- (Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)
Pastor Steven Andrews, president of USA Christian Ministries, an organization of pastors who focus some of their teachings on advising Christians how to vote, has released a statement warning believers that electing Mitt Romney to the presidency will be "God's Judgment on the US."
The former Massachusetts governor scored two important GOP primary victories on Tuesday night in Arizona and in Michigan, where he was born and raised. He won the primary in the state where his father was a three-term governor by a thin margin, with Rick Santorum trailing by about three percent of the votes.
With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting in Michigan, Romney had 41.1 percent of the votes while Santorum had 37.9 percent. "We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough and that's all that counts," Romney told his supporters in suburban Detroit.
Pastors such as Andrews, however, are refusing to accept Romney's Mormon beliefs as part of mainstream Christianity, and issued a stern warning to Americans about voting for Romney as the next United States president.
"God says it is sin for a Christian to vote for Mitt Romney because Mormons preach a different gospel. Romney as president would be God's judgment. Jesus is God eternal, but Mormons think Jesus is a created being, the spirit brother of Lucifer (Galatians 1:9)," the pastor explained.
"Our sins are the 'root' issue for economic decline, weaker national security and freedoms lost-and some want one more sin by voting for a Mormon because they are afraid of Obama? Americans are to fear God, not Obama," Andrews added.
Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), has focused his campaign more on his policies and his record than on his religion. Mormonism, however, is still considered a non-mainstream belief by many Christians in the country, with some, like Robert Jeffress, the evangelical senior pastor of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, even calling it a cult and asking people not to vote for Romney based on his involvement with the LDS Church.
Some of America's biggest megachurch pastors, however, have defended Romney's faith and said that he is a Christian, even if Mormonism differs from most mainstream Christian denominations.
Evangelical minster Franklin Graham told CBN: "Yes, the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon doesn't bother me at all," while Joel Osteen, senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, insisted: "What I see about Gov. Romney is that he says 'I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He's raised from the dead and he's my savior.' I see him as being a believer in Christ like me."
"There's differences in all religion. I realize that Mormonism is different from Christianity, but you know what, he's a man of faith and values. And to me that's strong," Osteen added.
There is some debate concerning if, or how, Mormonism will benefit if Romney secures the GOP nomination and even wins the presidency in the 2012 election. As historians have noted, Christianity itself progressed from being labeled a "cult" in the time of the Roman Empire to become one of the leading religions on the planet today. Some observers have suggested that Americans embracing Romney contributes to the "evolution" of Mormonism into mainstream status in the U.S.