Gingrich Sends Message: Elections Aren’t a Referendum on Theology

According to press reports, the new political director for Newt Gingrich’s Iowa campaign “agreed to step away” from the job after it came to light he had said some evangelicals believe God would reject Mitt Romney because of his Mormonism.

Craig Bergman during a focus group last Wednesday with the Iowa Republican and McClatchy newspapers said he thought Romney’s religion eventually would cost him votes. “A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon,” Bergman said during the focus group, according to the Iowa Republican. “There’s [sic] a thousand pastors ready to do that.”

In a statement Tuesday evening, the Gingrich campaign said Bergman had “agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012.”

“He made a comment to a focus group prior to becoming an employee that is inconsistent with Newt 2012’s pledge to run a positive and solutions-orientated
campaign,” spokesman R.C. Hammond said in the statement.

Good for the Gingrich campaign. Even if Bergman was merely being descriptive in terms of what evangelicals believe, Gingrich is sending an important message: Whatever individual Christians believe about Mormonism, turning an election into a referendum on the theology of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young is not a wise idea. That task belongs to pastors and theologians, not politicians and presidential candidates.