Political analysts generally refer to the late summer as "the silly season", because political reporters tend to fill the dead space when politicians go on vacation with non-stories. In the era of 24-hour news cycles, however, the silly season really never ends.
As Exhibit A, I present this Associated Press story via the Boston Herald: "Cain, Bachmann refuse to say whether Romney is a Christian."
Seriously? This is what is called "invented news". How is this relevant to who should be President of the United States in 2012?
The fact that orthodox Christians consider Mormonism to be a non-Christian religion is hardly breaking news. Mormons reject the trinity and embrace a form of polytheism known as henotheism, which is to say they claim to worship one God while accepting that others exist. They believe that the God they worship was once a man, and that Satan and Jesus were both his children (and were therefore brothers). In the words of RC Sproul:
Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that the New Testament does not teach the deity of Christ; rather, they argue it teaches He is the exalted firstborn of all creation. They say He is the first creature made by God, who then is given superior power and authority over the rest of creation. Though Jesus is lifted up in such Christology, it still falls far short of Christian orthodoxy, which confesses the deity of Christ ... The way in which this identity is denied by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cultists is by substituting the indefinite article in the text, rendering it that the Logos [of John 1:1] was “a god.” In order to wrest this interpretation from the text, one must have a prior affirmation of some form of polytheism. Such polytheism is utterly foreign to Judeo-Christian theology, where deity is understood in monotheistic terms.In short, the Jesus of Mormonism is fundamentally different from the Jesus worshipped by orthodox Christians, and if you change who He is, you change whom we worship. Add to this the extrabiblical texts Mormons add to Scripture, and you have what is at the very least a fundamentally different religion.
OK, so Mormons want to be called Christians, and orthodox Christians don't want to oblige. Again, this is old news. So why are we talking about this in a political campaign, and can any good come of it?
Frankly, while I'd love to lay it all at the feet of the media, in truth this is happening in large part because we Christians ask for it. Every four years or so a significant number of us get suckered into putting our faith in princes, and off we go. For this year's edition, note the prayer rally sponsored by Governor Perry just one week before he announced his candidacy for President. I'm sure it was an uplifting event for those who attended, but its plain appearance looked troublingly like that quadrennial grab for the evangelical church's political capital I have come to dread.
It is into this context that Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist pastor, interjected his endorsement of Perry over Romney based upon the "mainstream (Christian) view, that Mormonism is a cult." Of course, Perry has since had to distance himself from Jeffress, the question is further muddled, and Americans are left to wonder how it came to the point where our politicians are being asked by reporters to weigh in on theology. Well, because somewhere along the line we decided that pastors should be endorsing political candidates.
What a waste of time.