(CNN) – Bob Jones III, an influential evangelical leader, defended his support of Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid Sunday, despite the religious differences he has with the current GOP candidate.
"If this man can best run our country and can beat Hillary Clinton, then why should we be afraid of him, even though we vitally disagree with his Mormonism," Jones said on CNN's "State of the Union." "Mormonism is not Christianity and he understood that."
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"I respect the fact that he didn't try to present himself or Mormonism as Christianity," Jones told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, or Mormons as members are colloquially known, identify themselves as Christians.
Historically Mormons have broken theologically over issues like the Trinity, baptism and other scripture revelations, which has resulted in other Christian faiths not recognizing Mormons as Christians.
Some faiths go so far as to label Mormonism a theological cult as prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress did after an event last year where he endorsed Rick Perry for the GOP nomination.
However, Jones said a lack of cultivation is the reason he has yet to make an endorsement during the 2012 election cycle.
"In 2008, he was very solicitous of the evangelical vote," Jones said of the former Massachusetts governor. "If he is that today, I am unaware of it. I certainly have had no contact with him, and so I don't know whether he feels he needs it or wants it, whether he considers it a plus or a minus for him. That was a different dynamic then."
Jones made the comments before a meeting of Christian conservative leaders that led to the group's backing of Rick Santorum.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who said representatives winnowed the field to Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, announced the support of the former Pennsylvania senator Saturday.
In the same meetings, Perkins said there was little discussion for Romney's Mormon faith.
"This was not a bash-Mitt Romney weekend, it was focused on the positive," Perkins said. "It's not news that there is not strong support among conservatives for Mitt Romney, and that was reflected here."
Romney supporter Sen. John McCain said the endorsement is "bound to have some affect," but added it will not be "real significant."
"I'm convinced that we will come together and there's no doubt in my mind," McCain said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
– CNN's Gabriella Schwarz, Eric Marrapodi and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.
Can beat Hillary Clinton?
Ron Paul is a devout Christian who has been married to the same woman since he was in his 20s. Its obvious that Bob Jones only supports Romney because of his pro-war and pro-corporate views. Never mind that Mormonisms roots are in Masonry and have no connection to mainstream Christianity.
Anyway who wants Jones endorsement, this is coming from a man that had banned interracial dating on his campus grounds. The last thing we need is 19th century thinking.
Joan 3:16: "For God so loved the world that She gave it the Buddha."
If Jones is Mittens' friend, I would hate to see Mittens enemies.
I'm really getting sick of this. Like the article says, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints consider themselves Christians. The words "Jesus Christ" are in the name of the church! They teach that Jesus is the son of God and our Savior, and that salvation comes through Him and no other way, that through the atonement and resurrection He overcame spiritual and physical death. What more do you want?
Besides, who gets to decide what the Mormons believe? The Mormons themselves or the non-Mormons?
What a pile of the usual crazy crap from the bible-banging saints. Politics and "church" are separate in all civilized
The good reverend is just a bit off his noodle. He would be delighted to live under a theocracy very much like the one in Iran.
Last time he endorsed Mitt Romney "In 2008, he was very solicitous of the evangelical vote," This time Romney don’t care that is true
This time King of Bain selling lot of pious baloney
I thought this was suppose to be a free country? Who is to decide what a legal taxpaying citizen believes – or doesn't?
I don't agree with the theology of Mormonism, but it is not my place to pick and choose people's belief systems.
Now, can we get back to discussing more important issues, like the economy?
Mormons say they're christians, but would christians ignore the suffering of innocent women and children? There are hundreds of polygamous Mormon sects in mainstream Mormon communities, and Mormons do nothing to stop the abuse. Powerful Mormon legislatures and law enforcement simply turn a blind eye, and so do church members. So people can claim anything they want, but by their deeds shall they be known. I think anyone who watches the documentary film "Banking On Heaven" (available at most libraries), would have a hard time trusting a powerful Mormon like Romney. What has Romney ever done to stop polygamy abuse?
Wait, the so called born agains are joining forces with Mr golden underwear man?, because their racist against the black man?, maybe God doesn't exist then.
Bob Jones endorsement is reason enough not to vote for Mitt.
I was actually under the impression that the constitution forbade a government based on religion, so who cares?
I'd love to see how can GOP support Romneycare and hate Obamacare.
Too easy to label them "partisan" ideologues!!
Beat Hillary? She would trounce all over him. What a joker. Bob Jones? Related to Joseph Smith?
Soon you will all know the Prophet Joseph Smith.
I'm getting sick of all this attention paid to religious leaders; our country is NOT a theocracy. And didn't Mittens himself in 1994 say several times in his debate with Ted Kennedy that he doesn't believe in forcing his religious views on others?
A person's faith is a private affair – and as we've seen from countless scandals involving religious "leaders," just because you proclaim you're religious doesn't mean you're any better than say, the former assistant coach of Penn State.
Read the First Amendment of the Constitution; study our nation's history and why people came here in the first place. It's all about religious freedom and the FACT that our government was set up to be separate from "the church."
All this religiosity in politics belongs in Saudi Arabia or Iran – not in the US!
What does Religions got to do with Politics anyway. I'm sure God has Nothing to do with It. He not telling anyone who to vote for. And anybody that say Religions has anything to do with Politics Is a Idiot. Because everyone In Politics LIE ,Cheat and Is a Crook. And all they are worry about Is how much money they can put In there pocket.
There's nothing 'christian' about these people. They hate anyone who's not white, they hate the middle class, they hate unions, they hate anyone who's gay, lesbian, transgendered, or in some way different or perceived to be different, they hate the government giving out any kind of assistance– unless it's to 'one of their own' . Bob Jones, Tony Perkins, Don Wildmon etal are true domestic terrorists and should be treated as such.
Was that some kind of Freudian slip endorsement of President Obama? He IS the one who beat Hillary Clinton. Mitt and Hillary have absolutely no connection. Also, by his actions, President Obama IS the one who exhibits most closely the stated Christian ideals.
The problem with Mormonism, like the problems of any religious tradition, are it's theology. One's beliefs, especially one's theological beliefs will always, no matter how hard one tries, affect their politics and standpoints. Mormonism's conceptualization of the afterlife is largely anti-homosexual and anti-female. Unlike modern Catholicism and Protestantism, Mormonism is very collectivist, by this I mean that they stress creed, dogma, and loyalty. The only Mormon I'd support for president is a lapsed Mormon. I don't mean to attack just Mormonism here, but also Christian fundamentalism, like Bush and his buddies as well.
Why are a lot of people are hesitating to endorse Romney? Why are we hearing all the time that he is a person who can win. Now, what is coming first, winning and endorsements follow??????
It is now, I learn that the USA political systems affiliate with RELIGION . All we were made to know and propagated is SECULARISM. Thanks to CNN for this enlightment.
Why does this clown care if Mitt can beat Hillary Clinton? Does he think Mitt's running for Sec of State, or does he think its 2008 and Mitt is a Democrat?
So, for those who believe in the Trinity, who was it that spoke from the heavens when Jesus was baptized? It must have been the other third of himself, since they're three in one. Whether or not you think Mormons are Christians, the doctrine of the Trinity has no basis in the Bible and was devised long after the first leaders of the new Christian sect were dead and gone. If people really would consider this question, they would understand that too much of what now is considered to be Christian doctrine was added by people with other perspectives, and many of them political leaders of the time.