“No, no, no, Don’t boo. Vote. Voting is the best revenge.” President Barack Obama (article here)
“He asked his supporters to vote ‘for revenge’–’for revenge.’ Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country.” Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney (article here)
When I voted on Friday afternoon, I had not heard either of these “closing pitches” from the two major party candidates for President. Although it would not have made a difference in how I voted, these two statements encapsulate why there was very little hesitation when I filled in the oval next to Romney/Ryan and cast my vote for who I hope (and believe) will be the next President and Vice President of the Unites States of America. As we were driving home, I asked my wife, Brenda, if she had any reservations about voting for Mitt Romney. With permission to quote her, she stated clearly and unequivocally, “No. None whatsoever!” After casting my seventh vote for President in the General Election, I await the outcome of Tuesday’s contest to determine not only who is President, but whether or not I go 4-3 or 3-4 in picking the winners and losers.
Those who have followed my blog as of late may remember the fairly strong posts that I have written (here, here, here, and here) about Mormonism, Religious Liberty, and the apparent influence of politics on the church. The most egregious example, that at the very least smacks of an appearance of political considerations influencing theological ones, came when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed Mormonism from their list of “cults” on the BGEA website.
While many, including yours truly, would not have reacted quite so strongly had this de-classification happened a year ago, the fact that it occurred a week after the Rev. Billy Graham — arguably still the most recognized and respected Evangelical in America — met with Mr. Romney gives the appearance of politics at work. For those of you who might disagree, ask yourself whether or not the BGEA and other Evangelicals would be so willing to blur the distinctions between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity if Harry Reid (don’t laugh, just go with it), a Mormon Democrat, was the Democrat Presidential nominee?
Herein lies the dilemma for conservative Evangelicals, including Southern Baptists. On the one hand, Mitt Romney’s public policies are probably much more in line with what the overwhelming majority of conservative Evangelicals believe. However, Gov. Romney’s Mormon faith poses a quandary for many — including this writer — who continues to argue that Mormonism should be classified as a “cult” or a “false religion,” notwithstanding the fact “our candidate” belongs to said cult. I fully understand that America is not voting for a “Pastor-in-Chief,” which is one of the reasons why I chose to cast my ballot for Mitt Romney, notwithstanding my belief that his faith teaches a false gospel. However, I do not expect the Commander-in-Chief — whether he is named Obama, Romney, Bush, Clinton, Reagan or Carter — to check his faith at the Oval Office door. Some have checked their morals, but that’s another post entirely.
When Mr. Romney wins (see Tuesday’s post for my final election-day predictions), I still believe that Christians will face challenges in dealing with what Dr. Ed Stetzer has termed the “Mormon Moment.” How we deal with these challenges, even with a President not named Obama, will be a daunting task for Christians. But, with every challenge comes opportunity and blessing. In the final analysis, America’s “Mormon Moment” must be addressed, as Dr. Stetzer rightly points out, with “truth and grace.” As with many other issues facing Christians living in 21st century America, this becomes much easier said than done.
As I close and prepare for another road trip to Dallas on Saturday (my interactions with comments will be delayed until late in the day), let me leave my readers with this final thought. Whether one finds himself/herself voting for President Obama, Gov. Mitt Romney, a third-party candidate or choosing not to vote for President at all, I want to assume people will vote because of the best motives, not the worst. Although President Obama stated that “voting is the best revenge,” I can’t help but believe that the same man who promised so much “hope and change” would like to take back those words. I’m sure that all of us would like to take back a word or two unfitly spoken.
Democrats, Republicans, and Independents will vote for both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney. Christians will vote for President Obama and Christians will vote for Mitt Romney. We may see things differently. We may have passionate “debates” about politics. I will continue to have those debates, both with my fellow conservatives and with my liberal Democratic friends (you know who you are). I voted for Mitt Romney for President, despite my misgivings about his faith. I didn’t vote for him because I hate President Obama. I did it because I love my country. Regardless of who you vote for, I hope you cast your vote for your candidate — not out of revenge or spite — but because you love your country too!