Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mitt Romney & Religious Issues

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney officially threw his hat into the presidential ring today declaring his candidacy. Jill Lawrence wrote in USA Today that Romney’s faith (he’s Mormon) would be an issue. According to their poll, 72% of Americans said that they would vote for a qualified candidate who is Mormon. That compares with 94% who said they would vote for a qualified black candidate and 88% who would vote for a qualified female candidate.

Lawrence went on to point out that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), the official name of the Mormon Church, has an unusual theology and a past scarred by racism and polygamy.

The New York Times reported that Romney’s advisers “acknowledged that popular misconceptions about Mormonism—as well as questions about whether Mormons are beholden to their churches leaders on public policy—could give his opponents ammunition in the wide-open fight among Republicans to become the consensus candidate of social conservatives.”

To hear the media tell it, Romney’s problems are (1) the once-upon-a-time polygamy factor, and (2) the ignorant folks who have “misconceptions” about Mormon theology.

Let’s be clear. The problem is not that some people have “misconceptions” about Mormon theology. Some people have deep convictions that clash with Mormon theology. Some people don’t have “misconceptions” but correct perceptions about their differences with Mormon beliefs such as, “as man is, God once was, as God is, man may become.” Most Christians also reject the notion that God (and Mrs. God) have physical bodies and that God literally had sex with Mary to create Jesus.

Now, let me hasten to say that I’m NOT making a case about why you should or should not support Romney for president.

I am highlighting the reality that most people in the mainstream media don’t get it that there are real and sincere disagreements about the nature of God between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Media elites have concluded that all religions are equal and that if a Christian doesn’t acknowledge that the Jewish belief or Muslim belief is equally true to their own belief, then that Christian is intolerant and a bigot.

Tolerance used to mean that you acknowledged that someone’s faith that was different from your own was important and of value to that person. One was tolerant if one gave the right and freedom for another to hold to their different beliefs. But somewhere along the way the definition of tolerance was changed so that one also had to consider every faith equally true.

Listen; there are tremendous differences between the major religions of this world. They can’t all be right. Someone is wrong. Let’s acknowledge that.

I personally believe that Mormonism is wrong. I think I have good reasons. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect Romney or any other Mormon or that I couldn’t support one for public office.

Let’s stop pretending for the sake of political correctness that differences of faith are inconsequential and that in the end all religions are headed to the same destination. Devout adherents of Judaism, Islam, Mormonism and Christianity know that there are significant differences in their beliefs.

And friend, those real differences demand that you personally search for and find the truth. You don’t want to get to the end of life and find out that one of the faiths was right and you wasted this life and forfeited the life to come.

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