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.
Religion has no place in politics. Period. This article is moot.
Separation of Church and State. /end thread.
You're assuming that politics is based on reason rather than emotion which drives religion, thus the two are intertwined much more than they should be or that we'd like.
I am not sure where Prothero gets his reason from? As a "fundamentalist," i do not know if Romney is a Christian. I do not believe mormonism is a Christian religion although they do emphasize Jesus Christ. I am voting for Romney because his ideas on morality and the economy more closely align with my beliefs than Obama. Now Obama states he is a Christian, however he does not act as one would think a Christian should or would. He obviously does not believe what the Bible states clearly as a Christian should.
The Bible talks about telling the truth, which Romney has not done. The Bible talks about looking out for "the least of these" which Obama has tried to do (ACA, Pell grants, etc.) I see Obama as the one acting more like a Christian.
@Krhodes – As a self-proclaimed fundamentalist, we must know. Do you put the FUN or MENTAL in your fundamentalism?
Well i do not see anything Obama has done as Christ like.
Like I said yesterday, there are as many definitions of "Christian" as there are people who profess that they are "Christian". Yours is no more supported than any other persons.
"@Krhodes – As a self-proclaimed fundamentalist, we must know. Do you put the FUN or MENTAL in your fundamentalism?"
LOL...And i always thought atheist didn't have a sense of humor.
"Like I said yesterday, there are as many definitions of "Christian" as there are people who profess that they are "Christian". Yours is no more supported than any other persons."
Well there are certainly beliefs one must hold to be a Christian. The president does not display many of those that i know of.
@KRHODES – What makes you think I'm atheist? I'm not an atheist and never proclaimed to be. I do not believe is isms. Isms in my opinion are not good. A man should not believe in an ism – a man should believe in himself. I do believe in being a good human, being good to other humans and trying to be good to the world and universe, in general. Where I do draw the line is where people force their religion or dogma upon me and into the laws of the land to further their good, exclusionary of others, in the name of their god. Jesus had a lot of good things to say, but then so did Bhudda, Confucius and Sun Tzu.
"The Bible talks about telling the truth, which Romney has not done. The Bible talks about looking out for "the least of these" which Obama has tried to do (ACA, Pell grants, etc.) I see Obama as the one acting more like a Christian."
When Romney catches up to Obama in the lying category then you might have something. The ACA...that is nothing more than control and buying votes with middle class tax payers money. The president and the dems passed that legislation in the middle of the night through bribe and coecion without a single republican vote. As far as the president acting more like a Christian...i simply don't see that given his endorsements and beliefs.
Got sources to cite for that assertion? Also, I ask again:
The CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS (Mormon's) What I find simply inexcusable for educated individuals is how in the heck can anyone say "I do not believe Mormonism are Christians"? The name of the church alone states the fact that Mormon's BELIEVE in JESUS CHRIST. In the bible Christ gave many parables' of service the Mormon church is the most service based church I have ever seen. As far as who in the running Presidential candidates is a liar or not... You need to learn and educate yourselves about the BENGHAZI ATTACK and the FAST AND FURIOUS SCANDAL...
You cannot Serve Two Masters – Yahweh and Mammon
John T you are delusional. I don't see how a Mormon can be considered a Christian. They should be idol worshippers according to the bible. Please explain how you can see it any other way.
I was once a rejector of the followers of the angel Moroni and considered them to be a cult of morons. Later in life I discovered the intense hatred the cross burners have for the Mormon. As we know from Genesis, the cross burner's god is a burned up stick. Christ proclaimed Ba'al a Devil.
Jesus and His Brother Lucifer are said to be among the gods which Romney plans on Becomming because he has preformed the Rituals and will be given his own Planet from the god on the star Kolob (That is what it says in their Book anyway)
I love the way commedians are leading the left this election, in that it is literally the Democratic Party led by Fools.
As opposed to the right, which is lead by charlatans. Pick your poison.
Obama seems to be a political player of religion. Religios fools voted for Obama in 2008.
Religious don't you mean JPT?
Isn't the phrase 'religious fools' redundant?
Earth to John!!!...Religion is the largest scam on the face of the Earth. God is not real...just like Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Allah, Buzz Lightyear, Scooby Doo, and James Bond are not real...ALL FICTIONAL CHARACTERS CREATED AS A MEANS OF DISTRACTION OR DECEPTION.
John P. Tarver
"Obama seems to be a political player of religion. Religios fools voted for Obama in 2008."
John, I think if you will remove the word religious from your statement you will have it right.
Don't put politics before Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Underpants Gnomes.
Well put! Those are actually more believable characters than an almighty guy-in-the-sky!!!
Chirs & Jon,
Even a blind squirrel finds a few nuts,,,, :-)
I think I have a hand knit sweater from an old aunt that has that same banal, meaningless little psychobabble phrase embroidered on it.
Don't worry. After the elections, Mitt Romney will stop paying Billy Graham and Billy will reinstate Mormonism reference as a cult. Just wait!
When Billy Graham forgave Bill Clinton there was a Christian brother to forgive, but this Obama fellow is straight up Nicolaitan. Romney is far more Christian than Obama could ever be.
The only person who had a right to forgive Bill Clinton was Hillary. If there is a god, then maybe it was his right too, but Billy is nobody to do so. if Clinton paid him, he just wasted his money.
Chat-Once Hillary brought home Webb hubble's bun in her over, Bill did not need her permission. On the onther hand, Bill Clinton did plea bargain convictions for Obstruction of Justice and Perjury; in a deal with Proseccutor Ray.
If Billy Graham were really focused on Christian values in his presidential choice, why would he support Romney? Romney has lied throughout the campaign, and especially in his ads in the last few days. The auto companies have called him on the lies, fact checkers have repeatedly disproven his statements on work and welfare, but Romney keeps on lying. Those are not the Christian values I was taught.
You're right. Those are Republican values.
end justifies the means, truth absolute God, is not to follow in life but a tool to hind, fool humanity, for hindu, pagan Christians, true gentile, slaves of hindu Jew's, filthy self centered, inventors of Moran ism, pig ism, called Judaism.
Don't be too quick to pin this on Billy. He is old, feeble, and I strongly suspect his son Franklin is using Daddy's good name and reputation to achieve his own political agenda. Billy might not have a clue at this point that Romney is a Mormon, or be at all aware of the lies Romney is telling.
@glh1 I suspect you are correct on that point.
What do you think Christian values are? The Bible is a book that should be read Chapter and verse, no one verse or one chapter should be used to summarize the bible. It is easy to find one verse that states "wives submit to your husbands" and ignore the next "husbands submit to your wives". What do you think Submit means? The Bible, like any whodunit book, should read in its entirety, not plucked like Sunday's Chicken Dinner.
CNN is really grasping at straws now.
Religion is politics, nothing more.
Poligion or religitics?
They are ALL cults; based on (as Bill Maher so eloquantly puts it) jewish fairytales. Anyone who has read the bible should be able to look up from the book and say...that is complete and utter horse dung. C'mon people, WAKE UP!!!
Religion was a political power back then, kings and queens needed religious leaders on their side, Religion is a political power now, politicians need them on their side.
Who knows mitts real name without looking it up?
his secret temple name?
His real first name.
it will come out at oath ceremony, if he wins!
Please tell us. We await the word of Dog.
Who know. He is a master of keeping his personal information well hidden.
Are you looking for Willard or do you have something to amaze us with?
What Will stands for in Will Smith (the actor, not the character he plays in Fresh Prince)
His parents named him after a family friend, businessman J. Willard Marriott, and his father's cousin, Milton "Mitt" Romney, a former quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Romney was referred to as "Billy" until kindergarten, when he indicated a preference for "Mitt".
Note that before Bain, Mittens worked for the J.W.Marriott company on their tax audit committee, during which time the corporation employed the "son of boss" tax evasion scheme.
Willard Mitt Romney.
Oh blah – we all knew it is Willard. We were hoping for something all mystical sounding. Like Xenu or Kolob. But then those have already been taken...
YOU DON'T SAY? –NO SHIT SHERLOCK!
If you have read the bible you would know that it is political, often in the New Testament you will find reference to the Roman Empire (government) as the Anti-Christ. The old testament also referred to the anti-Messiah, again Government. Throughout the Centuries individuals (including a couple of Popes) were also included. The Bible (which ever Religion is your preference are very political). Government (Pharaoh) is usually the bad guy. People of faith are to beware of false prophets. Unfortunately, they are easily seduced.
They are not interested in Politics but the Laws that the politicians bring about.. Would you like a serial Killer to be a president (not talking about the two who are in race)? If you make him a President there are more chances that he would bring about laws that would hurt the general public. Similarly if a person who is a tool in the hands of the evil ascend to the president role the laws that he would bring about would hurt the true Christians. Dear Blogger dont be hasty in talking about others..
The President does not make laws. Perhaps a remedial civics course ?
They deny La, truth absolute and follow law's, hinduism, fabrication to hind, fool humanity, bunch of Magi's, crooks on mission to hind, fool humanity, with their Pandora box, called religions.
what are people or political parties looking into supreme court judges appointments?
They are not interested in Politics but the Laws that the politicians bring about.
What's the difference? Politics is the game of achieving the power to enact laws.
The American Taliban is all about politics and getting "their guy" elected.
Saul could have be considered a serial killer. He became Paul (was he a false prophet?)
Don't listen to the lies about Mormonism!
Learn about us from our official church websites!
Because an official church website is always totally honest,
always tells the whole story,
and is never ever ever biased!!!!!!!!!!!
More exclamation points really drives home an argument!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No need to go to any where, hindu Mormon ism, is based on hindu corrupted Torah, reject of son of blessed Mary, called old testament, hinduism, absurdity of hindu Jew's, criminal secular s, believers of hindu Moran ism, pig ism, self center ism, or call it by its other name atheism.
Are you implying that the invisible Golden Plates that can only be seen with seer stones by only the purest of heart might not be true?
Are you somehow saying that the steel and horses and other stuff that the Nephites and Lamanites had in the Americas long before those things came to the Americas with the Spaniards might possibly be a fib?
Daddy says that's not true.
Your church is probably aligned more closely with biblical teachings regarding, charity, family values, stewardship and politics than all of the other churches I have attended. A few of that I have attended Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Non-denominational, Christian, Protestant, Morman, Episcopal, Christian Scientist and more.. It is unfortunate that religious folks seem to think their way, their bigotry, is the only way.
Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity,
Religions qre hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, secular's, of Egyptian and Persian origin, by subordination and corruption of truth absolute to justify hinduism, racism, according to hindu racist fundamentals. to learn truth about foundation of hinduism, racism, please visit, limitisthetruth.com.
fvck the world formation moron, sometime read and understand what people talk here, rather than recycling your filth over and over here on CNN. No one gives a rat's ass to what you post.
hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, fake Mohammad A Dar.
show some respect, I am your Talibam father.
Anyway, Tyy, seeing as how I know you won't answer my above comment: I wish you the best of luck on your path to get your own planet. Just please do not insist on infringing on my rights based on your religious beliefs. Not only is that un-American, it should be against your religion.
Billy Graham, Ralph Reed, Jeremiah wright, or Louis Farrakhan, what do all these people have in common?
If you wanted to know what they all have in common, you shouldn't have said "or".
They put the FUN in fundamental?
@midwest – thanks for pointing out incorrect sentence, but English being a fourth language, it is difficult to translate thoughts 100%. I still like to know what these folks have in common?
They are all delusional.
hindu, racist follower of hinduism, racism.
My guess is you already have an answer, but are looking for someone to ask. So, what is it ?
I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV wrote, "Organized religion is about orthodoxy, conformity and the conversion of new adherents. If it was all about a personal relationship with your God, no religious body would tell you how to vote."
Organized religions are societal pariahs ever leeching upon many so many of individualisms' religious fancies.
Furtherore, Nothing is a Foreverness and Matter, in its' infinitesimally finiteness, is a materiaized foreverness unobtainable by us, human-like megaliths called mankind.We are all giants too huge and too vast for us to enter wholy back into the Kingdoms of God which are our bodies. Damn dumb buildings of evolution's ascension into the spatial voids of outward motions!
1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Replied in context on page 2.
This place is ridiculous. Take it how you want... you guys are like the Pharisee's. I'm not going to argue with people who are full of hate and anger. You guys are only here to see how smart-alecky you can get with Mormons. I know what I believe. I've felt it and I've seen miracles according to my own faith.
I really hope your hearts soften, because the day will come when all of us have to stand before God and account for our actions.
If you want to learn more, there are churches all over. Go to it on Sunday. Also visit lds.org and read the real doctrine. 24hcc, all of your points were horribly wrong, My counter-argument would take too long and I don't have time to argue with punks on the internet, i've never been that guy. Just go to the church's website and you'll see how many things were wrong. I hope all goes well champ.
Tell us about those miracles, in detail. Tell us what you felt.
Tell us how you can be sure that the God you must answer to is not, say, Allah.
hinduism, corruption of truth, you call Christianity is handy work of hindu Pharisees, filthy self centered, secular, no one else follow's their hinduism, racism , but hindu bigamy, infidel called Christians.
Please read our Propaganda at lds.lie
You can keep your standing before God threat. We aren't scared of fairy tales.
Still unsure before who's god I will have to appear? There are so many it's hard to keep track. Can you help an unbeliever out?
I asked you perfectly legitimate question, Tyy. You seem to be making blind assertions then avoiding having to support them.
I guess it is time to point out your hypocrisy: you denounce others as being full of hate, and yet you slander them as Pharisees because you are full of hate.
This is what we constantly get from people like you: You make statements, and when we ask for support, instead of giving your evidence, you turn around and slander us as being full of hate. Why would asking for support to a statement be hate? It isn't. Why can't you show some intellectual honesty instead of going ad hominem?
Invariably, when someone comes here and follows your pattern, they have absolutely NO evidence, and to hide it they change the subject and lie about the person questioning them. Then they vanish.
Furtherore, Nothing is a Foreverness and Matter, in its' infinitesimally 'established' finiteness, is a materiaized foreverness unobtainable by us, human-like megaliths called mankind.We are all but giants too huge and too vast for us to enter wholy back into the Kingdoms of God which are our bodies. Damn dumb buildings of evolution's ascension into the spatial voids of outward motions!
1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Rosanne. See my posts a few pages back (I think on page 2) to Tyy in response to 24HCC.
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.