- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

He flip-flopped on abortion and same-sex marriage; he is now pro-life and opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions. However, much of the white evangelical opposition to Mr. Romney is not based on principle. It is simply old-fashioned bigotry - a discomfort with Mr. Romney’s Mormon faith. White evangelicals need to be reminded that this is America - a republic where neither religious convictions nor the lack thereof disqualifies a politician from office.

As Ralph Hallow, in collaboration with Pew Research Center. Placing Mr. Romney on the ticket might lead to a drop of 7 percent to 10 percent of the white evangelical vote. It may also lead to a de-energized base. On the other hand, Mr. Romney would inspire fiscal conservatives to support Mr. McCain.

Rather than kowtowing to evangelical pressure, Mr. McCain should declare that he will not make a candidate’s faith a factor in his deliberations. This will reinforce the Republican nominee’s image as a man who marches to the beat of his own drum and is not a Party puppet. If Mr. McCain chooses Mr. Romney as his running mate, this will also help re-brand the Republican Party as one that can break down barriers.

White evangelicals need a history lesson. Protestants began to flee religious persecution in England in droves in the 16th and 17th centuries; they were especially victimized by the provision that there was a religious test in order to hold office. Evangelicals in America would do well to rise above the same kind of discrimination their ancestors were once victimized by.

Mr. Romney has a long record of serving America. If his service has been good enough for Massachusetts, why is it not good enough for white evangelicals across America? Also, in the battle to win more and more adherents to the social conservative causes they hold dear, it is in the interest of white evangelicals to recruit as many allies as possible - regardless of their religious convictions. Thus, these evangelicals would do well to be tolerant and work toward broadening the conservative base, rather than upholding barriers based on religious bigotry.

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