Joel Osteen the Texas pastor of the church the media likes to call the largest church in American history has been asked recently what he thinks of Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. On CNN the other day he said Mormons and Christians are brothers in Christ. He said he had no reason to believe Mitt Romney is not a Christian. I am not sure Romney has ever claimed to be a Christian. I have heard him say Mormonism is another faith, or another religion and he believes we need to be tolerant of persons of diverse faith backgrounds. That seems more accurate than Osteen's comments.
We will be hearing a lot more about Mormonism now that Romney looks to be the Republican presidential candidate. Most people have not given Mormonism much thought up to now. They may know some Mormons. Mormons are good folk. They are as pro-family as one can get. They don't drink alcohol or caffeine and they don't smoke. They all go to BYU which has become a football power. And last year one of their best basketball players was suspended from their NCAA tournament bound team for "premarital sex". And that doesn't happen in many universities. Most people know about the young men in dark suits who knock on their doors to talk about Mormonism, too. But, Is Mormonism Christian? Will Christians vote for a Mormon for president? I can answer the first question but I don't know about the second one.
In the popular mind, Mormons have crossed over to the Christian mainstream. Many people just lump them right in there with all the other Christian denominations. But, funny thing is, Mormons don't. They want to convert Christians to Mormonism. In fact, Mormonism grows best in a Christian environment. Mormonism believes it is the true church of Christ. They are the true "Christians". After the apostles died the Church disappeared with them. It was rediscovered by Joseph Smith near Palmyra, NY in the 1800's. So all current Christians are impostors and fakes. Mormons talk a lot about Jesus Christ. They profess faith in him. They call him their savior. But, their doctrine is far different from the orthodox, historic Christian faith. Richard John Neuhaus in an article entitled, Is Mormonism Christian?, in First Things (March 2000) says, LDS teaching adds to, deviates from, or starkly opposes the Apostles Creed article by article. Mormon belief is startlingly different from orthodox Christian belief. For Mormons, God is an exalted man no different in kind from you and me. The world was not created out of nothing but organized out of what was there. They don't believe in original sin. In fact, the "sin" in the garden of Eden was actually a bold first step toward becoming who God is. Mormons teach a plurality of gods with God being like the number one. They do not believe in the Trinity or the deity of Christ. So, it would hard to say that Mormons and Christians are brothers in Christ. Mormons are the newest religion in America dating from Joseph Smith who put it together out of a variety of spiritual beliefs along with a good dose of Masonic ritual in the early 1800's. It all came together for him when God gave him the golden tablets written in a mysterious language and told him to go forth and reconstitute the true church.
There are many good things to admire in modern day Mormonism. There are many good, decent American citizens who are Mormon. One has been a governor of Massachusetts and is running for President. We have had Presidents of many different faiths and even no faith. Thomas Jefferson had no use for organized religion, did not believe in the miracles of Jesus including the Resurrection and he made his own Bible to suit his personal beliefs. I am sure there will be people who will not vote for Romney because he is Mormon. Most people will vote for who they think the best leader of our country would be for the next four years. Neuhaus concluded his article this way: "...we owe to Mormon Americans respect for their human dignity, protection of their religious freedom, readiness for friendship, openness to honest dialogue, and an eagerness to join hands in social and cultural tasks that advance the common good...."
Book recommendation: Mormon America: Power and Promise (rev. ed) by Richard and Joan Ostling