Santorum endorser attacks Romney on Mormonism, homosexuality

COLUMBIA, S.C.—A prominent South Carolina evangelical endorsed Rick Santorum on Wednesday, and slammed Mitt Romney for his Mormon faith.

The criticism from the Rev. Huey Mills, the head of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools, is the must public attack on Romney's religion in the state so far.

"My attitude is first 'anybody but Romney,' and second, 'let's get Santorum elected,' said Mills, whose organization includes 85 schools in South Carolina. Mills told The Hill that Mormonism is a "cult" and said he could never vote for Romney partly because he is a Mormon.

ADVERTISEMENT
"I know there have been many people who said they'd hold their nose and vote for Romney if he gets the nomination, but I'’m not [one of them], I won't vote for him," he said. "It is a cult, most definitely."

Attacks on Romney's Mormonism are nothing new in South Carolina: In 2008, thousands of fake Christmas cards bearing Romney's name were sent out featuring a quote from a 19th-century Mormon leader endorsing polygamy.

Mills's comments about Mormonism came in the context of an interview about his criticism of Romney's views on homosexuality. The criticism surfaced in a press release Mills sent with Rev. Ray Moore, the South Carolina campaign director of Pat Robertson's presidential campaign in 1988.

"In obedience to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, most South Carolinans and I have a sane and healthy homophobia, while Mitt Romney has a very bad case of homophilia," said Mills in the statement. "Romney's liberal support for homosexuality is not only at doctrinal odds with traditional Judaism and Christianity, it's even at odds with latter-day cults like Islam and Mormonism."

He slammed Romney for favoring "the homosexualization of our U.S. military" and for allowing civil unions while he was governor of Massachusetts. "His positions are simply unacceptable," he said.

Mills said he had not discussed his endorsement with the Santorum campaign. A Santorum campaign spokesman asked to see in writing the specific comments Mills had made before commenting on the endorsement, and after receiving them did not promptly get back to The Hill.

Romney's campaign also did not respond to a request for comment.

Moore has not endorsed a candidate but told The Hill he is leaning towards backing Ron Paul.

Moore also criticized Gingrich. "It looks like Gingrich is making a surge, and he's just as frightening to me as Romney," he said.