The Republican Party’s candidate for President this year has produced a bumper crop of this question: “Can Christians vote for a Mormon?” The short answer is “yes” but I want to fill that out a bit more. First, the disclaimers:
Disclaimer #1) I am addressing this question generically, and not specifically implying that you should vote for one candidate over another. I am not concerned about who you vote for as much as I am about how you think about what voting means. The Middle-Eastern world where Imams tell their people whom to vote for is not a step forward for religious freedom.
Disclaimer #2) The teachings of Mormonism are not compatible with the biblical gospel. The Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of the New Testament, and Mormonism is essentially a works-righteousness way of relating to God. A person who believes what Mormons believe is alienated from God, and in need of the gospel. So don’t interpret anything I write below as compromising those basic truths.
With that said, here are three reasons why it is acceptable for Christians to vote for non-Christians for political office:
1) Much of what a candidate does is unrelated to religion. We have to grant that if two people are running for treasurer, let’s say, and one is a Christian who is a high school drop out, and the other is a Mormon with an accounting degree, the later would probably do a better job than the former. In that sense, voting is based on perceived competence to the task, and is not a validation of the religious beliefs of the candidate.
2) The government is not the church. Voting is not rendering your opinion on the eternal destiny of each candidate. In fact, the qualifications for a good businessman are not the same qualifications for an elder, or for church membership. Women can be in leadership in government, but not in the church. The church is entered through baptism, but not government. And, finally, partnering with someone in an election is not the same thing as partnering with them in the church. Paul’s admonition to not be “bound together” with an unbeliever is ecclesiastical, not political.
3) The best government is the one that promotes freedom. For conversion to Christ to be real, the gospel must be preached freely. Thus the best candidate is the one that will keep the peace while promoting religious freedom. If Christians are anything but hypocritical in their concept of religious freedom, we have to maintain that there is room for atheists, Mormons, etc., in the public square. Yesterday I argued that if given the choice between living under a deist’s democracy or a Christian’s dictatorship, the democracy is to be preferred…right up until the moment Christ returns.
What do you think? Can a Christian vote for a Mormon with a clear conscience? Let’s keep the comment thread on that topic–or on any points I missed above. Because I’m more interested in the religion than the politics, any comments about this particular election/candidates will be summarily deleted.