A Mormon President

So, are you placated by Mitt Romney’s JFK moment as he addressed concerns about his Mormon faith?

Mormons tend to be strong on civic righteousness, to use a term from the other day, so he’d probably be OK. Michael Gerson has a good analysis of the speech, showing how he was actually differing in a substantial way from what Kennedy said about his Catholicism, insisting that faith does have a role in the public square. But I still have qualms. Mormons are very big on civil religion, and I fear what that could become. What do you think?

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.

  • fwsonnek

    mormons believe that you will become a god and goddess by being married eternally in one of their temples. Jesus and satan are literal brothers. sons of their father who lives on the planet Kolab and created our planet and is now populating it through the sex he is having with his multiple celestial wives.

    while that may actually be about valuing families and family values it do make me twitch just a little….

  • fwsonnek

    mormons believe that you will become a god and goddess by being married eternally in one of their temples. Jesus and satan are literal brothers. sons of their father who lives on the planet Kolab and created our planet and is now populating it through the sex he is having with his multiple celestial wives.

    while that may actually be about valuing families and family values it do make me twitch just a little….

  • Bror Erickson

    Heres the deal. I really wish I could believe him about church authority, and state authority. The problem is I live in Utah, and I don’t see the “church” authorities here thinking their authority ends in the sphere of the church. For instance, the 800 pound gorrilla, came out of the cage two years ago to shoot down a flat tax bill. They were afraid it would dissuade people from tithing if they didn’t get the tax break. Then there are all the quirky alcohol laws, but those share a lot in common with Mike Huckabee’s Arkansas, so…
    But I think, and this maybe just hopeful enthusiasm, that Romney is done. His speech may give a spike, but it can’t make up for his lack of charisma. Huckabee is just a more likeable guy. He comes across with a sincerity, and a down to earthness. Romney is as stiff as Gore was running against Bush. And believe me I’m about as suspicious of Southern Baptists, as I am Mormons. But Huckabee pardoned Kieth Richards. How can Romney compete with that?

  • Bror Erickson

    Heres the deal. I really wish I could believe him about church authority, and state authority. The problem is I live in Utah, and I don’t see the “church” authorities here thinking their authority ends in the sphere of the church. For instance, the 800 pound gorrilla, came out of the cage two years ago to shoot down a flat tax bill. They were afraid it would dissuade people from tithing if they didn’t get the tax break. Then there are all the quirky alcohol laws, but those share a lot in common with Mike Huckabee’s Arkansas, so…
    But I think, and this maybe just hopeful enthusiasm, that Romney is done. His speech may give a spike, but it can’t make up for his lack of charisma. Huckabee is just a more likeable guy. He comes across with a sincerity, and a down to earthness. Romney is as stiff as Gore was running against Bush. And believe me I’m about as suspicious of Southern Baptists, as I am Mormons. But Huckabee pardoned Kieth Richards. How can Romney compete with that?

  • Joe

    To me it has never been about Romney’s faith. It has been about the fact that when I hear him speak, I just don’t believe him. I have tried to like him. The job he did with the Olympics really impressed me. His other experiences in business are also pretty impressive. I think a healthy dose of CEO might not be a bad thing for our government. But I just don’t beleive him.

  • Joe

    To me it has never been about Romney’s faith. It has been about the fact that when I hear him speak, I just don’t believe him. I have tried to like him. The job he did with the Olympics really impressed me. His other experiences in business are also pretty impressive. I think a healthy dose of CEO might not be a bad thing for our government. But I just don’t beleive him.

  • Don S

    I have not yet picked a candidate to support in the Republican primary, as none of the candidates particularly enthralls me and none of them particularly repel me. Any of them are vastly preferable to any of the Democrat candidates, and whichever Republican wins will get my support in the general election. The Supreme Court is too important to entrust to a Democrate president and Democrat senate. I appreciate the liberties we still enjoy in this country as faithful people, and do not want to see a court system which will be peopled with judges relentlessly intent on advancing secular humanism.

    That being said, I don’t understand the distrust of the Mormon candidate at this point in time. Mitt Romney has a long public record, as governor of Massachusetts and Olympics executive, as well as private business assignments, over many years. No one has ever asserted that he allowed his Mormon faith, or particularly the church hierarchy to unduly influence his policymaking in those positions. Moreover, his dad, George Romney, served with distinction as governor of Michigan for many years.

    And it’s not like we are going to see a flat tax anytime soon regardless of who is elected president. There are a lot more powerful lobbyists than the Mormon church who will see to that. For example, ask you friendly local real estate broker what he/she thinks of that proposal.

  • Don S

    I have not yet picked a candidate to support in the Republican primary, as none of the candidates particularly enthralls me and none of them particularly repel me. Any of them are vastly preferable to any of the Democrat candidates, and whichever Republican wins will get my support in the general election. The Supreme Court is too important to entrust to a Democrate president and Democrat senate. I appreciate the liberties we still enjoy in this country as faithful people, and do not want to see a court system which will be peopled with judges relentlessly intent on advancing secular humanism.

    That being said, I don’t understand the distrust of the Mormon candidate at this point in time. Mitt Romney has a long public record, as governor of Massachusetts and Olympics executive, as well as private business assignments, over many years. No one has ever asserted that he allowed his Mormon faith, or particularly the church hierarchy to unduly influence his policymaking in those positions. Moreover, his dad, George Romney, served with distinction as governor of Michigan for many years.

    And it’s not like we are going to see a flat tax anytime soon regardless of who is elected president. There are a lot more powerful lobbyists than the Mormon church who will see to that. For example, ask you friendly local real estate broker what he/she thinks of that proposal.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    I understand where you are coming from. However, I only used the Flat tac as one example. But like I also said, Hie mormon faith isn’t what is sinnking him.
    He comes off stiff. He fails to connect. He has a lot of money behind him, but that won’t save him. His personality is doing him in. A Kennedy he is not.
    I don’t know what Massachusets or Michigan were like under his and his dad’s leadership. I do know what Utah is like politically. I would spare the rest of the nation that as much as possible. However, here it is an entire culture, not just the govenor.

  • Bror Erickson

    Don S,
    I understand where you are coming from. However, I only used the Flat tac as one example. But like I also said, Hie mormon faith isn’t what is sinnking him.
    He comes off stiff. He fails to connect. He has a lot of money behind him, but that won’t save him. His personality is doing him in. A Kennedy he is not.
    I don’t know what Massachusets or Michigan were like under his and his dad’s leadership. I do know what Utah is like politically. I would spare the rest of the nation that as much as possible. However, here it is an entire culture, not just the govenor.

  • Everett

    I feel the same way about Romney. He might be a great CEO type, but I think he could post talking cardboard cutouts of himself around the nation and I don’t think too many people would notice the difference.

    In regards to his Mormon faith, there’s a long history of Mormon prophecy in regards to the presidency and the constitution and the role of the Mormon people in saving/ruling the country/constitution. I’ll spare you all the quotes, but for anyone who is interested in Mormon history, Richard Abane’s One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church is worth the read. It’s long, but, if you read it, you’ll never look at the Mormon church the same way.

  • Everett

    I feel the same way about Romney. He might be a great CEO type, but I think he could post talking cardboard cutouts of himself around the nation and I don’t think too many people would notice the difference.

    In regards to his Mormon faith, there’s a long history of Mormon prophecy in regards to the presidency and the constitution and the role of the Mormon people in saving/ruling the country/constitution. I’ll spare you all the quotes, but for anyone who is interested in Mormon history, Richard Abane’s One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church is worth the read. It’s long, but, if you read it, you’ll never look at the Mormon church the same way.

  • http://heresyhunter.blogspot.com Bob Hunter

    He said he loves “the confident independence of the Lutherans,” so maybe we Lutherans should say something nice about him, even if we don’t vote for him. It was a good speech, but I read that the Mormon Church has been polishing its image lately because of his candidacy and that isn’t good if it leads to more converts.

  • http://heresyhunter.blogspot.com Bob Hunter

    He said he loves “the confident independence of the Lutherans,” so maybe we Lutherans should say something nice about him, even if we don’t vote for him. It was a good speech, but I read that the Mormon Church has been polishing its image lately because of his candidacy and that isn’t good if it leads to more converts.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, loved the bit about Keith Richards.

    And Joe nails it for me. Romney is saying a lot of the right things, but he’s got a history of leaning to the left, so I really don’t know whether he’s serious about it or not. But that said, how can I pick a fight with a guy who strapped an incontinent dog’s cage on top of the family truckster?

    Have a great weekend, y’all, and glad to help you with your diets.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Bror, loved the bit about Keith Richards.

    And Joe nails it for me. Romney is saying a lot of the right things, but he’s got a history of leaning to the left, so I really don’t know whether he’s serious about it or not. But that said, how can I pick a fight with a guy who strapped an incontinent dog’s cage on top of the family truckster?

    Have a great weekend, y’all, and glad to help you with your diets.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    From reading that article, I get the impression that Romney was hoping to have Kennedy’s aura rub off on him, at least as far as charisma and excitement go. But like many other things Romney has done, it ends up feeling calculated, not natural — done not to explain a nagging question but rather to reassert himself in the race.

    I agree with Gerson’s penultimate paragraph, though: “His biggest problem is not his religious beliefs but persistent questions about his core political beliefs, provoked by shifting views on abortion, gun rights and immigration.” Or, as Don S (@4) put it, “No one has ever asserted that he allowed his Mormon faith, or particularly the church hierarchy to unduly influence his policymaking in those positions.” Don is right, but it is not to Romney’s credit. His speech is all about having his faith guide him as a politician, but his record does not back that up, at least until recently.

    Joe (@3), while I share your sentiments, I’m puzzled by your statement that “a healthy dose of CEO might not be a bad thing for our government.” Isn’t that what got us into the situation we’re in today? Bush styled himself as a “CEO president”.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    From reading that article, I get the impression that Romney was hoping to have Kennedy’s aura rub off on him, at least as far as charisma and excitement go. But like many other things Romney has done, it ends up feeling calculated, not natural — done not to explain a nagging question but rather to reassert himself in the race.

    I agree with Gerson’s penultimate paragraph, though: “His biggest problem is not his religious beliefs but persistent questions about his core political beliefs, provoked by shifting views on abortion, gun rights and immigration.” Or, as Don S (@4) put it, “No one has ever asserted that he allowed his Mormon faith, or particularly the church hierarchy to unduly influence his policymaking in those positions.” Don is right, but it is not to Romney’s credit. His speech is all about having his faith guide him as a politician, but his record does not back that up, at least until recently.

    Joe (@3), while I share your sentiments, I’m puzzled by your statement that “a healthy dose of CEO might not be a bad thing for our government.” Isn’t that what got us into the situation we’re in today? Bush styled himself as a “CEO president”.

  • Don S

    tODD, you make a good point about Romney. I, too, see him as somewhat of an opportunist, and it is not clear to me that anything particularly animates him, including his faith.

    As for Bush being a “CEO president”, I think his greatest downfall is his lack of experience as an administrator. He is, in my opinion, a good man with a good heart who has a solid and well defined set of moral values that he lives by in a very consistent way, no matter the opposition. He is to be greatly admired for that. However, it is very clear as his administration has worn on that his executive skills are lacking. Quite, frankly, his government has not been well run, and many of the people he appointed to run its various administrative agencies, as well as to be his immediate advisors, have been a disaster.

  • Don S

    tODD, you make a good point about Romney. I, too, see him as somewhat of an opportunist, and it is not clear to me that anything particularly animates him, including his faith.

    As for Bush being a “CEO president”, I think his greatest downfall is his lack of experience as an administrator. He is, in my opinion, a good man with a good heart who has a solid and well defined set of moral values that he lives by in a very consistent way, no matter the opposition. He is to be greatly admired for that. However, it is very clear as his administration has worn on that his executive skills are lacking. Quite, frankly, his government has not been well run, and many of the people he appointed to run its various administrative agencies, as well as to be his immediate advisors, have been a disaster.

  • fwsonnek

    There is a patent dishonesty that is part of the mormon church. missionaries are taught to lie and say they dont believe god was once a man and….

    that would be bad marketing.

    I COULD hire one of them as a salesman. would in a heartbeat. but the dishonesty still reeks. “we are christian and believe in Jesus as lord and savior” stating deliberately to sound protestant when they are closer to scientology.

    how could I vote for a president from that tradition. even against hillary?

  • fwsonnek

    There is a patent dishonesty that is part of the mormon church. missionaries are taught to lie and say they dont believe god was once a man and….

    that would be bad marketing.

    I COULD hire one of them as a salesman. would in a heartbeat. but the dishonesty still reeks. “we are christian and believe in Jesus as lord and savior” stating deliberately to sound protestant when they are closer to scientology.

    how could I vote for a president from that tradition. even against hillary?

  • fwsonnek

    obama has the right idea. romney and the others are working out the symptoms and not the root of the problem mostly.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/10/opinion/10cohen.html?th&emc=th

  • fwsonnek

    obama has the right idea. romney and the others are working out the symptoms and not the root of the problem mostly.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/10/opinion/10cohen.html?th&emc=th

  • S Bauer

    Romney said all the right things in the speech. I was impressed in how well it expressed the boundaries of the two kingdoms and how they influence each other. The recognition that historically our words about freedom and religious tolerance have often not matched our actions as a nation in a speech that maintained religious faith is part of the underpinnings of our constitutional system was refreshing (although not too surprising considering the Mormon experience). But I, too, share the concern others have expressed about how sincere Romney is in all this. As frank notes, the speech was enough to address the “tip of the iceberg” of the “religious question” that the media and most politicians see, but it doesn’t go far enough.

  • S Bauer

    Romney said all the right things in the speech. I was impressed in how well it expressed the boundaries of the two kingdoms and how they influence each other. The recognition that historically our words about freedom and religious tolerance have often not matched our actions as a nation in a speech that maintained religious faith is part of the underpinnings of our constitutional system was refreshing (although not too surprising considering the Mormon experience). But I, too, share the concern others have expressed about how sincere Romney is in all this. As frank notes, the speech was enough to address the “tip of the iceberg” of the “religious question” that the media and most politicians see, but it doesn’t go far enough.

  • fwsonnek

    Romney, it should be remembered, is not the first Mormon to run for president.

    That distinction is awarded to the founder of Mormonism himself, Joseph Smith Jr, who ran in 1844 on an abolitionist platform and in defence of the rights of religious minorities. Mormon political history has long been strongly secularist in this respect – because Mormons were once a sect brutally persecuted by majority Christians.

    But in that campaign, Smith coined a term that strangely resonates today. “There is not a nation or a dynasty now occupying the earth which acknowledges almighty God as their lawgiver,” Smith told the Neighbor newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois. “I go emphatically, virtuously and humanely, for a theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness.”

    Theodemocracy: the blending of government with a universally Christian populace in which faith is the prerequisite of public office. This is the vision of America that Romney is proposing. He has behind him the power brokers of the Protestant right, the theocons of the Catholic right, the Mormon church and the vested interests of a Republican party elite that, in the wake of George W Bush, wants to extend the theodemocratic principles of an antisecular movement.

  • fwsonnek

    Romney, it should be remembered, is not the first Mormon to run for president.

    That distinction is awarded to the founder of Mormonism himself, Joseph Smith Jr, who ran in 1844 on an abolitionist platform and in defence of the rights of religious minorities. Mormon political history has long been strongly secularist in this respect – because Mormons were once a sect brutally persecuted by majority Christians.

    But in that campaign, Smith coined a term that strangely resonates today. “There is not a nation or a dynasty now occupying the earth which acknowledges almighty God as their lawgiver,” Smith told the Neighbor newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois. “I go emphatically, virtuously and humanely, for a theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness.”

    Theodemocracy: the blending of government with a universally Christian populace in which faith is the prerequisite of public office. This is the vision of America that Romney is proposing. He has behind him the power brokers of the Protestant right, the theocons of the Catholic right, the Mormon church and the vested interests of a Republican party elite that, in the wake of George W Bush, wants to extend the theodemocratic principles of an antisecular movement.

  • S. Bauer

    I read somewhere that when Utah became a state, the politicians there divided (evenly?) between Republican and Democratic parties. Whether the sides were taken by lot or by assignment by the religious leadership, I don’t know. One of the politicians there said at the time that this way, the Mormon “church” remained in charge regardless of who won elections. Now, that’s a scary thought. I should have taken down the reference, because I want to find out if this is just hearsay or fact.

  • S. Bauer

    I read somewhere that when Utah became a state, the politicians there divided (evenly?) between Republican and Democratic parties. Whether the sides were taken by lot or by assignment by the religious leadership, I don’t know. One of the politicians there said at the time that this way, the Mormon “church” remained in charge regardless of who won elections. Now, that’s a scary thought. I should have taken down the reference, because I want to find out if this is just hearsay or fact.


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