From all I have heard, Mitt Romney, the current governor of Massachusetts, appears to be the ideal Republican contender for President. Some say he will never will the evangelical vote, however, because of his LDS (Mormon) faith. I think that is shortchanging the depth of the evangelical worldview and its relation to politics. At least one evangelical thinker at Biola University, Dr. John Mark Reynolds, thinks Romney is the best candidate and offers persuasive arguments that evagelicals ought to vote for him. Faith and politics surely relate, but they are ultimately two separate spheres – or have at least been treated so in American politics.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

4 Comments

  1. Just because it’s reasonable for evangelical Christians to support Romney hardly makes faith irrelevant to (or a “separate sphere” from) American politics. Americans by and large want a believer, in almost any particular (Christian-friendly) doctrine, in office, and in poll after poll resist openly atheist candidates–mostly because Americans identify themselves, by and large, as Christians. Is Mormonism Christian-friendly? That’s what’s debatable, but there’s no reliable data.

    I would love to see a poll of self-identified evangelical Americans’ support for Romney, given his Mormon beliefs. (Bloomberg’s report that 35% of conservative Republicans wouldn’t vote for a Mormon is telling, but unsatisfactory.) In my experience Mormonism, for the average evangelical, is still a cult, and a dangerous one at that. (I know evangelicals who won’t shop at Mormon-owned supermarkets.)

    The disconnect between evangelical Christian intellectuals and the larger evangelical public is real. Many evangelical thinkers, for example, have no problem with “theistic evolution,” while evangelicals mostly reject evolution in any form.

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  2. “Faith and politics… are ultimately two separate spheres – or have at least been treated so in American politics.”

    This may be true in recent history in a narrow, credal sense, but historically it’s wildly inaccurate, if not patently false. Even today, nearly half of Americans would refuse to vote for an atheist candidate.

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  3. Andrew McKnight Selby August 12, 2006 at 6:40 am

    By “politics” I meant the philosophy behind our political process. Our government was formed in a way unusual in the western world in the separation between church and state. I had the historical, or as you might mean by “credal”, sense in mind. Thanks for the charitable read, by the way.

    “I would love to see a poll of self-identified evangelical Americans’ support for Romney, given his Mormon beliefs.”

    I, too, would like to see such a poll. I’m sure if Romney gets further, it will happen. I can guarantee you Romney’s Mormonism will be the top story on ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN in an effort to polarize evangelicals. I have confidence in the evangelical world, however, to recognize that the influence Mormonism and Christianity have on political viewpoints are pretty similar. Mormonism has clearly appropriated Christian social morality in recent years (post polygamy, that is!).

    “The disconnect between evangelical Christian intellectuals and the larger evangelical public is real. Many evangelical thinkers, for example, have no problem with “theistic evolution,” while evangelicals mostly reject evolution in any form.”

    I’d like to see some data on this claim. You’re going to have to define “evangelical” pretty widely to substantiate it. As for the article you posted, it is tiring to hear so much slanted journalism that assumes those who hold the opposing viewpoint are morons. It’s not my style, but Reynolds, again, has a great piece revealing this unabashed intellectual bigotry at the following address: http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com/middlebrow/archives/americans-have-doubts-about-evolution-oh-the-horror/.

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  4. The data is buried within the article (whose cherry-picking reportage is dubious), but you can find it elsewhere. Sixty percent of evangelicals want creationism taught in schools, and over half of white evangelicals think theistic evolution is a contradiction in terms.

    “Still, most Americans think it is possible to believe in both God and evolution. Sixty-seven percent say this is possible, while 29 percent disagree. Most demographic groups say it is possible to believe in both God and evolution, but just over half of white evangelical Christians say it is not possible.”

    My point, though, is that looking to intellectuals as a guide to public sentiment will nearly always skew one’s perspective. Philosophers like us are a permanent voting minority.

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