2011: Surely a Mormon can be president / Evangelical Jordan Sekulow

Jordan was an early Evangelical supporter of Mitt Romney in 2008, and appears to be making the same case in 2012. Thanks very much!

See the original of this article on the Washington Post “On Faith” website at this link.

Thanks very much,
Steve St.Clair
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Jordan Sekulow is Director of Policy and International Operations at the American Center for Law & Justice.


 

Surely a Mormon can be president

With former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney both believed to be gearing up for a run for the presidency, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has again found itself answering questions about what these two prominent members believe.

Post reporter Sandhya Somashekhar wrote in a story published Tuesday that Mormon leaders see the ascendancy of these and other Mormons (such as convert Glenn Beck) as a sign “that the community has finally ‘arrived,'” but added “researchers say there remains a deep mistrust of Mormons and that little has changed in public opinion to suggest that voters will be more open this year than they were in 2007.”

If conservative Christian and Mormons share a political agenda, why do suspicions still plague Mormon politicians? Do media personalities such as Glenn Beck help or hurt the cause?

Do you think we should ever see headlines in a mainstream news outlet that read, “The Jewish primary” or “The black primary?” Politico recently ran a story titled “The Mormon primary” and no one seemed to balk. Former governors Mitt Romney and Jon Hunstman have long careers in public service and business. However, it seems like some outlets spend way too much time focused on Mormonism and not enough time discussing how these potential candidates would govern the country.

When we walked into an Iowa shopping mall a few days before the Iowa caucus, a woman came up to my dad (conservative activist Jay Sekulow) and asked if she could snap a photo with him. Immediately following the flash, she began a short interrogation that started with, “Jay, we love the ACLJ and appreciate all the work you do but, how can you support a Mormon?”

This was not unusual during the ’08 Republican primary. My dad endorsed Governor Romney early in the cycle and campaigned with him at many events throughout the early primary states. As a consultant for Romney for President, I certainly fielded a fair number of “Mormon” questions as I worked with grassroots activists.

Before we got formally involved in the Romney campaign, I talked at length with my dad about the larger ramifications of our endorsement. While the presidency is important to our mission – judicial nominations impact the makeup of federal courts for decades – we know that the ACLJ’s continued success is solely tied to the support we receive from fellow evangelicals.

Still, in the end, for the most part there was no negative impact on our organization’s work or mission.

When I look back on the campaign, I do not fault social conservatives for the controversy that swirled around Governor Romney’s faith.

The media just could not resist the in-depth analysis of the Mormon faith or the debate about how being a Mormon would impact Governor Romney’s decision making in the Oval Office. It made for good cable news discussion, op-eds, and ultimately, helped defeat the presidential candidate who would have given President Obama the most serious run for his money.

Most Americans know very little about the Mormon faith. The Mormon Church has a duty to educate the country about their beliefs. Governor Romney is certainly capable, and now very used to, answering questions about his religion. My dad and I were not on the campaign trail as apologists for the Church of Latter-day Saints and we made that clear to the groups we met with. Only Mormons can change their public image – for now, it is open season on their faith.

In August, I wrote that, “Voters may apply religious test.”

Our Constitution states in Article VI that, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” This does not mean that voters are acting un-American for inquiring into the leader of the free world’s faith or lack thereof. All this phrase means is that the government cannot implement a test, the voters absolutely can.

Many of the social conservatives who privately criticized us about our early endorsement of Romney ended up telling us that “you were right” when McCain secured the nomination.

Governor Romney pledged to support pro-life legislation and nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court. If he had made it through the primary, I believe Romney was likely to win the election. From his economic policy to his appointment of justices, the impact would have lasted for decades. If a Mormon can be the governor of Massachusetts – neither a Mormon nor conservative stronghold – and a Mormon can be majority leader of the US Senate, surely a Mormon can be president.

By Jordan Sekulow | February 10, 2011; 2:11 PM ET

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