Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has been busy spinning bizarre theories about how the media will have to try to make voters uncomfortable with Mitt Romney's faith in order to help President Obama because Evangelical Christian voters would have no qualms about voting for a Mormon.
The only problem with Land's conspiracy theory is that it is constantly being undermined by others, like the new president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Brad Atkins, who says that Christians would have a much easier time voting for a thrice-married serial adulterer like Newt Gingrich before ever voting for a Mormon like Romney:
The Rev. Brad Atkins, tabbed in November to lead the group for the coming year, told Patch on Friday that while Gingrich's infidelities may represent a major obstacle for some Christian voters, it isn't an issue that necessarily excludes the former speaker from consideration. Rather, it's an issue that calls for prayerful consideration of Gingrich's numerous public confessions to his wrongdoings.
The issue presented by Romney's faith may be more deeply rooted to South Carolinians.
"In South Carolina, Romney's Mormonism will be more of a cause of concern than Gingrich's infidelity," said Atkins, the pastor at Powdersville First Baptist Church in the Upstate.
"Conservatives can process and pray their way through the issue of forgiveness toward a Christian that has had infidelity in their life, but will struggle to understand how anyone could be a Mormon and call themselves 'Christian.'"
Mitt Romney has attempted to thread the needle on whether gays and lesbians have a right to serve openly in the military, saying he staunchly opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell but is not willing to reinstate the policy. In a 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, Romney called Don’t Ask Don’t Tell “the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation's military,” but then in 2007 Romney claimed he originally found the policy “silly” but effective, and has since criticized attempts to repeal it. In a June debate Romney dodged a question on whether he would reverse the repeal, until he finally told the Des Moines Register editorial board this week that he would oppose the restoration of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness recently started the Military Culture Coalition along with other conservative leaders to oppose repeal efforts, denounced Romney for his position of supporting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in principle but not its reinstatement:
Donnelly questioned Governor Romney's comments to the Des Moines Register, noting that "The military does not work that way. Flawed policies that impose heavy 'complicating features' on the backs of military men and women cannot and should not be switched on and off, depending on the direction of political winds or promises made to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) activists of either political party."
She added, "Sound policies that reinforce morale and readiness should be maintained at all times. A long list of what Governor Romney calls 'complicating features' were caused when the 2010 lame-duck Congress voted for Obama's LGBT Law and related policies. Current problems and those yet to come are no more acceptable now than in the midst of a shooting war."
Sandy Rios of Family-Pac and the former head of Concerned Women for America mocked Romney for the “audacity” to say he is more conservative than other candidates while revealing a complete lack of conviction regarding his views on open service in the military:
As the issue of allowing gays to openly serve in the military raged last year, Mitt Romney let it be known he roundly opposed the idea. He was outraged ... incensed. Many conservatives were certain this was the real Mitt revealing himself after years of having to pretend to embrace gay rights as governor of Massachusetts. With this messy business of his position on gay rights out of the way, they could at last breathe a sigh of relief and support the man they thought looked and sounded presidential and had the credentials to turn the economy around.
But now that has all changed. In an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board last Friday, the former Massachusetts governor explained that it wasn't the concept of having gays openly serve in the military that had troubled him ... only the fact that the change was being made in a time of war. Now that the conflict is over, he would not, as Commander in Chief, do anything to change it.
As if to drive his point further, Romney added that Gingrich's "unreliability" hadn't just been 14-15 years ago, but in the last 2-3 years. Yet Mitt Romney's latest leap from conservatism had only taken place a few days prior. What kind of audacity does it take to stand before a news agency editorial board and brag in the face of the evidence that you are the most conservative candidate?
One could go further back with Romney's liberal/conservative iterations, but these are current examples which, in the case of gays in the military, goes back not a few years but a few days. Surely it is a quantum leap to assign him the mantle of conservatism in the current race.
Truth and honesty are inconvenient at times, but they are as much a part of conservative values as any position on the economy or national defense. Dishonesty and deceit are basic disqualifiers -- and bend as we may to excuse the inexcusable, in Romney's case, they are very hard to ignore.
Not to be outdone, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association went after Romney and Ron Paul, who voted in favor of repeal last year, calling them “non-starters as candidates”:
If evangelical Christians simply vote their values, there is simply no way they can cast a vote for someone who is in favor of legitimizing homosexual behavior in the military.
In the GOP field, there are just two candidates who support the presence of sexual deviancy in our armed forces: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
Romney told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register last Friday that he is just fine with sexually aberrant behavior in the military.
Bottom line: for values-driven voters who claim to be conservative and to draw their values from the Judeo-Christian tradition, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are both likely to be - and should be - non-starters as candidates. If a voter only claims to be a social conservative but isn’t one in fact, then a vote for Romney or Paul is not likely to be a problem.
At a news conference, Mitt Romney urged Texas Gov. Rick Perry to disavow the remarks of his endorser Robert Jeffress, a Religious Right leader who has called Mormonism a "cult." People For the American Way today echoed Romney’s appeal to Perry, but also urged both candidates to disavow endorsers who have perpetuated misinformation about and fear of American Muslims.
Following his endorsement and introduction of Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, Robert Jeffress went on Focal Pointwith Bryan Fischer to chastise Romney's Mormon faith, arguing that he is not a "true, born again follower of Christ." He said that only Perry can defeat "the most pro-homosexual, most pro-abortion president in history."
"It is not Christianity, it is not a branch of Christianity," Jeffress said, "It is a cult." Jeffress went on to explain that many evangelical Christians will not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon and therefore not "indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God." He even claimed that Romney's Mormon faith "speaks to the integrity issue" as it explains why he has reversed his position on abortion rights, among other issues.
This weekend, nearly every major GOP presidential candidate, along with the top two Republicans in the House of Representatives, will speak at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of the leaders of the Religious Right movement to integrate fundamentalist Christianity and American politics.
Our efforts in the past to get anyone within the GOP or Religious Right to condemn Fischer's relentless bigotry have not amounted to much, mainly because nobody within the movement seems to be particularly bothered by it, which is why GOP leaders continue to appear on his radio program and on stage with him at Religious Right events.
My argument all along has been that the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the free exercise of the Christian religion.
One evidence that [the Founding Fathers] were not dealing ... they weren't even intending to deal with non-Christian religions is what they did with Mormonism in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Mormonism - they call themselves by the name of Christ, but it is not an orthodox Christian network of churches, it just is not. Mormonism is not an orthodox Christian faith. It just is not. They have a different Gospel, they have a completely different definition of who Christ is and so forth, I mean, the list could be multiplied endlessly.
And it was very clear that the Founding Fathers did not intend to preserve automatically religious liberty for non-Christian faiths, so when Mormonism came along, they practiced polygamy, they believed in polygamy, just like Muslims do today. It was a part of their revealed religion. God had commanded Joseph Smith to have multiple wives and commanded Joseph Smith to go tell your wife Emma, look you gotta room, I want my son Joseph to be able to have as many wives as he wants so you're just going to have to accept it. So God is telling Emma through Joseph Smith, look you're just going to have to live with this deal. So multiple wives in the Mormon Church until 1890 when the Mormon Church told their folks to obey the law.
The Mormon Church, by the way, has never denounced the practice of polygamy. It has not. What it did in 1890, if you go back to the Doctrines and Covenants, what the Mormon Church did is they advised - it wasn't even an order - they advised the members of the LDS Church to obey the law which said one man, one woman, period. So my guess is that if those that are trying to legalize polygamy, and they are working on it right now ... [Fischer cites court case pushing for recognition of polygamy and says it the same as using courts to push for gay marriage] ... If there is some activist court that says you have to recognize polygamous marriages in your state, you're going to start seeing the LDS church, I believe go back to the exercise of polygamy. If it's legal, because all they told their folks is obey the law, if the law says you can have multiple wives, I believe the LDS Church will be out in the front of the pack.
I mean, not everybody in the LDS Church is going to do it any more than all the members of the LDS Church ever did it. It was a minority even in Joseph Smith's day - I mean, Brigham Young set some kind of world record for number of wives, I mean he was up there in Muhammad territory frankly. But most Mormons didn't do it, it was just a small percentage that had the resources to be able to do it. But I think it will come back, it will come back pretty vigorously in the Mormon Church, again, because all the church fathers said in 1890, just obey the law. Well, if the law says you can have multiple wives, they'll be back.
At next week's Values Voter Summit, Mitt Romney is scheduled to take the stage immediately before Bryan Fischer, an American Family Association (AFA) spokesman with a long and shocking record of bigotry against gays and lesbians, American Muslims, Native Americans and other minority groups. Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum are also scheduled to speak at the event, which is sponsored by the anti-gay Family Research Council, the AFA, and other Religious Right groups. PFAW is urging these candidates for our nation's highest office to condemn bigotry.
Campaigning in Florida today, Mitt Romney doubled down on his claim that “corporations are people.”
Campaigning in Florida today, Mitt Romney doubled down on his claim that “corporations are people.”
“I was in Iowa the other day, and people suggested that we just raise taxes on corporations,” Romney said, according to Politico. “I told them, corporations are people…Raising taxes on corporations is raising taxes on people.”
Tonight, seven prominent candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will take part in a debate in New Hampshire. As these candidates introduce themselves to Republican primary voters, it’s important for them to speak honestly about their visions for the future of the country.
A day after news of Justice Souter's planned resignation broke in the news, "dozens" of right-wing leaders representing more than 60 groups got together for a strategy call organized in part by the Judicial Confirmation Network to get everyone fired up and on message. All you need to know about the credibility of this campaign's leaders, and the credibility of their evaluations of potential nominees, is contained in this one sentence from the Judicial Confirmation Network's Wendy Long: "The current Supreme Court is a liberal, judicial activist court."