Mormon Romney Woos Key US Bible Belt Voters
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7:05pm UK, Saturday May 12, 2012
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has addressed thousands of evangelical Christians in the heart of America’s bible belt.
He spoke to thousands of graduating students at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia – as have many Republican presidential hopefuls before him.
The Mormon politician reaffirmed his view that marriage is between “one man and one woman” – days after President Barack Obama spoke out in support of gay marriage.
Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell, the “televangelist” who did more than any other American to put religion into US politics.
Ronald Reagan and college founder Jerry Falwell in 1984
His so-called “moral majority” conservative movement helped propel Ronald Reagan to the White House in the 80s and every Republican presidential candidate has come here since.
Mr Romney hopes he will receive the blessing of evangelical Christians, but throughout his campaign he has failed to win their wholehearted support.
The news he was coming to Liberty University was met with protests from some, not least because he is a Mormon.
Janet Loeffler is a Republican and a student at Liberty but she is angry Mr Romney has been invited – she told Sky News he belonged to a satanic cult and has no place in a Christian college.
Evangelicals have protested before in the Mormon heartland of Utah
“Is he out there devil-worshipping and putting pentagrams on the ground?
“No, that’s why it’s so subtle and so deceiving because it mimics the Christian faith in many ways”, she said.
Mormons claim to be Christian but there are fundamental theological differences between them and other Christian faiths, not least the belief humans can become deities.
For many evangelicals that makes Mormonism a heresy. Liberty University has defended the invitation saying it has invited other non-Christians in the past.
Others are more concerned about Mr Romney’s apparent inconsistency on key social issues, what his critics say is a record of flip-flopping.
Dr Steve Troxel, chairman of the Lynchburg Republican City Committee, says Christians need more convincing that Mr Romney really means what he says on certain issues.
“Christians don’t want to have a candidate that they have to hold their nose against the smell of having to vote for him. They would prefer someone they can go for wholeheartedly,” he said.