There was a time when I thought that Evangelical Christians and Mormons were in a position to work together. That was in the mutual respect for shared moral views as upheld in the majority Republican Party voters. Both fought for a less secular society and more respect for traditional families, personal property, the sanctity of the unborn, and other similar issues. For at least ten years things were looking promising. Currently there is a need to band together to fight for those values as they are in danger of getting lost after a liberal Democrat take over of Washington. However, the regrouping that should be happening has been stopped by theological arguments that should not be part of a political discussion.
I used to believe that the warnings by the left that the Religious Right wanted to create a Theocracy in the United States similar to Islamic states was unfounded. When there was talk of a "Christian Nation" it was always my assumption that simply meant a nation that respected the "Judeo-Christian" past and values of its founding citizens and ideals. Never did I believe it meant making laws or only accepting for citizenship those that support a specific religious creed or dogma. That is totally against the founding principles of the Constitution.
Recently I have wondered if the left was not horribly correct. Now, I still believe that a liberal is as much against Mormonism as any Evangelical Christian who holds to their Jesus doctrines. The difference is that the liberal would not vote for the Mormon for political reasons and not purely theological ones. They might say that Mormons have stranger beliefs than any other religion, but at least they are usually consistant in saying all religions are suspect.
However, the Evangelical Christian is very picky with who they show displeasure against. Many would not vote for a Mormon no matter what. Although there are some instances when Mormons have been equally as questionable in voting by association when they are the majority, it would be unthinkable from a national perspective. They would not only lose, but have no one to vote for in national elections. There are those who point to the fact that Romney is getting support from some high profile Evangelical Christian leaders as an argument for Religious Right pragmatism. That is nice for him. However, the support is so back handed and laced with so many theological strings that it pretty much disqualifies the support. It reaks of opportunistic theocratic aspirations and self-justifications.
One example includes the following:
"I told him, you cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, `I am a Christian just like you,' said Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina, which is scheduled to hold the first primary among the Southern states. `If he does that, every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences.''
Another comment tries to be far less direct, but still misunderstands or doesn't care about the Mormon feelings on the matter:
Richard Land said he sees Mormonism "as another faith in the same sense that I would look upon Islam as another faith. I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion — Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam."
I have heard often times by Romney Evangelical Christian supporters the reasoning that they can support him, because God can just as easily lead nations with unbelievers. The examples they use would obviously make a Mormon cringe:
"Or have we come to the point where evangelicals will only vote for people they consider Christians? I hope not, for nothing in the Bible says that people have to be born again Christians before they can be governmental authorities who are used greatly by God to advance his purposes. God used Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to raise Joseph to a position of authority over the whole country, so he could save his people from famine (Genesis 41:37-57). God used Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to protect and raise up Daniel and his Jewish friends to positions of high authority over Babylon (Daniel 2:46-49). God used Cyrus, King of Persia, to restore the Jewish exiles to their homeland (Isaiah 45:16; Ezra 1:1-4), and used Darius, King of Persia, to protect the Jewish people as they rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-12). God used Ahashuerus, King of Persia, to raise up Esther as Queen and to give Mordecai high authority and honor in his kingdom (Esther 6:10-11; 8:1-2, 7-15). In the New Testament age, God used the peace enforced by the secular Roman Empire, the Pax Romana, to enable the early Christians to travel freely and spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world.
Here in the United States, God used not only Founding Fathers who were strong Christians, but also Deists such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, to build the foundation of our nation."
Romney may not respond because he is not, as he has said many times before, runnning as the Mormon President. However, most Mormons would agree with the statement made by Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, "The fact that we are Christians is non-negotiable." There are those who question why allowing for more inclusiveness and less theological "purity" is important. Some would even say it benefits the Mormons with too much "legitamacy" as if they don't already have that in the United States. The question and the statement says it all. Evangelical Christians must decide if they want a theocratic nation or democratic one; they can't have both.
No matter how much support a Mormon gets from Evangelical Christians politically, if they don't stop publically spouting theological disagreements then they will lose all political influence. When these statements are made outside of a Church then it no longer is a theological consideration. It becomes a political statement with very specific consiquences for both groups. The Mormons are a strong force in the Republican Party, as the consistantly conservative Utah and Idaho members of Congress and Senate illustrate. As much as the "religious war" is a product of liberal media looking for a wedge between conservatives, it is not entirely without fuel.
As the Religous Right gave advice to Mitt Romney about his religion, I think they should get some advice for themselves. If they want to continue to be politically relevant they should become more tolerant of other's religion. They should stop theologically attacking those who hold political and moral allegiances. If they don't then they could find themselves standing alone. The Mormons have changed political affiliations in the past because of how they were viewed and treated by those who should have been with them, and grumblings have already started to do it again. Not only that, but there are other groups who have expressed concerns about what the Religious Right have done to the Republican Party and conservatism in general. You don't have to agree to be agreeable. A qualified endorsement can come across as no endorsement at all even if the person endorsed has graciously accepted.