Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney may face even more opposition regarding his faith if he becomes the GOP nominee, according to polls and several interviews by the Huffington Post.
The staunchest opposition against Romney because of his faith came from Rev. Robert Jeffress, who is the spiritual leader for the largest church in Texas. Jeffress, a supporter of GOP contender Rick Perry, called Mormonism a “cult,” and Perry – along with many Christian conservatives – publicly rebuked him.
According to new polls and information from Evangelical leaders, Christian views might change if Romney is chosen as Obama’s adversary in 2012.
Rev. Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the Huffington Post, “One of the issues for Mormonism is that it is now being discussed in public in a way that will bring a great deal of attention to Mormon beliefs and practices… Americans are going to find many of those beliefs absolutely bizarre and strange.”
Some of those views are certainly unconventional, especially when viewed by Christians. Mormons believe that the dead can be baptized through via proxy, marriage continues into the afterlife, and perhaps most importantly to Christians, that Jesus is not totally sufficient to be saved.
More damaging could be the perceived notions of the faith. Polygamy and racism (the Church of Latter-Day Saints didn’t allow black priests until 1978) are just a few of the stories Romney may have to dispel to win over Evangelical voters.
Polls say that Romney’s religion is most definitely an issue, despite the ex-governor’s unwavering numerical support.
A survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press said that 41 percent of liberal Democrats would be likely to support a Mormon for president.
A Gallup poll’s findings were equally dismal for the former CEO. Results showed that 27 percent of Democrats would not vote for a Mormon, and 20 percent of Republicans would not either. That equals about 21 percent of overall voters “not comfortable” with Romney.
In a race with more than one major contender, this could definitively hurt Romney’s campaign. Romney automatically starting with a 21 percent handicap could be enough for other candidates, like Herman Cain or maybe even Rick Perry, to overtake him.
Some prominent Evangelicals don’t think Romney’s faith should be that big of a decider of the 2012 election.
Rev. Jim Wallis, the spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama and decidedly progressive said, “What kind of underwear Mitt Romney wears is a lot less important to us than what his moral compass is and what his policy agenda is,” he told the Huffington Post.
Chuck Colson, another well-known Christian, maintains that Mormonism is in no way Christianity, citing “doctrinal differences” as the rift dividing the two faiths. Still, he acknowledges Mormons’ resolute adherence to “life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty issues.”
So far, Romney’s belief hasn’t hurt him too much in the polls; he has been either first or second in virtually all polls in the past few weeks.