"Should Christians vote for a Mormon?" is the most popular term I've noted while watching it. And I think that this is a symptom of the cognitive dissonance about religion and politics that has been going on in this country over the last twenty years. What if your religious convictions are not black and white about who or what kind of person you should vote for? How do you fill in the blanks?
This will not be a theologically driven column, although I will cite some Bible verses of things that Jesus specifically said about politics. Instead, I am more interested in taking the Internet temperature of this confusion over whether a "true" Christian should vote for a Mormon–which suggests to many that "true" Christians don't consider Mormons Christians at all. This election has raised a real quandary for conservatives, because so many of their candidates have claimed that God chose them to run, or wanted them to run. Since many believe that Obama is a Muslim (even though he's not), they've got a choice between "the Muslim" or the "Mormon." They are thinking Romney is the "lesser of two evils." They're asking themselves these questions right now:
1) Does God REALLY choose candidates or influence politics?
2) If he does choose candidates, does choosing Romney mean that he now prefers Mormons to Christians*?
3) If God does NOT choose candidates, then does that mean that Mitt Romney is the anti-Christ?
4) In the event that either #2 or #3 is true, then should I be ordering a copy of the Book of Mormon and begin the process of conversion to get a jump on the crowds?
In a country that lauds religious freedom over every other nation on earth, we're working awfully hard to negate other faiths in favor of evangelical conservative Christianity (except Mormons). We believe that everybody ought to enjoy the freedoms we do (except for Mormons). We make jokes about multiple wives and entertain and titillate ourselves by watching shows like Big Love, (which is NOT representative of the Mormon faith as a whole, mind you), simply because we cannot accept that Mormonism is a real faith–in fact, it is the only faith in America that was not imported from Europe. It is uniquely–American.
And if we are "real" Americans, shouldn't we laud true nationalism? Shouldn't we be lauding Mormonism as an example of what it means to be American? Mormons are no strangers to persecution–(and for all you conservative Christians out there I'm talking REAL persecution–being killed for your faith–not simply being made to feel bad because someone doesn't agree with you). Mormons have continually been driven from their land, they have been beaten, they have been killed–all because they're different. All because they haven't "measured up" to the majority faith (Christianity).
The Christian Post says that this is the greatest question evangelicals are grappling with in politics. in fact, the question is such a terribly quandary for conservative Christian theologians, they've decided that Christ doesn't have much to do with this election:
"The Kingdom is not riding on whatever happens on election day and the church's mission isn't going to change regardless of what happens … on Election Day," said Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Tuesday.
During a panel discussion at the Louisville seminary, Mohler recognized that the hardest issue for many "thoughtful" evangelicals is not merely political. The question on their minds is, "What does it mean worldwide for a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to be elected president of the United States?" There's no question for many that Mormons make wonderful neighbors, the theologian noted. They also lead commendable and admirable lives where family is essential and caring for others is a major responsibility. But when it comes to theology, what the LDS church teaches is a "false gospel," Mohler stressed, and a belief system that would take people "to eternal destruction."
Mohler admits that many Mormons lead really good lives and are good neighbors. Even though they live like Christians, he just can't get past the "fact" that to him, they're not. He's more worried about saving them from their false faith.
How bigoted can you get? It gets worse. Some churches are throwing in the towel and deciding that if they have to choose between two evils, they'd rather have the white Mormon than the Black "Muslim." We did an article about that, yesterday. Right now, evangelicals have their panties in a twist and are busy devouring their own over Romney.
With two weeks to go before the presidential elections on Nov. 6, Internet evangelist Bill Keller of LivePrayer.com is still insisting that Christians cannot allow themselves to support a candidate like Mitt Romney, because his Mormon faith does not align with the teachings of Christ.
"It is no wonder why God is judging this nation by giving us a choice between two son's of Satan when high profile men of God like Billy Graham and supposed Christian leaders like Ralph Reed, Mark DeMoss, David Barton, and scores of others are publicly telling Christians that it is OK to compromise their faith and put temporal politics over the eternal souls of men to support a Baal worshipper," Keller said in an email to The Christian Post.
The evangelist, who is urging people to write in the name of Jesus instead of selecting either candidate on Election Day, refers to the Rev. Billy Graham's recent remarks on Romney, which many say is an unofficial endorsement of the GOP candidate.
Well guess what. Christians were in that spot once along ago too. The Romans didn't like the Christians because they wouldn't worship Roman gods. Christians were killed for their faith, imprisoned, you name it. Have you all gotten so far away from your own history that you have forgotten what it is like to not be accepted for who you are?
While I do not like Mitt Romney as a politician, I find it sad that in a country that lauds religious freedom that Mormonism is again taking its share of hits. What do other pastors say about Mormonism? We got the opinion of the great Billy Graham–who doesn't really like Mormonism given his actions of late–but endorses Romney anyway because he's Republican. Period. If there were any other alternative, I am not afraid to say that Graham would be endorsing someone else. I found an article that I believe sums up the conservative Christian position on Mormons:
Why Mormons Are Not Christian.
First: Mormons do not follow or believe in the historic Jesus Christ of the Bible, but rather in a difference Jesus. This is why most Biblical Christians emphatically insist that Mormons are not Christians. Let me explain.
The god of the Mormons is not the God of the Bible. To the Mormons, Jesus is the firstborn son of an exalted "man" who became the god of this world. The man-god of Mormonism was made the god of this world because of his good works on another planet somewhere out in the universe. He "earned" godhood, and was thus appointed by a counsel of gods in the heavens to his high position as the god of planet Earth. The Mormon god of this world was a man, like all men, who became a god. This is what the celestial marriage and the temple vows are all about. LDS men, by doing their temple work, are striving for exaltation by which they, too, shall one day become gods. Their wives will be the mother goddesses of "their" world and with their husband will produce the population of their world. This is the Mormon doctrine of "eternal progression."
Note the following quote from the Mormon Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, page 123, made by the LDS Apostle Orson Hyde:
"Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, a mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point were He is."
Lorenzo Snow, late President of the Mormon church, made this statement in the second verse of his famous poem entitled, "Man's Destiny":
"As Abra'm, Isaac, Jacob, too, babes, then men–to gods they grew. As man now is, our God once was; As now God is, so man may be,– Which doth unfold man's destiny. . ."
The God of the Bible is not an exalted man. The God of the Bible is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. The Bible says He is the only God and there are no other Gods. He had no beginning or end and he is a spirit being and never was a man.
And of course, Christians know their "truth" because the Bible tells them so. Doesn't the Bible also say "Judge not, lest ye be judged?"
I have known many Mormons who were more Christian than their Christian neighbors. I have known many people who were never Christian or Mormon who were more Christian than their Christian neighbors. What does that say about those who practice it? Yes, there are good Christians. Those I have known are precious few. In fact, this is such a problem amongst Christians, a Christian group wrote a book about it warning that Christians were driving away new converts, younger potential converts, because of the perception that Christians are narrow minded religious bigots. The Christian attitude towards Mormons does nothing to refute this perception. God's reply?
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11)
The Greeks were polytheistic–to Christians today, they would be the bottom feeders. To Christians then, they were because Christians worshipped only one God. Yet Paul says Christians are not to discriminate against anyone because of their religion or status in life. A Christian website puts it even more succintly:
There is neither bond nor free – The condition of a free man does not give him any special claims or advantages in regard to religion; and the condition of a slave does not exclude him from the hope of heaven, or from being regarded as a child of God, on the same terms, and entitled to the same privileges as his master…That it is unique to Christianity. All other systems of religion and philosophy make different ranks, and endeavor to promote the distinctions of caste among people. They teach that certain people are the favorites of heaven, in virtue of their birth or their rank in life, or that they have special facilities for salvation. Thus, in India the Brahmin is regarded as, by his birth, the favorite of heaven, and all others are supposed to be of a degraded rank. The great effort of people, in their systems of religion and philosophy, has been to show that there are favored ranks and classes, and to make permanent distinctions on account of birth and blood. Christianity regards all people as made of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth (see the note at Acts 17:26), and esteems them all to be equal in the matter of salvation; and whatever notions of equality prevail in the world are to be traced to the influence of the Christian religion.
Now, I'm not a Christian. I used to be. And this won't be a treatise on why I am not any longer–but let me just say that if you are in a quandary about who to vote for because you believe that either candidate isn't quite Christian enough for you, take my advice.
Go back to church and reassess your Christianity. Are you helping the poor, as Jesus told you to do? Or are you too busy telling everybody how righteous you are? Are you esteeming everyone as better than yourself?
The real question of the election remains: Do evangelicals hate Obama more than they love Jesus? The blog "The Erstwhile Conservative" explores this question:
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?
Frankly, I'm going to get some popcorn and enjoy the show. There can only be, after all one true church. And while I hope Romney gets his Republican ass kicked, (not because he's Mormon but because I think he's a wishy washy politician who panders to everyone which is why he doesn't have a solid position on anything except he doesn't have a solid position on anything), I hope even more that Christians re-evaluate how they look in the public eye. If you want to be political activists, fine, okay–but be prepared to be criticized without whining that you are perpetually persecuted. Until you are killed for your faith or imprisoned for it, you don't know what the hell you are talking about.
Stop hating and start practicing what you preach, and vote your conscience, or don't vote at all. And personally, I like Jesus' advice:
Love one another.