Mitt Romney’s greatest hurdle in the GOP primary may be winning ordinary evangelical voters, but evangelical leaders are becoming the most vociferous apologists for his Mormonism. The latest came last night on Larry King from Joel Osteen, the televangelist whose book Your Best Life Now sold nearly five million copies (video here). Here’s the relevant exchange, courtesy of The Brody File:

KING: How do you feel about Mitt Romney and being a Mormon? Would that affect whether you vote for him or not?
OSTEEN: Well, you know what? I look at people, their character, their values, what they stand for. And I know only Mitt from watching him on your program and reading a couple of articles about him. And I don’t think that that would affect me. I’ve heard him say that he believes Jesus is his savior, just like I do. I’ve studied it deeply, and maybe people don’t agree with me, but I like to look at a person’s value and what they stand for.

And Osteen ain’t the only megawatt evangelical to come to Romney’s aid recently. There was PR juggernaut Mark DeMoss, of course, plus The Brody File has this from Dr. Albert Mohler, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president, who gushed to Hugh Hewitt last night about Romney’s endorsement from Bob Jones III.

I think this is really big. If I were in the Romney campaign, I would be extremely encouraged by this, because not only is Bob Jones III obviously a very well known conservative leader, but he is so well positioned on the spectrum, that this is likely to make it easier for other persons also to make very similar moves.”
“Well in the South Carolina primary, not only does it travel well, this is a huge signal. This is like a lighthouse going on, the light shining its beam on Mitt Romney. Not only that, but the argument made by Bob Jones III basically means that not only is he supporting Mitt Romney, he’s basically saying he is the only option so far as he sees it on the Republican side.”

With so many evangelicals shouting that Romney’s Mormonism isn’t an issue, the always ecumenical and accepting God-o-Meter asks: when do leaders from other faith traditions start chiming in with the same message?


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