Conservative Christian and one-time Republican presidential hopeful Pat Robertson appears to have gone back on his word that he would not be endorsing a candidate for the 2012 presidency, as indicated by his response to viewers of his Christian program who have expressed concerns about possibly having Mitt Romney, a Mormon, in the executive office next year.
Robertson, speaking during "The 700 Club" produced by his Christian Broadcasting Network, addressed the numerous questions asked by viewers related to former Pennsylvania Senator and devout Roman Catholic Rick Santorum withdrawing from the GOP race, leaving room for the advancement of Romney, the projected party nominee.
The CBN founder and chairman, who said in January that he believed God had revealed to him in prayer who the next president of the United States would be, said on the widely-aired program Wednesday that Romney would indeed be the likely GOP candidate to face President Barack Obama at the polls in November.
"Well, his father George was a Mormon. He was governor of Michigan, did a superb job as governor. He's not running for Chief Rabbi or Chief American Pastor. He's running for Chief Executive, and he's a skilled lawyer, he's a skilled businessman. And that's what we need... somebody would bring business acumen to the White House," Robertson told viewers Wednesday.
He continued, "I can't imagine that he's going to interject the Mormon religion into the way he governs. He might, but I would sincerely doubt it. That's the concern, but I think the biggest concern right now is the fact that this country is going bankrupt if we don't do something about the terrible federal deficits.
"I believe [we] now have a clear-cut choice between somebody who has no plan and between somebody who has a very detailed plan."
Despite insisting in October of last year that he would not endorse a candidate and had "backed off from direct political involvement," Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, now seems to be in full support of Romney being the GOP nominee and the nation's 45th president, whom he also called in January a "fine Christian,"
Romney, a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose family has deep roots in the church, has been a point of contention for many evangelical Christians who are wary of Mormonism -- which some insist is just another branch of Christianity while others view it as a cult due to its unorthodox, or "exotic beliefs," (LAND http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/11/evangelical-leader-mormonism-will-become-a-bigger-issue-for-romney/) doctrines regarding the Trinity ....
The Pew Research Center published a poll last summer that revealed only 34 percent of white evangelicals would avoid voting for a Mormon candidate. The same poll revealed that 25 percent of all Americans were less likely to do so.
In addition to Robertson and Land, who seem to have shifted their support from social conservative Santorum to Romney, is Dr. Robert Jeffress, the evangelical pastor of First Baptist Dallas.
Although Jeffress has not publicly endorsed Romney he did say in October that despite believing Mormonism to be a cult and the former Massachusetts governor is not a Christian, ultimately, he would "hold his nose" and vote for the Mormon candidate -- whom he views as "a good, moral person."
"Evangelical Christians should not vote for Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon, therefore not a real Christian," Jeffress said at the time, after announcing his support for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But he also insisted that America had 'a spiritual imperative" to unseat President Obama due to his "pro-abortion, pro-homosexual" stances.
During his Wednesday comment, Robertson did not express any certainty that Romney, who overwhelmingly overshadowed remaining GOP hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul in the Washington, D.C., primary, would be the next president.
In January during CBN's "New Year Prayer 2012," the conservative Christian broadcaster revealed that he had spent a week in prayer."
"I think He (God) showed me the next president, but I'm not supposed to talk about that so I'll leave you in the dark," Robertson said.
Despite Robertson's assurance that it was unlikely Romney's faith would play a part in his presidential decisions, some CBN viewers remained unconvinced, reflecting the national debate that is likely to continue through November and beyond.
Dr. Land suggests that the Massachusetts governor focus on traditional marriage, pro-life issues, and support for Israel t win over wavering evangelical voters.
The SBC Ethics... noted, however, that Romney will likely face increased attacks in the media for his faith.