Mormons Mad at Romney

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon, has been reaching out to conservative Christians. In doing so, some conservative Mormons think he is compromising his faith. From an article in The New Republic:

specially irksome to some Mormons are Romney’s efforts to minimize the differences between their religion and traditional Christianity–differences that, in some cases, define the very essence of the Mormon faith. In a cover story last month in Newsweek, Romney was asked whether he had ever performed baptisms for the dead, a Mormon ritual in which the deceased of all faiths are posthumously baptized as Mormons in order to permit them to enter heaven. Romney, according to Newsweek, “looked slightly startled and answered, ‘I have in mylife, but I haven’t recently.’” This is not surprising–baptisms for the dead tend to be performed mostly by younger church members–but Romney’s response made it seem as though he was embarrassed by an important church practice, one in which many Mormons have personally participated. “Baptism for the dead isreally a fundamental Mormon doctrine, and for Romney to downplay it like that did alienate people,” says Boyd Petersen, coordinator of Mormon studies at Utah Valley State College.

Even the religious language Romney has adopted on the campaign trail sounds alien to some Mormons. For instance, he refers to Jesus, as evangelical Protestants often do, as his “personal savior.” The phrase is not directly at odds with LDS theology, but Mormons almost never use it among themselves–both because it implies a born-again experience not central to Mormonism andbecause church doctrine, like Catholicism but unlike evangelical Protestantism, maintains that faith in Christ must be matched with good works in order to attain salvation. “I think most Mormons would be a bit puzzled to hear him use language like that,” says Peck.

Romney has also alienated Mormons when speaking about their history. In a “60 Minutes” interview in May, he told Mike Wallace, “I can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy.” Polygamy was banned by the church in 1890, and the few splinter groups that still practice it today have been excommunicated. But many Mormons hold a more nuanced view of poly-gamy as practiced by their ancestors in the nineteenth century. “With polygamy, you’re talking about people’s families,” says Scott Gordon, president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, an LDS advocacy group. “Some Mormons, though certainly not all, have been offended by what he’s said. He should probably be more careful recognizing the historical context of the practice.” Historian Audrey Godfrey was more blunt. “If I were one of his relatives,” she said, “I would be upset with him.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • organshoes

    That’s always my problem with Romney–a certain slickness that defies strict positioning.
    I don’t see him advocating much more than himself and his harmless, polished image.

  • organshoes

    That’s always my problem with Romney–a certain slickness that defies strict positioning.
    I don’t see him advocating much more than himself and his harmless, polished image.

  • Joe

    Romney does come of as apologizing for his faith; but what is even more troublesome is that the articles that discuss his faith appear to be written by people who think Mormonism is a denomination of Christianity.

  • Joe

    Romney does come of as apologizing for his faith; but what is even more troublesome is that the articles that discuss his faith appear to be written by people who think Mormonism is a denomination of Christianity.

  • Bror Erickson

    Hmmm. It seems than maybe more mormons ought to be offended at their own Church. The mormons have been trying to play down their differences for some time now. I wasn’t here for the Olympics but many around here say that gave the LDS renewed interest in presenting itself as another Christian denomination. They even tried to drop LDS from their name for a time I’m told. Preferring to call themselves the Church of Jesus Christ. I think, though, they found someone else already jumped that claim.
    At the most recent confernce their “Prophet” exclaimed that he wanted no one to be confused about the fact that they are Christian. And in the same breath denied the Trinity.

  • Bror Erickson

    Hmmm. It seems than maybe more mormons ought to be offended at their own Church. The mormons have been trying to play down their differences for some time now. I wasn’t here for the Olympics but many around here say that gave the LDS renewed interest in presenting itself as another Christian denomination. They even tried to drop LDS from their name for a time I’m told. Preferring to call themselves the Church of Jesus Christ. I think, though, they found someone else already jumped that claim.
    At the most recent confernce their “Prophet” exclaimed that he wanted no one to be confused about the fact that they are Christian. And in the same breath denied the Trinity.

  • tim prussic

    The only reason folks could consider voting for a Mormon is that they’re only interested in the final results/positions. They say, “This fellow’s a conservative. See, he’s for and against all the right things to be a ‘conservative.’”

    More important, however, than “positions” are the processes a person goes through to arrive at those positions. The processes include things like principles, lordship, theology, philosophy, and other important sundries.

    Positions are too often window dressing for more important issues. Officers don’t institute positions, they enact they’re THINKING when issues and problems arise. Thus, the process is far more important than the position.

  • tim prussic

    The only reason folks could consider voting for a Mormon is that they’re only interested in the final results/positions. They say, “This fellow’s a conservative. See, he’s for and against all the right things to be a ‘conservative.’”

    More important, however, than “positions” are the processes a person goes through to arrive at those positions. The processes include things like principles, lordship, theology, philosophy, and other important sundries.

    Positions are too often window dressing for more important issues. Officers don’t institute positions, they enact they’re THINKING when issues and problems arise. Thus, the process is far more important than the position.

  • tim prussic

    By “folks” in the first line of the last post, I meant Bible-believing Christians, not folks generally.

  • tim prussic

    By “folks” in the first line of the last post, I meant Bible-believing Christians, not folks generally.

  • Don S

    I’m in agreement with Bror on this one. There is nothing unique in Mormons minimizing their differences with evangelical Christianity. Anyone ever had them come to your door and engaged them on this issue? A friend of mine runs an anti-cult ministry, particularly in the eastern bloc where Mormons have been very aggressive in trying to gain a foothold post-Communism, and trying to pass themselves off as mainstream Christians is their primary approach. Reminds me of “Casablanca” — “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

    Also, please consider the source — The New Republic. A liberal magazine which would like nothing more than to knock down a serious Republican candidate, emphasizing his “scary” Mormon beliefs, in order to continue to attempt to drive a wedge between evangelical Christians and Romney. I wouldn’t give them much credibility. Remember the Scott Beauchamp story they ran earlier this year — supposedly a soldier in Iraq reporting on all of the atrocities our troops are committing there. It has been widely refuted on many levels as a hit piece, but they refuse to retract it.

    We need to be careful of our sources before we buy into this kind of reporting, which I am confident is a serious exaggeration. I’m surprised they didn’t quote Harry Reid, that famous Mormon senator, as well.

  • Don S

    I’m in agreement with Bror on this one. There is nothing unique in Mormons minimizing their differences with evangelical Christianity. Anyone ever had them come to your door and engaged them on this issue? A friend of mine runs an anti-cult ministry, particularly in the eastern bloc where Mormons have been very aggressive in trying to gain a foothold post-Communism, and trying to pass themselves off as mainstream Christians is their primary approach. Reminds me of “Casablanca” — “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

    Also, please consider the source — The New Republic. A liberal magazine which would like nothing more than to knock down a serious Republican candidate, emphasizing his “scary” Mormon beliefs, in order to continue to attempt to drive a wedge between evangelical Christians and Romney. I wouldn’t give them much credibility. Remember the Scott Beauchamp story they ran earlier this year — supposedly a soldier in Iraq reporting on all of the atrocities our troops are committing there. It has been widely refuted on many levels as a hit piece, but they refuse to retract it.

    We need to be careful of our sources before we buy into this kind of reporting, which I am confident is a serious exaggeration. I’m surprised they didn’t quote Harry Reid, that famous Mormon senator, as well.

  • B. Jennings

    How in the heck can anyone speak for 13 million people?

    Mormons this! Mormons that!
    Give me a Break!

  • B. Jennings

    How in the heck can anyone speak for 13 million people?

    Mormons this! Mormons that!
    Give me a Break!

  • fwsonnek

    Let´s discuss Mormon core values shall we?

    “As man is God once was, as God is man shall become” This is a common mormon saying.

    Mormons believe that God was once a man, who evolved to godhood and is having eternal sex with his multiple wives.

    When a child is born here, one of his spirit children inhabits the body. This is exactly why they are antiabortion.

    Jesus and satan are his children and are brothers.

    Mankind could not be progressing to Godhood if the fall into sin did not happen.

    The temples are to baptize the dead because you will not progress to godhood unless you convert your dead ancestors, and you get married eternally to your wife and any second third, fourth marriage…. in the temple (get “sealed “) to them. You still get to spend eternity with them even if you divorce…. This is another thing you need to do to eventually become a God and create your own planet.

    You are literally “saved” by getting married. So family values are REALLY important.

    Mormons are specifically trained as missionaries to lie and say they do not believe these things. They justify this by saying that this is a “higher” knowledge that all of us are not ready for yet.

    Different races are not allowed to intermarry.

    Masonic ritual is woven throught their temple rituals interestingly.

    My norwegian lutheran ancestors are probably the ones who lynched Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Il when he tried to pay them with money he printed up to pay them for the craftsmanship they did for him in the temple he was building there. We Norwegians can be a little slow, but…. (just an interesting trivial aside I thought you all here might find interesting….)

    I could go on. But none of this sounds even remotely like christianity to me.

    And these are core mormon beliefs.

    all 13 million believe this stuff if they have been married in the temple where they are finally told all this stuff.

    And you are so right. They are soooooo dishonest. They dont tell the truth because it would be bad marketing strategy for all the catholics and protestants they are working to convert.

    I would hire an ex-mormon missionary to sell ANYTHING for me in a quick minute by the way. They are taught how to sell and close for two years on their mission.

  • fwsonnek

    Let´s discuss Mormon core values shall we?

    “As man is God once was, as God is man shall become” This is a common mormon saying.

    Mormons believe that God was once a man, who evolved to godhood and is having eternal sex with his multiple wives.

    When a child is born here, one of his spirit children inhabits the body. This is exactly why they are antiabortion.

    Jesus and satan are his children and are brothers.

    Mankind could not be progressing to Godhood if the fall into sin did not happen.

    The temples are to baptize the dead because you will not progress to godhood unless you convert your dead ancestors, and you get married eternally to your wife and any second third, fourth marriage…. in the temple (get “sealed “) to them. You still get to spend eternity with them even if you divorce…. This is another thing you need to do to eventually become a God and create your own planet.

    You are literally “saved” by getting married. So family values are REALLY important.

    Mormons are specifically trained as missionaries to lie and say they do not believe these things. They justify this by saying that this is a “higher” knowledge that all of us are not ready for yet.

    Different races are not allowed to intermarry.

    Masonic ritual is woven throught their temple rituals interestingly.

    My norwegian lutheran ancestors are probably the ones who lynched Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Il when he tried to pay them with money he printed up to pay them for the craftsmanship they did for him in the temple he was building there. We Norwegians can be a little slow, but…. (just an interesting trivial aside I thought you all here might find interesting….)

    I could go on. But none of this sounds even remotely like christianity to me.

    And these are core mormon beliefs.

    all 13 million believe this stuff if they have been married in the temple where they are finally told all this stuff.

    And you are so right. They are soooooo dishonest. They dont tell the truth because it would be bad marketing strategy for all the catholics and protestants they are working to convert.

    I would hire an ex-mormon missionary to sell ANYTHING for me in a quick minute by the way. They are taught how to sell and close for two years on their mission.

  • fwsonnek

    It would be soooo cool if the press was smart enough about religion to tell us all what the mormons really believe at their core wouldnt it?

  • fwsonnek

    It would be soooo cool if the press was smart enough about religion to tell us all what the mormons really believe at their core wouldnt it?


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