By all accounts, Mitt Romney is a whip-smart man of integrity with unique skills and qualities that would seem a perfect fit for the presidency. He is well liked and respected on both sides of the aisle and is widely considered a good man, but his potential bid for the presidency in 2008 just might force the GOP to deal with some major underlying tension between its devoted Mormon and evangelical bases.
Mormons overwhelmingly vote Republican, gave 95 percent of their vote to George W. Bush in the 2004 election and share the religious right’s goals concerning “traditional family values.” However, they soon may face some tough decisions about their political loyalties if their evangelical brothers choose to dismiss Romney principally because of his religious beliefs.
Most traditional religions reject the validity of Mormon baptisms, but few religions are as critical of the Latter-day Saint faith as evangelical and fundamentalist Christian groups. They have repeatedly labeled Mormonism as a “cult” and take every opportunity to deride the LDS church through written and widely distributed literature. Put most plainly, fundamentalist Christians, when not pandering to Mormons for votes against gay marriage, abortion and stem-cell research, do not believe that Mormons are Christian at all. Moreover they deem Mormonism a “false religion” and their members guilty of blasphemy.
According to an asked by the Atlantic Monthly whether he thought that Romney’s Mormonism would hurt him in a national campaign said it best, “The answer is no,” he said, “we’ve moved on. That died with my brother Jack.”