GOP Puts Faith in Muting Religious Differences; Ecumenism Cited in Embrace of Mormon Hopeful

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 31, 2012 | Go to article overview

GOP Puts Faith in Muting Religious Differences; Ecumenism Cited in Embrace of Mormon Hopeful


Byline: Andrea Billups, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Republican National Convention has been an ecumenical event, as people laid aside religious differences in the name of backing Mitt Romney and defeating President Obama.

Julie Jones, 91, has been watching the Republican National Convention on television each night in East Lansing, Mich. She is a Lutheran and supporting Mr. Romney, saying the Michigan native's Mormon religion is not an issue for her as a voter.

I'm not electing a pastor. I'm electing a president, said Mrs. Jones, who says she is satisfied that the presidential nominee is a Christian and that religion matters in his life. I want someone who can lead.

At this year's convention, others have stepped up to laud Mr. Romney and his religion, weaving a unified narrative about inclusivity that seems to have bridged fears that religion might somehow divide conservative voters, particularly evangelicals who have strong theological disagreements with Mormonism.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, himself a Southern Baptist minister, mended fences during his Wednesday night convention speech after Mr. Romney's Mormon religion was an issue in the 2008 presidential primary, when the two men were rivals.

Let me say to you tonight, I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country, Mr. Huckabee said.

Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a Roman Catholic, also allayed any fears that the running mates weren't on the same religious page.

Mitt and I also go to different churches. But in any church, the best preaching is done by example. And I've been watching that example. The man who will accept your nomination is prayerful and faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers the best example of marriage at its best, Mr. Ryan said. Our faiths come together in the same moral creed.

There had been fears - and Democratic hopes - of a religious war among the Republican base, though.

Evangelicals, fundamentalists and other traditional-leaning Christians widely consider the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not to be a Christian body - claiming it either denies or unrecognizably redefines such Christian doctrines as the Trinity, original sin and the atonement.

Denouncing Mormonism is a staple of some Christian TV and radio networks, and some polls have suggested that a significant number of conservative Christians, who are vital to the Republican Party in the Bible Belt and the rural Midwest, would refuse to vote for a Mormon. …

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