Was Mitt Romney a “Pastor”?

Last night, in the final question of the town hall-style debate, the candidates were asked how they’ve been misunderstood as men, and how they’d like to correct that misperception. In his response, Mitt Romney said that he’d served as a “pastor” of a church:

My — my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I — I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times. [transcript]

I hadn’t heard of a Mormon man being called a “pastor” before, so I tweeted my misgivings. It seemed to me that Romney was attempting the normalize one of the oddities of Mormon church life — that there are no pastor, just bishops. An interesting and illuminating round of tweets with Mormons and ex-Mormons ensued (click on the images to be taken to the actual tweets):

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Mormonism No Longer a Cult, according to Billy Graham

Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney last week. According to the press secretaries of each, Graham told Romney he’d do “all I can” to help get Romney elected. It seems that one of those things is to remove the long-standing statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints being a cult from the BGEA website:

A Billy Graham Evangelistic Association article labeling Mormonism a cult has been removed from the group’s website following the 93-year-old televangelist’s meeting with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last week.

Graham pledged to do “all I can” to help Romney get elected during the meeting

The Citizen-Times at 4:56 p.m. on Thursday captured the article, which said cults are “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.”

Graham met with Romney at his Montreat home just hours before. The article is not on the association’s Website today. [Mormonism 'cult' claim vanishes from Graham site | The Asheville Citizen-Times | citizen-times.com]

Some, like Steve Knight, have questioned whether Billy is being played like a puppet by son and heir, Franklin, in these, his last days. According to Steve,

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Rob Bell Wants You to Take Communion More

Bo has posted about his recent interview with Rob Bell:

In the most recent episode of Homebrewed Christianity, I asked Rob Bell what he would do if he were starting from scratch again.  I was particularly intrigued for three main reasons:

1) I actually am starting a new gathering so I wanted to pick his brain.

2) Bell is so creative and innovative – who better to ask?

3) His answer was somewhat surprising:

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Brian McLaren’s View on Homosexuality

In a poignant post, Brian McLaren responds to an Asian pastor who writes him,

“I have regarded Brian as my mentor in coping with expressing my Christian faith in the postmodern world but now I have to break ranks with him – it leaves me devastated…”

The issue, for this pastor, is homosexuality. Brian has been honest about his stance on issues of human sexuality, but he hasn’t shouted it with a bullhorn either.

Brian McLaren

As background, however, you should know that Brian presided over a wedding ceremony of his son and his son’s husband — a news item that led Patheos blogger TMatt to suggest that we no longer refer to Brian as an evangelical. Christianity Today blogged about it. Brian graciously responded.

Brian did not make a public issue of his son’s sexuality. Others did. But it has brought Brian’s perspectives to the fore, and I’m assuming that’s how this Asian pastor decided to part with Brian. Brian, for his part, has written another gracious response, in which he clearly states his view on homosexuality and how he got there: [Read more...]