Almost everybody in the Mitt Romney camp blames Mike Huckabee for thwarting the former Massachusetts Governor’s opportunity to be president in 2008 and giving us John McCain. They have suggested a secret whisper campaign in Iowa and elsewhere led Evangelical Christians to vote against “the Mormon”.
Even today these Romney supporters make no distinction between a political position and a religious one. Governor Huckabee himself may have brought some of the criticism on himself by making an off-hand remark to a reporter in 2007 that he thought that Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers (which they do). But even if Huckabee believes that Mormonism is a false religion (or a cult) that does not mean that he would not vote for a Mormon (in fact he has endorsed Mormons in the past and affirmed that he would vote for Romney). These are two separate issues, but the Romney supporters and mainstream press refuse to make the distinction. And there lies the rub. Many pundits and political hacks have implied that if a presidential candidate believes that another candidate’s religion is false, it is THAT belief that disqualifies the candidate from office.
There is a religious test. Talk show host Glenn Beck applied it to Mike Huckabee. Beck once called Huckabee “the devil” because he refused to say that Beck (who also is a Mormon) is a Christian. But Christianity and Mormonism have been at odds over that question since the very latter religion began during the days of Joseph Smith. Smith and the Latter Day Saints have always maintained that only Mormons are saved, and that Christendom is false. It is not a one-way street. It is simple. Each has in the past considered the other a false religion.
Neither Huckabee nor texas Governor Rick Perry have suggested for a moment that Romney’s religion should keep him from office. Enter author and Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who introduced Perry at the Value Voters Summit earlier this month. Jeffress later said that Mormonism is a cult and that Christians should only vote for Christians. I do not know if he was asked about this by a reporter or not, but he reiterated the statement from his church pulpit the following week. Jeffress is swimming upstream it seems, for Christians are being tempted more and more to validate Mormonism lest they risk being excluded from the Republican establishment. Recently, David Barton of Wallbuilders said that Glenn Beck is a fine Christian, and denied that Mormonism is a cult.
John Huntsman, who is a member of the Latter Day Saints church, said the pastor is a moron for making the statement and then required a religious test of Rick Perry. Romney also insisted that Perry repudiate the man. Why? What if Perry believed that Mormonism is a cult? Does that disqualify him from being president? Are people who believe like Jeffress to be excluded from campaign positions or public appearances? Should candidates ask each person what they believe about Mormonism before they become a precinct chairman or introduce the candidates at a political rally?
Why make the demands that Perry even declare his religious position then? Romney is never asked the religious question, about his belief, he is only asked about its effect upon his campaign. Perhaps that is as it should be. But Perry shouldn’t be required to comment on it either. Sadly, Perry took the position that Mormonism is not a cult (which, of course, did not satisfy Huntsman):
This kind of talk, I think, has no home in American politics these days. And, you know, anyone who is associated with somebody willing to make those comments ought to stand up and distance themselves in very bold language. And that hasn’t been done. And – and Rick ought to stand up and do that.
Apparently neither Beck, Romney, or Huntsman nor the mainstream will allow a candidate to punt on this issue. The implication Huntsman makes is that anybody who believes that Mormonism is a cult is disqualified to be president. Now THAT is a religious test.