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December 16, 2011

Evangelicals' Complicated Relationship with Romney and Gingrich

The economy remains the most prominent issue ahead of the primary season as social issues play a less prominent role. The most salient personal split has been between Mitt Romney, an executive-turned-politician who is Mormon, and Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House.

While Romney has his base of support, Gingrich has been taking off in the polls. Christian conservatives appear more comfortable with a thrice-married Lutheran-turned-Baptist-turned-Catholic than a Mormon candidate who has been married for over four decades.

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Gingrich's political director in Iowa resigned after less than a week on the job. Craig Bergman's resignation came after the website The Iowa Republican reported that Bergman called Mormonism a cult, just one day before he joined Gingrich's campaign. 

Speaking as part of a focus group, Bergman said, “A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon…There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”

A century ago, the Senate debated whether to allow Reed Smoot to represent Utah. Smoot was not a polygamist, but there were still questions raised about the issue. Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania took to the floor of the Senate, glared at his colleagues with less-than-chaste reputations, and delivered one of the best retorts in Senate history.

"As for me,” Penrose said, “I would rather have seated beside me in this chamber a 'polygamist' who doesn't 'polyg-' than a 'monogamist' who doesn't 'monag-'."

In a December poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, evangelical Republican voters remain much more opposed to Romney than others in the GOP. Only 10 percent of evangelical Republicans support Romney, whereas nearly three times as many other Republican Christians do. 35 percent of evangelicals say there is “no chance” they would vote for Romney, compared to only 21 percent of other Christians.

Romney’s critics say he supported an individual mandate for health insurance, went on record against pro-life positions, and increased taxes. His current stands are seen by opponents as flip-flopping. Critics of Gingrich say he helped originate the idea of an individual mandate for health insurance, went on record recently saying life does not begin at conception, and supported George H.W. Bush's tax increase during negotiations before he opposed them.

According to Pew, 35 percent of evangelicals say they support Gingrich. Another 37 percent say there is “a chance” they would vote for him in the primary. Just 18 percent said there was “no chance” of voting for him. The results for other Republican candidates (other than Romney) were similar.

Gingrich often tells the story of America as one in which the nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. He calls out “radical Islam” and liberal judges as threats to this foundation.

Neither candidate has an organized presence in Iowa. Both Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are picking up endorsements and have built a network of supporters in the state. As history shows, people might respond one way on a poll but mark an entirely different choice when it comes time to vote. 

Comments

Maybe God will give us another Obama term so we won't have to be subjected to any of these Republican candidates as president. Please Lord...

I am sure the rest of the world fervently prays that, and also that for the general good of the USA that he gets a Congress he can work with, one that lives by the word and spirit of Scripture and is not captive to other ideologies such as those of Ayn Rand.

The comments by Christine and Toughton reflect the shallow understanding of many Evangelicals concerning the issues involved and the kind of choices that we as Christians must make as being in the world but not of it -- i.e., as salt.

They seek perfection at the expense of social order, due process and justice, settling for tyrants and demagogues in a vain hope for fulfillment of their vain dream of social perfection. There will never be such until the Lord returns.

We, as salt, can inhibit evil in society and government by our choices and actions, but cannot eradicate it from the world and its institutions. Christian prudence calls for decision that selects the one most capable of resisting that decay.

We are not voting for theologian-in-chief. We are voting for the President of the US, a position that requires steadiness, leadership, moral conviction and the strength of character to carry out those convictions, no matter what the cost. These character qualities do not require evangelical theology nor are they only evidenced by evangelicals. There are moral people all over the world who may not even be Christian, much less orthodox theologically. Who among the Republican candidates has demonstrably shown that he/she could be most able to lead our ailing country out of our economic morass and moral doldrums? That is who should be voted for.

@jinnybrow:
To answer your question, none.
All the Republican candidates are either incompetent buffoons (Paul, Bachmann, Santorum) or flip-flopping liars (Romney, Gingrich). Huntsman might have been a respectable one, but he too started pandering to the influential hard-core ideologues in the party.
If one of these wins the presidential election, God help us all.
The Republican party itself is morally bankrupt, as it only cares for the interest of the super-rich and corporations, and defends its questionable conduct with outright lies. As much as I don't agree with a lot of what goes on in the Democratic party, the GOP has gone nuts.

Daniel 2:21 says that it is God "who sets up kings and deposes kings." Meanwhile, we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, that kingdom which will supersede all earthly realms. Matthew 4 clearly shows that all earthly realms are fallen and owned by Satan.

Ron Paul is the one evangelicals should be giving serious consideration. A true and sincere family man with real faith. A gentle, humble man whose qualities extend to his policies toward other nations. Let's stop the aggression against foreign peoples and rebuild our home. Ron Paul is the only one who will not sell out the American people for campaign bucks from big business. He's received more campaign dollars from more individuals in the military than all of the other Republican candidates combined. Give that some thought. Individuals in the military don't want to be shipped around the world to risk their lives for causes they don't believe in. We don't need an empire to live happy, prosperous lives - time to come home.

Interesting discussion. A few points:
1. Political correctness aside, Mormonism IS a cult. Whether Bergman should have resigned is a separate question, but the fact is he's correct. Romney is a member of a recognized cult which uses the terminology of Christianity, but redefines practically every major theological term. Educated evangelicals know and understand that the LDS Church is not Christian.
2. Romney's original position on abortion (not his pro-life stance now) may violate the LDS Church's official position. See http://newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/abortion If so, he is not an entirely faithful Mormon; is he one in name only?
3. As to the comment by "Christine", if Obama gets a second term it will be a revelation of God's judgment on the United States, not just a prevention of Republican leadership. The Spender-in-Chief will drive the US over the bankruptcy cliff, which we may well be falling over already. "jinnybrow" is correct: The presidency "requires steadiness, leadership, moral conviction and strength of character". Would that we could have such a president!

Christians need to stop supporting any secular political party. their agendas are not God's and the comprimise is great and the cost extreme. Christians need to be th elight to the world and they dim that light by preaching secular politics NOT God.

For more information about Mormonism and how it would affect Romney in the White House, see the blog at http://mittromneycult.blogspot.com/

Cain drops in polls, numbers go to other man, both (shall I say three) of them experienced the same
thing in the nineties . No more please, we can do it.An ex adulterer in the oval office and a first lady who had an affair with a married man. These type of persons will be making history that will be read by our children and granchildren a century later .Is this the kind of role model that we want our children see? Hypocracy is the buzz word here.
Protect our children. They are not political ( pandering, expediency, etc), and they need a God fearing leader in the white house as their role model.

Mitt Romney will govern with many of the same tangible values as Evangelical Christian's values. Though we view many issues through a different prism, when it comes to legislating the issues the perspective will be similar. Evangelicals perspectives and beliefs about Marriage, Life, Liberty, Defense,Fiscal,and Economic issues will have much more in common with Romney or Newt than with Obama; all the way down the list.

I remember a speech 4 years ago that Mitt Romney gave at an event with George H.Bush when he was running for President in 2008. It was given when some Evangelicals expressed reservations due to his faith. This was a brilliant speech that I couldn't forget. I found it on YouTube, I suggest those concerned about his Mormonism watch it in his entirety before they swear to "never" vote for a Mormon.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IJ_i-4dH-0

Evangelical, born-again, Christians comprise less than 25% of the voting population (perhaps considerably less-we just don't know). They cannot and will not dictate the outcome of an election without the base support of one or more other groups. Unquestionably, they helped Jimmy Carter win the election but only did so because liberals comprised the biggest block of voters and they may have contributed after that block. But, the end result of that was very damaging. God spoke to individuals throughout the Bible totally differently than he did to national leaders and prophets in their leadership capacity. David is the foremost example. Perceptions (for we do not know) of Christianity cannot be a litmus test.

I am a Democrat with views against abortion and gay rights(hate the sin but as Christ would have us love the person as He would).But to read and listen to some Christians, all Republicans are Christians and all Democrats are evil??? Of course, I know better but what a poor Christian testimony for those so-called Christians to have such a unbiblical view. Pres. Obama is a Christian though I do diagree with his views in re the above. But I don't see the candidates acknowledge that he's a Christian.In fact some have called him the anti-Christ.I don't see or hear about so-called influential Christian leaders asking for prayer for him like they did with Reagan, and the Bushes.How tragic? What about the sin of adultery, RACISM, lying politicians,etc?The church is losing its power because our our narrowness of focusing just on abortion and gay rights.Are we really paying attention to the views of these candidates? My Bible tells me that sin is sin.Christians,we better get it together for the cause of Christ, not for political parties.