Does theology matter in a political campaign? I ask anyone who thinks it doesn't: would you vote for a Satanist? No? Not even if otherwise he were the perfect candidate, the second coming of Ronald Reagan himself?
If you would, then please disregard the rest of this letter, because you and I have nothing in common. But if you would not, then congratulations, we have just demonstrated that a candidate's theology is important. Now, it's only a question of where to draw the line. Regarding Mr. Romney specifically, the question becomes, is he on our side of the line, or not?
I disagree with your correspondent K. that it's an easy question to answer. He answered it by labeling the proposition that Mormonism is not Christian as an "ignorant, bigoted lie." Well, K., you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Whatever one thinks about the wisdom of voting for a Mormon, the fact remains that Christianity and Mormonism are two distinct religions.
There is more to being a Christian than sharing the nomenclature. What unites every Christian denomination, from high Roman Catholic to humble backwater Baptist, is a belief in the Holy Trinity -- One God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Heresy, on the other hand, always reveals itself by denying the Trinity; Mormons simply do not believe in it (though they are not forthcoming about that fact). They believe God the Father and Jesus the Son are distinct and separate beings. Furthermore, Mormons believe there are many gods, perhaps millions of them -- every faithful Mormon some day hopes to become a God of his own world. Mormons teach, "As man is, God once was; as God is, man shall become." In the Mormon cosmos, our own local holder of the "God franchise" originated as a mortal man whose faithfulness was rewarded as he became lord of this planet. This contradicts not only the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, but also the Judeo-Christian concept that God is eternal and unchanging.
What all this means is that when Mormons say they believe in God and in Jesus, they mean something completely different than what Christians mean.
Believe me, Mormons perceive the gulf between the two religions -- but it's generally considered rude when Christians notice the same thing. Well. If you think Christians are sometimes harsh toward Mormonism, you ought to read what Mormons think of Christianity. Please follow the link and read for yourself a passage from Joseph Smith's own writings, posted at the LDS website. Smith communicates quite clearly that all the other Christian sects are an "abomination," and that all those involved in preaching it are corrupt. Like K., they are certainly entitled to their opinion. But if Mormons think Christianity is an abomination, why can't Christians at least think Mormonism is mistaken? Is the distance between A and B somehow greater than the distance between B and A?
Religious conservatives like me aren't looking for an excuse to vote against Romney. It's the other way around; we're trying to figure out how we can vote for Romney, and we have to work this out. But don't bother coming at us and calling us names because we seem reluctant to park our consciences outside the voting booth. Conservative Christians have been more faithful to conservative policies and values than an awful lot of Republicans, including one George W. Bush -- who even now is concocting a harebrained scheme for ruining the mortgage market, in a move worthy to be included in any list of worst stupid liberal tricks.
The bottom line is that God is in charge, and the Republicans only want to be. The Old Testament makes it clear that the kings of Israel and Judea who pleased God were successful, while those who worshiped false gods brought curses upon their people. If we are faithful to God, He will not fail His people. Republicans, even the non-Mormon ones, have been known to do just that.