An open letter to evangelicals, from an evangelical
After months of campaigning, the Iowa caucuses are finally just a week away. The Hawkeye State’s caucus is the first of several GOP primaries where evangelicals will make up a substantial portion of the voting bloc. Since Mitt Romney first ran for the presidency in 2008, there has been the question of whether evangelicals can and/or will support him. I would like to make an appeal to my evangelical brothers and sisters across Iowa and the rest of the nation to not use Mormonism as the reason to oppose Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.
Why do I have the authority to make this appeal? Well, let me take just a brief moment to list my credentials. I was raised in a small Protestant denomination whose first word is “Evangelical”. I attended a Christian college where renowned evangelist Billy Graham was once president. I have even worked for three different denominations of Protestant churches. So, not to infringe upon the now infamous Christine O’Donnell commercial, but “I am you”.
As Governor Romney embarks upon his final campaign swing through Iowa, why does this evangelical feel completely comfortable supporting him to become the leader of this great nation?
Morals and Values
While there may be some theological issues dividing evangelicals and Mormons, we still share morals and values in common. I believe that this is more important in selecting a President than simply having a candidate whose denomination or religion corresponds with my own. The question we ought to ask is, “how will this person’s faith influence his or her decisions once they are in the Oval Office?” And whether someone is Southern Baptist, Assembly of God, Evangelical Free, or Mormon, we all share a common moral code which subscribes to the same Ten Commandments, the institution of marriage, and a strong belief in the sanctity of life to cite a few examples. That is what will give a very good indication as to how a President addresses an issue when it arises. Yes, theological differences do exist, but these shared morals and values transcend the differences in doctrine when it comes to trusting someone with the Presidency of the United States.
For example, if a bill dealing with the sanctity of life comes to President Romney’s desk, it won’t matter if he believes in speaking in tongues or continuing revelation. What matters is that he agrees with us that the lives of unborn children should be protected, which indeed he does. Will a different opinion on theosis come into play when addressing our budget deficit or getting a balanced budget amendment passed? Absolutely not. The differences in theological doctrine between evangelical Protestants and Mormons will not result in a differing viewpoint on the tough issues facing our nation today.
Governor Romney’s 42-year marriage to his wife Ann and devotion to his family is a perfect example of the values and morals he possesses. Recent statistics show that almost half of marriages now end in divorce. What a great example it would be to have someone in the White House who has not only talked about family values, but lived it as well. That is something we as evangelicals would be proud of in a President and aspire to in our own lives.
When I attended a campaign rally in 2008, Governor Romney spoke about the importance of marriage before having children so that the child could have the stability and advantage of having both a mother and father present in their life (and also why marriage should be between a man and a woman). Again, something that we as evangelicals can rally behind. A difference in religion does not mean that a difference in morals and values exists. As I have discovered by closely watching Mitt Romney over the past four years, there is certainly not a difference between his values and my own.
Once the connection of shared morals and beliefs with a candidate has been established, it makes sense to look at his or her actual qualifications to become President of the United States. I happen to believe that based on his accomplishments and life experiences in the private sector and as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney is the most qualified candidate in the race.
If you are an evangelical and a business owner, here is something to consider: when you are looking to hire somebody for your business, do you look to hire the person most qualified to complete the task at hand, or do you narrow your search to only other evangelicals? I’m guessing most would say that they desire to have the most qualified person for the job regardless of religion, because ministry jobs aside, when does simply being an evangelical Christian make you more qualified for a job? It doesn’t (just look at Jimmy Carter’s presidency). The Lord has gifted each one of us uniquely and differently. And just as being an evangelical does not make somebody more qualified to be a sales associate, truck driver, or attorney, neither does it make someone more qualified to be President of the United States.
There’s no question that it’s comforting and exciting to have someone of the exact same religious beliefs running for office, but that by itself doesn’t mean he or she is the best fit for the job. I’m an evangelical, but I can honestly tell you that if I jumped into the presidential race right now I would not be the most qualified person. Far from it! It is equally nonsensical to support someone by looking only at their religious affiliation and not take qualifications into account. If those evangelical business owners we talked about previously hired without considering an applicant’s qualifications, their businesses would likely be in serious trouble.
We as evangelicals shouldn’t be afraid to support someone for President who shares the same morals and values we do and is best qualified to lead this nation, even if he doesn’t subscribe to the exact same faith that we do. Evangelicals have voted for and elected Latter-Day Saints before, without bringing about ruinous results.
It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to put Mitt Romney in the White House, who in my opinion has within him the ability to be a tremendous President of the United States, simply because of theological doctrine. There is much more that unites us than divides us.