Article VI, paragraph 3 of the US Constitution says:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.What that means, my dear friends, is that no one's religious belief system can disqualify that person from any sort of government work.
It's in the Constitution. Governor Mitt Romney's a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. According to the Constitution, nothing in that sentence disqualifies him from running for President. Whether enough people will vote for him is a completely different notion, of course.
But this isn't about any Constitutionalities . Nor is it even about my feelings about Governor Romney's faith.
It's about what some religious conservatives are thinking about Romney's faith.
From huffingtonpost, we learned this week that:
The issue of Romney’s Mormon faith was also raised by a Texas pastor who suggested during his introduction of Perry that Mormons are not Christians, and then made the assertion explicitly to reporters after Perry’s speech.The pastor, the Reverend Robert Jeffress of the First Dallas Baptist Church is quoted as asking these rhetorical questions in his introduction:
"In a few months, when the smoke has cleared, those of us who are evangelical Christians are going to have a choice to make," Jeffress said. "Do we want a candidate who is skilled in rhetoric, or one who is skilled in leadership? Do we want a candidate who is a conservative out of convenience, or one who is conservative out of deep conviction? Do we want a candidate who is a good moral person, or do we want a candidate who is a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?"The Huffingtonpost goes on link to this 2008 article in the Utah News:
Evangelicals who believe the country needs a Christian in the White House but promoted Mitt Romney's candidacy during the Republican primaries were hypocrites, according to a Texas pastor."Mormons...worship a false god." But that was 2008. What's the good pastor saying now?
Romney, a Mormon, is not a Christian, the Rev. Robert Jeffress said, but a member of a "cult."
"I believe we should always support a Christian over a non-Christian," Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, told a packed audience of journalists at last weekend's Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) annual meeting. "The value of electing a Christian goes beyond public policies. . . . Christians are uniquely favored by God, [while] Mormons, Hindus and Muslims worship a false god. The eternal consequences outweigh political ones. It is worse to legitimize a faith that would lead people to a separation from God."
For that we turn to Politico.com:
Texas evangelical leader Robert Jeffress, the Baptist megachurch pastor who introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, said Friday afternoon he does not believe Mitt Romney is a Christian.But maybe Pastor Jeffress and the First Baptist Church are unaffiliated. Perhaps he's just a dissenter amongst other protestants in the country.
Jeffress described Romney's Mormon faith as a “cult,” and said evangelicals had only one real option in the 2012 primaries.
“That is a mainstream view, that Mormonism is a cult,” Jeffress told reporters here. “Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian.” Asked by POLITICO if he believed Romney is a Christian, Jeffress answered: “No.”
Well, according to the Mission Statement of First Baptist Church of Dallas, the church's articles of faith are the same (with some supplements) as those adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in September, 2000.
So what does the Southern Baptist Convention say about the LDS? From a website called North American Mission Board (itself an organization created in 1997 as part of the SBC) we find this FAQ page titled "Are Mormons Christians?" The answer carefully points out that members of the LDS are "Christian" in the sense they're not Jews or Hindus or Moslems etc. However it also carefully points out that:
From an evangelical perspective, Mormonism is not faithfully or soundly Christian because it deviates from historic, biblical standards of orthodox Christianity. For example, Mormonism teaches that God the Father is an exalted Man, that Jesus, angels, and human beings were all the literal spirit offspring of our "heavenly Father and Mother," and that the ultimate goal of the Christian life is to become exalted to Godhood ourselves. The LDS Church derives these doctrines from its expanded canon of "scripture" that includes alleged modern revelations given to Joseph Smith, who claimed to be the Prophet through whom God restored true Christianity to the earth. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that God is not a man (Num. 23:19) but is transcendent, omnipresent Spirit (1 Kings 8:27; Is. 31:3; John 4:24), that there are no other Gods alongside him, and that there will be no Gods formed in the future (Is. 43:10; 44:6-8). Human beings did not preexist as spirits in heaven before their earthly lives; the only human being who preexisted in heaven (as spirit) before becoming a man was Jesus Christ (John 3:31; 16:28). The New Testament instructs us as believers in Christ to dissociate ourselves religiously from groups that teach such false doctrines that deviate in crucial ways from the apostolic message (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Titus 1:10-16; 2 Pet. 2:1; 3:16-17; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11).By the way, all the material on Mormonism is found under a drop down menu that's itself titled "New Religions and Cults."
However else it frames it, to the SBC (still a potent force in Christian Conservative Circles) Mormons aren't Christians. How many Southern Baptists do you expect to vote for a non-Christian for the highest office in the land?
This is going to continue to be a problem for Mitt Romney.