At least one Republican is very concerned about Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.
Steven Showers, 59, has erected a 14-foot-high, neon sign saying that Romney is a racist who will doom the GOP. The flashing monument on Showers' Southern California front lawn pleads with passerbys to "Save the GOP" from "Romney's racist heart."
Showers, who lives in Newbury Park, said that after Romney became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he researched Mormonism and was shocked by what he found. "I was stunned to find out that the Mormon religion is a white supremacist, anti-black, racist ideology," he said to the Ventura County Star.
According to Showers’ website, RomneysRacistHeart.com, the following belief is “embedded” in Mormon doctrine: “White skin indicates a pure character before God. Anything less than white skin indicates a corruption of character before God. Black skin, according to Mormon Doctrine, is an indicator of the worst corruption of character before God.”
Showers, who is white and describes himself as Republican and Christian, spent $2,000 having the giant sign custom-made and hoisted with a crane onto a plywood structure on his lawn, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Mormon Church's approach to race in the past has been flawed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not allow African Americans to become priests until 1978. Romney claimed that at the time, when he was 31, he pulled over his car upon hearing of the doctrine change and wept tears of joy, the International Business Times reports.
Still, nearly one in five Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon president, according to a recent Gallup poll. It is unclear how much this will even affect Romney since just 57 percent of Americans know that he is Mormon. However, if Romney's faith becomes better known leading up to the election, it could hurt him, according to Gallup.
Philip Barlow, a Mormon historian at Utah State University who worked alongside Romney when Romney was Mormon bishop in Belmont, Mass., said that trying to understand the former Massachusetts governor without Mormonism would be like "watching a football game with half the players invisible."
Although he hasn't spoken about his faith much as a presidential candidate, Romney is from a prominent Mormon family, has donated millions to the church and its charities and has volunteered countless hours to the Mormon community.
Showers' flashy sign has outraged neighbors, who say it is an eyesore and too political. "I think it's very disgraceful," one neighbor told KTLA. "I think it's very insulting to the Romney group."
Others complained that the sign has brought dangerous traffic because visitors come to see it and are distracted as they drive. One such visitor was in support of the sign. "I just thought he was making a really great statement, and I wanted to see it for myself," she told CBS.
Ventury County left a notice Friday ordering Showers to unplug the display, saying it violates code by shining inside neighbors' windows. Showers, however, said the notice gave him 30 days to resolve the problem and that he is determined to keep the sign up. He is also selling $800 miniature versions of his sign on his website.
Check out the most and least Mormon states in the U.S.:
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