The Religion of the Candidate

With the increasing religious diversity in America, I suspect that more and more will be made of any particular political candidate’s personal religious convictions whenever there is a campaign afoot. Cæteris paribus, there is an important sense in which a candidate’s personal religious affiliation is irrelevant to whether that candidate is the best person for the job. Now, surely, there often is (and perhaps should be) a connection between the two, but sometimes people can be inconsistent. Thus, while an atheist running for office cannot philosophically justify his own moral convictions (i.e., he cannot philosophically justify objective morality itself), he may nevertheless be a very moral person, and may actually be a better person for a given position than his Christian opponent. But this is not what is bothering me about the Romney campaign and his detractors. Romney may be a good candidate. Indeed, he may be the best person for the job. I haven’t made up my mind yet. What bothers me is that some commentators, in their attempt to make the point I made above, invariably overstate the matter and imply (if not outright claim) that there are no important differences between Mormonism and Christianity. If a Mormon wants to say that Mormonism is true, fine. We can have that debate. But don’t try to push this bilge on everyone that Mormonism is Christian. It is not. If you are interested in some of the differences, see my “Some Theological Differences Between Evangelical Christianity and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormonism)” at http://www.richardghowe.com/Mormonism.pdf.

No doubt the more logically astute readers will notice the enthymeme here. It follows that differences between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity entail differences between Mormonism and Christianity only if Evangelical Christianity is Christianity. In the relevant sense, it is. But there is a lot of room for logical fallacies here. It is possible that some group could have differences with Evangelical Christianity without itself being non-Christian. Certainly there are Christian groups who may not hold as high a view of Scripture as Evangelical Christianity. But if you look at the differences I’ve outlined in my chart, I think it will be clear that many of those differences are sufficient conditions for Mormonism being non-Christian.

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2 comments on “The Religion of the Candidate

  1. K.C. says:

    Dr. Howe,
    Recently, at my wife’s work Christmas party, a man asked me if Mormon’s were Christians (and why) across a large banquet table in front of everyone. The entire table “got educated” on the subject! Obviously, the pending election prompted this question because this is usually not the topic of discussion at a five star dining establishment!
    We need to be seizing the moment God has giving us to share the “hope that is in us.” With your permission I would like to print out your PDF for dispersion among my church. We are going to be talking about this and it will be a good tool for them to use.
    Like you, I do not have a problem with a Mormon running for President. I believe Romney could do an effective job. I respect him deeply for standing up for his religious convictions as well. We need a President with conviction, don’t we?
    Also, it may not be such a bad thing if he got elected. Wouldn’t it extend the time that the “Are Mormons Christians?” question to be asked and for us to answer?

  2. Jared says:

    Being in Iowa, we were swamped with political ads. I got to like Thompson, but since he’s dropped out, it should be interesting.

    At first I was opposed to voting for a mormon, but he’s light years better than anything the dem’s have. And I have come to believe that if Mitt does become president, it will shine a spotlight on mormonism which would result in a great opportunity for apologetics.

    Whenever someone asks me if I believe that mormons are Christians, I simply ask them if they would consider me a mormon: I deny that Joseph was a prophet, I deny the book of mormon being a revelation of God, I deny that the first president is a prophet of God, I deny that the church needed to be “restored,” I deny that there is more than one God, I deny that you can become a god through the endowments of the LDS church, etc.

    If I cannot be considered a mormon, how could mormons be considered Christian if they deny monotheism, that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that salvation is through Christ alone through grace alone, that Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross, etc.

    “Steal five dollars and you were a petty thief. Steal thousands of dollars and you were either a government or a hero.” – Terry Pratchett “Going Postal”

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