Mitt Whiffed on Mormon Leadership

Mitt Whiffed on Mormon Leadership August 16, 2012

The latest issue of Business Week has an interview with Mitt Romney. The question was put to him, “why does Mormonism produce such a disproportionate number of political and business leaders?”

Romney gave what you might call a Mormon-flavored ecumenical answer, which I will reproduce in full. Please circle back after the block quote, because I want to take a stab at it. He said:

I don’t know that I have an answer for you on that. I believe that people of faith by and large have a great interest in the institution of family and that a family is a great place to learn leadership skills. I’m sure I benefited by having a Mom and Dad, both of whom were actively involved in the community and in various enterprises. And by watching them interact with other people, I learned the kinds of lessons which serve me well. I presume that’s true for people of faith, if their faith, like mine, draws you to your family.

It’s not an awful answer but it is incomplete. Mormon success derives from the practical application of Mormon theology. The family is a big part of that but I would argue so are the Mormon notions of creation and, to a lesser and controversial extent, theosis.

The Mormon God didn’t create everything ex nihilo (“from nothing”) like the God of normative Christianity. He organized the stuff that was already here into the universe/earth/etc. And he came up with a plan to put Humpty Dumpty back together again once man had wrecked the place — through Jesus, the Mormon Church and the family.

The Mormon insistence on planning, preparation, organization — management — are almost an act of worship to the organizing Mormon God and they are obsessions in Mormon wards. If you the generic Mormon grow up having it drummed into you that management is really, really important; if you see all these fellow Mormons around you, and perhaps in your own family, running businesses and running for office, it’s all going to have an effect.

Then there’s the lay-leadership of most of the Mormon church to consider. Grow up evangelical and you might be encouraged to become a pastor or worship leader. Grow up Catholic and you might — might! — be encouraged to give the priesthood or an order a look. If you grow up Mormon and you have an inkling to become a bishop, a business leader, or a politician, that isn’t the same stark choice.

In fact, your co-religionists may very well ask you, “Why not do all three, Mitt?”

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