As a conservative, protestant Christian who takes his faith very seriously, I am deeply troubled by the attitude of many of my fellows on the Christian Right. James Dobson, a few months ago, questioned the Christianity of Fred Thompson, a man whose whole life has been a study in integrity and in decency. What motivated Dr. Dobson is a mystery to me, not only because Thompson would be incomparably more consistent values (whatever his theology) than any of the Democrat candidates, but because Dobson made his comment apparently without knowing the facts.
As bad as that was, however, what has been happening to Mitt Romney is even worse. There are theological differences between Mormons and other branches of Christianity. That is undeniable. There are theological differences within Christianity. The message of Christ, however, is unmistakable and its impact upon human civilization is undeniable. It is not coincidence, for example, that Mother Theresa (only the second person to be given a state funeral in the history of India) was a devout Christian with one theology, that Albert Schweitzer, considered by many the greatest humanitarian of the last century, was a devout Christian with a very different theology, or that William Wilberforce, whose tireless efforts did more to end slavery than anyone in history was a devout Christian of a very different theology.
Christ will always, invariably, improve the human spirit and the conduct of individuals. So is the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) bad theology? It certainly has a very different theology than mine, but when I read as a conservative protestant Christian the words of Jesus, I believe that I am reading the same words as all Christians when I read that Christ said that we will know the tree by its fruits.
So, how does that make me look at religion and politics? Well, Mormons go on missions to preach peacefully their faith (just as Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Greek Orthodox and other Christians do – just as Jesus enjoined us all to do.) This is in stark contrast to Moslems, who are enjoined to murder, mayhem, mendacity and masochism in their pursuit of their faith of Allahism or Mohamedism the worship of a loveless deity and his loveless prophet.
How do radical Moslems in America behave? They plan to blow up our airports, murder our soldiers stationed in America, ram airliners into our buildings – and they do not apologize for these actions or sentiments. How do people like Mitt Romney in America behave? They do not drink alcohol or use tobacco. They have embraced for more than a century monogamy (something still legally allowed not only in Islam but in Israel about some Sephardim.) They very seldom divorce, as Mitt Romney’s long and happy marriage exemplifies. They, like many Orthodox Jews, have almost no one on welfare because they take seriously the Biblical injunctions to care for the poor. They tithe religiously (pardon the pun), unlike many Christians. They establish good parental role models. (Are there any Mormon rappers? Were there any Mormon punk-rockers?) Every Mormon that I have ever met has been courteous and helped to uphold, by their words and conduct, the sort of civil and decent society which I yearn for America.
I ask my fellow mainstream Christians to end the bigotry against Mitt Romney. If Mark Levine ran for president, I would vote for him in a heartbeat over any Republican, despite the fact that he is Jewish. The same is true for Dennis Praeger, Michael Medved, Dr. Laura, Charles Krauthammer or any of the other good and loyal conservative Jews who so help our common cause in this world to let decency and freedom reign.
I give to Joe Lieberman, with whom I disagree more than agree, credit for fidelity to his faith which I am convinced has persuaded him to stand up as David against Goliath in his own political party. I believe that because Joe Lieberman is a serious Orthodox Jew that he is much more likely to be honorable, patriotic and good than a phony Christian like Al Sharpton or Bill Clinton. Theology is the province of God (or, to me, to Jesus.) The practical actions, the personal conduct, the specific words of political figures concern me more than whether or not their theology is in perfect synchronization with mine.
The men who died on Omaha Beach and Okinawa were Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Reform Jews, Mormons and Orthodox Jews. But I do not look at the rows of crosses (or the Star of David memorials in military cemeteries) and see theology. I look and see brave men who died for America and for all that America represents. Those of my fellow Christian conservatives who “will never vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon” should re-read George Washington’s moving letter to the Jews of Newport, in which he speaks not only of a land in which Jews are free in every legal and political sense, but more importantly a land which gives “bigotry no sanction.” The Father of our nation was writing, not in legalese, but in Christian tolerance of all those who wish to live here in peace and with patriotism (which the Jews of Newport emphatically wished to do.) Live here as loyal Americans, Washington said, and you are not just tolerated, you are welcome. Governor Romney, not my choice for the Republican nomination, you are not just tolerated but welcome.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and MenÕs News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.