Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney, Mormons and Protestant fundamentalists

A blog post from Frederick Clarkson has got me thinking from a different perspective about the religious factional differences within the Republican Party, particularly those between Mormon fundamentalists and Protestant fundamentalists: Mormonism & Schism on the Christian Right Talk to Action 09/06/2012. I think of Pentecostal fundamentalists as their own distinct faction, but their attitudes toward Mormonism will probably track those of non-Pentecostal Protestants.

This video from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), The Mormon Moment? Religious Conviction and the 2012 Election 09/11/2012, features the SBTS president Albert Mohler, his dean Russell Moore and two others describing a conservative (in both the political and religious sense) perspective on having a Mormon as the Republican Party's Presidential candidate. In case you're wondering, no, there are no Mormon participants in the discussion.

Clarkson also writes about the issue in Papering over the Differences: The political alliance between evangelicals and the Catholic right Conscience 2/2012. While conservative white Protestant Republicans aren't likely to vote for the President many of them consider to be a Kenyan Muslim socialist atheist, their distaste for Mormonism could affect their turnout, and might influence some swing voters:

Another feature of this political season is the awkward effort to reconcile the existing anti-Mormonism among conservative evangelicals with the presidential candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney. Mainstream polling and conventional wisdom indicate that conservative evangelicals, when faced with the decision, will ultimately choose Romney over President Barack Obama. Maybe so. But such views may underappreciate how widespread is the view that Mormons are not Christians, and how many have been schooled that Mormonism is a dangerous heresy and may, as a result, be unable to bring themselves to vote for a Mormon.

Researcher Rachel Tabachnick, who was raised as a conservative Southern Baptist but converted to Judaism, believes that many Southern Baptists will not be able to vote for Romney. She points to books and articles, currently available on the SBC’s website for its LifeWay publishing empire and bookstore chain, suggesting that this mistrust of Mormonism remains unchanged for many. Indeed, a LifeWay Research poll of 1,000 American Protestant pastors last fall found that 75 percent of respondents did not consider Mormons to be Christians. Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, explained, “A person can respect a religious group and even appreciate their commitment to traditional moral values without equating their beliefs with Christian orthodoxy.” They can, but whether they will is another question.
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