Confusion over the Evanglicals versus Mormons Issue

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree” – Martin Luther

I caught a mildly interesting article over at the New York Times titled “Why Evangelicals Don’t  Like Mormons” by David Reynolds. Just as the title might suggest, he offers a theory on why evangelicals don’t  like Mormons, and thus don’t vote for Romney. The list, as best as I can distill (and I’ll do some inference and insinuation on behalf of Dr. Reynolds while we’re at it) begins by first dismissing evangelicals as silly, absurd, or confused, and then offers only one explanation for the lack of Romney votes:

  • Evangelicals don’t care, or are otherwise confused about morality, and thus vote for thrice-divorced Gingrich over Romney
  • Evangelicals are confused about the silliness of their own religion, if they actually think that Mormonism is weird in its beliefs
  • Evangelicals are bigots, who fail to take a hard stance on other “out-of-the-mainline” sects like Christian Science, or even some of the founders who may have dabbled in deism
  • Evangelicals are worried that a Mormon presidency would give a boost to this flourishing sect, and don’t want their power structure threatened

Got it? Evangelicals don’t like Mormons because the evangelicals are stupid, ignorant, bigoted, inconsistent, and power-hungry.

I especially enjoyed this bit: “it’s important to consider the often antagonistic skepticism that many evangelicals have of Mr. Romney’s brand of Protestantism: Mormonism.” His “brand of Protestantism”? Umm, no. Mormonism is not just another “branch” of Protestantism. The religious world of Christendom isn’t as simply as Protestant or Catholic, with everyone that is not Catholic becoming Protestant by default.

Since the article is drivel, I suppose I should offer a set of clarifications on the part of evangelicals. First, there is the question of why evangelicals don’t like Mormonism. We view it as a cult, a false religion, a religion that denies fundamental tenets of Christianity – namely the deity of Christ. We really don’t have to go beyond that. There’s no need to cast aspersions about polygamy or any other such thing – Mormonism denies Christ.

But the article really isn’t dealing with theology at all, it’s questioning why evangelicals don’t vote for Mormons. Or, rather, it is claiming that evangelicals don’t vote for Romney because Romney is a Mormon and evangelicals don’t like Mormons (because evangelicals are stupid, ignorant, bigoted, inconsistent, and power-hungry … remember?). But this too rings hollow. Evangelicals don’t vote for Romney for a far simpler reason – he’s pro-choice. That’s it. Evangelicals would much rather a thrice-divorced Gingrich who will at least hint at being pro-life than Romney who has been clearly pro-choice for much of his career, only offering a head-fake on leading from a pro-life standpoint in the nomination process.

I personally don’t care much at all about Romney’s Mormonism, it’s his political views that bother me. Much the same, I don’t much care that Obama is a secular-humanist – it’s his policies that I don’t like. But, of course, I also don’t really buy Gingrich’s pro-life positions either. Gingrich is a politician who understands that anti-life allowances in case law help to keep pro-life voters in line. Why would he want to fix that?

Regardless, the explanation of Romney’s failings amongst evangelicals is far simpler than constructing a dialogue to establish Mormonism as just another protestant strain, establish evangelicals as (you remember the list, right?), and then insist that this must be the cause. He’s a pro-choice liberal (moderate?), and that doesn’t fly with evangelicals.

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