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Washington • An influential evangelical leader says Mitt Romney's Mormon faith will be an issue if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee, but maintains that the attacks will come from secular liberals, not conservatives.

"The secular liberals are going to mock Mormonism," Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "They're going to start doing documentaries on Mormonism and try to scare independents about him. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, and they will do this."

Land, speaking at a National Press Club forum Wednesday on religion in the 2012 presidential race, predicted the vast majority of evangelical voters will back Romney if he tops the Republican ticket, mainly thanks to Democratic President Barack Obama.

"Do not underestimate," Land said, "Barrack Obama's unique ability to unite evangelicals against him."

Romney, a member of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, faced some backlash over his faith during his failed 2008 White House bid and even noted after losing Iowa's caucuses that had he been a Baptist minister, he could have won.

But the former Massachusetts governor is leading in the polls this time around and is tied or close to being tied in recent polls in Iowa, giving him the inside trackto the GOP nomination.

Land, who counseled Romney to offer his major speech on Mormonism during his first presidential bid, said it was "un-American" and "inappropriate" for voters to judge candidates on their religion alone but that it's acceptable to examine their moral convictions.

The Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a progressive Christian group, agreed that the LDS faith could be an issue in a Romney vs. Obama race. Wallis noted that it was unfortunate that a pastor friend of Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently called Mormonism a cult.

"The left may make this an issue as well, and if they do," Wallis said, "I think it will be hypocritical, given their standpoint on church and state."

Wallis said voters should give more weight to how candidates act and govern based on their own personal convictions, not on the religious doctrines they believe.

"We should care less about what underwear Mitt Romney wears," Wallis said, referring to religious garments worn by faithful Mormons. "We should be concerned about a candidate's moral compass and not their religion."

In his 2007 address, Romney emphasized that he is "an American running for president," not a Mormon running for president. "I do not define my candidacy by my religion," he said. "A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith."