This I Believe

Andrew - Jackson, Tennessee
Entered on December 18, 2007


I need to be careful expressing my religious beliefs in this Presidential election.

It would be easy for me to join in the ’08 fight. I see a lot of fellow Evangelicals giving Mitt Romney grief over his religion. Some say it’s the only reason they’ll vote against him.

I believe my unfair treatment of Mitt Romney could justify how some might one day object to me as a candidate because my denomination. As an Evangelical, I don’t want to be labeled as an unacceptable ingredient in the political mix. To be ‘salt’, as the Bible instructs me, I have to be IN the recipe.

I am worried a religious food fight this election could make voters throw me out with the bathwater. Muslims, Baptists, Later Day Saints, could all be lumped into a group labeled as irrational sectarians if we don’t watch how we react to one another. I sense that could be happening to me.

I’m increasingly thoughtful that how, when and where I say what I say is as important as what it is I’m yelling. I believe if I must oppose a religious doctrine, I should do so at my church with kind outreach and not trite insults at the polls. I might still oppose Romney the man at the polls for his policies, but not for his religion. I don’t want to mingle religion and politics.

I believe I should vote for a person’s policy, not their theology alone. Theology informs character and, thus, policy. But, theology is only one measure of a person’s character. Even as the most important measure, I think one’s particular belief should not be the only measure.

I also believe vocalizing the view that a candidate is unilaterally disqualified from serving as President on the basis of ‘denomination’, popularly viewed as a bigoted criterion, may reflect poorly on the cause of Christ. I don’t want that, but I find it’s easy to slip into.

Most don’t understand or care about my sectarian differences with the LDS. I wonder if there are other religions claiming to be Christian that Evangelicals should oppose at the polls? If so, who will compile this list and how often will it be updated for me? Who is the Evangelical Ayatollah? Who are my Protestant Mullahs?

Once rejection solely based upon religious affiliation becomes an accepted political criterion, will all people of faith be at greater risk? Will I? I think so.

I certainly don’t want “Evangelical” to become the Western equivalent of “Jihadist”. I feel a growing implication anyone who ‘believes’ exhibits poor judgment and is kind’a kooky. I am beginning to think unless I stand for all strains of belief, I’m at increasing risk.

Is all of this hubbub particularly smart PR for us Evangelicals?

I think we Evangelicals must ensure all our words and actions always reflect positively upon our belief. I believe I have to look at the bigger faith picture and how others see it this political season.