by Rodney K. Smith
In these tumultous times, we need to find ways to unite our nation so we can solve pressing economic and political issues. Sadly, a week ago at the Values Voters Summit, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association and Robert Jeffress, who pastors a large Baptist congregation in Dallas, took things in another direction.
The men injected their own divisive religious test into the electoral process, and in doing so claimed support for their views from our nation’s Founders.
Fischer and Jeffress have urged their followers to refuse to support the candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), on the ground that his religion is in a pejorative sense a “cult.”
Jeffress argued that America was founded as “a Christian nation” and then defined Christianity in a very restrictive manner, claiming that the Founders embraced his brand of Christianity. Fischer went a step further, asserting that religious freedom, as conceived by the Founders, does not include “non-Christian religions” (i.e. religions different than his).
Here’s the problem: This principle of preference and exclusion was soundly rejected by the Founders.
Thanks to the efforts of the founding generation, Jeffress and Fischer are certainly free to act on their beliefs. They may not, however, claim support from the writers of our Constitution and Bill of Rights for their efforts to define Christianity restrictively and then call on their followers to cast their votes for a president who follows their brand of Christianity.
Their interpretation of the Founders’ vision is indefensible politically and theologically.
Source: Rodney K. Smith, USA TODAY