Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN)–Why are evangelicals like Billy Graham and Ralph Reed stumping for Mitt Romney? And why are roughly three-quarters of white evangelicals inclined to vote for him?
Because politics matters more to them than religion.
Last year, in a talk at a conference on Mormonism and Islam at Utah Valley University, I asked my Mormon listeners why they had not rushed to the defense of Muslims in controversies such as the one that raged over the Park51 project near ground zero. After all, they have been the victims of religious prejudice. Their founder, Joseph Smith, was killed by a mob of vigilantes.
Given this history, I expected that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as Mormons, would feel the sting of anti-Muslim prejudice and speak out against it. But neither Mitt Romney of the GOP nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the Democratic Party did anything of the sort. In fact, Romney issued a statement opposing the construction of the Islamic center.
Why? Because they were thinking and acting as Republicans or Democrats first and Mormons second.
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I see a parallel story playing out this election season with the religious right.
Until quite recently, many evangelicals saw Mormonism as a dangerous cult spreading false theology and dooming its followers to hell. In fact, only after Romney showed up for a meet and greet with Billy Graham in North Carolina earlier this month did the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association erase a reference to Mormonism as a “cult."
Did Mormons all of a sudden change their theology? Did Graham change his definition of a “cult”? Of course not. It just became politically expedient for Graham to declassify Mormonism, given the fact that Romney, a Mormon, was the presidential nominee of his beloved GOP.
Ralph Reed, too, is forsaking his theology for his politics, mobilizing his Atlanta-based Faith and Freedom Coalition to place voter guides in Ohio churches in the run-up to election day.
I am old enough to remember when the main purpose of Reed’s Christian Coalition and other groups on the religious right was to put born-again Christians in the Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. And for decades those who were running those groups saw Mormons as non-Christians.
And don't get me started on Mike Huckabee, who in a recent ad says that a vote for Obama is a vote for your own damnation.
Have LDS Church members repudiated the Book of Mormon as “another testament of Jesus Christ” or their view that the Bible is the word of God only “as far as it is correctly translated”? Have they accepted the Trinity? Rejected their teaching that there are many gods?
As Ben Witherington, Albert Mohler, and many other evangelical thinkers continue to insist: no, no, and no.
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I used to believe that the purpose of the religious right was to infuse American politics with Christian politicians and Christian politics. I no longer believe that. The purpose of the religious right is to use the Christian God for political purposes. Why any Christian, conservative or liberal, can say "Amen" to that is beyond me.
I am perfectly happy to see Reed stump for Romney in Ohio and Graham plump for Romney in an ad in The Wall Street Journal. Just don’t tell me they are doing so as Christians. They are doing so as shills for the GOP.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.
LOL. Here we go again – Christians telling each other they are not Christian.
They can't help it. It's been like that since Biblical times. This two-faced nature of Christianity is built INTO the religion from the start.
There were no Mormons in biblical times. They are not Christians, by the definition of Christian in the Bible.
This assertion that voting for Romney is somehow a no-no for Christians is not theologically valid.
What do you think the political dynamic was like in the early church?
You had Romans, Jews, Greek, who were new converts.
I can assure that the political positions were quite diverse
The choices were for one form of legalistic or despotic ruler.
We are told to give to Caesar what is Caesar AND to pray for our rulers.
If you use Romney's Mormonism as a litmus test for Christian voting standard,
then what about Lincoln? He was most likely a deist who espoused Christian ideals
and made several bold initiatives in that vein. Eisenhower came from Jehovah Witness background.
Then of course we had FDR. Was his "faith" merely what his family had given him?
Then we have Jimmy Carter, while decent man & proclaimed born-again Christian was a horrible president.
Using Mormon theology as a dis qualifier is just another form of fundamentalism/legalism.
Now lets examine Obama's faith. He is probably no more a Christian than Osama Bin Laden was.
I am not saying Obama is a Muslim, but rather, his so-called faith is more about Social Gospel doctrine.
To add to that critique, Obama was part of Jeremy Wright's church for the Black-Religious cred it gave him in
the community in Chicago. Wright's church preach black-on-white racism and a border line hate America doctrine.
Obama sat under that teaching for many years. On top of this analysis, Wright's own "unplugged" interview recently
pretty much confirmed this by stating he told Obama Jesus could be what he wanted him to be, in his conversion from a luke warm Islam faith.
So you see, Obama is no more of a legitimate choice, using this legalistic "Christian" leader doctrine than Obama.
We see many instances in the Old Testament where God used unbelieving leaders to effect His plan. In some cases
these leaders came to faith, but not always.
So there is NO gold standard that we must apply to our ballot box selection.
In one case, we have Obama, who in the Social Gospel model, would re-distribute wealth to achieve some moral balance.
I don't the the Bible tells us that it should be mandated from us to give to poor.
God's method of achieving this is through the hearts of men/women, who give out of there wealth AND poverty,
not by rule of law. If you aren't giving substantial amounts of your wealth to the poor & need,
don't ask government to do so and call that more moral.
Now in Romney's case, he has a good stewards view of the world of economics and sees that as in instrument of change.
He is conscious of needs in our country/society, and would attempt to provide the kinds of incentives to achieve meeting those needs. He also personally gives a significant amount of his wealth to worthy causes.
If one Christian votes for Obama and the other votes for Romney, has either sinned?
Paul tells us no, as if a man does against what he believes that is sin.
So the real deciding factor is how you act on your conscious, not some trumped up legalism
If you vote for Romney you vote for an anti -Christ. Is voting for an anti- Christ a sin? Duh.
BTW, early Christians didn't vote in their leaders. They were all appointed. We live in a Democracy, meaning that we have to choose who will lead. And if we aren't supposed to welcome them into our houses, why should we be able to vote for one of them? And you weren't faced with voting for Lincoln, Eisenhower, FDR, or Carter. You are faced with voting for a man who is a bishop of a cult that is leading millions of people to Hell. If one person joins the Mormon church because Romney is, they will die and go to Hell. Their blood will be on the hands of everyone who voted for Romney, yours too.
This article is nothing but a last-ditch and very lame attempt to suppress voting for Romney.
Short answer; NO
Wow! Rachel Mad Cow is really someone objective to post here. Let's put up a few liberal rants from the vile Bill Maher while we are at it. The psycho liberal media keeps trying to smear Romney a liar, but repeatedly the fact checkers find Romney much closer to the truth than Obama. I actually find it hilarious to see the desperate and abnormal behavior by the socialist militants permeating the democrat party as their failed agenda crumbles beneath them. When you have no plan to offer, you attack your opponent. That is all Obama is left with after 4 years of failure. Jimmy Carter must be the happiest man alive right now because he is no longer the worst president in the history of the United States of America. Obama has set the bar so low that no one will ever be worse!
Biggest joke of the ELECTION year!! Obama a Christian?
Obama has referred to the Bible as RADICAL, taking text out of context, by comparing laws that were written for the Jews to common day life trying to make a mockery of Scripture.
The truth is, Obama doesn't know the first thing about the Bible and being a Christian or he would have known that the text he was quoting was NEVER meant to apply to Gentiles. He long ago outed himself as a non-Christian to those who know better. For those who don't know their Bible, they laughed along with him. Like I said: foolish bullies – anything for a laugh at the expense of the Christian. At least Romney never mocked Christians and their beliefs, especially while misquoting Scripture to make his point.!
Obama ordered that a monogram, which symbolizes Jesus, be covered up before speaking at a lecture hall? How bizarre is that?
Obama on numerous occasions omitted the words "the Creator" when quoting the Declaration of Independence.
Of course, President Obama is a Christian. Only a fool would believe all the propaganda and lies people are trying to use to smear his campaign. Ameri2010 is all about hate and dividing people. Easily recognizable.
This is complete rubbish. Where on earth did you hear these fantastic tales? The President is a baptized Christian and so was his Mother and his Grandparents who helped raise him. Mrs. Obama's family also had stron roots in thier Chicago Church for many years. Both of thier daughters are also baptized Christians. Just because he is Black and has an odd name does not make him and his family from some scary, dark underworld trying to destroy America! Don't believe every ridiculous tale you hear.
We have two choices on Election day. We can vote for a Christian who is liberal, like Jesus was , or if we believe in the word of God written in our own Holy Bible, we can choose Heresy. The last four verses in the Book of Revelation leave no doubt about this and does not suddenly change because a frail old evangelist is manipulated by his right son to endorse Heresy for a price.
Jesus is not a liberal.
Lefties normally wants nothing to do with religion, except in the case of Islam. They despise the God of the Bible. Yet, at the same time, if they can somehow use Jesus to their advantage, they are quick to do so.
If these leftists would take the time to actually read the Bible, they might find out that Jesus did indeed want us to help the poor, but in His teachings, He was speaking to the Church. He never taught that it was the government's job to care for the poor, and He was adamant that if a man did not work, he should not eat.
Jesus is clearly no socialist, let alone a commie and as a little bonus, He actually has moral standards, something for which a leftist could not even begin to relate.
Does this Ameri2010 idiot think that people will believe his retarded generalizations? What a kook.
You are right that this election is about two choices, but wrong about the choices. Observe what they do, not what they say and you realize that the voters have a choice between Romney who is a Christian and has a clear understanding of the way to live a Christlike life and Obama who is a muslim and watched 4 Americans get slaughtered in the name of his religions jihad and then try to cover it up. There is a reason he has mentioned, to quote him, "my muslim religion". It is because he is muslim!
A Mosquito, you're not worthy of the name. Roaches are smarter than you are.
I see that you have resorted to Obama's strategy Tom, Tom. When you have nothing to offer you resort to name calling. Do you call yourself a Christian like Obama? Probably.
Hear are the facts:
Mormons believe that God created multiple worlds and each world has people living on it. They also believe that multiple Gods exist but each has their own universe. We are only subject to our God and if we obtain the highest level of heaven we can become gods ourselves.
In LDS theology you can be forgiven for any sin, save two. First, denying the Holy Spirit, and second, murder. Also, God is infinitely forgiving, until the second coming. After that, you end up where you end up, no matter what. There are no second chances. Period.
In LDS doctrine there are three heavens: the Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, and Telestial Kingdom. The Celestial is the highest, where God and the ones who followed his law reside. The Terrestrial is the middle, where people who followed the Law of Moses reside. The Telestial is the lowest, where the ones who followed carnal law reside.
While most religions believe in God, the LDS religion believes in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as separate beings. They also believe that God, Jesus and resurrected beings have bodies of “flesh and bone.”
The Book of Mormon is a book of LDS scripture that takes place during the same time as the Bible and takes place on the American continent. It follows the stories of two tribes who descended from the family of Lehi. After Jesus’ resurrection LDS people believe he visited the peoples of the Americas.
This one is very unique to the LDS faith. Basically, everyone on earth now was a spirit in the pre-existence. When we die, our spirits are separated from our bodies and if we were good they go to “spirit paradise.” If we were bad they go to “spirit prison.” The spirit world exists as a place for spirits to go while awaiting the second coming.
All of these beliefs are in total contradiction to the bible.
Funny thing is, these Mormons will tell you, "You must not know anything about us!" They're so stupid, they think that we will believe every word they say. "O, no that's not what we believe", they say, when we all know that that's exactly what they believe....
Most of your points are completely made up or embellished fantasy for the purpose of constructing an argument against COMMON SENSE. The bottom line is that Barack Obama is the most arrogantly incompetent, conceited, self-serving fool to ever be elected POTUS, and he needs to be removed, PERIOD.
THERE IS NO DEFENSE NOR ARGUMENT FOR HIS INEXCUSABLE DERELICTION OF DUTY, especially the complete disaster of hurricane Sandy. Any attempt to defend his actions and LACK thereof is nothing but a defense of your own self-serving incompetence and lack of basic common sense.
Obama a Christian? Biggest joke of the ELECTION year!!
In May of this past year, Obama opposed legislation that would protect the rights of conscience for military chaplains who do not wish to perform gay marriages in violation of their strongly held religious beliefs.
The Democratic Party launched a major assault against Chick-fil-A because its owner had the “audacity” to exercise their First Amendment freedoms by expressing his opposition to gay marriage. Christians were persecuted by Democratic politicians for having a viewpoint that was different than their own to the extent were Democratic politicians tried to ban an American business from operating in their city. Where was Obama during all of this and why did he not advocate for Christian rights like he does for non-Christians? What good is freedom of religion when one is persecuted for the same?
Better a nominal Christian who you disagree with than an anti – Christ Mormon.
I am not putting politics before religion by voting for Mr. Romney... I am putting common sense informed by my faith ahead of any transient self destructive tendencies that might be running lose in my head trying to convince me that Mr. Obama is not the worst President in the history of the country!
@ Stephen Prothero: Actually a vote for Romney is a statement of how much Obama is disliked – we'd rather vote for a Mormon than we had an anti-colonial, anti-business, anti-personal freedom, anti-gun, anti-traditional marriage, anti-unborn child, anti-Christian (who claims to be a Christian), muslim!
after reading this .... "blog" I am reminded of the Bible passage ...
The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully. With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors, but in their hearts they set traps for them.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Your hypocrisy in regards to evangelical Christians voting for Romney is very telling. First off, it is telling that you do not understand the Christian stand on being for someone that actually stands for your values. Obama claims to be a Christian, but his actions and decisions go way left of center to support that ...i.e. he is no Christian. Secondly, Graham and Reed are supporting the man that will seek to bring halt to current policies that are anathema to Christian positions...abortion, gay marriage, forcing insurance regulations that go against Christian beliefs. Mr Prothero...Our Christian beliefs stand for more than politics...they are the foundation to whty we need to have this country back on track from where the self=appointed king in the White House is taking us. If you have to say the things you just did...you truly have no idea what Christians are about.
Obama supports the brutal practice of partial-birth abortion where a full-term baby is delivered up to the neck. The living, kicking, half-born baby then has a pair of scissors jammed into the back of their skull and their brains are sucked out.
Obama voted three times against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act leaving full term born babies alone to die in utility rooms. And he's a Christian? I think not.
Obama turned his back on people of faith by forcing them to pay, via taxes, for abortion – something that is prohibited by their faith.
A vote for Romney Is a vote for an anti- Christ. There is no other way to look at it, Mormons are not Christians at all and are in their founding and practice anti – Christ.
Ooooh, booga booga booga, the world is gonna end if women are allowed to decide what's best for them.
You pea-brain, the procedure you're describing was outlawed YEARS ago. Now, when doctors perform a late-term abortion to save a woman's life or preserve her health, they must use an more invasive, more dangerous procedure to remove the fetus.
How stupid are you, not to know that? And how stupid must you think voters are to believe that abortion is really an issue in this election? It's being used just as it's ALWAYS been used-by the religious right-to stir up the stupid and get them all riled up. After the election, no matter who wins, you won't hear a word about it from anyone in either party.
If you're dumb enough to fall for it, you're on a par with Charlie Brown. Guess who's holding that football, dummy?
Typical lefty missing the point. The point is that Obama is no Christian. A Christian would never vote for partial-birth abortions. Buy a clue.
"Partial birth abortion" is nothing but a sham term. Nobody ever voted for it because there isn't any such thing. Anybody who's not a fvckin' idiot would know that.
And as for your "point", Ameritwerp, I don't care if you think he's a Christian or not. In fact if YOU'RE a Christian, I'd vote for anyone who wasn't in the slightest way similar to you.
You're a simpleton.
Biggest joke of the ELECTION year!! Obama a Christian?
You're terrified, aren't you?
16 trillion in debt is very terrifying, yes.
Unemployment rates that haven't been seen since the great depression is very terrifying.
What's more terrifying is that a dolt like you has a right to vote at all.
Unemployment rates are dropping. The economy is improving. The housing market is recovering. The stock market has gained ground.
You think Romney is going to make the ship turn faster? Then you know not a thing about economics, any more than you know a thing about grammar.
You're dumber than a post.
"In Greed We Trust"
In 1994, Bain invested $27 million as part of a deal with other firms to acquire Dade International, a medical-diagnostics-equipment firm, from its parent company, Baxter International. Bain ultimately made nearly 10 times its money, getting back $230 million. But Dade wound up laying off more than 1,600 people and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, amid crushing debt and rising interest rates. The company, with Bain in charge, had borrowed heavily to do acquisitions, accumulating $1.6 billion in debt by 2000. The company cut benefits for some workers at the acquired firms and laid off others. When it merged with Behring Diagnostics, a German company, Dade shut down three U.S. plants. At the same time, Dade paid out $421 million to Bain Capital’s investors and investing partners.
For 15 years, Romney had been in the business of creative destruction and wealth creation. But what about his claims of job creation? Though Bain Capital surely helped expand some companies that had created jobs, the layoffs and closures at other firms would lead Romney’s political opponents to say that he had amassed a fortune in part by putting people out of work. The lucrative deals that made Romney wealthy could exact a cost. Maximizing financial return to investors could mean slashing jobs, closing plants, and moving production overseas. It could also mean clashing with union workers, serving on the board of a company that ran afoul of federal laws, and loading up already struggling companies with debt.
Marc Wolpow, a former Bain partner who worked with Romney on many deals, said the discussion at buyout companies typically does not focus on whether jobs will be created. “It’s the opposite—what jobs we can cut,” Wolpow said. “Because you had to document how you were going to create value. Eliminating redundancy, or the elimination of people, is a very valid way."
A couple of examples (it's pretty easy to find more):
Bain closed GST Steel plant in 2001 laying off 750 workers.
Controlling share owner Bain Capital closes BRP plant (Southern Illinois) so the 340 jobs there could be outsourced to Mexico.
Also, this is disconcerting:
DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT THE LYING RUMMY PIRATE
BAIN'S INVESTOR "SUCCESSES" WERE PRIMARILY CONTINGENT ON MASS LAY-OFFS OF WORKERS
perhaps the reason Christians and especially evangelical Christians are more persuaded by Governor Romney than Mr. Obama and will cast their votes that way is because the President's politics and his philosophy are well to the left of anything that conservative Christians believe.
(well that's an old video)
But more importantly, let's check in with some very recent Romney LIES:
I wonder why you're so afraid Obama will win, Ameritroll. What's your major maladjustment?
65 Outrageous Lies by President Obama
Do you really believe posting videos will win Romney votes, Ameriturd? Did videos make up your mind for you?
Only lefties are permitted to post videos here? Typical leftist hypocrite. Still resorting to name calling when somebody hits a nerve? LOL
Wright isn't running, either, dumbbell.
Lol – from 2008????
How about Romney's LIES from oh say just weeks ago:
And neither is the Mormon church, lefty childhood name caller. However, if lefties are going to post videos about Mormonism, then Obama's church is fair play. Hypocrisy much?
You witless fvcktard, I haven't posted a thing about Mormonism OR Romney. Grow the fvck up or find another sandbox, you little weener.
And neither is the Mormon church.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.