Lions, tigers, and Mormons, oh my – redux

Late last year, I posted my thoughts on having a Mormon, Mitt Romney, as our president. Now that Gov. Romney appears to be gaining on Rudy and McCain, it appears that the mainstream media is focusing, with greater focus, on Mormonism in the public square.

Case in point is the front-page story in the WaPo featuring those creepy, stick-together-no-matter-what LDSers. Well, the Post didn’t exactly say those things. But the tone, and tenor, of the article captured precisely these thoughts. In that sense, faithful Mormons are being treated much the same way that those fish-on-Friday, Rosary-praying idolatrous Catholics were portrayed when John Kennedy ran for president. The polite sentiment was, and appears to still be for some groups, “We can tolerate them in our country, but they’d better not get any notions of being in charge.”

Let me be plain: I think that now that a Mormon has a serious shot at the presidency, the mainstream media is starting to use every arrow in its quiver to ensure that this does not come to pass. Faithful Mormons, like faithful Jews, or faithful Christians (but not faithful Muslims; see below) are just too, well, faithful to God. Which, generally, means a big fat “No!” to many points of the conventional secular humanist agenda.

Mitt Romney, as a (generally) conservative Mormon, would be anathema to those on the left whose theology is best defined by abortion on demand, all power to the unions, protectionism, and statism in all things. Romney, as a Mormon, however, should also give any faithful Christian, conservative or otherwise, pause.

Let me be blunt about it: Mormon theology is just plain nuts; it is a cult, and substitutes the wisdom of their latter-day prophets for the truths we find in Scripture and 2,000 years of Christian tradition. On the other hand, Mitt Romney isn’t running for Pope, or to be head of a seminary. He is running for a secular office, president of the United States.

The immediate fear from the left is that Romney’s faith in God, as interpreted through his Mormon theology, will result in a rock-solid brand of conservatism. Similar in some ways to that of evangelical George W. Bush’s conservatism. We’re not arguing purity here, merely stating that President Bush is much more conservative in matters of public policy than any Democrat, and that his conservatism is grounded in his Christian faith.

As for Mitt Romney, all that I care about is that there be no religious test for public office. Not that I would support a member of any faith. I wouldn’t vote for a satanist, obviously. And I would not vote for a Muslim. No, I don’t equate Muslims with satanists. But Islam’s theology, among many other things, requires that all submit to the will of Allah, as given in the Koran.

To which I say, bullocks. The Muslim faith and its entire history have one, continual and continuing feature: conquer and convert. In this way, Islam is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment in a way that Christianity (and Judaism and Mormonism) is not.

We Christians would certainly prefer if all would accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But we know, after a long and brutal history, that this conversion can not be forced by any but the Holy Spirit. We in the here and now must encourage this conversion, but must never, ever force it.

Let me state this differently. I am a Baptist. We are, collectively, the largest single Protestant denomination in the United States. It is safe to assume, that given our history of suffering persecution at the hands of state-sponsored religions, we’d be the last to assent to a theocratic government. Baptists, if nothing else, must agree on the strict separation of church and state and on freedom of conscience.

I’d like to think that my brethren in other denominations also agree that freedom of conscience must trump all other political virtues. Which means, among other things, that no leader’s vision of God will be imposed on our citizens. What about having a president whose beliefs are starkly different than ours, as Mitt Romney’s appear to be?

Does not matter, so long as two questions may be answered in the affirmative: “Do all have freedom to worship, or not, as their conscience dictates,” and “Will the candidate pledge to uphold our laws and our Constitution.”

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