Friday, July 06, 2007

You Can't Pigeonhole Me

NPR : Romney Faces Uphill Battle for Evangelical Voters

Yet another in the continuing series of articles about how Romney can't win Evangelical voters.

I'm not sure if the intent of these is to knock his campaign down by encouraging Republican voters to think of him as unelectable or if the idea is to brand Evangelicals as bigots. Maybe it's a twofer.

I think any pollster would classify me as an Evangelical. I attend a Southern Baptist Church. I attend at least once a week. Would I describe myself as Evangelical? Probably not. I also wouldn't describe myself as "born-again." I'm not comfortable with terminology like that. I would describe myself as a Southern Baptist and, more broadly, as a Christian. Those are the only terms that mean much to me. Still, I think for political polling purposes, I'm an Evangelical.

With that said, Romney's religion has zero impact on my voting plans. Will I be voting for Romney? I'm still very much up in the air right now, but Romney is not the front-runner for my vote. If he's the nominee I will support him without hesitation, but I'm not sure he will get my vote in the primaries. That decision, however, is not at all based on the fact that he is a Mormon.

Do I believe Mormonism is a cult? Yeah, it is by a literal definition of the word as it is used in a scholarly sense. Mormonism is a Christian-inspired cult. It is too far outside the mainstream of general Christian belief for me to consider it to be a part of the Christian church. Is it a cult in the sense most people use the word? No, not even close. They're not brainwashing people (unless you believe all religion is a form of brainwashing which I do not), they're not controlling people (unless you believe all religion... you get the idea) and they're not in it for the money (unless...).

Romney agrees with me (at least, he does now) on every single cultural issue. All of them. He agrees with the broader Christian Conservative movement on each and every one. For me, that is much more important than the details of his religious doctrine and practice.

What pollsters and journalists don't get is that there are no "Evangelicals" in a political sense. There are people in my church who I imagine (we've never discussed it) would not vote for Mitt Romney solely because of his religion. There are others, like myself, who would vote for him either because they don't think the religious difference is all that large or because they thin that even if it is large it doesn't matter because his positions on the issues of concern are correct.

I really hate it when journalists come in like they are anthropologists and we Christians are the tribe in the heart of South America. We are some odd sub-culture to be analyzed and studied, usually with a certain amount of dismissiveness.

While we're on this subject. It's very true that Mormons believe a lot of things which sound incredibly strange. ALL of us believe some things that sound incredibly strange. All of us believe things that are not rational. That's true of religious and non-religious alike. Unless we want to start electing androids, I don't think holding odd beliefs can, in and of itself, disqualify you for office. Obviously, it matters what those odd beliefs are and how they impact the rest of your thought process and your life. I don't think believing that Jesus is coming back to Missouri and wearing funny underwear is enough of a problem.

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