Mormonism, Christianity, and bigotry

Since Hugh Hewitt’s gotten into the habit of calling people “bigots” when they raise objections to Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs, and since Governor Romney will soon deliver a speech about his Mormon faith and its relevance to his candidacy, it’s time to look a little more closely at Mormonism, Christianity, and how they relate to presidential politics.
Mitt RomneyPlenty can be said about Mormons. They tend to be friendly, hard-working, honest, sober, thrifty, and kind. You’d be hard pressed to find better neighbors. Most Mormons I’ve met do a better job of living an upright life than I do.
What can’t be said about Mormonism, unfortunately, is that it is essentially a Christian belief system. It’s not. The two faiths overlap to some extent, but they differ on far too many essential points to mistake either one for a variety of the other.
Take a moment to read a side-by-side comparison of Christianity and Mormonism.
With so many mutually exclusive doctrines to differentiate the two faiths, Mormonism cannot logically be a form of Christianity. Christianity might be correct. Mormonism might be correct. Maybe they’re both wrong. But let’s not have any more silly claims that “Mormons are Christians.” That claim ranks right up there with “squares are circles.”
I’m a theologically conservative Christian, and I’m convinced that Mormonism is a cult, albeit a non-violent one. That said, I still trust Mitt Romney to faithfully and effectively serve as President if he wins the election. I have more confidence in him than I do in Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister whose theology closely parallels my own. I don’t for one nanosecond extend any such trust to my (allegedly) Christian co-believer Hillary Clinton or any of her fellow Democratic candidates.
Examining a presidential candidate’s core beliefs makes good sense. At the same time, we must exercise caution lest we Christians find ourselves in the hot seat:

If Romney is targeted for his Mormon theology, you can bet Christian candidates will become the regular victims of such interrogation. This is where theology and politics should not mix. Christianity, as we all know, is being pushed from the public square by secularists. Prominent voices claim Christianity actually poisons the political process (Hitchens, Harris, Sullivan) and more intimate examination of Christian candidate’s theology will only marginalize them.
If Christians don’t object strongly to the way this Mormon is treated now, we’ll find next time around the political climate has changed. And next time there won’t be a cultist in the race; Christians will be on the theology hot seat. Defending the Mormon now means defending the ligitimacy of Christian candidates to run in the future without a theological examination.

Hugh Hewitt means well when he defends Mitt Romney. I share the same outlook. All I ask is that Hugh cool it down a bit. In his zeal to prevent secularists from shoving both Mormons and Christians out of politics, he’s attacking friendly forces by slapping the “bigot” label on any Christian who voices honest doubts about Romney’s Mormonism and its influence on his thinking.
Save the ammo for the real opposition, Hugh.

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