COMMENTARY | One of the more strange and pernicious urban myths circulated among conservatives is that President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim. No amount of church-going or Christian-affirming remarks seem to make a dent in that certain segment of the population that believes the former senator from Illinois is a follower of Islam.
But many conservatives face the possibility that their political party's nominee is not a Christian, either. A good portion of evangelical Christians view Mormonism, Mitt Romney's religious affiliation, as a cult. So one would think there would be a bit of indecision among conservative Christian voters as to who to support and/or vote for -- but one would be incorrect.
According to Huffington Post, although their response to Romney being the presumptive GOP candidate for president is mixed and less than excited, most conservative Christians -- at least those attending The Awakening conference in Florida over the weekend -- attest that they will grudgingly vote for Romney. Why? Simply because he's not Obama.
A biker and preacher who ministers to prisoners said he teaches that Mormons aren't Christians but he would vote for Romney because he's "better than voting for a Muslim."
Several others told the Post that they were setting aside their personal reservations about Mormonism just to make certain Obama does not get reelected.
Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, the co-sponsor of the conservative Christian event, said that it was more important to elect a president who would put conservatives on the Supreme Court bench should the need arise. He said voting for Obama was not an option but noted that Romney benefited from his position and his willingness to do what it took to make certain Obama was not reelected, regardless of his lack of enthusiasm for the Republican candidate.
Although it has been awhile since the last poll gauging Americans' thoughts concerning Obama's religion, the trend -- as reflected in a 2010 Pew Research poll -- was toward more thinking he was Muslim as opposed to being a Christian. In March 2009, 48 percent of Americans thought the president was Christian, with only 11 percent convinced he was Muslim. Nearly 18 months later, only 34 percent of the respondents felt Obama was Christian; 18 percent believed him Muslim.
It may be even worse now. Public Policy Polling surveys taken in Alabama and Mississippi at the time of the state primaries found that 45 and 52 percent of respondents, respectively, thought the president was Muslim. Only 14 and 12 percent, again respectively, thought Obama was Christian.
As for the misgivings many Christians have for Mormons and their not-quite-aligned-to-Christianity teachings, where many evangelical Christians believe that Mormonism is a cult, the last poll (Gallup) taken regarding the subject of a Mormon presidential candidate indicated that 18 percent of Republicans would not vote for the party's nominee. Another 19 percent of independent voters would not support a Mormon, either. Still, the vast majority would.
And that could become the difference in the 2012 presidential race. As the campaigns turn to the economy, jobs, foreign policy and health care, there will also be a largely unspoken issue at play. For some, it will not matter what the religion of the candidate happens to be. For others, it matters and will prompt them to vote for someone not of their particular political preference or to not vote at all. And for still another contingent, the religion of the candidate matters but defeating the opponent of their ideology matters even more.
For the most part, Christian conservatives seem to pre-dominate the latter categorization of voters. They may not be too happy with Mitt Romney as the GOP choice for president. His politics may be a little too liberal for their liking. And he might be a Mormon. But he's not a Muslim. He's not Obama. And that's all that matters.
- Politics & Government
- Mitt Romney
- President Barack Obama