Stop asking about the guy’s underwear

mormon undergarmentsNothing annoys me more thatn when people want to talk about another person’s underwear. Particularly when there are more important things to talk about. For this reason, this post will remain brief.

Andrew Sullivan, who decided to make my time away from the computer Mitt Romney Week, raised the question of Mormon underwear because apparently he thinks it matters. (MSNBC, at around 4:40 p.m. Monday, apparently agreed and decided to bring it up.) It does not matter. Other things related to Romney’s Mormonism do.

What is somewhat interesting is that Sullivan requested and received a photo of these sacred Mormon undergarments. Since it came from Wikipedia, the photo is part of the public domain, but Sullivan received email from a Mormon reader who found the photo offensive:

Many of us consider posting photographs of Mormon undergarments to be sacrilegious and offensive. Yes, we wear these garments at all times, except during swimming, athletic[s], bathing, and other activities where it would be impractical. They are made from a variety of textiles, and are comfortable to sleep in, being really not far removed from long johns. Many religious groups, and not just ours, wear clothing as a symbol of religious adherence. Ours, we wear as a reminder of our commitments, but not in public view, because we are reminding ourselves, not making a spectacle. Hence, underclothing. Additionally, they are cut in such a way as to require us to adhere to church modesty standards.

The photo is posted here for us all to see. Now this underwear issue should be dropped. By the way, I wonder why Sullivan has never asked whether the next Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, wears Mormon undergarments? Or Sen. Orrin Hatch? Regardless, I think Sullivan understands that Romney’s underwear does not matter.

If a reporter had 10 questions to ask Romney, one should not be asking about what he is wearing underneath his suit. There’s just too much else out there to discuss. Leave the undergarment questions for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

How’s this for a Top 5 Mormon-related questions that I would ask Romney? Feel free to agree/disagree (explain why) and publish your own question list. We want to encourage thoughtful reporting on Romney’s religious beliefs (and yes, they do matter), not “does he wear boxers or briefs” reporting (which doesn’t matter).

  • Do you believe in the Mormon doctrine of “exaltation“?
  • What are your thoughts on the United States being “divinely founded,” and if so, how so?
  • Are you a “Cultural Mormon” or do you belief in all of the church’s theology?
  • What is the highest moral authority in your public life? In your private life?
  • Does your Mormonism have an influence on your public policy/foreign policy positions?
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  • dan

    i disagree. i think the mormon underwear question (and answer) is interesting. if you prefer questions on theology, fine, but that’s just what it is, a preference. doesn’t make it right or wrong. i’m fairly tired of mormon indignation about people digging into their faith, crf. romney on the campaign trail, and if it takes some undergarment questioning to soften them up, so be it.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I’m sorry–I’m old enough to clearly remember the JFK election and most of these questions read like variations of the questions bigots asked JFK.
    As a Catholic I voted for Romney here in Mass. because his public views on many public issues matched my moderately conservative views–especially on social issues most of the time (a near miracle in this liberal fascist state where democracy is only meant for courts and legislature power brokers –not the people.)
    My questions to Romney would be:
    How do you stand on the defense budget?
    How do you stand on immigration?
    How do you stand on ILLEGAL immigration?
    How do you stand on budget deficits?
    Would you veto a budget that had too much
    pork in it?
    Also: How would you deal with Iraq?
    How would you deal with Afghanistan?
    How do you stand on the draft?
    What kind of people would you nominate to the Supreme Court–their judicial philosophy?
    This constant bringing up of his Mormonism–except maybe as background color-
    just smacks of the garbage that infuriated me as a Catholic 46 years ago.
    Oh and by the way–he hasn’t promoted polygamy here, but traditional marriage of one man and one woman–it is the Catholic legislative leaders who have been busy trashing
    just about everything in traditional Christian morality.

  • http://www.draknet.com/proteus Judy Harrow

    When a person is running for office in a religiously pluralistic nation, the only real theological question facing the voter is whether or not the candidate intends to force their particular belief system on others who do not share it.

    It would be wrong for a Jew to forbid non-Jews to eat pork, equally wrong for a Jehovah’s witness to prevent me from receiving a blood transfusion if my doctor says I need one. But it’s also none of my business what the Jew eats, or what medical decisions the Jehovah’s witness may make, or what Hatch, Reid or Romney are wearing under their clothing.

  • murphy

    dpulliam,

    Your question #5 is the only one relevant to Romney’s capability in executing the Presidency. My list:

    * Does your Mormonism have an influence in your public policy/foreign policy positions?
    * What are your views on the separation of Church and State?
    * What are your views on the 1st Amendment, and the Free Exercise Clause in particular?
    * Which authority would you answer to as President? The Constitution and the laws of the land, or your ecclesiastical leaders?
    * How do your religious beliefs influence your opinion on judicial appointments?
    .

    Notice how these questions are relevant to Romney’s potential role as Commander in Chief?

  • http://revjph.blogspot.com/ MadPriest

    I dont know if you are right to say this does not matter, especially in respect of politicians. I would need to know, and I don’t know, if a person who truly believes the wearing of specific undergarments to be of importance and ordained, is a person whose thinking and personality is suitable for being in charge of things like nuclear weapons. Certainly, my instinct, without the facts, would be to avoid voting for somebody who had such a view of modesty because they would be unlikely to hold views similar to me concerning morality. I would also regard them as gnostic because of their obvious dualistic view of body and spirit. As a Christian I would not vote for a gnostic because I would worry they would not put the importance of material things as high as I would. Therefore, as we are talking about something that can’t be seen, that might give an indication of the future choices a candidate might make when in power, I think they should be asked the question.

  • murphy

    MadPriest,

    Dumbest post ever.

    Would you like to share your opinion about how the wearing of garments is in any way related to generic intelligence or competance. Please also keep in mind the millions of Mormon politicians, doctors, businessmen, and others as you craft your thoughts on this.

    Also, maybe you could expound on why asking about underwear is more relevant to nuclear weapons than asking about nuclear weapons.

  • Kim K.

    I step in to agree with dpulliam and disagree with dan. When do we get to ask the other candidates on the campaign trail about THEIR underwear? “Boxers or briefs, good sir, and does this relate to your religion and what you intend to do as president?” Could you ask this of anyone else with a straight face and actually think you were doing your viewers some sort of service?

    Puerile. Just puerile, whether or not there’s religion involved. Perhaps I’m biased, being Mormon myself, but this kind of question is fresh out of grade school. “Did your mom REALLY buy you Superman underpants?!? Are you gonna show us?!”

    And, MadPriest, I know this isn’t the place for it, but I would like to point out that there are some very anti-Gnostic beliefs that come as a part and parcel of Mormon theology. (And, basically, I agree with murphy on the relevance of asking about underwear–or Gnosticism–when you’d like to know about domestic policy or nuclear weapons.)

  • Michael

    1. You were once a moderate and arguably pro-choice. What happened between the time you first ran for governor of Massachusetts and now?

    2. As a Mormon, does it offend you that people you are trying to woo in your own party often consider your faith a cult?

    3. How do you respond to suggestions that Mormons have failed to repent for a long history of racial intolerance?

    4. Beyond agreement on abortion and gay marriage, what values do you share in common with other social conservatives within your party?

    5. If social conservatives were given the option of you and Sam Brownback, why should they support you?

  • MarkH

    If some crass person asks Romney if he wears boxers or briefs, he can reply, “None of your buisness”.

    Reading your first question, I am reminded of the time I asked an evangelical friend of mine what he expected to be doing for all eternity, assuming he made it past the Pearly Gates. His reply was that he would spend eternity singing praises to God. “Even after a billion — trillion — even a trillion trillion years” I asked?

    “Yes”, he replied.

    “Won’t you get a little bored?”

    “No, because God is so great.”

    The Mormon doctrine of Exaltation basically says that you continue to grow and progress until you eventually achieve godhood. At that point you still continue to progress by working to exalt your own spirit children.

    Certainly that is different from the orthodox Christian belief. I would think that Exaltation makes more sense than thinking that God went to all the trouble of creating the universe, us, and sending his Son to save us, just so that he can have a crowd of people whose entire purpose in eternal life is to set around singing his praises.

    And you think this important enough to burn one of the five questions you would ask a Presidential candidate? Why?

  • http://fiddley.com Pete Dunn

    Do you know what makes the issue of Mormon Temple Garments relevant? The fact that it keeps coming up. Period. It is a hard paradigm for many Mormons to accept that most of the rest of the planet really does find them to be quirky and cultish, despite (perhaps because of) how seriously they take themselves.

    To find out a bit more about the garments, see my easy primer, Mormon Temple Garments: 101

  • Jim H

    Mormon religion and politics are inseparable. Mitt Romney was a Bishop, essentially equivalent to a pastor.

    In the secret temple ceremonies he made oaths and covenants to the Mormon Church. This is one of the covenants:It is that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents and everything which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.

    This alone may not be significant, but the single tenant most taught in the Mormon Church is blind obedience. Here are a couple of quotes from current leaders:
    “Obedience is a fundamental law of the gospel. It is not only the demonstration of our faith but also the foundation of our faith. Unquestioning obedience to the Lord indicates that a person has developed faith and trust in Him to the point where he or she considers all inspired instruction — whether it be recorded scripture or the words of modern prophets — to be worthy of obedience.” - Elder Robert Oaks, “Believe All Things,” Ensign, July 2005, page 30

    “On this occasion I am not going to talk about the good or bad of Prohibition but rather of uncompromising loyalty to the Church.” “How grateful, my brethren, I feel, how profoundly grateful for the tremendous faith of so many Latter-day Saints who, when facing a major decision on which the Church has taken a stand, align themselves with that position. And I am especially grateful to be able to say that among those who are loyal are men and women of achievement, of accomplishment, of education, of influence, of strength-highly intelligent and capable individuals.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley. “Loyalty,” April Conference, 2003.

    This is not a religion as you know religions. The underwear is part of the oath and covenant to always remind them to put Mormonism before and above all else. How do I know this? I spent 40 years as part of their group until I was able to break away.

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  • MarkH

    “…able to break away.”

    What kept you from breaking away?

  • http://ww.oca.org NewTrollObserver

    …part of the oath and covenant to always remind them to put Mormonism before and above all else…

    Sounds like regular ol’ “religion” to me. Just call me old-fashioned.

  • http://www.oca.org NewTrollObserver

    (Corrected website.)

  • Kim K.

    The assertion that “this is not a religion as you know religions” is something a number of people would cheerfully dispute with you. It is not difficult at all (may I suggest Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion?) to find arguments to the effect that every religion has the same element of cultishness, the same demand that its members accept on good faith that their religion knows what is best for them and that they should do that best without thinking about or questioning it. This is traceable back to the simple brute nature of humans in groups: In order to make ourselves feel safe in the groups we have chosen, we must enforce, by hook or by crook, a sameness of behavior on everyone else–and their unswerving devotion to the group.

    My engineering honors society asks us as a part of our (secret and highly ceremonial) initiation to make a similar “covenant” with the group to uphold its standards and interests, by comparison. Of course, they don’t ask us to wear anything special as a sign of our devotion, but there are a number of fraternities on our campus who require that “active” members go about with their frat’s pin displayed prominently on their clothing during their initiation.

    Is the critical difference here God’s involvement? It would appear to me to be the case, by parallel reasoning.

  • Kim K.

    And NTO gets there before I do. A pox upon both your houses! etc.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Folks, these kinds of issues are not relevant to Romney and Reid in terms of their abilities. They are relevant in terms of their ability to get elected, especially in the GOP primaries in the Bible Belt for Romney.

    These subjects keep coming up and they will keep coming up until Romney creates a politically viable strategy — like JFK in 1960 — to handle them. The earlier he does this the better, for him and for the journalists who end up handling this stuff.

  • Jim H

    To all the posters who have asked me questions:

    Breaking away is very difficult because of the methods of creating guilt and tieing in the members. While assuring them that they are the chosen, and the only true religion, they tell them that they don’t really measure up and need to try harder, be more devout and obedient, not to scripture, but to the living leaders. I was tied in tightly by this and my family. I have discussed this with Baptists and presbyterians who are now my freinds. It is difficult for them to understand the methods. I have a freind that is an Atheist who has studied Mormonism in detail from a psychological/sociological standpoint and is horrified.

    Mormonism is full of magical thinking. I did not realize to what extent until I was leaving. Mormons believe that their leader talks to God in their temples and will follow him no matter what he requires.

    My comment was not about putting God above all else and a relationship with God, it is Mormonism that is put first. In Mormonism, the Kingdom of God is the Mormon Church. They are inseparable. The head of the Mormon Church is worshiped, and anything he says is done. He is viewed, not as a Pope, but as someone who sees God on a regular basis.

    Richard Dawkins happens to be a favorite of mine. I like the rational thought and skeptical nature of his writing. I also like Harris and his books.

    For the poster asking about seeing the underwear, I wore it for almost 25 years. I was also a missionary in Brazil and was an officiator, or top leader in the temple.

    Abilities are great, but if the person in question, Ried or Romney puts the membership in the Mormon Church above the needs of the country, or if the person is “obedient” to the “prophet” it suddenly becomes very relevant. A viable strategy can be materially altered if “God” instructs you to alter it.

  • Kim K.

    Precisely; thank you, tmatt. I have a tendency to get lured off by the juicy carrot of irrelevant but ever-so-fascinating religious debate, alas.

  • http://until.joe-perez.com joe perez

    I think the sacred undergarments issue is valid for reporters to ask, and it’s just as valid for Romney to say “none of your business.” But will it fly?

    The sacred undergarments issue is NOT unimportant because it its Mormon politicians in a (ahem) vulnerable spot. Many people think Mormons have strange, wacky beliefs and practice secret occult rituals that make them uncomfortable. Undergarments are a symbol of both of these common beliefs about Mormons.

    If I just wanted to emembarrass Romney, I’d ask him this: Mormonism holds that all other Christian Churches are in apostacy. If a Christian has accepted Jesus as savior but is not a Mormon, is he truly saved?

    But personally what I want to know is actually fairly rote: Many people disagree with your strong stands on divisive moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion. Can you be a leader who will bring people together instead of polarizing them? If so, how would you do so?

  • Kim K.

    Whereas I happen to think that Dawkins suffers from a critical lack of ability to formulate a logical argument. It is easy to be skeptical and “rational” after the fashion of our day–which is not a very great requirement any longer, and has little to do with logic–but it is not easy to formulate a valid argument. Unfortunately, a lot of Dawkins’ popularity appears to be because he has “good memes”–he attacks the right people for reasons that appeal intellectually to a large number of those interested in seeing those people attacked, which is good enough to constitute a strong argument.

    I, personally, am horrified that someone demonstrating a serious lack of scientific rigor in his arguments about religion and the harmful effects thereof can be given so much weight; and that even in the sphere of scientific discourse, reasoning like Dawkins’ that appeals primarily to normative ideas (which, I think, have no place in science whatsoever–just as ethicists will argue strongly that “ought”s are not derived from “is”es, similarly it isn’t science’s business to turn their “is”es into “ought”s) is accepted as perfectly valid. As a scientist, I find this worrisome.

    And yet the Pope is–and please correct me if I’m wrong, someone more familiar than Catholicism than I–viewed by his followers as infallible, and the voice of God on Earth. Or so I’m led to understand; the only real distinction from the Prophet in that sense is that the Prophet does claim to speak to God on a regular basis, whereas I’m not sure about how the Papacy handles adjustments to the RCC’s theology on the fly. I am too young to know what arguments were raised about JFK’s Catholicism when he was running for the presidency, but did any of them take the form of questioning his loyalty to the Pope above his loyalty to his country?

    I’m bothered by your use of scare quotes around several words in your closing sentence. In addition, similar arguments are being bandied about regarding the current Presidency as well without the President owing allegiance to a religious organization. For the sake of the argument, let’s say that both the prophets of the LDS Church and President Bush have a creeping form of high-functioning schizophrenia; is it worse to have a schizophrenic who believes God is speaking to him in office, or someone who is not a schizophrenic but does owe allegiance to an organization headed by one? In my mind, the latter case would be preferable–at the very least, Romney or Reid would be able to stand back and say “wait, this won’t work”, whereas a schizophrenic perforce doesn’t have that sort of ability to reflect on his decisions.

  • Jim H

    I am not trying to scare anyone. I spent 40 years in the organization at different levels, in different cities and countries. I am simply reporting my concerns. Discount it if you wish. It is my objective to let people know the downside. Most people feel that Mormonism is like any other religion, and it is not. I have studied it from the inside and from the outside. I have compared it to other religions. It is not the same, and to say it is means the person is not familiar with the religion or is being disingenuous.

  • Kim K.

    I wasn’t implying you were trying to scare anyone, merely that you were using “scare quotes”–those little fellows, meant to offset a word to imply that whoever the opposition is, “they” are using the “word” very differently than “we” are.

    And I will agree with you that Mormonism functions differently than other religions–which appeals, of course, to the idea that there’s a standard for other world religions that they all fit neatly into, which I believe to be false. I do not, however, agree that this is necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the Church makes no bones of the fact it asks its members to be highly committed, and that it does have rituals it isn’t telling the rest of the world about. This makes it unique in an age of increasing transparency and secularism, especially one that is working very hard to make sure that religion stays inside the church houses, where it belongs. Mormons are quick to label themselves as a “peculiar” people.

    But the observations you have thus far made about how the Church gains and keeps followers, among other things, do not strike me as being different in any significant way from any other human organization, secular or religious. These are facts of human behavior, and they are often nasty and frightening when taken to their logical extremes (which, sadly, happens all too often with any organization). And I don’t see how the case you are making, that they would be somehow much worse in the case of Romney’s potential presidency, follows from your assertions.

  • Jeff

    Hahahahaha…

    “For this reason, this post will remain brief.”

    Hahahahaha!

  • Stephen

    Jim H. is a fanatic. His wife boasted on an ex-Mormon message board the other day (and I have no reason to doubt her) that Jim spends a substantial portion of most every day pounding away at his keyboard writing denunciations of his former faith on just about every blog and message board that he can find.

    Pretty weird, in my opinion.

    I’m inclined to think that, if monomaniacal bigots like Jim H. become really vocal in opposing Romney on religious grounds, that that will work to Romney’s benefit. Most Americans are turned off by religious fanaticism, and I don’t believe that they like anti-religious fanaticism any better.

  • Elizabeth

    Allow me to quickly point out that Pete Dunn’s website (referenced above) is full of information that is entirely untrue. He tries to be funny with it, but comedy only works when there’s some truth there.

  • http://hiveperfect.blogspot.com/ HiveRadical

    I’d kindly ask that the photo here be removed out of respect for sensibilities. Another site I’ve seen that seem to have been key in bringing this up relented and it’s respect was appreciated.

    On an overall view it’s good to point out on occasion that both sides, allied and antipathetic, to the issue have a great deal on the line, If one is right then the other one has/is made/making grave mistakes. I think it’s important to keep that in mind.

    Kim K.’s comments seem to hit it on the head in terms of accuracy. If anyone takes issue with LDS dogmas then they should keep them in perspective with other dogmas held. Whether you believe in an infallible pope, prophet or book you have some gounding that is admitadly significantly, at it’s core, detatched from raw human attempts at logic and reason. Even then you have the fact that we all have, what I’ve heared called, our own empirical blindspot that is our consciousness. That alone leaves us paralized in certainty, to some degree, on everything. Because if we cannot measure and observe our primal observation tool then how can we be certain that we don’t have a blind spot, as we do with our visual perceptions, that’s simply being compensated for–while we go on unaware of the compensation.

  • http://faiththefinalfrontier.blogspot.com/ Peter

    I agree that underwear – no matter how ridiculous – should not be part of the discussion. And I like four of your five questions. The third one I would rephrase. Instead of asking, “Are you a “Cultural Mormon” or do you belief in all of the church’s theology?” I would ask, “Is there anything the LDS church teaches that you have a difficult time believing? If so, what do you find difficult and why?” It’s a little more open ended and gives him a chance to outline what he finds difficult. Plus it provides the added bonus of providing him with the opportunity to say something that might put him in conflict with what the LDS church teaches and it would be interesting to see how he handles that. (Not that I want to dupe him. I just want to his honest reaction.)

  • Jerry

    > What are your thoughts on the United States being > “divinely founded,” and if so, how so?

    I had not realized that was part of Mormon beliefs. But after doing some research, it’s a fair question because it gets to the heart of what a Mormon might see as America’s role in the world.

    For what it’s worth, the Mormons are not the only ones with that belief. For example, see “The Secret Destiny of America” by Manly P. Hall.

    Beyond that, many have had that belief given the symbolism of the Great Seal “A new order for the ages” etc http://www.greatseal.com/

  • http://revjph.blogspot.com/ MadPriest

    Thank you all for pointing out my ignorance, but if you had read what I wrote you would have noticed that I said I would need scientifically arrived at information about the relevance of the wearing of certain undergarments before I could make up my mind on the matter. I then went on to say my gut reaction was etc. etc. Therefore to accuse me of being dumb when I admit it in the first line of my comment is, well, a bit dumb, dont you think?

  • http://revjph.blogspot.com/ MadPriest

    Let me give you some examples of how I think clothing could be relevant. If a candidate for election went around wearing a t shirt with “I’m with stupid” written on it you might deduce that the candidate was prone to arrogance. If a candidate wore a burqa you could deduce that she viewed politics from an Islamic viewpoint. If a male candidate wore drag you cound deduce that his/her stance on certain moral questions would be different to the woman in the burqa and so on.

    In fact, it may be that our clothing is more honest than our mouths. But, to be honest, I really don’t know – I was just raising the issue for sensible discussion.

  • Eric W

    IMO, people who believe in “magical clothes” need to be sitting in psychiatrists’, not political, offices. It’s not the same thing as symbolic vestments, typical religious garb (yarmulkes, turbans, etc.), and the occasional healing cloth (as in the Book of Acts). There is nothing wrong with ridiculing the ridiculous. If Mormon underwear is viewed as being anything more than distinctive clothing or a reminder of chastity or of one’s religious vows or commitments, then I say it’s fair game.

  • Jim H

    For Stephen – you have proved my point exactly. I have stated that I am a former Mormon, and I frequent a board for former Mormons. People do not use their names on that board. You are evidently not a former Mormon, but you are very familiar with the people on that board. So much so that you know my wife’s monikur. Does this mean you lurk there to get information? Why would a Mormon frequent a board for former Mormons? How do you know so much about it? If it was the former Mormons that had a problem, why would Mormons monitor the former Mormon bulletin board? Is Big Brother watching? The people on that board are all former Mormons, and evidently the Mormon Church still feels they must monitor our persona lives. Does this strike anyone as odd for a religion?

    Mitt Romney and the Mormon Church were caught last month in by the Boston Globe investigative reporting in some very questionable activities. The Boston Globe, Arizona Repubic and Salt Lake Tribune among others questioned whether the activity amounted to a violation of the Mormon Church’s 501(c)(3) status. If Romney had not already gone to the Mormon Church for help with the campaign, the religious tie would not be as significant. He did go, and consulted with leadership on mobilizing members in support of the campaign.

  • Adam

    I was also a missionary in Brazil and was an officiator, or top leader in the temple. – Jim H

    I am always amused at how purported “former Mormons” are always getting their facts mixed up. I have never run across one who seems to remember things correctly.

    An officiator, most definitely, is not the top leader in a temple. This would be the temple president. The officiator does only what the name implies, officiates the ordinances.

    It’s convenient, though, how claiming he was a “top leader” in a temple lends a false sense of credibility to his rantings.

  • Rathje

    Well, I won’t pretend that having the garment thing under scrutiny doesn’t bug me (yes, I am a practicing Mormon, and yes, I do wear the “garment” in case anyone cares). But I have come to terms with the reality that people are simply going to be interested in it, so might as well address the issue.

    The temple garment is many things to many different people. Before wading in, I should note that this is not unique to our religion. Sikhs also do this, as do Hasidic Jews (as did most devout Jews at certain points in world history). Clothing plays a large part in other world religions, such as the priestly get-up in Catholicism, and the dress standards in Islam. Symbolism plays a big role in EVERY major religion.

    And that’s ultimately what the Mormon temple garment is: a symbol. I wish I could get into exactly what the symbols mean. I really do. But I take the temple instruction of not discussing these things outside the temple seriously, and my Church has not seen fit to officially explain the meaning. So I don’t think it’s my place to say much here.

    Honestly, I wish my church leaders would offer an official explanation. But they haven’t, and the best most of those who are honestly curious have is Googling the subject or checking out Wikipedia (which I believe is the source of the photo above). Unfortunately, Googling is a dubious avenue for genuine understanding. Anti-Mormon hate groups are prolific and extremely active. They actively try to make sure that the only message the curious get is their own one-sided message.

    There are a few groups out there talking about Mormons. At the risk of painting with too broad a brush, here’s a rough grouping:

    1. Anti-Mormons.

    This group includes elements of the counter-cultist movement within the Evangelical community (Southern Baptists seem to figure prominently) who believe that Mormons are heretics who brainwash the unwary and are actively seeking the destruction of “true Christianity.” Anti-Mormons also includes disillusioned ex-Mormons, often Mormons who were excommunicated for various offenses.

    In any case, the ex-Mormons within the anti-Mormon movement are almost always very angry people. The goal of the anti-Mormons is to discredit and destroy Mormonism as a religion and as a movement. Typical tactics are to take unusual beliefs and ridicule them. Antis will also take quotes from long-dead Mormon religious leaders and represent those quotes as modern policy, even when this is certainly not the case. These people are not a good source of information about anything in Mormonism and you should be careful about placing too much credence in what they say.

    2. The “Dissaffected Mormon Underground” (or DAMU as they are affectionately referred to on the Mormon blog community).

    These people are sometimes ex-Mormons, but not always. They claim to come from diverse backgrounds – from active, serving Mormon bishops, to disillusioned members who no longer actively go to church or participate in certain key sacraments and ordinances.

    Generally, they are all dissatisfied with the Mormon church in some respect. There tone is openly critical, and sometimes even snarky, but I think they often fall short of the outright bigotry and hatred exhibited by the anti-Mormon community. There stance is more one of constructive criticism and a desire for change within the Mormon religion rather than a desire to discredit the religion entirely. As such, these people are often genuine and CAN be a good source of information.

    However, a lot of these folk have axes to grind as well. And the overlap between the DAMU and the “antis” is not always clear. Tread cautiously here as well.

    3. Faithful, Practicing Mormons.

    Currently, the largest online community is probably what is collectively referred to as “The Bloggernacle.” If you want a good overview of what’s out there, try the Mormon Achipelago (and aggregator website that tracks activity on faithful Mormon blogs). Here’s the link:

    http://www.ldsblogs.org/

    These are blogs written by active, believing Mormons. They do not tolerate anti-Mormons who attempt to troll there occasionally, and they typically refrain from open condemnation of official Church doctrine or practices. Neither do they indulge much open ridicule of the LDS faith.

    Unfortunately, they tend to share my stance on the issue of temple garments and there are certain things they simply won’t explain about them. Like I said, I wish we could be more open about this, but the LDS Church has decided not to be. If you are a Mormon, and are discussing the garments in explicit detail online, you are running contrary to the Church’s commandments to it’s members. The curious should keep that in mind when evaluating the source of the information they are getting.

    There are a couple of discussions on Mr. Sullivan’s article currently underway on the bloggernacle.

    This is too long for a single post, so I’ll take up the issue of Mormon attitudes toward the temple garment in a separate post. Hope this helps in navigating the online world of Mormon commentary.

  • Martha

    So, is Andrew Sullivan going to ask any Roman Catholic politicians if they wear scapulars? And then instruct us to vote accordingly? (Probably if they say “Yes”, then they are blood-boltered ‘Christianists’ who should be run out of town on a rail, according to Andy).

    I think there’s sufficient to be going on about voting for Governor Romney in how he was as a governor; to wit, as I am given to understand by someone who lived nearby when he was reigning, bloody awful. Nothing to do with religion, everything to do with politics. And if Andrew Sullivan really believes in the mystic power of undergarments in order to divine who can or cannot run the economy, then what does he wear himself?

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    ” His wife boasted on an ex-Mormon message board the other day (and I have no reason to doubt her) that Jim spends a substantial portion of most every day pounding away at his keyboard writing denunciations of his former faith on just about every blog and message board that he can find.”

    There are plenty of ex-______ on the net who spend their time like this. Ex-Catholics, ex-”Fundamentalists”, “ex”-occultists….

    “The heresies men leave
    “Are hated most by those they did deceive.”
    Because they have to convince themselves that what they gave up is completely and utterly worthless. I call it “convert syndrome”.

    Scapulars? The first I heard of scapulars was in Joan Windham’s saints-for-boys account, where she has Mary say to the Servite founders (and without attempting to reproduced Windham’s eccentric capitalization from memory) “This is my own special uniform, and anyone who wears it will never go to Hell.”

    Perhaps the St. Blog’s “commentariat” will object that Joan was “poorly catechized”, or perhaps even one of those nefarious “radtrads”.

  • Rathje

    OK, Part 2 (sorry about the length, I’m being thorough)

    Active, practicing Mormons have a variety of viewpoints on what the “garment” means and how it should be used. There is not one monolithic viewpoint on the subject. But a few general themes seem to come up often:

    1. The idea of garments as offering some sort of supernatural protection.

    Faithful LDS vary in how seriously they take this idea. Some LDS do most certainly believe that the garment can, in some circumstances, protect an individual from physical harm, or from spiritual harm. Actual language in the temple ceremony seems to encourage this view.

    These beliefs are usually accompanied by some sort of annectdotal testimonial, whether personally experienced or heard second-hand from somewhere else. These stories range from the interesting – such as an account given by Mr. Marriot (who runs the Marriot hotel chain) on 60 Minutes about how he suffered a serious boating accident that left moderate to serious burns on much of his body, but no injury to the parts of his body covered by the garment – to the hilarious – such as the urban legend of the male missionary whose virginity was saved when a determined woman of loose morals found herself unable to figure out how to remove his garments.

    Many members speak of feeling spiritually “more vulnerable” when not wearing the garment. Some inevitably link this with sensational stories about evil spirits and the like, but mostly it seems to be a general feeling that one is more susceptible to evil thought or behavior when not appropriately clothed.

    Next item.

    2. Temple garments as a method of enforcing Mormon ideas of modesty and dress code.

    The photograph above is more, or less accurate. I would note however, that the temple garment comes in a few varieties. the t-shirts can be either the scoop neck variety pictured, or a crew-neck. The sleeves are always the same cut regardless. The fabric also varies. It can be the sort pictured above, or knit cotton, or other more breathable stuff for sporting activities. The Church also issues the garment in standard military regulation green for Mormons in the military. There are also two-piece sets of long-johns, that don’t really look any different than the stuff you’ll find in Cabela’s Christmas catalogue, for winter activities. Finally, the Church also issues garments in one-piece varieties (both to the wrists and ankle, and in the standard short sleeved/boxer variety). This is mostly for the old folks who grew up in a time when the one-piece variety was the only type of garment available. They are pretty-much the only people who wear that style, so I’ve heard.

    Yes, the design of the temple garment has evolved over the life-span of the LDS faith. Originally, the garment was uniformly one-piece and to the wrists and ankles (it should be noted, that it was hardly unusual in its cut – since a lot of people in America wore undergarments like that in the 1800s, Mormon or not). Accomodations have been made for comfort, utility, and yes, even contemporary fashion (to a point).

    Changes in the garment’s cut are often accompanied by a lot of complaining from the old-timers who take it as a sign of how our society is morally degenerating, and (private) sighs of relief from the younger membership.

    It is almost universally understood by Mormons that the garment has a role in enforcing the Mormon dress code. The rule is that clothing that won’t cover the garment should not be worn. No sleevless dresses, no mini-skirts, no tank-tops, no shorts that aren’t knee length or lower, etc. Theoretically, even our teenagers, who aren’t allowed to wear the garment until adulthood, are supposed to be dressing to this standard. But observance varies. I can at least tell you that retail clothing stores do a lot of business in Utah in teen clothing that most definitely would not cover the temple garment.

    Anyway, the cut of the garment is seen by faithful Mormons as promoting modesty. Although I know a lot of Mormon women are a little frustrated that the garment is not really friendly to knee-length skirts, which they consider to be perfectly modest, but which often don’t really do a good job covering the garment (I am married, and I can personally vouch for the fact that it bugs my wife quite a bit, and her friends apparently). The blog Feminist Mormon Housewives had a post this past year where a lot of this frustration got vented.

    Mormons are discouraged from making alterations to the garment to make it more accomodating to contemporary fashions. They are even discouraged from buying the stuff in smaller sizes for the same effect (usually, we’re talking hemlines here). It used to be that Mormons made there own temple garments (we used to be a rural farm society in Utah after all). As far as I know this practice has been abolished and is not allowed today. All temple clothing is sold through Church-approved clothing outlets. Personally, this bugs me since I enjoy outdoor winter activities, and the stuff the Church sells really isn’t as breathable, warm, or comfortable as that capilene stuff you can buy at any sport/recreation store. I honestly just wish I could buy the commercial stuff and make the appropriate religious alterations and have done with it.

    The standard Church line of when to wear the temple garment is: “you should look for opportunities to wear the garment, not for opportunities to wear something else.” The Church refuses to get any more detailed or explicit than that (for which I am grateful). There is a bit of question about what a Mormon is supposed to wear during sporting activities (such as basketball, etc.). I personally don’t wear temple garments when playing soccer, or basketball, etc. But I know many (largely among the older generation) who do. I don’t know anyone who wears this stuff when swimming, FYI.

    I have no real desire to explore what Mormons do in the bedroom. I’ll simply note that Victoria’s Secret does brisk business in Provo, Utah. And it was common knowlege at BYU (the private Mormon university), when I attended, that young Mormon brides would traditionally make a trip there before the wedding. I’m sure behavior is all over the board. Less said, the better.

    Final aspect:

    3. The temple garment as a purely religious/spiritual symbol.

    I’ve already said I can’t explain this, but the temple garment has deep, personal, spiritual symbolic value for a practicing Mormon and serves as a constant reminder of our religious convictions and commitments.

    I believe this is the central and most important function of the temple clothing, although I’m sure you can find Mormons who overemphasize, in my opinion, the other two functions listed above.

    Many Mormons, believe that this is, as a practical matter, the only function of the temple garment that matters, fashion being transitory, and the “protection” talk being largely speculative and sensationalized.

    There are practicing Mormons who don’t really believe in the other two functions, who still value the temple garment for its value to their own personal religious observance. Always keep in mind that belief varies here.

    Personally, I don’t walk around expecting my underclothes to “stop bullets.” Neither do I expect to be “beset by evil spirits” the moment I change clothing. I find myself occasionally irritated at how the temple clothing often doesn’t seem to measure up to commercial standards in terms of fit and fabric quality. I think there are definitely improvements that could be made without really damaging the major intent behind the garment’s design. But for all that, the temple clothing remains of spiritual importance for me.

    I think the reason Mormons are so touchy about this issue, is because they are largely deeply committed to their religion. It’s a serious religion that doesn’t really accomodate Christmas-and-Easter-only observance.

    We also are acutely aware that we are not completely accepted by mainstream society. Many Mormons gave up quite a lot to be in this church and suffered a lot of family hostility and ridicule from friends when they converted. Furthermore, the LDS faith has a long history of being persecuted. Our founding was bloody and violent and one of the black marks on US national history. So I hope we’ll be forgiven for exhibiting a bit of sensitivity to persecution.

    Finally, the LDS self-image is one of integrating into the larger world. We do not seek to isolate ourselves as the Ahmish or Mennonites. We want to be a part of society and we also want our message to be embraced by others (thus our prominent missionary program).

    And let’s face it. We know that our religion is wierd to others in some respects. We know that the temple and the things associated with it, are odd to outsiders.

    So we want to be a part of society, and yet we know we are different. This makes us, perhaps, a little hyper-sensitive to ridicule. On the bright side, we’ve kind of gotten used to it and can take it in stride. On the downside, we’ve come to expect negativity, which sometimes makes us overly-defensive.

    There. I’m done talking about underwear. Like others, I’d rather not talk about it. I consider the issue to be private and really wish it were “none of your business.”

    But our religion is under scrutiny and this issue seems to keep coming up, so I figured I might as well deal with it, since it isn’t going to go away.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Has anyone asked all the Jewish Senators and Congressmen how orthodox they are and if they are willing to go to work at Saturday sessions or committee meeetings.
    And Richard Nixon was a Quaker–did anyone probe his relationship to a group that in many ways is as “cultish” as the Mormons.
    Not that I can recall. Everyone just looked at their past practices and public stands on public issues to figure out how they were in tune with or different from what is known about the Faith of which they were (or are) members.
    Half or more of the comments above totally trash the concept of the constitution’s ban on a religious test for public office.
    As for Kennedy’s groveling before the Houston ministers in his own selfish self-interest–he made it difficult for Catholic politicians to be on the same side of an issue
    as the Church even for secular or broad moral reasons endorsed by other groups. He virtually created the mantra “I am personally opposed…But.” making it look like a Catholic might be a stooge of Rome–instead of living up to his conscience–if he was on the same side as the Catholic Church. What he did was ratify the corruption of one’s conscience in order to get political power.

  • http://www.philocrites.com Philocrites

    I’ve already argued that there is at least one theological question a political reporter should ask Mitt Romney: How does Romney interpret Joseph Smith’s oft-quoted prophecy about the U.S. Constitution “hanging by a thread” and the role of Mormon elders in rescuing it?

    That’s a place where popular Mormon theology directly addresses the U.S. political order, and I think voters would be interested in the answer.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Philocrates–That question can be answered by close questioning on how he personally regards the U.S. Constitution and what kind of justices he would nominate and what judicial philosophy he would look for in a nominee to the court.
    For any issue regarding Mormons, or Catholics, or Jews, or Moslems, or atheists, or Buddhists, or Quakers there are ways to question them on public issues you might be worried about without going into the fetid swamp of bigoted cross-examination of candidates.

  • Jim H

    I said officiator in the temple because I was not a Veil Worker. When I say officiator, I simply want to distinguish that I did run the sessions rather than work behind the scenes. I did not mean to imply, and did not say that I was the Temple President. I was one of the officiators which report to the Temple Presidency. I was trained by the Temple President and officiated in English, Spanish and Portuguese. For further verification for the Mormon audience, the sessions take 1 1/2 hours, or a little more, depending on how quickly people can put on the extra clothing contained in the packet of temple clothes. I can still remember much of the ceremony, if that would satisfy you as to my legitimacy.

    The post above which comments on me is intersting, because at once it says that I was not a Mormon because I didn’t know the temple heirarchy, but then says that I was, because I am on the bulletin board for former Mormons.

    I really wonder why Mormons would spend their time on a bulletin board of former Mormons. It would seem that it would require a lot of time. For those who are not Mormon, this should give you an idea of how tightly they control their people. I am no longer a member and evidently I am still being monitored, as is everyone else on our bulletin board. The bulletin board, by the way, is Recovery from Mormonism. We look at it as recovery from a cult which requires support. It is a cyber support group for people trying to find their way out.

    My denunciations of the Mormon religion are trying to let people know that Mitt Romney and the Mormon Church have already been accused, with evidence, that they violated IRS code. IRS said that there was sufficient evidence for it to be investigated. This has been reported by several newspapers around the country.

    If you want to see something interesting on Mormonism, Google the term “Lying for the Lord” and see what you get. It is pervasive.

    I did not cause any of this, but I am trying to report on it.

  • Phil

    Could you please take that picture away? For some of us this is a sacred issue and we do not like to see that which we hold sacred as part of other people’s discussion. Please, please, take the picture away. Thanks in advance.

  • Adam

    I did not mean to imply, and did not say that I was the Temple President.

    Actually, you did, as I quoted in my previous comment, by claiming that you were the top leader in the temple. I’m not sure how else “top leader” could be interpreted. Anyone familiar with the temple would not claim the officiator was any sort of “top leader.” It was a blatant attempt at establishing your credibility by manipulating the facts.

    The post above which comments on me is intersting, because at once it says that I was not a Mormon because I didn’t know the temple heirarchy, but then says that I was, because I am on the bulletin board for former Mormons.

    First of all, I didn’t say that you weren’t a Mormon. I have no way of knowing whether you were or not, I was just pointing out that you used a falsehood to try and grab some credibility. Secondly, I said nothing about being on a bulletin board for former Mormons. Not sure where that came from, must be confusing me with a different commenter.

    I really wonder why Mormons would spend their time on a bulletin board of former Mormons. It would seem that it would require a lot of time. For those who are not Mormon, this should give you an idea of how tightly they control their people. I am no longer a member and evidently I am still being monitored, as is everyone else on our bulletin board. The bulletin board, by the way, is Recovery from Mormonism. We look at it as recovery from a cult which requires support. It is a cyber support group for people trying to find their way out.

    I guess I would wonder the same thing about why a former Mormon would spend so much time posting false information and grabs for attention. I also don’t think it says anything about “controlling” the people, if they were controlling us wouldn’t they want to keep us away from anti-Mormon rhetoric? And, um, give me a break. How does a member of the church who visits an anti-Mormon bulletin board equate to you ex-Mormons “being monitored.”

  • Jim H

    ” His wife boasted on an ex-Mormon message board the other day (and I have no reason to doubt her) that Jim spends a substantial portion of most every day pounding away at his keyboard writing denunciations of his former faith on just about every blog and message board that he can find.”

    This wasn’t you then?, no I guess it was Will.

    I am always amused at how purported “former Mormons” are always getting their facts mixed up. I have never run across one who seems to remember things correctly.

    I am sorry that I did not clarify further that I was not the top leadership or presidency, but was an officiator reporting to the presidency. Most of the people here do not know or care about the heirarchy in the temple. I resigned less than a year ago, so everything is still pretty fresh in my mind.

    Now, the oath of loyalty, the quotes about complete and total obedience to the leaders and the fact that Mitt and the Mormon Church were caught by the press. Do you have any comment on these issues? Has this become an ad hominim issue, or are you willing to address these issues?

  • Rathje

    Jim H. we haven’t been “caught” any more than any other churchgoer who takes her religion seriously has been. If you believe in an all-powerful, supreme being, and you believe He has established a church, it’s just dumb logic that loyalty to church would come before loyalty to country. And that’s true of anyone who takes this God thing seriously.

    If you simply take the time to think it out, it’s kind of a “no-duh.”

    Besides, any commitments of loyalty to the Church are offset by repeated injunctions both in Mormon scripture, and by modern Church leadership that we respect and obey the laws of the land. The Church has followed this stance to a fault.

    On top of that, the LDS Church is probably the least politically active major religion in the entire United States. The political entanglements of most other major Christian religions are a lot more questionable and obvious than anything the Mormon Church has done. Which is not to say the LDS Church hasn’t been politically involved before, but if you look at the playing field, we’re doing alright.

    In the end, this whole issue is no different from JFK being asked whether the Pope would be calling the shots during his presidency, and it’s really just as much of a non-issue with Romney.

  • Jim H

    By caught, I mean the Boston Globe articles, the email trails, the editorials by several newspapers on the subject, and the IRS saying that the involvement warranted a closer look. Possible violations of the IRS code are not something that happens every day. Denying that there was any link, then having emails surface that show there was does not happen every day. Firing a PR agency and Mormon employee(s) after the fact does not change the meetings and emails.

  • Adam

    Most of the people here do not know or care about the heirarchy in the temple.

    Agreed, and that was exactly why you used it to your advantage in your original comment.

    Now, the oath of loyalty, the quotes about complete and total obedience to the leaders and the fact that Mitt and the Mormon Church were caught by the press. Do you have any comment on these issues? Has this become an ad hominim issue, or are you willing to address these issues?

    Sure, I’d be happy to oblige.

    First of all, I don’t see any problem with the so-called “loyalty oath.” I’m not sure that it is much different than what is expected of those in most religions. We love God, so we serve Him. He gave us everything we have, so we give our lives to Him in service. Now, I guess the real question is whether or not this becomes an issue for a presidential candidate. My thought is no. The covenant doesn’t make us puppets. It is just a covenant of willingness to give our lives to the Lord.

    First of all, blind obedience is not taught in the church, as indicated in your post which includes the quotes from church leaders. Every member is constantly reminded that we have our agency (right to choose for ourselves), and we are encouraged to pray about counsel we receive, and act on it only after receiving a confirmation from the Holy Ghost. I believe this is even implied in your quote from Elder Oaks when he said that the counsel should be “considered.” Besides, it’s not like the church leaders are telling us to go jump off a bridge or take mind-altering drugs. They merely ask us to live a Christ-like life, serve God, and serve one another.

    Unfortunately, I am uneducated regarding the issue you raise regarding the Church and the IRS, so I will have to decline to comment on that issue. You have caught my interest, I’ll have to take a look. I do know, however, that the church is VERY careful about maintaining separation between church and state. Before every election, a letter from the First Presidency of the church is read to members reminding them of their civic duty to vote, and that the church does NOT endorse candidates. Instead, each member should consider each candidate’s stance on the issues and then vote based on prayerful consideration. Another example: if my memory is working today…the church thought Pres. Bush’s ‘Faith-based initiatives’ program was a bad idea because it began to erode the barriers between church and state.

    My apologies for turning it into an ad hominem issue. I guess I felt the need to make sure that you were really debating the issues and not just spouting anti-Mormon rhetoric.

  • Jim H

    I will give you the information on where to start looking:

    On 10/19/06 the Boston Globe broke a story about meetings between Mitt Romney and Mormon leadership and what it might mean. Fairly innocuous.

    10/20/06 – Romney and the Mormon Church answered with outrage that there was NO tie – that leadership had NOT been consulted and that the Mormon Church was in NO way associated with the campaign. This was both verbally and in writing. Mitt responded to the Globe and the LDS Church issued a press release either this day or the next.

    10/22/06 – the Boston Globe released an article that included emails between Mitt Romney’s PR agency and Sheri Dew, the head of the Mormon publishing company who reports to the First Presidency.

    The emails said in part; ” I had a positive meeting with Kem Gardner this week. Josh Romney was also there (one of Mitt’s sons, who lives in UT). Kem said he had met prior with Elder Holland in regard to how the efforts to help Governor Romney could move forward amongst the LDS community while not creating undue heartburn. (According to Kem, Elder Holland has been designated/assumed the role of coordinating these matters.) Elder Holland surfaced the idea of using BYU Management Society, and its locally-based organizations as a starting point to rally and organize the troops on a grass-roots level. Elder Holland subsequently surfaced the idea with Presidents Hinckley and Faust, who voiced no objections.”

    This quote was taken directly from the Boston Globe article. There is a lot more to the emails, which they furnished as additional documentation.

    10/23/06 – Press release from the Mormon Church denying everything. At least one person working for Mormon Church were fired, because of suspicion that they might have leaked the emails. The Salt Lake PR firm which worked with Romney was fired.

    In the following week there were editorials in several newspapers about the impact of this on the tax exempt status of the Mormon Church. Included in these newspapers were The Boston Globe, the Arizona Republic and the Salt Lake Tribune. In these, the IRS was quoted as saying that it warranted further investigation.

    A Church or University is not allowed to support a political candidate, the members can, but the organization and leadership may not.

    There is currently a case in which a pastor in California created a mock debate between Jesus, Kerry and Bush prior to the 2004 election. In the sermon, he basically presented that Jesus would not want either one. It appears as though he is going to lose his exempt status, even though he did not endorse a candidate.

    If this comes up this early- if he is already tying the Mormon Church into his campaign, why would you think their would be separation after he was elected?

  • http://theelvesattic.ebloggy.com john scott ridgway

    Empty ritual of any kind takes away from living a creative life. When it involves underwear, things are just that much more pathetic. There is a reason Salt Lake City has the highest percapita use of Prozac in the country… and it ain’t religous enlightenment (which is an oxymoron).

  • http://www.geocities.com/hohjohn John L. Hoh, Jr.

    Well, at least MTV won’t be asking, “Mr. Governor, boxers or briefs?”

    As for modesty, where can I get a pair for my wife? The ladies undergarments at least have an erotic appeal, maybe influenced by Song of Solomon?

  • Rathje

    Oh, you were talking about the Globe piece. Yeah, I’ve read it. The Boston Globe article was a pretty poor piece of reporting. Threw out a lot of sinister-sounding innuendos, and then simply asserted a link between top Church leaders and Romney without providing any evidence.

    Hardly surprising. The Globe has had an axe to grind with Romney for quite some time.

    And my original statement still stands. The LDS Church is probably the most un-offending religion, in terms of IRS status, of any of the Christian religions in America.

    John scott,

    Prozac use is high throughout the intermountain west, regardless of religious affiliation. You’ll have to do better than that.

  • Jim H

    Oh, you were talking about the Globe piece. Yeah, I’ve read it. The Boston Globe article was a pretty poor piece of reporting. Threw out a lot of sinister-sounding innuendos, and then simply asserted a link between top Church leaders and Romney without providing any evidence.

    The Globe piece was not a piece. It was several articles over several days and included evidence. Did you bother to read beyond the first article?

    The first article made accusations. The Glode waited for the outrage from Mitt and the Mormons, then provided the evidence the following day. They wanted denials from both parties before they produced the proof.

  • TJ

    I don’t understand the problem with making covenants to God or worthwhile organizations. Last time I checked, our own government requires a pledge of allegiance by all prospective citizens.

    allegiance, in political terms, the tie that binds an individual to another individual or institution. – Columbia University Press Encyclopedia

    Stating one’s allegiance to God (and backing that statement up with a history of consistent action) is only confessing a commitment to good and worthwhile pursuits. Mitt Romney is such a principled person and has a proven track record to back that up.

    Frankly, I am skeptical of a person who makes no such commitment and is therefore overly susceptible to whatever is the popular concern of the day. This to me is short-term thinking and a sign of one who relies too much on himself. I admire a person who acknowledges personal fault or uncertainty and seeks council from others (including God) who have more experience on a given matter.

  • Pat Holman

    Very un-cool. How sad that this photo is posted. Such little respect for the millions of Mormons.

    This is very hurtfull.

  • Diggy Biggs

    Could you please take that picture away? For some of us this is a sacred issue and we do not like to see that which we hold sacred as part of other people’s discussion. Please, please, take the picture away. Thanks in advance.

    Why? because it offends you? If it’s sooooo sacred and so touchy for you then here’s what you should do. Step by step:

    1. move your mouse cursor to the top right of the window called ‘Internet Explorer 2.0′
    2. Click with the left button
    3. go about your business

    The internet is free, America is free, you have no right to demand or even request this. How dare you even think that you have the right to whine like you have. America is being ruined by crybabies such as yourself.

  • Nick

    Rathje,

    You claim the following:

    Besides, any commitments of loyalty to the Church are offset by repeated injunctions both in Mormon scripture, and by modern Church leadership that we respect and obey the laws of the land. The Church has followed this stance to a fault.

    Nice qualifier on that “modern Church leadership part”. Care to put a starting date on the LDS church following that stance “to a fault”? Would that include the years when leaders of the LDS church practiced polygamy, in violation of Missouri and Illinois state law? Or how about the years 1850-1896 in Utah, when polygamy was – surprise, surprise – illegal in US territories (including the Utah territory)? How about the years between the 1890 manifesto and the Reed Smoot hearings, the fallout of which dictated a second manifesto in 1904? And how about the Mormon polygamist colonies in Mexico and Canada, in the years after the manifestos, when polygamy was illegal in those countries? I don’t recall a “well, that law isn’t rigorously enforced, and we think it’s unconstitutional, and we’re fighting it in court” loophole in the 12th Article of Faith, do you?

    Face it: The LDS church demonstrated, in the first 80 years of its history, that adherence to the laws of the land was something to be cast aside, when said laws contradicted church teachings. And that, along with the oaths taken in the temple, the White Horse prophecy, the fact that D&C section 132 is still canonized doctrine (i.e. polygamy has never been formally renounced as doctrinal elements – neither has institutionalized racial discrimination), etc., are absolutely fair game for a Romney grilling.

  • Jim H

    First of all, blind obedience is not taught in the church, as indicated in your post which includes the quotes from church leaders. Every member is constantly reminded that we have our agency (right to choose for ourselves), and we are encouraged to pray about counsel we receive, and act on it only after receiving a confirmation from the Holy Ghost.

    Actually, Free Agency has fallen out of favor. Here is a link to a private document which shows the frequency of the use of the term free agency and obedience in Mormon Church magazines and conference talks. In the 1970s, Free Agency was very important and received a lot of time. Talks on obedience were negligible. Since then, Free Agency has fallen from favor and in 2005 there was a foot note in a manual that the term was not to be used any longer. At the same time talks on obedience grew to a higher level that free agency ever reached. Here is the link:

    http://www.jhuston.com/free_agency2.doc

  • Webz

    Could you please take that picture away? For some of us this is a sacred issue and we do not like to see that which we hold sacred as part of other people’s discussion. Please, please, take the picture away. Thanks in advance.

    Why complain about the picture? it’s not in enough detail to see the little ‘spiritual’ symbols, so therefore it’s just funky-undies. Rather than complain about one picture on a few websites, why not complain to all the porn sites about not respecting your religious beliefs about the human body and the sacredness of conception?

    Mitt’s funky-undies are relevent for a few good reasons. The office of the President of the United States is far too powerful to be controlled by a bunch of old bigots in Utah. If Mitt believes that the Mormon President speaks with Jesus and God, Mitt may turn to him for advice rather than trained diplomats, generals, and politicians. Gordon Hinkley repeatedly has stated in meetings with the press that he doesn’t understand the doctrine of the religion he leads, so do we really want him advising the President?

    President Kennedy suffered similar complaints with the Vatican countrolling the White House (but as we all know, the Kennedy Clan is about as piously religious as the Mafia). Catholicism doesn’t have nearly the amount of day-to-day control that Mormonism uses to control the thinking, actions, and behaviors of its members.

  • Jim H

    Here is another quote for all of you. This is from Ezra Taft Benson, a former Prophet of the Mormon Church on political involvement:

    When a people are righteous they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord Himself said, “Great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government. “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” Ezra Taft Benson

    Harold B. Lee as quoted by Ezra Taft Benson from the same talk

    You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life…. Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow…. Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [in Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

  • Eric W

    Phil wrote:

    Could you please take that picture away? For some of us this is a sacred issue and we do not like to see that which we hold sacred as part of other people’s discussion. Please, please, take the picture away. Thanks in advance.

    Posted by Phil at 1:49 pm on November 28, 2006

    Do we need any further proof that Mormon undies indeed should be a topic of discussion? If Mormons are that concerned and protective and secretive about these garments, then if Romney is a serious Mormon and feels this way, he’s unfit to lead the country and could use a serious undergarment support group.

    “My name is Mitt, and I’m a breeches-aholic.”

  • TJ

    The term “Free Agency” is indeed used less today in the church than in the past due to its misleading interpretation by most people. In its intended meaning, Free Agency refers to the right of each person to chose for themselves what action they will take regarding any matter including which breakfast cereal to eat for breakfast or which president to vote for. It is the God-given right of each person to chose what they will do or think at any time. Combining the two words, Free and Agency tended to be interpreted as the freedom to chose without regard for consequences. Since all thoughts and actions do indeed have consequences, current teachings of the church use the single word Agency to describe the concept. The gift of Agency (which is granted only to God’s children) is therefore an opportunity for us to chose and thereby learn what is good and what is harmful. The idea is that we improve ourselves through this process.

    I can’t say if talks on obedience are more prevelant today compared to days gone by. Not sure where you get your data to support that claim as it would be very difficult to substantiate. Rest assured, Agency is a concept taught frequently in Sunday School or from the pulpit. Mormons know very well they are free to chose their own course. The church does its best to teach the example of Jesus Christ so members may not have to learn everything the hard way.

  • Adam

    Actually, Free Agency has fallen out of favor.

    Okay, free agency…agency…whatever, it still means the right to choose for ourselves (as described in the footnote referenced in your linked document). I don’t have the time to waste making a chart, but it would be interesting to try the search with the term ‘agency,’ rather than ‘free agency.’ I did a quick search and the second or third result was a talk from General Conference in April of this year about “The Gift of Agency.”

  • Jim H

    I can’t say if talks on obedience are more prevelant today compared to days gone by. Not sure where you get your data to support that claim as it would be very difficult to substantiate.

    It is not difficult at all. It came from http://www.lds.org – the official Mormon web site and a search by year of the occurance of the term in the church publications and conference talks. Very easily replicatable. I wish I could take credit for the study, but it was someone else. I have seen the data and have replicated enough to know the numbers are accurate.

  • Jerry Blackened

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to vote for someone who lacks the ability to realize his religion is a cult. You shouldn’t have to wear a specific type of underwear for your religion, PERIOD. The fact that people here want the image hidden is ridiculous. Yes, it makes you look bad. Yes, it shows one of the ridiculous things you believe. We’re not going to let you hide it while you prance your late-teenagers around in suits preaching “milk before meat.”

    Of course, the question isn’t the best one he could ask if he is trying to pry apart Romney’s dedication to his religion. You could ask, “Which bogus theory do you use to tie Genesis to human evolution?” Or “Don’t you think it’s strange that we have the papyrus used to translate the Book of Abraham with, along with egyptian in your various facsimilies and both aren’t translated correctly at all?” Or “Man, how does God allow racist teachings to be taught by half a dozen prophets for 100+ years with other “revelations” in between? Isn’t it strange that a prophet can’t tell the difference between God’s descended revelation and his own opinion?”

    But of course, Romney won’t have a good answer to these. The fact that he clutches onto a religion that is clearly false will be scary should he ever become President. Who knows what other crazy things he will do because of his emotions. Maybe he just doesn’t care about his religion, but likes to flaunt his belief of it anyway? Isn’t that just as scary? Please, 40% of Americans feel the same way I do, and Romney is going nowhere.

  • Jim H

    sorry, I got my html markers backwards somehow

  • TJ

    It is not difficult at all. It came from http://www.lds.org – the official Mormon web site and a search by year of the occurance of the term in the church publications and conference talks. Very easily replicatable. I wish I could take credit for the study, but it was someone else. I have seen the data and have replicated enough to know the numbers are accurate.

    I’m not sure what your argument is. Are you saying that talks on following God’s law are bad things? Are you saying that Agency is a bad thing? I think it’s pretty clear that today’s world offers many, many more opportunities for people to choose poorly and therefore it’s probably a good thing that church leaders constantly remind members of the benefits of obedience vs. disobedience to God’s law.

  • Jim H

    The term “Free Agency” is indeed used less today in the church than in the past due to its misleading interpretation by most people. In its intended meaning, Free Agency refers to the right of each person to chose for themselves what action they will take regarding any matter including which breakfast cereal to eat for breakfast or which president to vote for. It is the God-given right of each person to chose what they will do or think at any time.

    Yes, it has been replaced by “moral agency”, or you have the choice between doing it the Mormon way (their definition of what is moral) or sinning. They are hardly equivalent. The story is good, but growing up I never felt that free agency was without regard of consequences. Moral agency is just a wat of stating one more time that it is the Mormon way or it is a sin.

    You see, I was late teens and twenties in the 1970s. I remember that period of time. I was on my mission in Brazil in 1978 when the Mormon Church finally caved in to giving Blacks somewhat equal rights in the Mormon Church. I was 23 at the time. I was an older missionary, because I had to earn the money to pay my own way. I remember when Hugh B. Brown talked about intellectual freedom and intellectual inquiry. Now the line is that intellectuals are one of the greatest threats to Mormonism. I also know he tried to get the position on the Blacks changed in 1969, but was thwarted in part by Gordon B. Hinckley (he was one of three that opposed it). I can give you documentation of this if you like.

    The attitude has changed significantly. At this point, obedience is valuded over everything else. If you do not believe that, read the Mormon conference talks from the October and April conferences. Mitt will be expected to obey, just like every other good Mormon.

  • Jim H

    I’m not sure what your argument is. Are you saying that talks on following God’s law are bad things?

    Following God’s law is not a bad thing. Following an old man in a bad suit who says he talks to God is a very questionable practice and in some parts of the United States it will get you locked up. If Mitt read scripture and believed in the Bible it would be different, but he, like other Mormons believe that what Hinckley says trumps scripture. If you want the specific quotes they are easy to get and have been repeated many times.

    I don’t want a President listening to a man that he thinks talks to God. A man who’s words are placed above scripture.

  • TJ

    Yes, it has been replaced by “moral agency”, or you have the choice between doing it the Mormon way (their definition of what is moral) or sinning. They are hardly equivalent. The story is good, but growing up I never felt that free agency was without regard of consequences. Moral agency is just a wat of stating one more time that it is the Mormon way or it is a sin.

    Again, not sure where you get this. I’ve never heard this concept of Moral Agency taught in church. It’s Agency or Free Agency which is culturally a hard term to change.

    Now the line is that intellectuals are one of the greatest threats to Mormonism.

    Intellectuals? There’s a pretty long list of smart people who are members of the church. Mitt Romney is a case in point. Membership in the Mormon church represents a pretty even cross-section of the populace. Many of them intellectuals and then there’s the rest of us. Christians have survived much greater persecutions over time than enduring the rambling arguments of bitter and vindictive people.

    May I sugget that obedience to God’s law is not a bad thing? In the end, people who do so are happier and experience greater joy in life.

  • Nick

    May I sugget that obedience to God’s law is not a bad thing? In the end, people who do so are happier and experience greater joy in life.

    Of course, that is completely unsupportable. First off, which god are you talking about? The Christian god? One of the many manifestations of Hindu deity? Next, if you are referring to the Judeo-Christian god, then are you talking about the law as handed down in the Torah? Do we include the New Testament? Do we include what is printed in the D&C? How about official FP statements, that aren’t (yet) collected into the D&C? Finally, what do you have to back up the statement that those who follow God’s law, as you define it, are happier than those who follow another definition of God’s law (or indeed, who do not believe there is a god, and thus do not believe in such a thing as “God’s law”)?

    You are stating nothing more than opinion, no matter how much you may believe it to be fact.

  • Jim H

    Again, not sure where you get this. I’ve never heard this concept of Moral Agency taught in church. It’s Agency or Free Agency which is culturally a hard term to change.

    From a footnote in the 1995 Childrens lesson manual

    Explain that making choices is an important part of our life on earth. Our right to choose is called agency (agency or moral agency—not free agency). As we use our agency to choose the right, we are following Jesus Christ and can return to live with Him and Heavenly Father.

    Again please note that they don’t want to use the term free agency. It is “moral agency” (the Mormon way) or sin.

  • Rathje

    I’ll reiterate. Two common tactics that opponents of the LDS faith seem to have a propensity toward.

    1. Favoring the stance of dead prophets and church leaders over living ones (the polygamy stuff is a good example).

    2. The shotgun approach. Raise one accusation, then as soon as a Mormon challenges it, change the subject and raise another accusation. Then when they challenge that, change the subject again and raise another accusation. Most of them rather nitpicky (although not always).

    Oh, and when all else fails, use a snarky and contemptuous tone. That’ll shut em up alright.

    I’m signing off on this little drama. Every argument raised here has been dealt with, at length, on numerous occasions on the LDS blogs I mentioned earlier. If you’re interested, check it out. Life really is too short to engage in a point-by-point rebuttal with people whose minds are already obviously made up.

  • Jim H

    I’ll reiterate. Two common tactics that opponents of the LDS faith seem to have a propensity toward.

    1. Favoring the stance of dead prophets and church leaders over living ones (the polygamy stuff is a good example).

    2. The shotgun approach. Raise one accusation, then as soon as a Mormon challenges it, change the subject and raise another accusation. Then when they challenge that, change the subject again and raise another accusation. Most of them rather nitpicky (although not always).

    Oh, and when all else fails, use a snarky and contemptuous tone. That’ll shut em up alright.

    I’m signing off on this little drama. Every argument raised here has been dealt with, at length, on numerous occasions on the LDS blogs I mentioned earlier. If you’re interested, check it out. Life really is too short to engage in a point-by-point rebuttal with people whose minds are already obviously made up.

    I really wish I knew what you were talking about. I started out on this thread to:

    1) Show that Mitt Romney and the Mormon Church had been caught by the Boston Globe in activities which were legally questionable

    2) The Mormon Church expects and requires obedience over everything else

    3) Mitt had made an oath to give all that he had and all that he will ever have to the Mormon Church

    4) Mormon leadership feels that it is their right and duty to be involved and influence politics

    5) In a tradeoff between eternal salvation and an oath to a temporal government, Mitt will choose what he feels is eternal salvation.

    6) The definition of what constitutes eternal salvation is not necessarily scripture, because what Gordon B. Hinckley says trumps scripture.

    I feel I have demonstrated these points. If I have not, please let me know and I will provide additional information. I have a large body of research and quotes to back up each one of these points.

  • Eric W

    I’m signing off on this little drama. Every argument raised here has been dealt with, at length, on numerous occasions on the LDS blogs I mentioned earlier. If you’re interested, check it out. Life really is too short to engage in a point-by-point rebuttal with people whose minds are already obviously made up.

    A case of the pot calling the kettle black?

  • Stephen

    So Jim H. is not only a fanatic but a paranoid.

    Somehow not surprising.

    It wasn’t exactly hard to figure out who you were, Jimbo. Don’t start having fantasies about how important you are or about how important people are paying any attention to your exploits. You’re just a small-fry bigot and monomaniac. There are thousands and thousands of you. Most of them not in institutions.

  • Melody

    I wonder if the individual who is asking that the photograph be taken down because it is “offensive” to Mormons is of the same opinion relating to publication of representations of Mohammad, or banning of creches or using the phrase “Merry Christmas” in public places.

    I can remember when the garments were fully on display for purchase at ZCMI (an LDS owned department store) in downtown Salt Lake. Even Baptists like me could view and closely examine them, albiet not on a human model.

  • Stephen

    Just for fun, I went back to have a look at what Jim H’s adoring wife had to say about him. It was even odder than I remembered:

    “Jim has finally gone around the bend :-)
    “At this point he is waging war against the MORG on about 100 fronts – proudly bearing the exmo banner as he looses the faithful lightening of his terrible swift sword all over the world wide web!!!
    “The man’s fingers are worn to the bone with furious typing -He is slashing and burning with extreme exmo missionary zeal all over YouTube, Yahoo News Messenger and any other board where Mormons are foolish enough to show their pasty little faces. . . . My valiant warrior is a sight to behold and I am proud of him!
    “My dear husband’s evil nemesis, Daniel C. . . . keeps tracking him down and trying to mount a defense, only to be beaten back, sorely wounded and bloodied by the fray! Just as Sherlock Holmes had his Moriarty, just as Austin Powers has Dr. Evil, just as Harry Potter has Lord Voldemort, so it is with Exmo Superhero Jim H . . . and El Lardo, the Dark Lord of Mormon Apologetics!!!
    Seriously – I am getting a bit tired of being a widow to the exmo wars. I practically have to pry the man away from his laptop to come have dinner, cuddle on the couch or do something with the family. Being the wife of a superhero definitely has it’s drawbacks….
    “I can tell you, he was never *THIS* much of a zealot when he was an active Mormon.
    “Sigh…….”

    And Jim H says that MORMONS are weird.

  • Eric

    For the record, I’m practicing LDS (with all that entails), and in this context I’m not offended by the photograph. But, being a journalist and all, I’m all for full disclosure.

    I don’t see how the question when asked of Romney is particularly relevant, at least by itself; if you’re running for president, however, it’s fair game to ask how one’s religious faith (whatever it may be) affects one’s philosophy of government and actions and that sort of thing. Such questions were asked of Kerry, of Bush and of many others. And Romney should be prepared to answer them.

    Because I don’t want to get beyond the purpose of this blog, I’m trying to avoid the temptation to anwer some questions that have been raised here and to correct some false information. But I’ll stop at saying merely that there’s a wide range of political beliefs among Mormons (I even know of a few Greens), that one of the important vlues of the church is to respect others’ religious beliefs, and that the very few overt political statements made by the church have been of an advisory nature only. Nobody is going to be denied the sacrament (what’s called communion or the eucharist in other churches) for a particular political position.

    And back to the original post: I’d like to know how Romney justifies his support for torture. On this issue, he’s flat-out wrong.

  • Hungus Jones

    correct some false information

    riiiiiiiggghhhttt. Are you going to ask me to pray about it until my bosm burns?

  • Webz

    Just for fun, I went back to have a look at what Jim H’s adoring wife had to say about him. It was even odder than I remembered:

    How typical to take things out of context. His wife 100% supports him and loves him for it. The man spent thousands of dollars and hours of his life on a religion completely fabricated by a convicted treasure seeker, womanizer, and pedophile.
    If the church claims it’s their divine mission to convert every soul to Mormonism, then he has every right to try to save those same souls from it. I, For one, salute Jim, and tell him to keep fighting the good fight.

  • Stephen

    Nobody said he doesn’t have a right to be a fanatic. And nobody said that his wife wasn’t proud of him for being one.

    As I say, one-track nutjobs like Jim H will probably gain more sympathy for Romney than they’ll do him damage.

  • Jerry Blackened

    Uh… Stephen…

    You sound more like a fanatic than Jim does. You are pulling up quotes from his WIFE from WHO KNOWS WHEN to use as personal attacks in another part of the web. Are you Jim’s godfather or just a pot calling the kettle black? (I know, it’s been used already.)

    Please take your yellow journalism somewhere else, where somebody cares.

  • Jim H

    I love the ad hominim attacks here. They are so typically Mormon. My wife said what she said on the Recovery from Mormonism board. She fully supports what I am doing and has even helped me research some of the information. She was never a Mormon, but has a background in sociology, so is very interested in the human dynamics. If you are interested, here is a paper she wrote about Mormonism and its effects. If you are interested, here is the paper:
    http://www.exmormon.org/boards/w-agora/view.php?bn=exmobb_biography&key=1126456945&first=1128846793&last=1116240674

    It is interesting that so many Mormons are so familiar with the Former Mormon board. I took time off over Thanksgiving and did a short YouTube video on this same subject. My wife was actually posting because the YouTube video ended up with 8 honors for the day. While this was going on, I ran into one of the top Mormon apologists on a board that I frequent. A BYU professor. I was banned from the Mormon apologetic board the same day as I had a discussion with this apologist. He did not have a logical argument on the topic we were discussing, so he kept trying to change the subject. If you want to see the YouTube clip, here it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sG8CnxesY0

    Another YouTube clip that might be worthwhile is from another BYU professor, teaching missionaries how to NOT answer questions and redirect people they are dealing with. It is informative in showing how the Mormon Church thinks:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMJvqBq_Qa8

    I have no desire to sway people like the Mormons posting on this board. I am hoping that the people who are not Mormons will pause, and at least look into what I have said. I am sure if they do, they will not select Romney and the Mormon Church. The ad hominim thing is typically Mormon. Here is a quote from a non-Mormon from another public board who was following a similar discussion:

    I am curious, is it only the California Mormons who act this way? Or do all Mormons?

    I’ve read posts by cadisneygirl76 and californiamarty, and I’m beginning to think I wouldn’t want to be a Mormon. I had always heard Mormons are friendly and nice, but these two are rude. Are they the same person?

  • Eric Weiss

    Mormonism: It’s not a coincidence that the angel was named Moroni. The joke is on millions of gullible people.

  • Martha

    Good grief, people, can we get back to the point?

    Let’s face it, we all know where Andrew Sullivan is coming from on this topic. The only reason he’s asking questions about Mr. Romney’s clothing habits is because he thinks Mr. Romney is unsound on the national question (viz, gay rights).

    If Andrew thought Mitt would back same-sex marriage et cetera, he wouldn’t care if he was wearing red flannel longjohns or fishnets and a bustier under his suit. But since he thinks Mitt won’t be on the side of the angels, this is a pre-emptive strike by holding him up to ridicule for his religious beliefs – “Look, people of America, at the funny weirdo with his weirdo undergarments and his weirdo religion – not like us nice normal people. You don’t want the likes of him and his weirdo cult in office, do you? He’s untrustworthy! Look at the weirdo clothes he wears!”

    Now there definitely is a valid question to be asked about Mitt Romney’s fitness for high office. But pointing out the freak is not the way to do it. Or is Andrew next going to start pointing out that Orthodox Jews have some funny clothing requirements for their funny strange religious reasons and do we want a member of this funny strange cult in high office?

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    And we have every right to resent someone constantly bombarding every online forum he can find with interminable diatribes on Topic A at the least excuse (or none) when we do not feel threated by the Catholic/Mormon/neo-pagan/wahtever menace.

    I recall that A Friend Of A Friend asked, in reference to Liberman, “What if World War III breaks out on Saturday?”
    Come on, let’s see you jump on those Jews over their “holy caps”, and tell us they are ipso facto mentally incompetent to hold office and need a “headgear support group”!

  • Jim H

    And we have every right to resent someone constantly bombarding every online forum he can find with interminable diatribes on Topic A at the least excuse (or none) when we do not feel threated by the Catholic/Mormon/neo-pagan/wahtever menace.

    Now Will, I am sure you are talking about me. Have you read the information I have provided about Mitt Romney? Have you read the Boston Globe series of articles, or is this simply an ad hominim attack to try to shout me down? Mitt Romney is tied into the Mormon Church. Several newspapers and the IRS have questioned if the relationship is outside the law. I have also posted that Mitt has taken oaths, which I am sure he feels strongly about, that he will support the Mormon faith over antything else. The Mormon Church on the other hand has stated that they have a right to control governemnt. Please respond to this. Attacks against me, against my beliefs are ad hominim and have no place in a forum of this type. I have been careful not to mention garments, secret handshakes, blood oaths, Danites, the early Utah Theocracy and other pieces of Mormonism that are not pertinant to the current discussion.

  • Eric Weiss

    Yarmulkes don’t carry the same meaning as Mormon underwear. The two aren’t comparable, and to throw that into the mix is a diversion, not a valid objection.

  • http://www.nutmeggersformitt.blogspot.com Lug Nutmegger

    Actually Jim H, the IRS has not questioned the LDS church about the relationship between Romney and the church. The Boston Globe asked the IRS. See below:

    However, for tax-exempt nonprofit organizations like the Mormon Church and BYU, federal law prohibits any advocacy on behalf of a particular candidate or party. IRS spokeswoman Peggy Riley declined comment yesterday.

    Donald C. Alexander, who headed the IRS from 1973 to 1977, said yesterday that the collaboration among Romney’s political team and leaders of the church and school could run afoul of federal law.

    “The massive effort described in your article is, if not over the line, I think much too close to the line,” he said. “I think individual Mormons can and probably will support the governor, but they should support the governor as individuals, not in their capacities as having responsibilities for a church or for a university.”

    Alexander, a tax lawyer in private practice, said that if such an effort continues, “This could create a real problem for some fine institutions.

    “Those that are so eager to see Mr. Romney elevated to the presidency should go through the front door and do the right thing rather than get the institutions into possibly deep trouble,” he said. “. . . I think their enthusiasm has outrun their judgment.”

    Thomas A. Troyer, a tax lawyer in Washington, D.C., and a longtime specialist on tax-exempt organizations, said the discussions among Romney operatives and leaders of the church and BYU warrant a deeper look.

    “There’s certainly some smoke there, more than smoke, and it deserves further scrutiny, further investigation,” said Troyer, a former member of the IRS commissioner’s Advisory Group on Exempt Organizations.

    But, Troyer added, “You’d need more specific, factual information about possible violations to get the IRS involved.”

    Milton Cerny, a retired lawyer who formerly oversaw tax-exempt groups for the IRS, had a different take, saying the actions of the church and BYU did not appear to violate federal law, because Romney is not officially running for president.
    “You don’t have an announced candidate,” said Cerny, who lives in Virginia. “These are committees being formed to see whether the individual could be a viable candidate or not.”

    (*Emphasis added by me)

    The current IRS spokesman declined to comment and Mr. Alexander who headed the IRS 30 years ago stated that there might be an issue as described in the Globe article.

    Lug…out

  • http://www.nutmeggersformitt.blogspot.com Lug Nutmegger

    I will make one final post on this message thread to address a couple of statements.

    I suppose from the outside looking in that the question of whether or not Mitt Romney can keep his religion separate from public policy could be a genuine concern, not in the Jim H. “I was a Mormon but for some reason I am mad at them and I will do anything to hurt the organization” way but in the general “I am not too familiar with the LDS faith” manner.

    I will offer this; the Marriott hotel group is owned by a Mormon. If you open the bottom drawer of the nightstand you will find a copy of the Book of Mormon next to the Gideon Bible. You know what else is in the room? Access to 12 porn movies available for 24 hours for only $14.95. Up until last month, smoking was acceptable and you can purchase alcoholic beverages and sometimes but no longer cigarrettes at a Marriott. Why would Marriott, a staunch Mormon allow these types of things in his hotel? MONEY? Sure, but ultimately in order to run a successful business you must cater to all persons, not just Mormons (at least outside of Utah that is). He is able to successfully seperate his religion from business in order to meet the needs of his clientele. He does not force his guests to partake of alcohol or tobacco, or to press “Order” on the remote. These are the choices of his “constituency”. (That said, Marriott did recently outlaw smoking in all of his hotels but not because of religion rather it was in the interest of business and the health and welfare of his guests.)

    I like to think Mitt as the Marriott of politicians. He has already proven he can keep his religion separate from public policy as Governor of MA. He is a keen mind and has been extremely successful in business and politics (the politics statement is subjective).

    Granted the church does state its position on social issues such as same-sex marriage etc but has and does remain politically neutral.

    Lug…out

  • Temple Officiant

    I just find it funny that so many people are in an uproar against (& defending) clothing that rides up your rear and turns yellow from sweatstains.

    God must have a great sense of humor if such clothing really is sacred.

    “See this stain on my rear?”
    “Does it have a name?”

  • Jim H

    Marriott is making money on porn. Jet Blue has offered free alcohol on flights over holidays. The first cash crop in the Salt Lake Valley was beer hops. The Mormon Church controlled brothels in downtown Salt Lake for years(read “Prostitution, Polygamy, and Power Salt Lake City, 1847-1918″ Jeffrey Nichols) Recipient of the 2003 Mormon Historical Association Smith Petit Award for the Best First Book of the Year on Mormon History.

    Mormons are always willing to make money off of others. That is why Utah leads the nation in fraud and MLMs. I come back to the oaths that Mitt Romney made. Mormons feel that keeping those oaths and accepting the Mormon Prophet’s word has to do with his eternal salvation. That will always trump an earthly position. Mormonism is a fundamentalist religion – now before you Mormons get bent out of shape, this means that you literally believe your scriptures are perfect and came from God, you believe in a literal resurrection, and you believe your Prophet talks to God, and following the prophet is the only way to exaltation?

    You can call me a fanatic, or anything else you like, but wouldn’t Mitt believe the Mormon scripture came from God? Article of faith “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, so far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.” Would he believe the Prophet talks to God? What would be his opinion on the following quotes about the Mormon leadership’s right to govern?

    When a people are righteous they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord Himself said, “Great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government. “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” Ezra Taft Benson

    Harold B. Lee as quoted by Ezra Taft Benson from the same talk

    You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . .. Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . .. Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [in Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

    I don’t like what Bush has done in pushing for the expansion of “faith based” initiatives while cutting money to federal programs. I don’t like it that the new head over family planning for the government comes from a “faith based” clinic that taught that abstinance was the only acceptable method for stopping the spread of disease and preventing pregnancy. I don’t like it that Bush said that he had a mandate from God to start the war in Iraq. I don’t think the country needs another president who is closely tied to a fundamentalist religion.

  • http://www.nutmeggersformitt.blogspot.com Lug Nutmegger

    Jim H.,

    I assume you work, correct? Do you enjoy making a living? Is it a strictly Mormon trait to want to be successful? People in business like to make a profit…BECAUSE IT IS BUSINESS! For every topic you seem to be able to bring a negative spin to the church. That may be why some people call you a fanatic.

    I guess it all comes down to the following from your sad ex-Mormon story which you linked to:

    Jim held many important callings including serving in the Bishopric, as the Elder’s Quorum President and Counselor in several wards, and was a Temple Officiator. By the time I met Jim he had already been pretty much chewed up and spit out by life in general and the LDS church in particular. At the age of 48 he had survived an abusive childhood in a Mormon family, a horrific 22 year marriage to a Mormon woman with severe and chronic mental illness, and raised three kids in the Mormon Church. He mercifully escaped that first marriage thru divorce, suffered a bankruptcy because of it, then fell victim to a predatory and narcissistic “femme fatale” 20 years his junior who repaid his love and devotion by rather predictably (to everyone but Jim) leaving him for another (married) man. Add to this the death of a parent, a major surgery, several interstate moves and job changes, and you have the makings of one seriously beat-up individual. When I met Jim, he was just starting to pull out of a major depressive episode that had left him at the brink of suicide, thanks to the help of a skilled therapist (a Mormon herself) and due in no small measure to Jim’s amazing intelligence, determination, and resiliency.

    Jim, I am terribly sorry that you had so many horrible things happen in your life. Abusive childhood, job changes, interstate moves, death in the family, “crazy wife”, hot young chick who leaves you for another man; although all of these are bad, they all sound like pretty normal “life” issues and that maybe you made some poor choices, like we all do. I fail to see how the things that happened to you are the fault of the LDS religion. I am sorry that you choose the LDS church to focus your anger but I suppose if that makes you feel better, than good on ya!

    This is not an ad hominem attack it is merely providing background as to why readers of this blog should take your statements with a grain of salt. No different that you are doing in regards to the church and Mitt Romney.

    Back to the order at hand, if Mitt did not already have a political background than I think your argument would have more teeth. As it stands Mitt has spent the last fours years as Governor of Massachusetts and not once has his religion seemed to interfere with public policy. (I hate to bring up Harry Reid because it seems as if everytime someone says something derogatory towards Mitt Romney some Mormon brings up Harry Reid). Now Harry as you know is Senate Majority Leader, AND a Mormon. Harry has taken the same “oaths” as Mitt and I am quite certain he is not being controlled by LDS leadership. That said, maybe the church is just waiting for a Mormon in the White House to unleash their plans for global domination.

    The last paragraph in your most recent comment is actually pretty good and you have some valid points. For those who are interested you can review Mitt Romney’s record in MA and make your own analysis.

    This really will be the last time I comment on this particular thread. Jim, good luck with your recovery and I wish the best for your and your new family.

    Lug…out

  • Jim H

    Lug – I don’t blame the Mormon Church for anything except lying. It has been doing it for years. The history it presents to its members is a whitewashed version. The roots of the religion are a variety of sources, many of which I have identified. None are from angelic messengers. The Book of Abraham papyrus in actually an Egyptian Book of Breathings from 200 BCE. The native American DNA is Asian, not Israelite, the things in the Book of Mormon like steel, horses, elephants, metal coins, battles involving millions of people, and so on. These things did not happen. The Mormon Church knows all of this, yet persists in misleading the membership. One of their GAs wrote a book in the 1920s bringing all of these things to light. The book was suppressed until the 1980s. Yes, I was naive, but there are still a few million people who are being lied to.

    I am essentially a “recovered” former Mormon. I am no longer angry and actually feel sorry for the members. I am not trying to “get back” at anything. The concerns I am bringing up should be concerns. They raise questions that need to be answered, not passed off because someone calls me a fanatic. Did you read the rest of the paper she wrote, or did you simply take what you felt would support your position?

    As Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt could not do much for the Mormon Church. He probably did not call on them to be involved in his political campaign. As President, this changes. He does have influence which could directly benefit the Mormon Church. If Mitt had not already started down the road of involving the Mormon Church, and if the Mormon Church did not feel it had a right to govern it would be different. If the Mormon Church had not been directly involved with other political issues, then denied it, the situation would be different. I did not get involved in this and did not really care until information surfaced about the Mormon Church working on his campaign.

    The Mormon Church has a long history of political involvement, then denying it was active. The first time I am personally familiar with was the direct involvement in the defeat of the ERA. It still denies activity, even though it has been proven several times. It was also instrumental in making it so the Year of the Woman was unsuccessful. President Hinckley was directly involved in both of these. The women of the Relief Society were asked to join organizations and attend the conferences. Priesthood leaders, with walkie talkies were outside giving instructions on how to vote and what to say. This is all documented. These activities were not against the law, because they were promoting a cause, not a candidate, but the Mormon Church still denies involvement.

    At this point what Mitt and the Mormon Church did was not illegal. I have been following this. Mitt had not announced candidacy, so technically the Mormon Church was not supporting a political candidate. I guess having a large legal department and PR department pays off.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Sorry, Jim, I am more frightened of what YOUR “emotions” may lead you to do (and what Janet we-had-to-kill-the-children-in-order-to-save-them Reno’s emotions led her to do), considering that the “liberals” (and “conservatives”) around me can not see anything wrong with kidnapping ande forcible indoctrinations (“rescue”) once the magic formula “yerinacult!” has been pronounced.
    And objecting to constantly being beaten over th head with somebody’s obsession is not “ad homienem argument”)(Use the dictionary). If you objected to being barraged with LDS evangelism, would that be “ad hominem argument”?
    Saying that somebody’s underwear makes him mentally incompetent IS argumentum ad verecundiam.(See, I can do it too.)

    Eric– So it is not a valid objection because you say “It is not a valid objection.” “I came here for an argument, this is just contradiction.”

  • Jim H

    I can give you an example of the influence the Mormon Church has over its members. Kim B. Clark was the Dean of the Harvard Business school and the George F. Baker Professor of Administration. He was asked by the Mormon Church leadership to leave his position at Harvard and assume the responsibilities as President of a very small Mormon owned college in Rexburg, Idaho. To put it kindly, the college is academically mediocre at best. Until fairly recently this college was a two year Jr. college.

    He is now President of the small Idaho College.

    A “calling” or “assignment” or “instruction” from Mormon leadership is not viewed as a request. It is viewed as a mandate from God.

  • Jim H

    Saying that somebody’s underwear makes him mentally incompetent IS argumentum ad verecundiam.

    While others may have, I don’t believe I have ever said anything about the underwear, except maybe that is was an outward sign and reminder of the oaths and covenants. I assume you are Mormon, so do you disagree with this statement?

    You also seem to be very familiar with RfM. It is an apostate organization and you have been told not to go to or read that type of information. It could cost you a temple recommend.

    If I came on here with wild accusations like an Ed Decker, it would be different. I have not done that. I will say as well, that it is not just Mormons that concern me in the Presidency, and I would react in a similar manner to another fundamentalist Christian or Muslim. I lived in the Middle East for several years in Muslim communities rather than western compounds. I would have a similar reaction if a Muslim was running for President and would probably be called a fanatic in that case as well. I have talked about my feelings about the current administration and would work against a similar administration.

  • proudexmo

    I grew up in a Mormon household with my entire extended family being Mormon. I’m 25 years old and the garments still freak me out. Just because they are underneath clothes and are not supposed to be visible (except they almost always are, especially on women)does not make them any less creepy. It’s just another way to turn Mo’s into conformist robots, as if the brainwashing wasn’t enough. I used to think of going back to church and then I remembered I’d have to wear those awful things and give up nearly all of my wardrobe. And I don’t dress immodest. Two tattoos, five piercings and thong underwear just don’t add up to being a good Mormon. Too bad for me.

  • Eric Weiss

    Eric— So it is not a valid objection because you say “It is not a valid objection.”

    It’s not a valid objection because yarmulkes don’t have the same kind of religious connotations and meanings and obligations that Mormon undergarments have.

  • dpulliam

    OK guys, it’s time to bring some order to this board, however late it may be. I apologize for letting this veer outside of the focus this blog tries to maintain — which is the media’s coverage of religion — but better late than never. Look for a post this weekend dealing with the subject of the media’s coverage of Romney’s Mormon faith and feel free to post comments there but beware, they will be carefully guarded against attempts to veer into Mormon vs. anti-Mormon debates, or anything outside of media analysis of religion. There are more than enough blogs out there, as many of you have noted, for that type of discussion.


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