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by Dr. Myke Crowder
01/21/08 2008


By Rev. Dr. Myke D. Crowder

December 27, 2007

How can an evangelical vote for a Mormon?  Media organizations and pollsters have fixated on this question for much of this year, thanks to the presidential candidacy of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.  So let me give my answer and then explain.

As a minister with the Evangelical Church Alliance, America’s oldest association of evangelical clergy, I will cast my vote for Mitt Romney with full confidence in both his character and ability to lead our nation in the direction I believe we evangelicals can be comfortable with.  Nothing rare here; I am hardly the first evangelical to voice support for this Mormon candidate for the highest office in the land.

What might set me apart from most of my evangelical colleagues is this: I have spent the past two decades serving as a pastor just 18 miles north of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City.  I know a thing or two about voting for Mormons, as there is only rarely an alternative in this state which serves as world headquarters to the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints (LDS).  Above all I have learned and confirmed that their values mirror ours as evangelicals, and voting for elected officials is more about values, character and policy than it is about religious affiliation.  As syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, himself an evangelical, has written, “I care less where my ambulance driver attends church than that he knows the quickest way to the hospital.”

Mormons account for 62 percent of the 2.5 million people living in Utah and hold virtually every elected office in the state.  While some of my fellow evangelicals across the country have noted they could not vote for a Mormon, I have only voted this way for 21 years and have appreciated their conservative ideologies and policies as well as their strong commitment to the family values I hold dear.  Perhaps this explains why Utahans are less likely than average Americans to smoke, abuse drugs, die of cancer, or give birth as a teenager.  These are values evangelicals generally applaud, and attempt to model under an evangelical worldview.  Our fight as evangelicals in the political arena is not against Mormons, who generally line up with our moral and social values and preferred policies, but with political and religious liberals who generally want to cleanse the public square of all faith and morality.  In the battle for the traditional family in America, Mormons have been our friends for decades, not our enemies. 

Furthermore, despite fundamental doctrinal differences, Mormons have not been anti-evangelical (something that cannot be said even of all Southern Baptists), but have been very supportive of our ministry right here in their back yard.  Our church has grown from 50 people to 2,600, and 700 students are enrolled in our Layton Christian Academy.

The way some evangelical pastors talk about Mormons suggests they not only couldn’t vote for one; they couldn’t accept a call to a pulpit in Utah because of their disdain for this religion.  What a shame!  How do we expect non-evangelicals to vote for “one of our own” when we can’t exercise the same kind of intellectually-thoughtful support across the theological aisle?  The “born again” Jimmy Carter wasn’t elected by evangelicals alone and neither will Mike Huckabee or anyone else be.  Expecting what we won’t practice ourselves seems to me to smack of hypocrisy.

Some worry a Mormon administration would not be friendly to evangelicals.  Wrong.  It was the city bishops who allowed us to use their gymnasiums when we were starting a Christian school and didn’t have such facilities yet.  Elected Mormons like Senator Orrin Hatch, Rep. Rob Bishop, former governors Norm Bangerter and Mike Levett have all attended our church services and shared genuine enthusiasm for our ministries here.  Their records of public service would make evangelicals proud in any state.  In fact, contrary to some perceptions, the evangelical community in Utah has experienced tremendous growth while LDS membership has declined slightly.

Voting for a Mormon does not validate the Mormon religion any more than a vote for John F. Kennedy validated the Catholic Church or a vote for Bill Clinton was an endorsement of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Yet, what if tens of millions of non-evangelical Americans increasingly decided, “I would never vote for an evangelical; those people are narrow-minded hypocrites!”  In other words, this primarily theological test works both ways and evangelicals may find ourselves on the short end of this analysis more often than we may already be.

This is precisely why we must evaluate candidates for public office, and especially for president, not on the basis of their church attendance, but on character, integrity, values, their public life and private behavior, their families and their vision for our country.  So, while an evangelical pastor and a Mormon businessman-governor-presidential candidate may seem like strange bedfellows, I assure you, we are political and values soul mates.


Rev. Dr. Myke D. Crowder is Senior Pastor at Christian Life Center in Layton, Utah, and a member of the executive council for the National Clergy Council in Washington, DC.

© 2008 Faith And Action

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