Noah Feldman, writing at Bloomberg, argues that a Mitt Romney just could be the Mormon ticket into the “Christian Mainstream.”
Here is a taste:
As a deeply believing Mormon, he actually, sincerely (yes, sincerely) believes that his moral values are equivalent to those of evangelicals.
And as a Mormon, Romney is a participant — indeed, he is the most important participant — in the long-term project of convincing mainstream American Protestants that Mormonism is a normal denomination like all the others. Given this historic opportunity to “normalize” Mormonism, Romney is acting not opportunistically but on deeply felt principle. By embracing evangelicals and being embraced by them, he is bringing Mormonism into the denominational scheme that characterizes mainstream American Christianity.
Short-term politics is therefore making a long-term historic difference. Evangelical Protestants who once believed that Mormonism was a deviant sect, not a legitimate denomination, may come to believe something very different as they prepare to cast their votes for a Romney. The practice of pluralism can come first. The beliefs can come later.
So once again, it will be evangelical Protestants who will decide who is, and who is not, part of mainstream American Christianity. Does this sound familiar? Feldman seems to be suggesting something similar to what I argued in the first four chapters of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? (and what many others have suggested), namely that evangelical Protestants have played a significant role in defining the religious identity of this country.
For some evangelicals, this is a great thing. But I am not so sure.
HT: Jon Rowe