There's a little controversy going on regarding Focus on the Family's online video voter guide ... and it involves Mitt Romney. Rather than explain it, read from Time magazine:
Last week, the political arm of James Dobson's Focus on the Family released an online video voter guide to help Christians sort through the "pro-family" records of the presidential candidates. The guide offers largely negative appraisals of Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mike Huckabee, and a far more glowing description of Mitt Romney.
But not everything the voter guide says about Romney is true. In one key part, Tom Minnery, a public policy expert at Focus on the Family, says the following:
"Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith, and I appreciate his acknowledging that."
On Saturday, I read this quote to Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's traveling press secretary. He did not hesitate or mince his words. "The governor has not made that acknowledgment," Fehrnstrom told me. "He has said that his belief is not the same as others. But there is no doubt that Jesus Christ is at the center of the LDS church's worship."
In fact, the Church (of Jesus Christ) of Latter Day Saints, also know as the Mormon church, holds as a central belief that it is a Christian faith. This belief is a concern for some evangelical Christians, who see Mormonism as a competing religion. On the campaign trail, Romney has avoided discussing his faith in depth, and he has acknowledged that there are differences between his faith and others. But he has not been quoted saying Mormonism is not a Christian faith.
"Now some people define 'Christianity' differently," Fehrnstrom continued. "Some people believe that 'Christianity' is a group of evangelical churches. Others believe that 'Christianity' is any church that follows the teaching of Jesus Christ, and that is what the LDS church believes." I asked Fehrnstrom if that was also what Romney believed. He said yes.
So what is Minnery talking about? On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Minnery "based his interpretation" of Romney's views on a December address on the role of religion in public life. In that speech, Romney said.
"There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history."
Minnery told the AP that he believes this means Romney does not believe he is a Christian, an interpretation that strains credulity. In the same AP article, Minnery said that he had spoken with the Romney campaign after posting the video, and that the campaign did not contest his views.
Look, Evangelicals and Mormons may never agree on this. I think the Mormon storyline has pretty much run its course. He's a Mormon. OK, we get it. If you feel uncomfortable with that, well, good luck to you. Vote against him if you must. But it really feels like the Mormon issue has run its course. He made the speech, (one that was viewed positively) and he's shown that he can attract Evangelicals across the country. Huckabee may have bested him in Iowa but Romney is proving he has staying power among Evangelicals.
At the end of the day, this primary is boiling down (at this point at least) to Romney's economic expertise vs. John McCain's foreign policy expertise. No wonder it's such a tight race between the two. The economy and the war are THE two big issues within Republican circles.