My friend Pete, who’s been reporting on politics for decades, can’t understand why evangelicals don’t like Romney. I’ve explained to him the deep antipathy evangelicals feel toward Mormons, but to him the groups seem more similar than different. How on earth could evangelicals support Gingrich, a serial adulterer and hypocrite, over Romney, a solid God-and-family man?
I’m not sure I understand it myself. I do know, however, that feelings about Mormons go deep. I predict that if Romney is the Republican nominee, a lot of evangelicals will stay home in November, and very few will campaign enthusiastically for him. As evangelicals comprise much if not most of the Republican base, that’s a major problem. Republicans know it; that’s why they keep flocking to the latest anybody-but-Romney candidate.
But why do evangelicals dislike Mormons so much? It has something to do with envy. Mormons violate all the rules of orthodox Christian theology, and yet they outperform evangelicals on practically every point.
–They are not only pro-marriage and pro-family, they actually have a record of staying married.
–They are squeaky clean on drugs and alcohol, while evangelicals broadcast their concern about addictive substances but have skeletons in every family closet.
–They witness to their faith. Every time evangelicals see those boys with white shirts and ties walking in pairs through their neighborhood, they feel guilty that they aren’t witnessing themselves.
Those are the main point, but there are other reasons for jealousy:
— Mormons don’t have professional clergy. (Evangelicals profess the priesthood of all believers, but in reality are ruled by preachers.)
-Mormons boast an actual tourist magnet in the Salt Lake City temple complex. (Evangelicals love Disney World and have tried unsuccessfully to launch a Christian theme park to match it.)
Add it all up, and the short-haired, clean-cut Mormon boy who goes on a two-year mission trip to Guatemala and comes home to marry his sweetheart, produce babies, and join his dad’s construction company, is the son every evangelical dreams of. They’re living our dream, despite their heretical beliefs. Most aggravating of all, they are nice.