Look at the platform and look at your values.
That’s what Allan Lockerman tells the congregation of the First Baptist Church in Cleveland – a 5,500-member mega-church in southeast Tennessee.
“You vote the character of the man before you vote the conditions surrounding you,” the Southern Baptist pastor told Fox News. “As Christians it’s not just about the economy.”
And that’s why evangelical pastors like Lockerman overwhelmingly favor Republican candidate Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama by a more than 3-1 margin.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Lifeway Research found that 57 percent of the Protestant pastors they surveyed said they’ll vote for Romney – compared to only 17 percent who said they will vote for Obama. 22 percent remain undecided.
“Ideologically his positions tend to coincide or compliment the ideology of most Protestant pastors – the core convictions of family and absolute truth,” Lockerman told Fox News. “Some of us struggle with his theology because we don’t have total agreement with it – but then we compare the options.”
The survey found that Romney’s Mormon background has had little to no influence on pastors’ voting intentions.
“It’s clear pastors are not selecting a spiritual leader for the United States when they vote for president,” said Scott McConnell, director of Lifeway Research. “They are selecting the leader of the executive branch of government. The study shows a significant majority of pastors prefer the direction, policies and values of Mitt Romney.”
But it’s still been a difficult decision for minister, said Michael Catt, senior pastor of the Sherwood Baptist Church in heavily Democratic Albany, Ga.
“I think this has been a tough decision for Protestant pastors because of the Mormon issue,” Catt told Fox News. “But in the end, any election is about direction, not perfection. While I am concerned about aspects of the Mormon faith, I am more concerned about the direction of this country and the intrusion of government into every aspect of our lives.”
“For most of us – those key issues are out front more in this election than any time I can remember – especially the same-sex marriage issue,” Lockerman said. “That’s going to have a greater impact on the election than most people realize.”
And while many people in the pews are concerned about the economy, Lockerman said they are just as concerned about key cultural issues. He’s been teaching a series of sermons addressing Islam, same-sex marriage, the nations’ relationship with Israel, and the pro-life movement.
“All of those are key to our standing with Gov. Romney,” Lockerman said.