WASHINGTON Four Christian evangelicals have a mission to convince skeptics that while Mitt Romney may be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he should still be their pick for president in the 2008 election.
Writers of the blog EvangelicalsforMitt.org go into great detail about Romney's political career and why he should be the no-brainer choice for "people of faith" in the next election.
"We are looking for a president, not a pastor or a priest," said David French, one of the site's co-founders. He said he may not agree with all tenets of Mormonism, but that's not what matters for the presidency.
The blog is but one piece of evidence that a Romney candidacy could bring a religious undertone to the next presidential race.
As some pundits discuss whether America is ready for a woman president, should Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., run, or a black president with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the Republicans' Christian base will ponder if they should try to put a Mormon in the White House.
French said there is "not a glimmer of daylight" between Romney and evangelical Christians on issues such as family, abortion, gay marriage and having a firm belief in religion. The doctrinal differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity, such as acceptance of the Book of Mormon as scripture comparable to the Bible, do not belong in the presidential arena, he said.
Nancy French, David's wife and a co-founder of the blog, said Romney is not a "one-note social conservative" who is just against abortion or gay marriage. She said his faith shows that he is not pandering but has a deeply held belief on issues that matches that of evangelicals.
Evangelical Christians do not belong to a single denomination; rather, the term is used to define a cross-section of Christians from a variety of Protestant churches. David French defines evangelicals as those who believe the Bible is flawless, the true word of God, which should be read and applied to daily life.
He said an evangelical will think about what the words of the Bible mean, rather than if the words in the Bible are true.
"So much of it comes down to what you believe about the Bible," French said, which can make it hard for evangelicals to vote for a candidate who follows the Book of Mormon as well.
In the Articles of Faith, an LDS statement of primary beliefs, the Bible is accepted as the word of God, insofar as it "is translated correctly." The Bible is one of four books of scripture accepted by the church as its set of "standard works."
The blog's editors highlight the similarities between Romney's stated positions and their own beliefs.
"Funny that the LDS candidate has had the fewest wives," David French said a reference to the early practice of polygamy in the LDS Church. The practice was banned by the church in 1890.
French pointed to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's very-public divorce from former wife Donna Hanover and his first marriage, which was annulled. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is now married, but his first marriage also ended in divorce. Evangelicals have a heavy emphasis on marriage and family and discourage divorce, as does the LDS faith.
David French noted that any article on Romney will point out he is a Mormon, while other Republican presidential contenders are seldom identified with their religious affiliation.
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