by Roger Resler
I’m one of those Republicans who did not vote for Mitt Romney in the primaries. There are a few of us, forgotten though we may be. There are a number of reasons I preferred Cain, and then Santorum. But Romney is now our guy. And, as Republicans, now is the time to step up to the plate and whole-heartedly support him. But what about “as conservatives” or “as evangelicals”? Bottom line is that, now more than ever, conservatives and evangelicals alike need to support Governor Romney.
To some of the Latter-day Saints I’ve verbally sparred with over the years, these words might come as a surprise, if not a shock. But they shouldn’t. I will explain in a moment.
What I really want to address is the idea that some evangelicals, and more specifically conservative evangelicals, might prefer to either stay home or vote for someone like Ron Paul (as a write-in), rather than cast their vote for a Mormon. I understand that sentiment. I have studied Mormonism for over a decade. During that time I have become familiar with Joseph Smith and the history he claims “no man knows.” In short, over the last decade, I have become a rather passionate critic of Joseph Smith, which, in turn, has led to some interesting online conversations with Latter-day Saints. While I don’t consider myself “anti-Mormon,” no doubt many of the Latter-day Saints I’ve interacted with would so characterize me because I speak very critically of their beloved, founding prophet.
Given that, it might come as a surprise that I would whole-heartedly support the Mormon in the race over someone who claims to be a believer in the biblical Jesus Christ. This dynamic has, admittedly, given me pause. But in the end, I believe there are very clear and good reasons to support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama. To a certain extent, as a by-product, this paradox emphasizes the fact that I am, as asserted, not “anti-Mormon” despite what some of my Latter-day Saint friends may be tempted to think. Rather, I am, quite simply, anti-Mormonism. And there is a difference. A big difference. And it’s a difference that is illustrated through the dynamic of a presidential contest in which we have a conservative Mormon running against a liberal Christian.
Here’s what I mean. If Mormonism were running for president against biblical Christianity, then the dynamic would be entirely different. There is no way I could vote for “Mormonism” for president over “Christianity.” But that is not at all what we have. Instead, we have a practicing Mormon running against a practicing Christian (or at least a professing Christian. I would put Mitt Romney’s record of religious devotion up against Obama’s any day). And that is what makes all the difference in the world. A vote for Mitt Romney is not a vote for Mormonism. It is not a vote for Joseph Smith or Thomas Monson. More importantly, it’s not a vote against Christianity. It’s a vote for conservative values and principles over big-government, big-taxes, big-regulation and gross financial irresponsibility.
Mitt Romney has a proven track record of fixing financial messes. Barack Obama has a proven track record of exacerbating them. It’s as simple as that.
To my fellow evangelicals who find themselves reluctant to vote for a Mormon, I say: You are not voting for Mormonism. You are voting for a decent man with a proven track record in exactly the area we most desperately need; who also happens to be a Mormon. I would love the opportunity to have a serious discussion with Mitt Romney about why I sincerely believe his faith in Joseph Smith is misguided. But the place for that discussion is not a voting booth.
If you are hesitant to vote for a Mormon, as one who can sympathize with that sentiment, let me respectfully encourage you to consider the consequences of the alternative or even merely sitting this one out. We have a clear choice. Reckless spending vs. tough but necessary fiscal responsibility. A job-killer vs. a job-creator. A partisan liberal with soaring but meaningless rhetoric about the need to “work together” vs. a Republican Governor of a liberal state who actually worked with Democrats. Disastrous and incompetent foreign policy that has led to disrespect vs. a disciplined, no apologies leader. And a wildly liberal pro-abortion proponent vs. someone legitimately converted to a pro-life stance.
To me the choice is clear. In fact, it could lead to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If evangelicals help put Romney in the White House, then I would think we might be entitled to send a couple of our own smiling missionaries knocking at his door, say, in about 4 years.