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Evangelical students protest Romney as speaker

Published March 3, 2007 1:11 am

Founder Pat Robertson defends the invite, says Mormon is not running for chief theologian
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

WASHINGTON - Students at a leading evangelical university are objecting to presidential candidate Mitt Romney giving the commencement speech in May because Romney is a Mormon.

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, who founded Regent University in southern Virginia, invited Romney to speak at graduation ceremonies, but some students and alumni are saying he shouldn't give the keynote address because they don't believe Mormons represent real Christian values, according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

The controversy has been debated on the university's internal bulletin board, the paper reported Friday, and scores of e-mails on both sides of the debate have been posted.

Political observers have said that Romney's membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be a stumbling block in his race for the White House because many evangelical Protestants - a key base of the Republican Party - view the LDS religion as a cult or fear that Mormons are not true Christians.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Friday that Romney relishes every invitation to "engage voters, introduce his vision, his ideas and the aspirations he has for leading this country.

"When he is given that opportunity, folks recognize more often than not that he shares their values, he shares their opinions on issues and his aspirations for the nation are often their aspirations," Madden said.

Robertson defended Romney speaking to the university in a memo to faculty last week, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

"Governor Romney is running for the post of chief executive officer, not chief theologian," Robertson said, according to the paper.

Meanwhile in Washington, Romney's critics came out strongly at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the former Massachusetts governor was speaking along with several other presidential contenders.

Inside the hall, Romney hit many major conservative touchstones - he's against same-sex marriage and abortion and for immigration reform and government fiscal responsibility - during a 20-minute speech to a crowd stacked with supporters holding signs and foam baseball "Mitts."

But outside the hall, some activists left materials around bashing Romney for "flip-flopping" on abortion, tax cuts, gun control and other issues. One man dressed as a dolphin and wore a shirt saying "Flip Romney."

A yellow flier being passed out by a group called Mass Resistance was headlined the "20-question Mitt Romney multiple-choice exam," and every "correct" answer was that Romney was for and against the same issue.





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