Romney Flaunts Faith Among South Carolina Evangelicals

Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is portraying himself as a “man of deep and abiding faith” in a new mailer in the evangelical-heavy state of South Carolina, which holds its primary on Jan. 21.

“A man of deep and abiding faith, Mitt has been in the same church his entire life,” reads the mailer landing in South Carolina mailboxes.

“He has a sense of purpose, a belief that integrity and honesty matter, and a drive to serve others and make a difference,” says the mailer being sent by former Massachusetts Gov. Romney’s campaign in an attempt to win over 60 percent of the state’s Republicans that are evangelical or “born again” Christians.

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The glossy fold-out literature, titled “Meet Mitt ... Faith. Family. Country,” quotes the presidential hopeful as saying, “If I’m President of the United States, I will be true to my family, my faith, and our country, and I will never apologize for the United States of America.” It also claims that Romney is committed to conservative issues, as he is “pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family.”

South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, a Romney supporter, believes his Mormon faith will not be an issue in her state. “You’re talking to someone who was just elected in South Carolina as a 38-year-old Indian female,” Haley was quoted as saying after ABC’s GOP primary debate Saturday. “Don’t think that’s [Romney’s Mormon faith] a problem.”

Romney’s projection of his faith comes days after one of his advisers told The Huffington Post before the Iowa caucuses that his percentage of the vote would be “held down to some degree by the Mormon factor. It’s just a fact of life that we know we have to deal with.”

He won the Iowa caucus by just eight votes, but is leading in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on Tuesday. According to the Suffolk University’s poll released Friday, Romney is leading with 40 percent, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 17 percent. The poll shows former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum having the support of only 11 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stands at nine percent, Jon Huntsman at eight percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry at just one percent.

A CNN/TIME/ORC poll of likely South Carolina Republican voters released Friday also shows Romney leading with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Santorum at 19 percent and Gingrich at 18 percent.

Romney’s faith became a big issue after Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, called Mormonism a “cult” in early October. In the following months, some Christian leaders supported Jeffress’ view while others said Romney’s faith should not be a factor with voters.

Most evangelicals, whether they think Romney's faith should be a consideration in their vote or not, are deeply suspicious of his faith. Mormons reject one of Christianity’s central tenets – the Trinity, the belief in one God in three Persons. They also believe Joseph Smith Jr. is the first latter-day prophet who restored the original Christian church in the 19th century in America. They believe the entire structure of Christian orthodoxy affirmed by the post-apostolic church is corrupt and false. Additionally, Latter-day Saints are often criticized for their belief in “divine” books of scripture, aside from the Bible, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

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