Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mitt Romney, Christians and the 2008 Elections

Mitt Romney has announced that he will give a speech about his faith that will be similar to John F. Kennedy's address that he gave when his Catholic faith was under scrutiny during the 1960 presidential campaign.

As LDS person who has a keen interest in politics, I find it amusing that some Christian conservatives have made Romney's faith an issue during this 2008 presidential election. To those who refuse to vote for Romney on theological grounds, I request that you give the following thoughts some consideration. This is not an attempt to convince you to support Mitt Romney but an appeal to the Christian political community to rethink its priorities if it wants to reach their political goals. Here are some thoughts:

What's more important: Theology or Values?

In deciding who is the best candidate for Christian voters, its values that matter, not theology. This is an important fact for the religious right to remember. For example, Harry Reid is Mormon, but I would never vote for him since he doesn't reflect my values. On the other hand, I support Romney, not because of his religion but because of his values.

Likewise, Christians are aware that there are many politicians who are Christians but don't have good values and are not worth supporting. On the other hand, Senator Joesph Lieberman is obviously not Christian, but is a Jewish politician who values reflect the traditional conservative view of America.

The Founding Fathers understood that values was more important than theology in politics. For them, it was never, never, ever about a particular brand of interpretation or view of the Bible. A prime example is that the Founding Fathers themselves came from all different religious backgrounds and yet they all shared the same Christian values and morality even though they may have had disagreements over theological approaches to the Bible and other doctrinal issues. Thus, a person's faith was never a factor in considering someone for elected office and thats' why they specifically forbid religion as a litmus test in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers understood this concept, and yet modern Christian society seems to be unable to grasp this idea.

For the religious right to be politically successful, it needs to be inclusive, not exclusive

If Christians want to restore the classical Judeo-Christian values that made America great, then it needs to make all the friends it can get to make that goal a reality. The LDS and Christian faith share much in common in their vision for America such asstrong families, bringing back morality & religion in the public square, appointing conservative judges and bringing freedom to the oppressed around the world.

LDS and Christians have worked together on numerous political issues and have been successful both on national and state issues. It makes no sense for Christians to reject a presidential candidate whose faith is closely aligned with them on political, social and moral issues and is eager to implement policies and programs that reflect our shared values.

If Christians are not making friends and allies in restoring America's values, how else are you gonna rally people to your cause?

The Golden Rule: It applies to politics too!

It is interesting that many (not all, of course) Christians complain about being persecuted and that there is prejudice against Christians in America and but many of those same people persecute Mormons as well as other faiths.

Rejecting people based on their faith only gives Christians a bad name in the public eye. I agree that there is an anti-Christian sentiment in American public today but opposing a political candidate's faith only exacerbates the problem to which more people will be turned off to Christianity, both religiously and politically. The more people make Romney's religion an issue in the 2008 election, the more the people will see the hypocrisy and double standard that is at play here. Many secular people will wonder, If you don't like being picked on as a Christian, maybe you shouldn't pick on other religions?

If Christians want to advance their conservative agenda, (1) Christians need to put an end to the "in your face, offensive style" preaching to those that are not of a particular Christian denomination or religion in general and (2) be more open minded about those who wish to be called Christians-if Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics. or even some Jewish people want to be labeled as "Christians"-let them do it. It only serves to help the Christian cause as a political group and usually these religious denominations may have different theological positions but they're almost always on the same page when it comes to traditional values.

Consider the 2008 elections

Its already turning out to be an historic election for many reasons with the most obvious being that many minorities are running for office. We have a potential for the first woman (Hil), first African American (Obama), first Hispanic (Richardson), first Mormon (Romney), first mayor in over a century (Guilliani) and oldest president (McCain) to occupy the White House. This isn't a flash in the pan moment for American politics. The populace is getting warmed up to the idea of having minorities run for office, especially the office of the President.

Given the political realities of the 2008 elections, people are starting to think outside the box in terms of what they want in a President. A person's religion isn't the only factor people take into consideration any more in American politics. JFK's victory as a Catholic president made it possible for people of all faiths to run for office. Look at Keith Ellison, Harry Reid, Mitt Romney and Joseph Liberman. Political diversity and tolerance is apart of the American political landscape now. And it should be. Insisting that a person be of the "right" faith is simply out of touch with our country's newfound American values.

As Mitt Romney makes his address to the nation about his faith and his bid to be the next President, he will invoke JFK's vision of a time "where religious intolerance will someday end -- where all men and all churches are treated as equal" and where people of all faiths "both the lay and the pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood."

Remember, that while America " is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish" or Mormon, it is "the real issues which should decide this campaign" since they are the problems that not only afflict America but the rest of the world such as terrorism, war, the economy, and immigration. Judge Romney, not on his faith but on the basis of his experience as Governor of Massachusetts, in managing the 20008 Olympics and other endeavors that shows he has the ability to lead America through the challenges that America faces.

No comments: