News / USA

Romney's Religion Could be Factor in US Presidential Race

Republican presidential candidate and businessman Herman Cain (l) speaks as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney listens during a Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, October 11, 2011.
Republican presidential candidate and businessman Herman Cain (l) speaks as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney listens during a Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, October 11, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio

In U.S. presidential politics, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a narrow lead over Georgia businessman Herman Cain in the latest CNN-ORC public opinion poll.  Most experts consider Romney the frontrunner for the Republican Party's presidential nomination next year.  But in recent weeks, Romney has been on the defensive about his religion and the issue came into focus during the latest Republican candidates' debate in Las Vegas.  Romney is a member of the Mormon Church, which generally follows Christian precepts, but adheres to its own founder and holy book separate from the Christian Bible.

The intersection of politics and religion in the 2012 race for the White House came into sharp focus because of comments from an evangelical Christian pastor, Robert Jeffress, who supports Texas Governor Rick Perry for president.

Jeffress opposes Mitt Romney because of his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church.

"In my estimation, Mormonism is a cult," said Jeffress.  "And it would give credence to a cult to have a Mormon candidate."

Mormons generally follow Christian precepts, but adhere to their own church founder, Joseph Smith, and a holy book, the Book of Mormon, which is separate from the Christian Bible.

Jeffress says Mormons are moral people, but are not part of mainstream Christianity - a view many Mormons dispute.

The religious issue was raised during the Republican debate in Las Vegas this week, when Rick Perry was asked about Jeffress's comments.

"That individual expressed an opinion," said Perry.  "I didn't agree with it, Mitt, and I said so.  But the fact is Americans understand faith and what they have lost faith in is the current resident of the White House [President Barack Obama]."

Mitt Romney said that using any kind of religious test for political candidates is wrong.

"That idea that we should choose people based upon their religion for public office is what I find to be most troubling because the founders of this country went to great lengths, and even put it in the Constitution, that we would not choose people to represent us in government based upon their religion," noted Romney.

Public opinion surveys show that most Americans are tolerant of different religious views, unless they are seen as extreme.

That was backed up by a recent sampling of opinion in Los Angeles.  However, Romney might be hurt by the reluctance of some Christian voters to support him, says Daniel Cox with the Public Religion Research Institute here in Washington.

"Evangelicals are a vital part of the Republican primary constituency," said Cox.  "They are about one in four voters overall and they make up a significant portion of the Republican primary electorate, particularly in places like Iowa and South Carolina and Florida."

But Cox says there is a way for Romney to overcome some of those doubts.

"If Romney can convince voters, particularly Evangelical voters in the Republican primaries, that he shares their political values, there is a good chance that the religious values may not be as important," Cox explained.

If he wins the Republican nomination and defeats President Barack Obama next year, Romney would become the country's first Mormon president.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid