When will Romney tell us what he believes?

mitt romney4And does it matter?

John Dickerson of Slate has a solid piece that fleshes out Mitt Romney’s Mormon issue and provides us with some interesting news tidbits. Dickerson calls on Romney to explain his beliefs in a clear, concise way that gives voters an idea of how his faith will affect his life. According to Dickerson, Romney’s people say he will address such questions once he officially announces his candidacy sometime early next year.

Dickerson raises an excellent point that while John Kennedy could plausibly declare that his Catholicism did not affect his public life because of the separation of church and state, Romney is asking people to vote for him because he shares their moral values. What, may we ask, is the source of those moral values? Might it be Romney’s Mormon faith?

Here is Dickerson:

Address the Mormon issue, and move on: That’s what the Romney camp hopes will happen when he gives his public speech. But talking about these issues in public will be tricky. First, it’s one thing to answer questions about Christ. It’s another to proclaim your faith in him at length and in public, if you consider your faith a largely private matter. Plus, Romney will have to say enough to inform the confused and comfort the fearful, but not so much that he has to answer doctrinal questions for the rest of his candidacy about exaltation and undergarment.

. . . The best intellectual argument Romney could use isn’t available to him, which is that all religions have their odd traditions and beliefs that look highly quirky under close examination. Romney could use my Catholic Church as an example, but in doing so, he’d risk alienating another key constituency. Imagine what fun he could have had with the Charismatics, some of whom speak in tongues or drink snake venom.

In other words, for Romney to be successful, he will have to explain why his faith matters to him and why those Americans who find it strange need to grow up. If he is successful, does anyone have an idea of the effect this could have on Mormons in America?

In related news, The Boston Globe reported that the Rev. Jerry Falwell has issued a statement that has had not endorsed Romney’s candidacy. The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger reported that Romney said he had the support of Falwell and other conservative religious leaders. A transcript showed that Romney was indeed misquoted, according to the Globe, and that he quoted Falwell as saying he could support candidates of a different faith as long as they agreed on social and moral issues.

Glad we have that cleared up. Here are some of the latest developments in the Romney campaign, as reported by the Globe:

Also yesterday, Romney’s political action committee, the Commonwealth PAC, announced that a slew of new advisers had joined his political team, including Kevin Madden, a veteran Washington, D.C., communications specialist. Madden served as spokesman for the last two House majority leaders, John A. Boehner of Ohio and Tom DeLay of Texas, and was part of President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign.

Romney’s PAC also announced that two leading economists and former chairmen of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw, would advise him on the economy, as will Cesar Conda, a former top domestic policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. The PAC also announced several new advisers in the Southeast.

For Romney to be successful, he will have to connect with potential voters. He will also have to reach key evangelical leaders and give them some political cover if they are to support them. A significant percentage of this will be determined by how reporters cover his “I am a Mormon” speech. Look for the first polling data to give the earliest indicators. From there it will snowball one way or the other.

For the record, the most recent poll found that 43 percent of respondents maintain they will never vote for a Mormon, while 51 percent of evangelicals maintain that stance. If that changes, either way, it’s a news story to watch.


Comments on this post should address the media’s coverage of Romney and his Mormon faith. Comments that stray from this focus will be deleted punctually.

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

    Didn’t Mollie already write a very similar post to this? I think it was called “When less isn’t more”.

    I hate to attempt to answer a question with a question but even if Mitt explained his “Mormonism” would that really matter? Would the general 43%, and in particular the 51% of Evangelicals who state they would NOT vote for a Mormon change their views based solely on Mitt’s explanation?

    Here is a question for your readers; what could Mitt say about his religion (besides stating that he was converting to Lutheranism) that would make you more comfortable voting for him?

    Lug…out

  • MattK

    I don’t follow political news much (I suppose most Americans are like me in that regard) and I can honestly say that except for this blog I almost never hear anyone reporting on Mr. Romney’s relion. As far as I can remember it has only been mentioned on NPR a couple of times, and then only to say that Christians might have trouble voting for him. (I think I might have read something about it in the WSJ a couple of years ago.)

  • murphy

    I have an incredibly hard time trusting these polls, when so many of the people being polled cannot name Romney’s specific theological tenents or significant political achievements during office. In other words, these polls are talking about a spooky anonymous mormon, not a real person.

    Expect these polls to drop among the general public once several things happen:
    1. The public becomes informed about the political platforms of the various presidential candidates.
    2. Romney gives his standard religion & politics speech to bigger audiences.
    3. Religious leaders of all denominations line up behind Romney as the most viable social conservative in the race.

    I find it extremely telling that no significant leader of the religious right has expressed any willingness to vote based on religion. The responses from this vary from cautious observation (James Dobson) to pronouncement of Romney as the social conservatives’ current best shot (Frank Page, SBC president).

    “I have a deep disagreement with Romney’s theology, but I won’t rule him out. Among the presidential candidates who have surfaced, he’s the closest to the Southern Baptists in his social and moral beliefs.”

    No doubt the people who fill the pews will generally come to the same conclusion as their leaders.

  • http://pilgriminanunholyland.blogspot.com Clinton Douglass

    We have never believed in a religious test for public office in this country. It is unamerican! Mit Romney’s faith shouldn’t be an issue and its sad that there is so much religious bigotry in this country that almost half say they would never vote for Romney because of his “mormonism”. Why do we hear calls for Romney to “explain his mormonism” like its a plague or a vice. It sounds like people in Nazi-Germany talking about Jews, doesn’t it? Why is there still so much intolerance and ignorance in our country. If people want an explanation of what he believes, they are free to examine the precepts of the religion on their own, but don’t make a politician apologize for their deeply held beliefs. Mormons are good people trying to please God, is this so incompatible with high office? After all, there are lots of people in public office with the same desire.

  • Martha

    Oddly enough, it’s not Mr Romney’s religion that concerns me. I’d like to see him being questioned on politics – like, what are his budget plans? How does he feel he succeeded as Governor? What would he say to those who feel he broke his campaign promises and left the state in a worse financial position?

    Stuff like that, rather than breathless exposés of his undergarments, would be more interesting. If he’s unelectable, I’d prefer him to lose on his merits (so to speak) rather than the false comfort of “Oh, it was religious bigotry that did for me.”

    Who exactly is dragging his Mormonism into the spotlight? Is this a Democrat ploy to nullify a perceived threat by making him out to be too weird to elect, or is this an inside job by elements of the Republican party that want to sabotage a rival to their preferred candidate?

  • murphy

    Amen, Martha.

    …or is this an inside job by elements of the Republican party that want to sabotage a rival to their preferred candidate?

    Several McCain supporters come immediately to mind, Cindy Mosteller taking the cake. This former (and future) McCain aide brought anti-mormon material to confront Romney during a recent state GOP meeting.

  • Sarah Webber

    As I am not a resident of Mass., I’d like to know if his religion has mattered in previous elections. I mean, since he is the current governor of a traditionally (stereotypically?) Catholic state, surely someone has asked these questions before.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Sarah–I am a Catholic ordained deacon and I hope I don’t get myself or my Church persecuted by the IRS for this–but I voted for Romney over a typical Kennedy-Kerry secular toadying Catholic of which Mass. seems to be a breeding ground. In his 4 years in office his Mormonism has been no issue and no problem–except for all the liberals furious at him for being more pro-life and pro-traditional marriage than they expected or wanted. Almost every socially and morally conservative Catholic I know prefers Mormon Romney to the typical Catholic Democrats allow to run in their party in this state.

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  • Tim Wightman

    Eventually, everything comes down to the issues at hand, and that’s what Romney’s going to be accountable for. Nobody can come out and attack Mormonism and pretend to only be attacking Romney. I don’t remember the last time a politician or party went after an entire religion. It doesn’t seem to be the wisest strategy. Isn’t it enough simply to see where he stands on certain issues? Probing into his faith doesn’t seem necessary, especially when certain aspects of it are sacred to him and to all Mormons.

  • http://www.oca.org NewTrollObserver

    Apparently, Romney will give a “I am a Mormon” speech sometime in the new year. That should be interesting

    A 21st-century version of Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech: “Ich bin ein Mormoner”.

  • Larry Rasczak

    “Why do we hear calls for Romney to “explain his mormonism” like its a plague or a vice.”

    Well said! Well said!

    Sex with interns, well that’s something we should just “move on” from… but MORMONISIM!!

    “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? Speak up Mr. Romney! I can’t hear you!”

    Just as an aside, I listen to Hugh Hewett on a regular basis and he mentions quite often that he is working on a book about Romeny and his Mormonisim. I don’t know if this is to be the official campaign bio book or not, but he said last week he had been up in Boston doing the last interviews for his book.

  • imnojudge

    Romney is asking people to vote for him because he shares their moral values. What, may we ask, is the source of those moral values?

    Does it really matter what is the source of anyones moral values? Isn’t it WHAT they are that is important?
    There are people who have no specific religious faith but live by personally held moral values to be admired. Then there are numerous Christian religious leaders (past and present) who seem to have none. Well, at least if they do they don’t let them interfer with their with their immoral behavior. Lets get real here folks.

  • RJ

    I realize this is a little of topic, but I haven’t seen anyone in the blogosphere or in the media question the new Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid’s, Mormonism. Is he any less capable of leading in the Senate than Mitt would be in the White House based solely on Religion?

    Is there a double standard here?

    Can someone please explain this to me?

  • Michael

    Reid isn’t running for president or attempting to be the favorite candidate of the GOP’s most observed voting bloc: religious conservatives. Nor is he one of the early favorites of the conservative media elite. That makes Romney much more newsworthy than Reid.

  • imnojudge

    I am not sure a potential candidate, still not even declared much less nominiated by any party, should be more newsworthy than the Senate Majority Leader. And if the religious arguments against Romney are valid (and it is questionable at best if they are) they should applied to any polilical leader of high office with major power and influence.

    Smells like a double standard to this observer.

  • http://abomasuharold.blogspot.com kwabina

    I can only imagine that ‘Romney’s Religion’, which has a nice ring to it, will only help him. The fact that people are discussing it at length now seems to prove it.

    If ‘Borat’ can triple tourism in Kazakhstan…

  • http://abomasuharold.blogspot.com kwabina

    If he is successful, does anyone have an idea of the effect this could have on Mormons in America?

    If Mitt is successful mormons will probably feel like it was worth it to have their religion drug through the mud in order to finally be fully accepted in the political process.

  • Mark V.

    If my memory serves me correctly, we have had several Unitarian presidents. Does anyone know if there was an issue with their religion or did it fit into the contemporary Enlightenment mindset?

  • Larry Rasczak

    realize this is a little of topic, but I haven’t seen anyone in the blogosphere or in the media question the new Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid’s, Mormonism. Is he any less capable of leading in the Senate than Mitt would be in the White House based solely on Religion?

    Is there a double standard here?

    YES

    Can someone please explain this to me

    Harry Reid is a Democrat. Democrats think that moral values are wonderful things to talk about, especially at hollidays, but not the sort of things you might want to let influence your behavior. Sort of like the UN with treaties… they are fun to sign, but nobody actually expects you to abide by them.

    As a Republican Romney having moral values means he might actually be encouraged to DO something about them… like put a pro-Life Justice on the Supreme Court, squish federal funding of abortion or stem cell research, not support the gay rights agenda, support prayer in school, oppose contraception, ect.

    Therefore Romney’s Mormonisim is a threat to some people, but Reid’s isn’t.

  • webwalker

    Again and again and again…

    What does this have to do with how the MEDIA covers religion?

    To put a nice sharp point on it: No one cares what YOU think about the subject matter’s politics, theology, or funny underwear.

    This blog is about the coverage of matters touching religion. Could we PLEASE (and Larry, I’m beggin’ ya, brother) confine our comments and observations to that subject?

  • Jack Fuller

    It makes sense to me that one’s religious affiliation is a private matter. That means not public. If voters want to know what the denomination believes then they should go to that source. I want to know what Romney thinks about the budget, defense, international relations and how he plans to run the country’s business. So far this religion thing smells like a ploy developed and sponsored by McCain et al. I say McCain because one of his supporters seems hell bent to make religion an issue. If Romney is that much of a threat then I am really interested to see how the two compare on real issues.

  • Jack Fuller

    In deference to Webwalkers comment above mine, it appears many in the left-leaning media and a few co-opted others find Romney a huge threat. How better to dispose of the threat than to appeal to the voters ill-informed biases? Let’s face it, the media uses this bias daily as a tool to control public thought. When thiry second adds on TV and radio get more splash than two thousand word essays, then you know how this happens. The real danger to the leftist media and their darlings is a well reasoned and researched debate of the issues. Concocting a diversion like religious preferance only appeals to a limited number of people. Republicans have always been more circumspect than to rely on the leftist media for accuracy and fairness. When we see the media get involved against a candidate we can expect the left is behind it. I have yet to find anyone who can tell me what a Mormon president would do that is so awful.

  • Jack Fuller

    I promise, this is my last post today. In the McCain-Romney discussion, I think the media and McCain have to create a diversion such as religion. It would be the immigration issue with Brownback. McCain and the media can not afford to contrast brain power and accomplishment especially to Romney. McCain barely sqweaked out of the Naval acadamy, while Romney is an Honor graduate from Harvard Business school and Harvard Law. McCain personal life has some serious blemishes. Romney is your prototypical All-American father and husband. Romney has actually governed a large state. Romney has actually saved the American face by making the 2002 Winter Olympics a money making world class event. Romney has proved hinmself in business by developing such nationally known brands as Staples, Dominos, Sealy and Sports Authority. He brought the Massachusetts budget back from a disasterous $3 billion deficit. While McCain served honorably in the Navy and indeed was a hero of the Viet Nam war, he has yet to prove himself outside that. If it is judgement we seek in a president, then we should be looking at accomplishment as a metric. But do you really think the media will do the research for us? We can not trust the media. We must do it ourselves.

  • imnojudge

    Again and again and again.

    What is the real issue behind all these Romney posts on this site anyway?

  • Sarah Webber

    I think the real issue behind a large number of these posts is fear. Some of us who are not members of the LDS church fear what we don’t understand. Then there are those of us who were raised to believe (and may still believe) the Church of LDS is a cult, which makes it different from most other common American religions. And then some of us who put “family values” at the top of our voting list wonder if Romney will be the “best” option to vote for in 2008 and we wonder what we’ll be getting along with his strong stances against abortion and gay marriage.

    As for the MSM (to drag this back to the topic at hand), I expect it’s simply a case of something new and insteresting (and weird) to write about and push a whole new set of peoples’ buttons. I’m all for informing the public but sometimes I wonder if some media obsessions exist simply for the pleasure of watching the public react.

  • Rae

    “What is the real issue behind all these Romney posts on this site anyway?”

    The MSM has 3 objectives.

    1. Fracture the Republican Party.
    2. Demonstrate Evangelical Bigotry.
    3. Put a Democrat in the White House.

    Continuing to cover Romney’s Religion accomplishes all 3.

  • Jack Fuller

    imnojudge
    Is it Wednesday yet? So much for my promise to not post again today.

    RE: Romney Posts. This is not a Mormon thing. It is a matter of not letting the leftist media and thier appologists take over our conservative Republican agenda. By standing up for the only conservative so far in the race we can keep the record somewhat honest. If Gov Brownback gets into the hunt then we sould do the same to protect his good name and reputation and counter the balony the left slings at him too. In order for Republicans and conservative democrats to have an honest debate of the real issues we must call the distortions and misinformation when we see them. We can not let the leftist media influence the debate with garbage. Remember GIGO? (garbage in garbage out).

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    I am not a resident of Massachusetts either, but I remember that the FORMER “Negro doctrine” was raised as a campaign issue when he was running for governor, and thought this was particularly obscene coming from the KENNEDY machine.

    And again, it was the Democrats who made the religion of a Swedenborgian running for the Missouri legislature an issue in an attempt to call on the hysteria over the “cultists” in Waco. (A “strange church” that “doesn’t believe in normal things” and “is probably a cult”)

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    And if I remember correctly, the “Unitarian” presidents (if you mean Jefferson, etc.) remained Anglican communicants by formal affiliation.

    I think Lincoln’s lack of church affiliation WAS an issue with some people.

  • Jim H

    I don’t believe it is religion per se that is Romney’s problem. It is the fundamentalism found in Mormonism. It is the strong culture of obedience to religious authority. It is the secrets of the temple. it is the beliefs outside of mainstream Christianity and the oaths he took to put the Mormon faith above all else. Harry Reid does not have the power of a President and is representing an area with a fairly high Mormon population. It is appropriate to have a Mormon representing and area with a high concentration of Mormons.

  • Jack Fuller

    Jim H
    It is not my intention to turn this into a discussion of Mormon theology. But when I see misunderstanding or intentional misinformation I will attempt to correct it.
    Strong culture of obedience to religious authority.”. LDS members believe they follow a living prophet of God. Their belief is based on a personal witness to them by the Holy Ghost. If they do not get it, for whatever reason, or they loose it, they fall away over time. It is fair to say that active members believe that they have had that witness. It is a spiritual conversion not understood by those who have not experienced it. Traditional Christians who walk with the Spirit will experience that same feeling if they humbly and honestly seek an answer as to the truthfulness of what we teach. But it is real and is often diffrent from anything one has experienced. We follow Christ just as early Christians followed Christ.

    If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is,in fact, the church Christ re-established after the original church membership aposticized then we would be well advised to listen to God’s prophet. So, the issue isn’t whether one follows a prophet, it is whether the church is as it claims to be. If it is, then Christ’s prophet would be God’s man on earth. Who else would you follow? And don’t forget, church members are directed to pray to get a personal witness from the Holy Ghost to the teachings of the prophet and all church leaders.

    It is the secrets of the temple. There is nothing secret about what happens in the temple. Ordinances of the temple are sacred which means that they are performed only for the dead and worthy living members. Anyone can partake of these ordinances by becoming a worthy member.
    it is the beliefs outside of mainstream Christianity and the oaths he (Sen. Harry Reid) took to put the Mormon faith above all else. Again, this is a theological question about whether there was in fact an apostacy, and if, in reality, Christ has re-established his original church on the earth. It is either correct or not. There is no middle ground where the fearful can take a wishy-washy stand. If one believes it is a big fat lie then they should not convert. But if it is true then there is a lot new stuff to be pondered. Mormons will say Christ is anxious for you to learn about it.

    And one other obliquely related matter: Mormons believe it was the remnant of Christianity, on the earth for the intervening 2000 years since Christ’s death, that kept Christ alive in the minds and hearts of the countless millions of believers. Today, traditional Christiany continues to bring people to Christ. What the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints brings to the discussion is that there is much more to God’s plan of salvation than is taught by traditional Christianity. It was once on the earth, was lost but is now back for consideration.

  • Jim H

    Jack;
    I can’t really respond to the errors and misstatements in what you said without getting into points of Mormon doctrine and dogma. Since there has been a request that we not go there, so I will bite my tongue and move on. It is enough to say that Mormonism teaches “milk before the meat” and it therefore does not talk about many of the beliefs and attitudes until they feel a person has been adequately indoctrinated. Boyd K Packer said “meat before milk always causes indigestion.” Anything that Romney said would be a watered down “milk” version so it would appear as acceptable to mainstream Christianity.

  • http://www.arcapologetics.org Craig Branch

    A Mormon President?
    Mitt Romney is a Mormon. The current governor of Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts, was a two year missionary, a temple Mormon, attended BYU, and served as president of the Boston area congregations for 9 years. He also finished second to Bill Frist in the straw poll of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SPLC) as a choice to run for President of the U.S. (March, 2006). The SPLC consists of 26 southern and Midwestern states where Christians and the political right have a stronghold.
    So why, being a Mormon, is Romney so popular? Even for political conservatives Romney has a very problematic history of being a pragmatist (liar) on issues rather than on spiritual/moral motives.
    Should one’s religion be a litmus test for political office? Joe Lieberman is a conservative Jew. Orrin Hatch is a Mormon. Harry Reid is a Mormon. George Bush claims Christianity. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are Roman Catholic.
    But this is not the same or real issue. Regarding Romney, we are talking about the powerful office of President of the United States of America. And we must ask, “which religion” and what are the beliefs of that religion, and does he believe in actually adhering to those precepts and edicts?
    Romney appears to be a political and ethical chameleon, while running for senate and then governor in Massachusetts he positioned himself as a moderate, speaking out of both sides of his mouth on issues like abortion, homosexuality and embryonic stem cell research. If he is truly a committed Mormon as he indicates, he would be firmly against those practices.
    Yet during the campaign, Romney was asked given that since he said he “personally opposes abortion,” how can he in good conscience support a law that enables women to have an abortion, and even let the government pay for it?
    Romney answered, “One of the great things about our nation is that we are entitled to have strong personal beliefs and we encourage others to do the same. But as a nation we recognize the right of all people to believe as they want and not to impose our beliefs on other people. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.”
    That response is imbecilic! To believe what you want is one thing but beliefs that manifest in actions that harm or kill others being made into law is entirely different. So Romney would allow his and abortion rights activists to “impose” their beliefs on the rest of us?!
    Romney gave the same response regarding the government requiring Boy Scouts to allow homosexual scout leaders to serve or lose their tax-exempt status. The Mormon Church which sponsors many scout troups said they would pull out if that happened and Romney himself was then serving on the National Board of Directors for the Scouts. Yet when asked his position Romney gave his classic two-faced answer, “I believe the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service to this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their orientation.” What?!
    Romney then proceeded to alter a long standing tradition during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Utah as he was appointed leader of those games. Romney eliminated the traditional very visible presence of scout volunteers and instead went out of his way to invite and include the homosexual community to serve as volunteers.
    So then Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts. So now he is positioning himself for the Republican nomination for President and he is attempting to lean over to the other side of the road on moral issues.
    But one perspective given by some Christian leaders on Romney’s acceptability, I believe is wrong. Chuck Colson told the Weekly Standard last year, that he “could support Romney in good conscience as a fellow social conservative on most issues.” Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention stated that even though Mormonism is not Christian, if it comes to a choice between a Mormon social conservative and someone like the more liberal Rudy Giuliani, he thinks most evangelicals could vote for Romney. He added, “We are not electing a theologian-in-chief. We are electing a commander-in-chief.”
    I disagree. Everyone is a theologian. Some are good and most are bad. Legislation and leadership are inevitably based on someone’s concept of morality. Normally one’s religion is the source of that morality. Either it is from someone’s supposed revelation from God or from autonomous man’s views. Questions need to be asked and answered. Is Mitt Romney truly a Mormon? A temple Mormon? Or is he only nominal like the Kennedys are nominal Catholics? How can he hold two contradictory positions at the same time and not signify pragmatism over ethics?
    But there are even two more embedded issues. If Romney is a sincere and committed Mormon, then does he not believe that God himself appears and counsels the LDS prophet regularly and guides “His Church.”? Must not Romney submit to that leadership? This is a big gap between the acceptance of a Jewish or Catholic conservative politician. All religions are not created equal. But wait, there’s more.
    The Mormon church, “prophets,” teach that all temple Mormons take an oath under penalty of death not to reveal the temple doctrine secrets. In those oaths there is a commitment to “consecrate your time, talents, and everything to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” Mormon scripture and doctrine states that all other churches (specifically Protestants) are the “church of the devil, the whore of the earth,” and teach as their precepts things that are an “abomination to the Lord.”
    And then there is the “White Horse Prophesy” allegedly given by God to the LDS prophet Joseph Smith (when he was running for President), in 1843. This “prophesy” stated that a day was coming when “a terrible revolution will take place in the land of America,” and we “will be left without a Supreme Government” and the U.S. Constitution will “hang by a thread.” Then the Mormon Church would ride in on a white horse and take over, saving the Republic.
    Romney must be asked if he, as a true Mormon, believes these things (and others). Why or why not? Actually we can get a glimpse on how he would answer. When asked by a reporter for the Atlantic Monthly, “How Mormon are you?” Romney gave his blurry non committed answer, “the principles and values I aspire to live by – family, beliefs in Jesus Christ, and serving one’s neighbor and community.”
    But the reporter pressed the question asking about some of the particulars of Mormon belief and practice to which Romney replied, “I’ll just say those sorts of things I’ll keep private.”
    Well, not when you want to be President of the United States Mr. Romney.

  • Rathje

    Jim H,

    Most Americans don’t know or care about any of the “issues” you raised. These issues only matter to people like you and me who have made Mormonism a bit of a personal quest or even a hobby.

    The Mormon image as “fundamentalists” exists alright. But it stems from LDS beliefs on marriage, sex, abortion, evolution, and all that stuff. You know – the places we tend to resemble other “Christian fundamentalists,” or even plain ole Republicans.

    Outside of certain isolated internet chat rooms, I really don’t think these issues have the sort of legs you seem to think they do. Fact is, average Joe-American doesn’t care – one way or the other.

    For my part, I’m a little leery of what “affect Romney’s success will have on Mormonism in America.”

    I think the early Mormon prophet Brigham Young (who led the Mormons from violent persecution in Illinois, to Utah in wagons during the mid 1800s) summed up my concerns well:

    “The worst fear that I have about this people [the Mormons] is that they will get rich in this country [Utah], forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth.”

    This is the greatest problem facing Mormonism today. We are becoming Americans first and Mormons second. Half the folk in Utah are just as bland and colorless as the homogenated rest of middle-class America. Not a controversial bone in their body and they seem completely oblivious to just how radical their own historical theology really is. This is true of new converts and lifetime members alike.

    Rather than lead a revolution in human thought and belief, many Mormons seem content to assimilate into the American collective of mass-culture. This is the face Romney has shown to America thus far. And honestly, it could be his real face. It’s the real face of countless Mormons all accross America.

    This is why the fearful diatribes of the anti-Mormons crack me up so much. The problem with Mormonism isn’t that we’re weird. It’s that we’re so horribly ordinary! DISAPPOINTINGLY ORDINARY, bland, vanilla Americans watering down our own beliefs and theology to the point that we are almost indistinguishable from any other kid on the block.

    What Americans don’t get is that the #1 religion in America isn’t Catholicism, Southern Baptist, Mormon, Judaism, or any of the other denominations you might choose. The #1 religion in America is “Being an American.”

    And Mormons are just as guilty of this as anyone.

    When religion becomes “mainstream,” “accepted,” and “popular” – that is when the religion is truly dead and has nothing more to say to anyone. When Mormonism becomes accepted, it will lose its transformative power.

    I fear a successful Romney campaign will be just one more nail in the coffin.

  • Jack Fuller

    Jim H
    When I was a brand new policeman, some many many years ago, my sergeant said never to argue with a drunk. That includes people drunk on hatred and excommunicated Mormons with a vendetta who cherry pick doctrine, distort history and purposely mislead others. It is time to move on.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    The stuff about “obedience to the church” continues to sound JUST like the stuff thrown at Kennedy– and which was heard much more recently when a Jesuit was appointed to a post at, Gordelpus, the NYPL.

    And is Lieberman a “conservative Jew” or “Conservative Jew”? Recently covered events should make it clear even to the “MSM” that this is not an idle distinction.

  • Jim H

    I am going to ignore the ad hominim attacks at this point. I will say that I left the Mormon Church of my own volition, through their formal resignation process, not because of “grevious sins” or excommunication.

    I have a quote from a non-fiction book about how Mormon’s view the world. This book was written by noted research authors (non-Mormon). This quote is about another Mormon public official.

    If the Church didn’t want the truth out, then neither, it appeared did Brent Ward. If the Church didn’t want this case in the headlines, didn’t want to get itself involved in the legal process, who was Brent Ward to put it there? As for his sworn duty to uphold the law, well there were laws and there were laws. As one investigator on the case saw it: “Brent Ward’s motives are above the law. Do you think a good Mormon in the U.S. Attorney’s office is going to hesitate for one minute deciding to do what’s correct for the law or what’s best for the Church? This guy was on his way to being a GOD(emphasis in original). Next to that, US attorney looks pretty insignificant.”

  • Jack Fuller

    Craig Branch
    You bring up some interesting points. Any presidential candidate should have to explain in full how he/she reconciles changes in position on issues. Of the five biggest issues, (homosexual rights, abortion, immigration, the national budget/taxes and defense) you have to give the opposition and investigators a firm statement from which they can look for inconsistencies. We should not begrudge anyone a change in philosophy if it is based on new information or recent experiences. What is not acceptable is blatent hypocracy. This goes for Mitt Romney too. His alledged flip-flops on homosexuality and abortion issues should be explained. But the immigration issue is such a fluid thing that one has to allow for changes in position because it could reflect daily changes of events on the ground. Few people have a hard and fast stand on this issue. The media plays such an influential part that we have to keep up to speed based on information from many different sources. You can’t trust what you get from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, NBC or ABC. So many of their stories come from highly questionable sources.

  • Jim H

    Here is a link very pertinent to the point I am trying to make. There are claims of misrepresentation, but I have been in enough meetings at high enough level within the Mormon Church to know this is obfuscation. They are trying to cover up “business as usual”.

    http://frazer.rice.edu/~kriz/blog/?p=18

  • Rathje

    And Jim, I’ll repeat:

    This is different from the level of political involvement habitually evidenced in various Baptist congregations, Catholic priests, Jewish synagogues, and any number of black Christian congregations – how exactly?

    No matter how much I read about this story, it looks like mere non-news to me on the order of “dog bites child.”

    All churches behave this way, the LDS leadership less so than most apparently.

  • Jim H

    It is contrary to the IRS regulations section 501(c)(3) for a religious organization to support a political candidate. There is currently a church in Southern California which is in jeparody of losing its nonprofit status for a sermon that was a mock debate between Bush, Kerry and Jesus prior to the 2004 election.

    A religious organization can support a political cause, as long as it is incidental to their overall operation, and consistent with the overall message of the organization, but it is strictly forbidden to advocate or support a candidate.

    Other religions DO NOT do this. It is not habitually evidenced in other churches, or the IRS would have a heyday.

    BTW I am a CPA with a graduate degree in accounting. I really do know what I am talking about. Check it out.

    The Boston Globe released emails that demonstrated that Romney and the Mormon Churchg were planning exactly this. They, of course, wanted to keep it hidden because lawyers that they are, they know the law. They feel they are above the law. Just like the quote I presented from the book.

  • Rathje

    Come on Jim.

    You get regular endorsements of candidates over the pulpit every election year.

    And the issue really has nothing to do with whether the LDS leadership are, or are not, dishonest.

    The question is how Romney’s governing will be affected by his faith. The Boston Globe article really doesn’t tell us much about this one way or the other.

  • imnojudge

    Jim H

    You are doing just exactly what the poster of this article asked you not to do. You are way to angry to be taken seriously.

  • Jim H

    I think there is some projection here. I am not angry. I have no need to get or be angry.

    I do know the IRS code. If candidates are endorsed over the pulpit in any church, it is placing that church in jeparody of losing its tax exempt status. Read the law. If you know a pastor or priest that is doing this, the IRS would really like to hear about it. They like nothing better than turning a tax exempt organization into a taxpaying organization.

  • Rathje

    Read the law… Observe reality….

    Whatever. Who cares.

    Whether the LDS Church deserves tax-exempt status has absolutely nothing to do with how Romney’s faith will impact his job as President.

    Jim, are you going to cart-out the tax exemption issue on every single Romney post, or just the ones where it’s actually relevant? Just curious.

  • Jim H

    And Jim, I’ll repeat:

    This is different from the level of political involvement habitually evidenced in various Baptist congregations, Catholic priests, Jewish synagogues, and any number of black Christian congregations – how exactly?

    I have been responding to this.

    My actual issue was posted in the quote from the book. Romney has not as Governor been put in a position where the interest of the Mormon Church and his responsibility as a public official is in conflict. If he were elected, I am sure that at some point it would be. I also have no doubt about where his core allegance lies. There is a big difference between John Kennedy and his approach to Catholicism and Mitt Romney’s total involvement in Mormonism. There is also the difference between Mormon leadership who has often stated that they expect total obedience to their word and the Catholic Church wich give guidelines to live by. Where is the assurance, where has he said that he will put his responsibility as President over his membership in the Mormon Church? He has not, because he will not.

  • Jack Fuller

    Jim H
    Enough already! Get off it.

  • dpulliam

    Yet again, I have failed to shut down, on-time, a petty squabble outside the stated discourse of the blog, but better late than never! This post is here-by closed to all comments. Sorry folks.


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