We are all aware that the left is prepping for some intense anti-Mormon bigotry in the coming election cycle. But the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon is going to lead to some interesting discussions on the right as well. If there was any doubting that, consider the fact that the same minister who made waves after calling Mormonism a cult at a Rick Perry event has now endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
As can be expected, commentators are jumping all over him, claiming he is inconsistent (funny how such a move would be considered “pragmatic” if it happened on the left, but that’s a topic for another day). The minister’s defense is a logical one, and a sound one, but I’m guessing there’s a lot of folks who are going to miss what he’s saying:
Back in October, you may remember Pastor Robert Jeffress’ controversial statements about Republican president candidate Mitt Romney. The faith leader was introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Voter Values Summit in Washington, D.C., when he said that Mormonism is a “cult” and that it “is not Christianity.” Now, just months later, Jeffress has endorsed Romney, causing some to further criticize the evangelical preacher.
On Sunday, he appeared on “FOX & Friends” to discuss his take on Romney, Obama and Mormonism. Hosts Clayton Morris and Dave Briggs didn’t waste any time launching into what critics have said about Jeffrees, while asking the pastor how he rectifies his past opposition to Romney with his current support.
“I haven’t changed my tune. In fact, I never said Christians should not vote for Mitt Romney,” Jeffrees said when asked why his opinions have evolved. “When I talked about his theology I was answering a question about theology. And I still maintain there are vast differences between Mormons and Christians but we do share many of the same values — like the sanctity of life and religious freedom.”
Jeffrees maintains that there has been “no inconsistency” and that he has said that he would vote for Romney over Obama for some time now. Some of his past comments do seem to corroborate this claim.
The left probably won’t ever appreciate this distinction, but honestly they don’t need to. The left isn’t going to support Romney anyway. But for the right, what Mr. Jeffrees is saying is going to be a key discussion amongst conservative Christians who find themselves in serious theological disagreements with the tenets of Mormonism. I consider myself part of that group.
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But Jeffrees is indicating the reality of something I stress on the program repeatedly: the government is not to be used for the enforcement of a strict doctrinal code. It should be submissive to the Moral Law (or Natural Law) of God. And while the former is not a source of agreement between many conservative Christians and Mormons, the latter certainly may be. That is the point that Jeffrees is making: he was more content in the primary with other conservative Christians that he found greater agreement with on both theological and political issues. But in the general election, Romney is compared to a different opposition.
Some will say that Jeffrees is saying whatever he needs to say in order to defeat Obama at any cost. The thing is, that’s exactly the point. As Jeffrees explains:
“There’s every reason to support Mitt Romney in this election,” he continued, going on to claim that President Barack Obama “opposes Biblical principles.”
Romney may not be a theological brother, but as a Mormon, he shares a common respect for Natural Law, Biblical principle and moral absolutes that our leaders must possess. Obama has proven himself to be an enemy to each of those.