christ because the bible described the anti-christ as an orator, well loved and would unite the world. Somehow I started to ponder whether the idea of a smart, intelligent and popular black man was too much for these people to accept…thus the need to label him as the antichrist. Now we know better. No one his labeling him again as the anti-christ because he is not as popular as he was in 2008. Now the talk is that he is a failure, non-american, a socialist, gay lover and plain incompetent. Clearly the unraveling of the christian right wing in the US as been a revelation. Sadly, the world is watching and taking note. We the christians in Africa know better now and we now know the true identities of some of these preachers…we now know some of them are just plain “closet racist”….. The world is truly watching. Your article is spot on and I could only hope and pray that God’s divine be done.

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  7. Roger H Frost

     /  January 5, 2013

    Do progressives, liberals, communists, obama supporters hate the world more than any thing else even someone else who loves Jesus.

    Who is tolerant and who is really hateful? Hmm

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    • King Beauregard

       /  January 5, 2013

      Oh knock it off; it’s not like you complained when the government assigned you a gay life partner.

      By the way, about Jesus … there was one group of people he couldn’t abide, and they were the Pharisees. If Jesus didn’t see any need to be tolerant of Pharisees in his day, I see no reason to be tolerant of them in mine.

      Like

    • Roger,

      How would you like it if I asked,

      Do conservatives, fascists, Christians, and Republicans hate liberals more than anything else?

      Did you like the way I slipped the word “fascist” in there? Do you think it is cute to put “communists” in your list? Or is that just how “someone else who loves Jesus” expresses his love for the Savior?

      Duane

      Like

  8. genegarman

     /  January 5, 2013

    The Pharisees AND their Scribes.

    Like

  1. Should "real" Christians vote for a Mormon? What would Jesus say? | God Discussion
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