Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mitt Romney's Mormonism: Pastors Say Mormons Not Christians, But Defend Candidate Against Attacks

The debate over whether a largely Protestant nation is uneasy with a potential Mormon president was reignited this week after back-to-back attacks on Republican front-runner Mitt Romney's Mormonism at the high-profile Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C.

After prominent Texas megachurch pastor Rev. Robert Jeffress told audiences on Friday that Mormonism is a "cult" and conservative Christian activist Bryan Fischer took the stage the next day to echo similar views, a new survey released Saturday afternoon says that three out of four pastors agree, at the least, that Mormons are not Christians.

As part of a larger survey conducted by Nashville-based Lifeway Research a year ago, 1,000 pastors were polled from around the country who represented dozens of denominations. Results, originally scheduled to be released in the coming weeks, were put out early after reporters requested data because of attacks on Romney at the summit, said Ed Stetzer, president of the Southern Baptist-affiliated organization.

"The view that Mormons are not Christians is the widely and strongly held view among Protestant pastors. That does not mean they do not respect Mormons as persons, share their values on family and have much in common. Yet, they simply view Mormonism as a distinct religion outside of basic teachings of Christianity. Many of these pastors may know Mormons who consider themselves Christians, but Protestant pastors overwhelmingly do not consider them such," said Stetzer. "I know this is an unpleasant question to many, and one that some will use as a hammer on evangelicals."

Mormons do not believe in the traditional Christian Trinity of God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They also have scripture in addition the Bible, such as the Book of Mormon, and believe in prophets such as Joseph Smith, Jr., who founded the Latter Day Saint movement.

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