My voter’s card has an “R” on it, although I don’t always vote that way. One of the choices for President is a Mormon. As a Christian, I’m not sure how I feel about voting for someone who is Mormon. I know that some of our earlier president’s were deists, Quakers, etc. It is their policies which we are voting on. But, it wasn’t until fairly recently that the public knew what the religion of the candidates were. Most of the population didn’t know what religion George Washington was, or Truman, Nixon, etc. Now we do. A friend says that just because he is Mormon does not mean he will change policy based on his religion. But how do we know that for sure? I know he has to go through congress and such, but his religion can effect his decisions. The majority of Germans had no idea Adolf Hitler was going to turn out the way he did. As a Christian, I will be judged on everythig I have done. Good and bad. Will I be judged for voting for someone who is Mormon?
By coincidence, I finished writing a book on Mormonism this past summer. It will be published in October by IPI Books (www.ipibooks.com) As part of this book, I have a really short section in which I ask and try to answer the question; “Should I vote for a Mormon?” Here is the answer I give in the book: (see below for a couple of other comments/reflections on your question)
Should I vote for a Mormon?
As I write this, the presumptive candidate for the Republican nomination to the presidency of the United States is a Mormon. Should a Christian be willing to vote for a Mormon? Those who do not live in the United States may never face this dilemma. It certainly is not my place to tell anyone how they should vote. Still, one might ask, “Could anyone who accepts the seemingly irrational claims of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon be a good president, where the ability to think rationally is a requirement?” This seems a legitimate question.
Political ideology aside, many Mormons have served admirably in the United States Government. Harry Reid is the current United States Senate Majority Leader and is a Democrat. Orrin Hatch is one of the most powerful and respected US Senators and is a Republican. Brent Scowcroft served admirably under Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush as the head of National Security. Mormons politicians have tended to be moderate in their leanings. Bill Marriott is the Chairman and CEO of one of the most respected corporations in the world. It is a little-known fact that the CIA has gone out of its way to recruit Mormons in their organization. Why is that? The reason is that those raised in Mormon communities share a few qualities valuable to the intelligence industry. Mormons have learned to be discreet. We will discuss their policy of “milk before meat” below. Mormons are trained early to answer questions carefully. They are willing to hold back certain kinds of information in order to affect the thinking of those with whom they speak (Gentiles). Another common characteristic of Mormons is that they are generally scrupulously honest in their dealings with one another and with outsiders. They are extremely difficult to corrupt. It is not without reason that the Latter-day Saints have a reputation for hard work. Mormons accept a view of the history of the Americas which cannot be supported by evidence. We might conclude that they are easily duped and not well educated. This is simplynot the case. As a whole, Mormons have traditionally strongly supported education. A disproportionate number of Mormons complete a college education and pursue professional careers.
Should a Christian be willing to vote for a Mormon? The qualities described are ones which are excellent qualifications for a leader of any political stripe. Who a Christian ought to vote for is a matter of personal choice, but being a Mormon does not disqualify a person from public office. We could even argue that, to the extent the stereotypes above apply, it is a net positive.
Let me make a couple of other comments. You say that in former times people did not know the religion of the presidential candidates. You should not assume that people were less aware then than now. Occasionally, the religious thinking of candidates has been an issue and usually it has not. It may be true that people did not know the religious affiliation of Richard Nixon, but they knew that it was some sort of mainstream Protestant ( I am assuming Quaker is mainstream Protestant), so that the particular flavor did not really matter. Using an example from the 1820s. Andrew Jackson’s openness to Masonic religious thinking was a serious issue during his election. Generally, Americans have not worried about voting for Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, Congregationalists, and other fairly mainstream Protestant groups. Most people do not know the religious affiliation of Barack Obama, because it is mainstream Protestant. (Let’s not even talk about the people who think he is a Muslim!) On the other hand, Nixon’s opponent in 1960 was John F. Kennedy. EVERYONE knew his religious affiliation (Roman Catholic) because it was an issue in 1960. You should not assume that noone knew that Jefferson was a deist. Whether or not Washington was a deist is a bit debatable, although most who study this question would say he probably was. One’s religious affiliation was, in general, a bigger deal in the earliest part of our country’s history than it is today. Hamilton probably could not have been elected president because he was 1/2 Jewish and most people knew this. It is extremely doubtful that a Roman Catholic could have been elected in the first hundred years of our history. Just so you know, Washington, despite his “deism” was a member of the Anglican Church most of his life, was a vertryman and warden of a local Anglical Church. People were aware that Jefferson was not a mainstream, traditional member of a Protestant denomination. He was a Unitarian, which was not particularly mainstream in 1800. This was a “deist” sect. That was not exactly a secret. Apparently that did not prevent people from voting from him, or at least not enough to prevent his being elected.
Anyway, none of this is particularly relevant to your question. You say “I will be judged on everything I have done.” This implies that you might be “judged” for voting for a Mormon. This is to assume that it might be a sin to vote for a Mormon. This is over the top in my opinion. Even if someone had the opinion that a Christian should not vote for a Mormon (I disagree with this opinion, but…), to say that it would literally be a sin to vote for a Mormon (rather than merely inadvisable) is a huge stretch, to say the least. What scripture could one use to prove this? At the most, it is an opinion that one should not vote for a Mormon, and a debatable one at that. Surely no Christian would say it is literally a sin, which could send us to hell, to vote for a Mormon. Wow! Or if they did so, they would be wrong. So, to the extent that this is an issue, it is a debatable matter of opinion on what is best to do, but it certainly is not a sin issue. Some people say it is a sin to vote for a Democrat who supports the right to choose abortion. Others say it is a sin to vote for a Republican because they only help the rich and ignore the poor and needy. These people are wrong that it is a sin to vote for a Democrat or for a Republican. Period. End of story. If an individual chooses one or the other issue to help them decide how to vote, so be it, but it is divisive and just plain wrong to label either decision a sin.
I am not sure why you mention Adolf Hitler. Surely you are not comparing Mitt Romney to Hitler. By the way, Germans were well aware that Hitler was a rabid anti-Semite when they voted for him. In any case, his main problem was not religious affiliation but a set of serious character flaws. As far as I know, Mitt Romney does not have any serious character flaws.
Christians should decide for themselves who to vote for. If they want to factor in Romney’s religion, that is their personal choice, but we should let people decide for themselves what to do and should not announce the official Christian answer. For me, personally, his religious beliefs is a relatively minor part of how I will choose.