NASHVILLE, Tenn.—CNN.com reported Nov. 9 that Governor Mitt Romney made the following statements at a private event in South Carolina: “I get good support from evangelical Christian leadership around the country, you know, despite a difference in religion… I think it was Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention who said we’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, and so I appreciate that support and just you remember that when you go to vote.”
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, responded to Romney’s remarks today. “Defending Governor Romney’s right to run is very different than endorsing Governor Romney, which I have not done,” Land said.
As far as research conducted by the ERLC can ascertain, Dr. Land is the source of two variations of the same quote referencing Governor Romney: “We’re not electing a theologian-in-chief, but a commander-in-chief” and “We’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, but a commander-in-chief.”
Land explained the difference as follows, “Those statements were made in response to questions about whether or not Governor Romney’s faith was an absolute ‘deal breaker’ for Evangelicals in selecting a presidential candidate, not an endorsement of Governor Romney.
“I have defended various candidates from time to time when I’ve felt that they have been unfairly or inaccurately criticized. At other times, I have been asked by the media for my assessment of a particular candidate’s chances or weaknesses and strengths. Neither defense nor assessment should be confused with endorsement. As a matter of policy, I have not endorsed, do not endorse and will not endorse candidates.”
p(notes). The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.3 million members in over 44,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.