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Evangelicals for Mitt

Many wonder how much support an LDS candidate for president could garner here in the United States given our country's sizable evangelical population. Could a true evangelical wholeheartedly endorse a Mormon candidate?

The folks at EvangelicalsForMitt.org apparently do.

From their Why we support Governor Romney Q&A:

But…He’s a Mormon.

Yes, Gov. Romney is a Mormon. We are not. According to the liberal media, this is an unbridgeable gap, and evangelicals will never turn out to support a faithful Mormon like Mitt Romney. As usual, the media have it wrong. And they root their error (as usual) in a fundamental misunderstanding about American evangelicals—seeing us as ignorant and intolerant simpletons who are incapable of making sophisticated political value judgments.

To be perfectly clear, we believe Gov. Romney is not only acceptable to conservative Christians, but that he is clearly the best choice for people of faith. He is right on all the issues, and he has proven his positions with actions. He is a gifted and persuasive spokesman for our political and moral values. Here is the bottom line: the 2008 election is for president, not pastor. We would never advocate that the Governor become our pastor or lead our churches—we disagree with him profoundly on theological issues. But we reject the notion that the president of the United States has to be in perfect harmony with our religious doctrine. In fact, that is not a test that has been applied before—after all, Jimmy Carter was probably more theologically in line with evangelicals than Ronald Reagan, yet we believe that Reagan was clearly the better choice in 1980.

Let’s leave the absurd religious litmus test to the Democrats. What we want is a president who shares our moral and political values and will put them into action. A President Romney would do that—just as he’s done in Massachusetts—making him stand head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Finally, it is not just our theory that evangelicals will support Governor Romney. In March, 2006, he shocked the political establishment by finishing second at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in Memphis, Tennessee. We led the grassroots effort that put him above John McCain and George Allen, and where did he get the vast majority of his support? From the very Southern evangelicals who the media is convinced will not support a Mormon from Massachusetts.

The Mitt hits the fan

There have been two recent articles in the Boston Globe concerning Mitt Romney's possible presidential bid in '08 that talk about his plans to rally Mormon support. The first one is here and talks about how Romney's people are making plans with BYU alumni groups to help campaigning. In the second story Romney defends his right to enlist fellow church members in his campaign efforts.

I don't think there is much of a story here, what politician wouldn't use all availible contacts to help them win? And it is pretty clear that the Boston Globe doesn't have much love for the Mittster. But the second story mentions that BYU's involvement might get them in trouble as they are a NPO and need to maintain political neutrality in order to keep their tax exempt status. According to the story BYU's counsel has advised administrators to refrain from any further campaigning for Romney and released this statement:

n light of articles appearing in the media, we reaffirm the position of neutrality taken by the church, and affirm the long-standing policy that no member occupying an official position in any organization of the church is authorized to speak in behalf of the church concerning the church's stand on political issues.

If Mitt does indeed run for president in '08 I think we might see a lot more articles like these. Just thought everyone should be prepared.

One more thing

I forgot to include this timeline that the Globe put together. Interestng.

Still gathering more stories

Articles where LDS leaders refute The Globe's claims:

Deseret News

The Daily Herald

And more local stories about Mitt's campaign, mostly just rehashes of the Globe articles
Salt Lake Tribune

The Daily Herald

Church to take action against Mitt supporter

Check out this article in the SL Trib talking about a LDS employee who sent out an e-mail calling on fellow Mormons to support Mitt. The e-mail was sent using a church account, and leaders have said "corrective action" will be taken.

Again the scary thing for the church in all of this is that as a NPO they cannot use their tax free dollars to support particular candidates. You can count on some more pulpit announcements warning members to keep their politics to themselves.