Press-Republican

On Religion

May 21, 2012

Romney faces the Moral Majority

When the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979, many fundamentalist pastors were appalled by his decision to wade into the muck of politics.

Even more shocking, Falwell said this would be an interfaith project from the get-go, one open to conservatives in many flocks -- including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The goal was to focus on the moral convictions that united believers in different faiths, not the scriptures, creeds and theology that separated them.

Clearly, Mitt Romney or a campaign staffer did his history homework before the candidate arrived at Liberty University to embrace the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr., and address the class of 2012, as well as -- via mass media -- millions of conservative Christians who have shunned him, or worse.

"People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology," said Romney, in an address that included many references to faith and family. "Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview."

Over in the faculty section, this "people of different faiths" passage hit home for the well-known author and Christian apologist Gary Habermas, who has taught at Liberty for 31 years and currently leads its philosophy department.

"I'm surprised that he said that, that he chose that combination of words," said Habermas. "You see, he's not really talking to our people, alone. He's talking to the whole Southern evangelical presence that he needs at the polls this fall. He knows they need to hear from him on this issue."

In particular, it was significant that Romney acknowledged that some theological disputes are so basic -- such as disagreements about the nature of God -- that the creeds of ancient Christianity divide Mormons from Trinitarian Christians.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
On Religion
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg World Vision wars 2014, and the future

    It's getting harder to work with broad coalitions when culture wars keep rocking churches, writes religion columnist, Terry Mattingly.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Death of an orthodox missionary -- in America

    Metropolitan Philip, leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Christians in North America, was a fierce advocate of Orthodox unity in the U.S., writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Praying for better journalism at the New York Times

    Bringing fair, informed religious viewpoints into the New York Times newsroom environment can be a challenge, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Yet another online rant about Lent

    Small sacrifices add up, and they can help believers focus on bigger questions says a former nun, writes religion columnist, Terry Mattingly.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg The evolving state of Mormon heaven

    Mormon leaders attempt to reframe the faith's longheld doctrine of "exaltation," the belief that truly devout Mormons can rise to godhood and even create new worlds, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly..

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg The pope and the Pentecostal smartphone

    In a call for Christian unity, Pope Francis addressed a crowd of Pentecostal Protestants with a surprising request ... and received a surprising response, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    February 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg God and millenials: it's complicated

    Nomad faith is now the American way, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    February 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Obama on religious freedom -- overseas

    The president's defense of religious freedom doesn't square with his administration's policies on mandating health-insurance coverage of sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    February 14, 2014 1 Photo