As Election Day closes in, Richard Land and other evangelical leaders are breaking their vows of reticence—and endorsing Mitt Romney for President.
Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has long been active in politics, but he previously had drawn the line at endorsing candidates. As recently as last year, Land said that while he sometimes would defend a candidate's record or offer his assessment of the political landscape, he would stop short of endorsement.
"Neither defense nor assessment should be confused with endorsement," Land said. "As a matter of policy, I have not endorsed, do not endorse, and will not endorse candidates."
This week, however, he crossed his own line in the sand by endorsing Romney.
"I endorse Gov. Mitt Romney for President of the United States," Land said. "In doing so, I am personally breaking a 24-year tradition of not exercising my right as a private citizen to endorse a candidate. … Yes, this election is that important."
Land said this year's election may be the most important since 1860, "when in the providence of God Abraham Lincoln was elected President, preserved the Union, and expunged the evil of slavery from our land."
Meanwhile, Manhattan Declaration executive director Eric Teetsel said his vote intention has never been in question—he has known that he would vote Republican since Barack Obama won in 2008.
Teetsel also endorsed Romney in a blog post in October. Like Land, Teetsel said his endorsement was personal; it did not represent an official endorsement.
But Teetsel and Land each also backed Billy Graham's recent endorsement of Romney. The Billy ...