(Photo: Reuters / Brian Snyder)
Mitt Romney is “not a Christian” and therefore he may not have a good chance of raising big money among Christians if Rick Perry runs for president, “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt said Sunday.
The discussion on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s possible run for the White House Sunday morning led Earhardt, Fox News correspondent and weekend co-host of the daily news analysis, to pronounce what many evangelicals and mainstream Christians believe: former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, a Mormon, is “obviously not a Christian.”
The talk turned to Romney, the presumptive frontrunner, when host Dave Briggs said he wasn’t sure if Perry could “get in and raise money with Mitt Romney.” Co-host Clayton Morris replied that many Republican thought he couldn’t. But Earhardt disagreed. “Well the Christian coalition … I think [Rick Perry] can get a lot of money from that base because [of] Romney obviously not being a Christian … Rick Perry, he’s always on talk shows, on Christian talk shows, he has days of prayer in Texas,” she said.
This comes amid efforts of Romney, one of the two Mormon presidential contenders apart from Jon Huntsman, to woo evangelical voters. Both Romney and Huntsman spoke at the last month’s Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., in an apparent attempt to show their commitment to key social issues and to conservative voters.
However, many evangelicals say the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Romney’s denomination, is non-Christian. While a June 2011 Pew poll showed that 58 percent of white evangelicals didn’t see a problem in supporting a Mormon candidate, evangelicals are warning the voters to be careful.
“Let’s face it; Romney simply doesn’t have a consistent worldview and much of what he does believe is contrary to the conservative and Christian worldview,” states an open letter being circulated on July 14, according to Michigan Messenger. Some prominent religious right leaders, including Gary Glenn of the American Family Association’s Michigan chapter, have signed the letter.
“That might be fine for someone running for city council, but he’s running for the presidency of the most powerful nation in the world. To accept his multiple conversions as authentic and then give him the keys to the White House would be foolish. At this critical time in American history, we need a leader more than ever who has spent a lifetime defending and promoting conservative principles. The last thing we need is someone whose ideology abruptly shifted only after he and his consultants decided to prepare him for his first Presidential campaign,” it adds.
In a recent interview with The Christian Post, pastor and author Mark Driscoll said Christian leaders needed to be careful about publicly supporting candidates lest they “turn out to be not that moral.” Driscoll said he could understand the struggle Christians would have considering Romney for president. “He supports our values; he doesn’t worship our God.”
However, Romney plays down the difference between the mainstream Christianity and Mormonism. “There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ?” he said in a speech on December 6, 2007.
“My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths,” Romney said, adding, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.” Each religion, he said, has its own unique doctrines and history. “These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.”
Romney argued that requiring a presidential candidate to describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines “would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution.”
In his 2008 run for the Republican nomination, Romney was a close contender behind eventual nominee John McCain. During Romney’s campaign, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “Here is the bottom line. As an Evangelical Christian – a Christian who holds to the ‘traditional Christian orthodoxy’ of the Church – I do not believe that Mormonism leads to salvation.”
More recently, evangelical journalist Warren Cole Smith ignited debate when he said he could not vote for a Mormon because they hold to false teachings. Placing a Mormon in the White House "would serve to normalize the false teachings of Mormonism the world over," he said in a post on Patheos.com last month.
"As an evangelical Christian who believes that Mormonism is a false religion, I think it only makes sense that I would not want to be a part of any effort – either intentional or not – that would spread a false religion," Smith said.
Correction: Tuesday, July 19, 2011:
An article on Monday, July 18, 2011, about a Fox News co-host saying Mitt Romney is not a Christian incorrectly reported that an open letter being circulated addressed Romney's faith. The Christian Post confirmed with Gary Glenn, president of American Family Association of Michigan, that the letter solely addressed his public policy record on issues such as abortion and the homosexual agenda, and not his faith.