The real Christian voter who lies between these two studies is, perhaps, best represented by Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, who late last year characterized Mormonism as a cult and asserted that Christian voters were obligated to vote for a candidate who embraces “historical Christianity.” Jeffress, who is clearly uneasy about Mormonism, now supports Romney. But Jeffress’s waffling is not because of Romney’s Mormonism, as Chingos’ and Henderson’s study would suggest. Rather, Jeffress has decided recently that he can vote for Romney, “in spite of his Mormon faith.”
Pat Robertson followed Jeffress last month with a similarly back-handed endorsement of Romney. “You don’t have Jesus running against someone else,” said Robertson on The 700 Club, ”You have Obama running against Romney.” If Christians don’t have the option to vote for an evangelical Christian, Robertson implies, they can simply vote for the candidate that most seems to espouse the political positions they prefer. That is, religion is not the most important thing in politics.
More to the point, however, is Robertson’s finish: “I can’t imagine that [Romney’s] going to interject the Mormon religion into the way he governs.” This is the condition that evangelical voters set for their grudging support of a non-(traditionally) Christian, but politically conservative, candidate. And it’s the condition that implicates evangelical Christianity as a significant force in the secularization of the country. Romney can be the Christian right’s candidate, but only if he becomes entirely a-religious. The religious voters that Romney is now courting won’t allow him to be religious about anything, not even about issues on which he and they agree.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment