While Governor Romney was unable to meet with Florida’s Governor Rick Scott today due to foggy weather, spring-like 65 degree weather enabled evangelicals to gather today for their semiannual meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals – in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is headquartered in Salt Lake City.
Ongoing religious fence mending may be the product of the first-time foray of the naE in Salt Lake City as evangelical leaders plan to meet with an LDS leader and Utah Governor Gary Herbert:
Evangelicals meet: Could be heaven for Mitt
The decision by a national group of evangelicals to hold a major meeting in predominantly Mormon Utah carries the potential for continued reconciliation between two constituencies that have viewed each other skeptically — and a political upside for Latter-day Saints presidential hopefuls like Mitt Romney.
The National Association of Evangelicals is holding its semiannual board meeting in Salt Lake City on Thursday — the first time the group has met in Utah. The association chose to gather in Utah precisely to open the door to improved relations between the religious groups.
The board plans to meet with a Mormon leader, in what the evangelicals are framing as an opportunity for “dialogue” that will “deepen our understanding of the Mormon faith and contribute to the ongoing work of evangelicals in Utah.”
The gathering also has clear implications for 2012 presidential politics, with two leading Republican White House contenders still facing the prospect of influential Evangelical Christians in key early-voting states viewing them warily.
The tensions exploded in 2007 when Mike Huckabee was quoted in The New York Times saying of Romney: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Huckabee later apologized.
Huckabee, an evangelical favorite who won the Iowa caucuses last time, was the clearest beneficiary of that dynamic. But continued political reconciliation between the two religious groups could help Huntsman and Romney — and at least partly close off an angle for Huckabee should he decide to run, experts told POLITICO.
(By the way, Huckabee’s habit of speaking first and later apologizing isn’t going unnoticed.)
A group who supported Huckabee placed robo calls during the last presidential primary process which were another source of religious finagling that resulted in Governor Romney’s inquiry regarding the legality of the automatically generated phone tactics.
The article continues:
'The Christus' statue at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, UT (North Visitors Center)
“While [Mormon candidates] have been accepted in their own states, on the national level it looks like those barriers are beginning to come down,” said Brett O’Donnell, a Republican communications strategist who consults to faith-based groups and worked on John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “If those barriers were decreased, a Mormon candidate would probably do better in Iowa and South Carolina.”
Mark DeMoss, an evangelical Republican strategist and longtime Romney adviser, said whatever suspicious existed of Mormon candidates are already fading with the passage of time.
“Evangelicals and Mormons have fundamental doctrinal differences in terms of their faith, but historically have been very compatible and even cooperative on various moral, social and political issues,” he said. “Politically, evangelicals have more in common with most Mormons than we do with liberal Southern Baptists” like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
O’Donnell agreed that the suspicions are on the wane.
Read the entire article here.
Religious groups recognize the necessity of uniting in the political arena to challenge legislation fomented by the alarming growth of secularism in America. The passing of California’s Prop 8 in 2008 to ban same-sex marriage is an example of the power of multi-religious coalitions.
Today’s meeting could go a long way in forming new relationships and a conservative collaboration capable of moving America forward in significant ways at the ballot box. And, it could help a Romney presidential candidacy.
Evangelical leaders in Utah; will meet with an LDS leader
United States Constitution – Article VI
Mitt Romney’s Faith in America speech
► Jayde Wyatt