The following is from the Nov. 20, 2007, edition of The Washington Post. SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson provided expert commentary for this story.
By Ed Stoddard
DALLAS (Reuters) - When a pair of Mormon missionaries knocked at the door of Jerry Pierce's home in a north Dallas suburb last month, he marshaled his arguments and stood his ground.
"I look forward to encounters like that. I like to talk to them about the nature of Christ and who Jesus is," said Pierce, a staunch Southern Baptist, the biggest Protestant denomination in the United States.
Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is running into similar resistance as he tries to win over Southern Baptists and other evangelical Protestants in the race for the Republican Party's nomination for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
Romney will need the support of this traditional Republican base if he is to take on former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is running strongly in opinion polls despite his three marriages and a pro-abortion position that is anathema to many Republicans.
The reason Romney faces difficulties with Southern Baptists, according to many experts, is his Mormon faith. Not only do many Southern Baptists regard the Mormon church as a cult, they also regard it as a competitor that is winning -- or poaching -- converts from among the evangelical flock. . .
"Many evangelicals do not want to see Mormonism mainstreamed," said Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
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