This may come as a surprise to a number of my readers, but Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, is a Mormon. Yep. You read that right. He’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS for short. In other words, that means Mitt is a member of a pseudo-Christian cult that was started in the imagination of Joseph Smith, a 19th century grifter.
Joseph claimed he was given golden tablets upon which contained the Book of Mormon written in a make-believe language called “Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” He was enabled to translate those golden tablets into English by the use of divinely inspired, oversized spectacles he called the “Urim and Thummin” and then published what became known as a “second testament of Jesus Christ.”
That “second testament” tells the fantastic story about how a family of Jews sailed across the ocean from Israel in the years immediately before the Babylonian captivity. They settled in the Americas and there they founded a society that became populated by vast numbers of people living in enormous cities. After Jesus was crucified, Resurrected, and then ascended into heaven, He came proclaiming the “gospel” to this American civilization. With that story, Joseph Smith managed to con a bunch of people into joining him and starting a new “denomination” that was billed as the restoration of true Christianity.
The group, however, quickly got themselves into trouble with local and state authorities because they practiced polygamy, or what they called “celestial marriage.” Joseph Smith himself, for instance, had up to 30 some women he called his “wife.” Their polygamy got the Mormons ran off where ever they settled until they finally came to Utah territory where the new “religion” was established and thrived under the leadership of their second leader, Brigham Young. When the United States moved to make Utah a state, the Mormons were given the ultimatum of renouncing polygamy. A convenient revelation reversed the practice.
Along with the Book of Mormon, three other “books,” the Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Book of Abraham are considered additional revelation that add to and supplement the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Those documents promote a number of false, unbiblical teachings that include polytheism, that men can become gods and rule planets, and that Jesus and Satan were originally spirit brothers.
Because of all those cultic beliefs, as well as a few other weirdie ones I haven’t mentioned, a lot of red-state, evangelicals wonder whether or not they can, with good conscience, vote for a Mormon for president. At the same time they can’t, with good conscience, vote for Obama, either. The only solution they see is two-fold: Vote for a third party candidate that is perceived as being like-minded both religiously, as well as politically, or abstain from voting at all.
As sound as either of those solutions may appear to be, they deceptively give the impression of gratifying one’s conscience of not voting for two problematic candidates. In reality, the person will ultimately be casting a vote for the incumbent, Obama.
The influence a third-party candidate has on gathering enough votes to register an impact upon the election is really negligible. The vote the person would give to Romney, but instead gives to the third-party candidate, favors Obama because Romney never received that vote.
Declining to vote also favors Obama. Even if you abstain from voting for either Obama or Romney, Romney isn’t getting your vote. Obama is the incumbent. He has to be removed by voters who pick his primary challenger over him and that happens to be Romney. Refusing to vote for Obama’s challenger means you do not take seriously his removal from office because that is one less vote that moves in the direction against him. Either scenario is a lose-lose.
I’ve heard some Christians suggest that God is sovereign. He is the one who raises up kings, leaders, and national authorities. He is also the one who removes them. Voting doesn’t really change God’s eternal decree as to who will win the presidential election, so why should Christians help place a man into office who is the practitioner of a false, polytheistic pagan religion?
I think it would be prudent to take a few steps back and consider the broader picture.
Indeed, it is true God is absolutely sovereign. He sets up and He tears down. The Bible fully affirms God’s divine sovereignty over human governmental authorities throughout its pages. However, it is equally true God uses means to establish those authorities as well as relinquish them.
The Bible was written during the time the world was dominated by monarchs. For the most part, they ruled on their thrones by pedigree. There was no democratic process by which they were elected into their position as “supreme potentate” by votes of free men and women. But that does not mean men had no hand in bringing that person to power or removing him from power. It wasn’t accomplished by an election, but men participated in God’s sovereign decree to raise up or tear down none the less.
The American democratic enterprise is rather new to the world stage. In the grand scheme of world history, we could say it is in its infancy. Yet, as unique as America is, God sovereignly established American democracy just like He established every other world empire in history past: by the use of human means.
The framers of our constitution designed our democracy as such that the American political state would be distinct from religion.
[PAUSE] Let me make it clear before moving on, and without getting into all the baggage about whether or not the founding fathers intended America to be a “Christian” nation. I certainly believe they understood “religion” to be primarily Judeo-Christian values. I would further add they didn’t envision a government and democratic political society entirely free from Judeo-Christian influence. In fact, I would argue our founding documents are meant to protect religious values and freedoms, not stifle them or remove them from the public institutions. That is why I say the state is distinct from religion, not “separated” from it.[PLAY]
When I say the political state is distinct from religion, I mean one Christian denomination wouldn’t be favored above all the others (think Roger Williams and his run-ins with theonomic, Puritanical New England), nor would one Christian denomination exclude or deny the rights of the others. Say for example, governmental officials who have a Congregationalist background can’t deny or exclude the rights of Baptists or Methodists.
Additionally, that distinction implies that the American government is organized around specific constitutional principles that energize and give life to an unique American democratic experience of fundamental liberties, freedom of religion obviously being one of them. Hence, an individual from any religious background can run for political office and be elected because ideally his aim is to uphold those constitutional principles shaping the values that make us “Americans.”
Red-state evangelicals would agree with my basic assessment of American involvement with politics and society. In fact, they would adamantly insist folks with religious convictions should never be barred from the American political process.
But Mitt Romney’s Mormonism? Well, that’s different, they may say. He adds a bunch of oddball books to the Bible and probably wears magical under pants. His smooth talking will draw us to slowly compromise our faith so that before we know it, we’re Mormons.
Laying aside the tin-foil hat talk, consider for a moment the American principles I just highlighted and contrast them with what we know about each of the candidates.
First off, it wasn’t like Americans woke up one morning a few months ago to the shocking discovery that Barak Obama has a hard left socialist agenda he’s pushing onto the public. Some may even suggest “Marxist” or “communist,” but we won’t go there right now. When he campaigned in 2008, Obama was quite clear in his speeches that he wanted to “fundamentally transform America.” Stated another way, he wanted to move us away from those fundamental principles that make us “American,” particularly the personal liberty aspect, and direct us to placing more value on centrally located government. The unprecedented, sweeping governmental intrusions enacted over the last four years into the basic liberties of American citizens demonstrates how he kept that promise.
Moreover, the president is the candidate of the political party whose members, during their national convention, affirmed as their platform the key points of fornication with impunity, medical infanticide, sodomy, and atheism. In other words, the sins listed in Romans 1. On top of that, the elected officials who also identify with Obama and his party wish to plunge our nation into financial oblivion in order to accomplish the so-called “fundamental transforming” process.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has the exact opposite approach than Obama and his administration. He wishes to wean people off their heavy dependence upon the government as a nursemaid that fixes everyone’s problems, and reaffirm our commitment to those fundamental principles that identify us as Americans. He definitely doesn’t support moral decadence and fiscal irresponsibility.
I often hear the illustration that compares how wickedly corrupt the Roman Caesars were to our modern day officials. Folks will say, “Those Caesars were brutally corrupt, if you think our current president is bad, just go study history.” That is certainly true; but first century Christians had no choice in electing which Caesar ruled over them. God, in His sovereignty, however, has established American democracy and Christians DO have a choice in the process of who rules over them.
American Christians have been granted a special privilege within God’s sovereign decree. We live in a nation that allows us to participate in the political process of electing our officials. How dare we squander that blessing by dismissively waving that responsibility away with a trite, theological platitude that says, “God doesn’t need me, He’s in control” just because the best candidate who reflects our American values makes us uncomfortable. Governmental rulers are supposed to be a terror to evil-doers (Romans 13:3). Romney may be a Mormon, but at least he has the general idea of what is evil and what is good.
Jeremiah exhorted the Jews in Babylon to seek the peace of that nation where they had been carried captive (Jeremiah 29:7). We are not in captivity, but I would think the exhortation would be the same to us none the less, seek the peace of that nation. We seek that peace as American Christians by voting responsibly and righteously. We are not voting for Romney to be our pastor, nor are we voting him in as director of a para-church ministry or a president of a Christian college. He’s being elected as an official to a secular office.
It is as Al Mohler stated in a recent column of his,
“The presidential nominees of the two major parties represent two very different worldviews and visions. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have adopted policy positions that place them in direct conflict, and the platforms of their respective parties reveal two radically different renderings of reality.”
We cannot be faithful Christian believers and ignore this fact. We may be the means God uses to restore a direction of righteousness to our nation.