Sunday, October 28, 2012

Should I Vote for a Mormon Over a Nominal Christian?

Vote your values.

Photo courtesy of USA Today
Are you pro-life? Pro-choice? Do you think government is society’s knight in shining armor ready to win the war on poverty and discrimination? Do you, like Governor Rick Perry, think government should be made as inconsequential in your life as possible? Do you think it’s better to have a professing, if nominal, Christian in the Whitehouse or cult1 member? Do you think religion is so personal that it is inconsequential?

I have a confession to make. I have already voted for Mitt Romney, three times. Not only am I going to vote for Romney on November 6th (my early ballot is already filled out), but I have already voted for him twice in the last two Republican primaries. Yes, I picked him over John McCain and Mike Huckabee .

But Mitt is ….. a Mormon!! 

Am I not concerned that electing a Mormon as president will bring greater respect to a cult that is opposed to traditional Christianity? Yes I am. I am fully committed to exposing the false teachings of Joseph Smith's followers.

But on election day other things concern me more.

By way of explanation, I could repeat the common refrain, we are electing a commander in chief, not a priest in chief. While true, it does not get at the heart of my decision.

In fact, I am voting for Romney precisely because of his religion. More accurately, I am voting for Romney because of his worldview.

More than to which creed the candidate signs his name, I care about the basic principles by which he interprets the world and makes his judgments. Now, I don’t claim any special knowledge of Mr. Romney or of Mr. Obama or their most basic principles. However it seems clear that Romney is a sincere adherent of his religion demonstrated by his tax records2, his time as a missionary in France3, his years as the bishop of his local ward (roughly a church pastor equivalent). Mormons believe, as do I, that God created the world, that it is fallen into sin and that it needs an intervention by God to restore it. They have the same core beliefs as I do. Though their soteriology and bibliology differ significantly from evangelical Christianity, they are actually quite similar in their values:

  • They hold the same basic views about an all powerful and loving creator of mankind who, for His own purposes, created them male and female in his own image.
  • They believe the family is best equipped to raise children and instill morality.
  • They believe that a good society is made up of good individuals.
  • They believe that good is established by God and that it is universally, objectively valid.
  • They believe in sacred writings that inform our choices and define our limits.4
  • They believe that it takes more than good intentions to do the right thing.
  • They believe in integrity, that what we say, we should do, that what we profess, we should believe.
  • They believe that the means and the ends are both important and that neither justifies the other.
  • They believe their lives, their community, and their country have a purpose larger than the sum of its parts because it was purposed by their creator.
  • They believe the local church can make a huge difference around the world.
Can the same be said of liberals? These values are more fundamental than policy positions because they determine the possible solutions a candidate will even consider.

Just like adherents of any faith, there are those Mormons who fall laughably short of the faith they profess. Just like any faith, there are sincere adherents who attempt to live out their religious principles in a complicated and unfriendly world.

For my part, I would choose any day a sincere adherent of a flawed faith that has the same basic values as my own over an insincere adherent of my own religion who has radically different values.

Yes, I do doubt that Obama is sincere in his beliefs, not because I think he is a closet Muslim or a closet atheist, but because I suspect he is just like many other Christians who confess Christ not as a matter of truth, but of convention. There are many who profess a belief in God, but live like they are the God they profess. There are many who never bring their values in line with their creed.

Who’s with me? I hope to see you on Nov 6th voting for the candidate who most closely reflects your values.

1 I am using cult to mean “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious also : its body of adherents” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed.). The Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints (i.e. the Mormon Church) definitely fits this definition when compared to orthodox Christianity.

2 He gives a significant portion of his income to charity and to his church. As is often said in churches I have attended, to figure out where a person’s heart is really at, look at his check book.

3 This is actually a tougher missionary field that it would seem. The French are not generally very religious or keen on Americans.

4 This makes for a good basis of interpreting the constitution as the founding fathers intended it.


  1. Food for thought...

    Couldn't you argue similarities with virtually any religion? I mean, we have about the same # of things in common with Muslims as we do with Mormons. I would argue that those two religions are actually more similar to one another than either is to Christianity.

    It is a misnomer to say they believe in our God - they believe in a "god", but it is not the God I have a relationship with. It is a false religion - through and through. (Note: Up until about a decade ago they didn't even want to be called Christian...this is a new marketing approach they've adopted.)

    Also, can't we argue that Obama represents equally important values to God. Such as, helping the poor and providing for those in need?

    I guess my concern is muddying the waters by making Mormonism an acceptable substitute for Christianity. It is one thing to vote directly for the candidate that most directly represents your views on the issues, it is quite another to say he represents your Christianity better than another. Personally a faulty Christian or "sub-par" Christian more closely resembles my life than a Mormon ever will.

    I'm not saying I can fault someone for picking Romney as the better choice - I just think you have to take his Mormonism out of the argument. ;-)

    1. Steffi, I really appreciate your thoughts. I agree we can find common ground with many religions. My point is to speak about worldviews without getting into specific theological differences. Even though I may share "doctrine" with a person, it does not mean we are coming from the same place.

      I want to help people to think past their religion to see that we could actually have more in common with someone who's church serves another God.

      By saying that Mormons and Muslims have more in common, you seem to be missing my point. Doctrinally and historically, they may well have more in common with one another. However, in terms of values, Mormons and Christians have more in common.

      That's why I say I am a "values" voter. I don't care about the religious tag associated with the politician. I care about his/her values.

      I don't dispute that Obama's apparent concern for the poor is also biblically supported. However, what drives his concern for the poor? How should the poor be helped? Does he believe in sin nature? Does he believe in helping correct the harmful choices that lead to poverty? Does he believe poverty is solely a societal injustice? These questions are not meant to be rhetorical, but they are meant to show that ones creed does not tell us the candidate's views.

    2. Steffi, I have updated my post to take into consideration your concerns and to make more clear what I am attempting to say. Thanks again!

  2. I am with you! I do not believe that welfare is "helping the poor." Give a man a fish, and he will have a meal - teach a man to fish and he will be able to eat whenever he needs to! I believe in giving a hand up, not a hand out - and Mr. Romney most closely follows my belief system and incorporates my values. Thank you for the thoughtful and thought provoking blog!