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Baptist Leader Land: GOP Evangelicals Would Back Romney if Nominated

By Paul Scicchitano and Kathleen Walter   |   Wednesday, 12 Oct 2011 06:14 PM

Republican evangelicals will rally behind presidential hopeful Mitt Romney if the former Massachusetts governor clinches the GOP presidential nomination, Baptist leader Richard Land tells Newsmax.TV.

“Even Robert Jeffress, the pastor who caused all this brouhaha with his comments about Mormonism and a cult, said that, in a general election, he would vote for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama,” said Land, the influential president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Land, who said the 2012 election is the most important in the United States since 1860, cited recent polls showing that four out of five evangelicals would vote for Romney if he ran against Obama. That assessment comes despite the fact that Romney is a Mormon and even though 68 percent of evangelical pastors and 48 percent of mainline Protestant pastors do not believe that Mormonism is a Christian faith.

Texas pastor Jeffress, a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, stoked the political flames on Friday and touched off a national debate over Romney’s faith when he described Mormonism as a “cult” at the Value Voters Summit.

“Mitt Romney is in basic agreement with most social conservatives. Some wonder about his conversion on the pro-life issue,” Land acknowledged. “But you know 51 percent of Americans now say they’re pro-life. That’s up from 33 percent 20 years ago. That means a lot of people who used to be pro-choice, have seen the light and are now pro-life, and Governor Romney is one of them.”

Land, whom Newsmax named one of the 25 most influential Republicans in September 2008, also dismissed as “nonsense” the suggestion of some Republicans that there should be a so-called truce on social issues.

“You can’t solve the economic problems without solving the social problems,” Land said. “The single greatest cause of poverty in the United States is single parenthood, which is a social issue. It’s a moral issue. We’re a society that has gone, over the last 40 years, from emphasizing obligations and responsibilities to emphasizing rights and privileges, and that’s how you go from a 5 percent illegitimacy rate to a 41 percent illegitimacy rate.”
Land tells Newsmax, “the single greatest thing we can do to eliminate poverty in the United States would be for fathers to marry the mothers of their children and stay married to them.”

With respect to revelations this week that 100,000 Coptic Christians had been slaughtered or driven from Egypt, Land called on American Christians to be vigilant in their prayers.

“We need to be praying for them, and we need to be putting feet on our prayers by putting pressure on our elected representatives to have the United States government much more involved than it is in standing up for those who have no other defenders in these countries,” Land said. “We need to make it very clear to the governments of the Middle East, since they want to be in normal, healthy, regular relationships with the United States, and continue to receive U.S. assistance and U.S. approval they’re going to have to defend the basic rights of their citizens, including Christians.”

The U.S. government also should be doing everything it can, short of direct military action, to destabilize the Iranian government because of the plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States on American soil, Land said.

“The majority of Iranians detest their government,” Land said. “We need to take advantage of that and destabilize that government because it is a dangerous government up to and including a plot to try and kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States, and perhaps blow up the Saudi Embassy and the Israeli Embassy on American soil.”

While conceding that a number of Christian conservatives may have voted for Barack Obama to become president, Land said the United States will have “gone over the cliff and we will be beyond repair” if Obama is re-elected. “You can only elect the first black president once, and that’s been done,” he said.

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