October 29, 2007
The Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Mormons and a few other faiths have three things in common – they believe in Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God and that He died and was resurrected for our sins.
So what’s the problem?
The political pundits continue to try and make Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs a big issue as he runs for the Republican presidential nomination. Different denominations of Christianity are just that – different denominations – which means different worship practices of the same fundamental Christian beliefs.
Some people have commented that they cannot support Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. When they are pressed to explain why that is objectionable, they stutter. Still others are skeptical of Mitt Romney based solely on hearsay or lack of knowledge about Mormons.
Even more puzzling to me is the recent trashing of the Mormon faith by Bob Jones III, of the university that bears his name, while endorsing Mitt for president (USA Today article by DeWayne Wickham, October 23, 2007). Some of us call that a backhanded endorsement.
I am a practicing Bible-reading-and-believing Baptist Christian, and I respect any Christian denomination that shares the same basic beliefs. I cannot respect a religion that trashes other Christian denominations, or one that seeks to destroy other faiths. Muslim extremists want to kill anyone who does not agree with them. I have a problem with that.
This is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney, nor is this intended to defend or explain the Mormon religion. It is a reminder that Christianity has several denominations with different practices. Misperceptions or lack of clarity about someone’s religious beliefs can only distort one’s reasoning in deciding who to vote for.
Media and political prognosticators are constantly trying to put labels and sound-bites on candidates for their reporting convenience, and sometimes, to help create a negative perception of a candidate. Romney is a Mormon, but a “flip-flopper” on social issues. Guiliani is a liberal with a conservative record as mayor of New York City. Huckabee is a conservative Baptist preacher, but he does not have enough money raised to be considered a tier one candidate. Fred Thompson might be a true conservative but his “sizzle” is a let down. And John McCain is strong on national security and “gray” on everything else.
Maybe I am asleep when the media reports on the Democratic presidential candidates, because I do not hear them proclaiming Hillary’s religious affiliation or her socialist tendencies, Barack Obama’s Muslim educational past or John Edwards’s distinctly socialist tendencies.
History has shown that a media sound-bite is not a predictor of how a president will sign legislation when it reaches his desk. President John F. Kennedy reduced taxes for the first time in decades, and he was a Catholic Democrat. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and he was a Texas southerner. And Ronald Reagan was a fiscal conservative after being governor of California, one of the most liberal states in the country. Go figure!
This country needs a president who has a sensible, common sense solution or idea for the tier one issues that we face. National security in our fight against Islamic fascism, sustaining the positive growth of our economy, market-based incentives to make our health care system more affordable and accessible, restructuring a dysfunctional social security system, replacing an outdated and unfair federal tax code, and harnessing the unbridled growth of government and entitlement spending.
Religious affiliation is a good indicator of integrity and character, but it is not the only predictor of presidential performance. And since the First Amendment to the Constitution protects us from a president imposing his religious preference on the rest of us, I would rather have a president with some religion than one whose religion is suspect.
“In God We Trust” was no accident by our Founding Fathers.