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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Rick Santorum Hopes Christian Voters Will Look Beyond Mormon Faith of Romney, Huntsman

June 13, 2011|2:30 pm

Social conservative Rick Santorum told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he hopes Christian voters can overlook Jon Huntsman's and Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.

Santorum, a devout Catholic, weighed in on the debate between evangelicals and Mormons during a Sunday television interview with moderator David Gregory.

Gregory asked the former Pennsylvania senator if Huntsman and Romney will have problems in the race as Mormons. Santorum answered, "I hope not."

He continued, "I hope that people will look at the qualities of candidates and look at what they believe and what they're for and look their records and then make a decision."

Santorum, a champion for social conservative issues, is the latest to weigh in on the contentious question, should Christians support a Mormon candidate for president.

Evangelical journalist Warren Cole Smith unequivocally says no. Last month, he wrote on Patheos.com "a vote for [Mitt] Romney is a vote for the LDS Church."

His writings drew outrage from Michael Otterson, head of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Otterson wrote back that Smith's argument that Mormons should not occupy the country's highest office is "unreasonable, un-Christian and untrue to American ideals."

Smith explained his standpoint saying that while evangelicals and Mormons may have similar stances on social issues, religious beliefs do matter in a presidential candidate.

"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," he reaffirmed in a follow-up interview with Patheos.com.

Poll numbers from the 2008 election cycle show that many evangelicals have shared Smith's view.

During his 2008 presidential bid, Romney's Mormon faith proved to be a hurdle among conservative Christian voters. A 2007 Pew poll showed that 41 percent of white evangelicals who went to church weekly said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon.

This year, however, Romney leads the other presidential candidates in the national polls. An early June Gallup poll showed that the former Massachusetts governor has 24 percent of Republican voters’ ballot support – eight percentage points above the other contenders.

Mark DeMoss – an evangelical whose public relations firm The DeMoss Group represents such influential evangelicals and groups as Franklin Graham, Chuck Colson, and Campus Crusade for Christ – supports Romney and is actively working in his campaign.

"I decided that it's more important for me that a candidate shares my values than it is [if] he or she shared my theology," he said.

DeMoss believes more evangelicals are going to change their perspectives on Mormon candidates during the 2012 race.

"I think more people, more evangelicals will get past [Romney's faith] in this election cycle than in the last election cycle," he commented.

Santorum said Sunday he hopes voters will overcome differences in a candidate's faith.

When it came to labeling Romney and Huntsman as “true conservatives,” however, Santorum questioned both their records.

"I think they've held positions in the past that have not been conservative and I think they have to account for those," he shared.

Both Romney and Huntsman are said to support health care mandates. Both have refuted this claim, saying they favor state-imposed, bottom-up solutions to health care reform rather that government mandates.

Huntsman, meanwhile, affirmed his support for civil unions Sunday on CNN's “Granite Slate.” Also, recently on CNN, Romney dodged a question by Piers Morgan on whether homosexuality is a sin.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/rick-santorum-hope-evangelicals-will-look-at-more-romney-huntsman-mormon-faith-51123/