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Mormon romney

Willard Romney is a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by his own admission and the testimony of those who know him. He went to Brigham Young University as a dutiful son should, and later to Harvard to get his secular credentials; he did his mission in France, a spot for the best and brightest of Mormons, and converted his wife to the faith. His record, on just this much information alone, puts him in the elite of his faith. His money, as is true of any member of any religious creed, only adds to his prestige. His father was a high official in the church, and Willard will be also, if he does not make the Presidency of the United States of America.

Just as Americans had to ask themselves what it said about Barack Obama that he listened faithfully in the church of Mr. Jesse Wright for almost two decades (obviously not enough to disqualify him for our highest political office, although I admit it was a deal-breaker for me), it is time to ask what it says about Mr. Romney that he is, in the popular use of the word, Mormon.

First of all, Latter Day Saints are not Christians. I am well aware that coals will be heaped upon my head for saying so, but it is true. Christians, for whatever else they do not have in common, are Trinitarians: God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one. This is not the belief of Mormons. Nor do they believe that Holy Scripture is the Old and New Testaments complete and unified, and the Word of God, as Jesus is the Word. The Book of Mormon is to the Old and New Testaments exactly what the New Testament is to the Old in comparing Christianity with Judaism. In fact, and this is the most important theological fact that Christians must understand about the Latter Day Saints, they stand in relation to Christianity exactly as Christians stand in relation to Jews; that is, they “complete” what Christians started, and make it full and true.

Latter Day Saints also believe that the Christian church became apostate within its first century. Taken to its logical conclusion that implies that what became Western Civilization was essentially a moral fraud until the coming of Joseph Smith, who made all things clear and right. If you were to read the Book of Mormon, just as if you were to read the Koran, the underlying world-views of their adherents might take on a different coloration than that which is demanded by the doctrine of political correctness.

I’m not hostile to Mormons. In fact, I not only respect them and admire them but I would be willing to say that I know as many good people who are Mormons as I know who are Catholics. I worked for almost two summers for John Atkin, the President of the Stake in Palmyra, New York, the founding place of the Latter Day Saints. I have never known a finer man. I have read the Book of Mormon carefully. I have been to their pageant in Palmyra (the equivalent of a Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem) nine times. I hired two Mormons to our department at Hillsdale College, and was a good and respectful friend and cared deeply for their families. I’ve read the best of Mormon and non-Mormon scholarship, which leads me to bring up the book by Jan Shipps, Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition (1985). A sympathizer but not a Mormon, Dr. Shipps presents the religion exactly as I have described above, but of course with much more sophistication and nuance.

If you have a real curiosity about how Mr. Romney views the world, consider these things. In the history of the United States, the greatest religious bigotry was reserved for Catholics (and still is, in many quarters), although there is much evidence that such bigotry is now being transferred to Christians in general. If this doesn’t matter to you as voters, or if other categories of candidate differences trump religion, then, of course, disregard it. But don’t kid yourselves, the religious sensibilities of our presidents make a difference. Woodrow Wilson, for example, tried to impose a strange Calvinist triumphalist Redeemer Nation imperium, and we have been suffering from it ever since. William Jefferson Clinton’s peculiar sexual sensibilities (weirdly justified by his biblical and semantical gymnastics) taught my grandchildren the meaning of oral sex. And on, and on.

I don’t mean to suggest that Mr. Romney will urge upon us anything apocalyptic or immoral. As a Latter Day Saint, however, he is not invested in the same traditions of the church or of the rule of law or the deep archives of sacrifice for the civilization of the West as I am, or most of you are. He is a problem-solver, it is true; but from where does he pull up the resources to see the problems clearly? Mormons tend to be triumphalists, they see an end to history that has them at the center of it; and I see that Mr. Romney has gathered around him neocon triumphalists who care relatively little about limited government, but who wish mightily to engage the dragons around the world who seem to be threats to our hegemony of “democratic capitalism.”

Mr. Romney is not, like the current resident of the White House, a Chicago community-organizing thug, nor would he be as President anything but the best gentleman he could possibly be, at the same time looking at all of the rest of us as bothersome peasants. He isn’t an ideologue, as far as one can tell, although Mormons can become ideologues in times of crisis, just as can Texas Methodist teetotalling converts. The Episcopalian Bush I comes to mind, a good man who paid his dues to the Republican Party far more than Mr. Romney has, who ultimately didn’t know where to stand, but what did the good Mr. Bush do except turn into the second-string New Dealer we all knew he would be? What better could Mr. Mormon Romney do that isn’t a replay of the good Mr. Bush? In strictly political terms, it may be argued that prudence is a better trait for a leader to have than one’s own religious test. In the case of Mr. Romney, however, it is at least a fair question to ask, is the religious test something seriously to consider? It is for me.

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21 replies to this post
  1. John, what a gentlemanly piece and no surprise there.

    I was told by a Mormon colleague that in their view of the afterlife one eventually is given (or assumes) the role of a god over one's own universe. So every successful Mormon becomes a god. In which case they would not be monotheists, much less Trinitarians. Does this meet with your own understanding of their religion?

  2. Just to correct everyone here, we (Mormons) do believe in God the Father, Jesus his son, and the Holy Ghost. I don't know where you are getting your information but it's wrong. And yes, s masty, we do believe that one day we will get to create our own worlds but that does not change our basic belief system believing in the three. And I know many people will say I'm wrong, but Mormon's are Christians. The name of our church is the Church of Jesus CHRIST of Latter Day Saints. Right there in the name is shows we are Christians. I don't know why everyone has to fight that.

    And lastly, why should religion have anything to do with politics?

  3. Steve, I think Mr. Anonymous has answered your question. Anon, I think you beg the question. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is ONE God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the Word fully expressed in the covenants of the Old and New Testaments. The Book of Mormon alone changes all this. I really don't want to get into a theological shootout about in what sense the LDS mean that Jesus is the Son of God (or any other of your cherished beliefs, for that matter). I do, obviously, believe that religion is very much in what Fr. Neuhaus used to call The Public Square. To take just the current example: is it conceivable that a real Christian President would be imposing federal control over Catholic hospitals and schools?

  4. Great article, John.

    Steve, as John pointed out, the courageous Mr. Anonymous answered your question. If memory serves from my time in Utah, the highest level of heaven is the Celestial Kingdom, where a good and faithful Mormon man is given a planet to populate with his wife. I always suspected that the prospect of an eternity spent copulating was a strong motivation for the clean-cut young lads to remain diligent in their faith.

  5. Mormonism:Christianity is not like Christianity:Judaism. It's like Islam:Christianity. Mormonism doesn't claim to be the fulfillment of Christianity, but a restoration of the true revelation of God that was buried and corrupted by orthodox Christianity in the first centuries BC and ever since.

    It's also the quintessential American heresy. Its acceptance in the mainstream is extremely dangerous to America and American Christianity. The goodness of individual Mormons and Mr. Romney's fitness for office aside, it is this that is the deal-breaker for me.

  6. Mormons cannot embrace the Nicene Creed, and in my book that creed is the sine qua non of the Christian faith. But I'll confirm Mr. Willson in this, all the Mormons I've ever met and interacted with have been some of the most kind and decent folks you'd ever want to meet. I'm sure Mitt Romney is equally as kind and wholesome. I just don't think this particular Mormon will make a very good, conservative president.

  7. I am sorry that in the age of information you are still so ignorant of the truth. Mormons are the most Christian of all Christian faiths. Mormons believe in the God head, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Mormons believe that Christ is their savior and redeemer. And Mormons teach and sing and write and read of Christ daily. Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon is a companion to the Bible. BOTH are holy scripture testifying of Christ. They read and study the Bible as often as the Book of Mormon. You ought to show a bit more responsibility when you are publishing something for the public to read. It is not up to you to define what a Mormon is. That is for Mormons to do.

  8. Do you believe that Catholics are Christian? It was once thought that their ascendency to the presidency would be dangerous to America. Most people don't think that way today. Except maybe many evengelicals. I find it interesting that evangelicals who abhor the papacy and disqualify Catholics as Christians would now be willing to embrace Gingrich and Santorum who are Catholic and Paul who is a Lutheran. Does this mean that they now find Catholicism more palatable given that they're left with no one to vote for in this election?

  9. The comment that a trip to the Palmyra pageant is equivalent to a pilgrimage of a "Christian" to Jerusalem makes me laugh out loud. As a life long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I have never heard any leader encourage attendance or even make mention of the pageant. The authors assumption that all mormons have the same worldview and historical perspectives is equally ridiculous. Vote as you will regarding the candidate Mitt Romney but leave out your narrow religious bias.

  10. Come come, Anonymous, old boy! No matter what you may think in private, writing that yours is ‘the most Christian of Christian faiths’ is a tiny bit intemperate, yes? I may regard some Christian sects as being comprised chiefly of unlettered snake-handlers, and some Arab mullahs as barking loons who shouldn't be allowed to handle cutlery, but I wouldn’t call them that to their faces, and one strives to get along with devout Muslims and Christians and Mormons and Hasidic Jews and Hindu Brahmins, etc., as one does. Many are jolly nice when it comes down to it, whether informed or not of other faiths. CS Lewis writes that all religions peer at God through clearer or dustier lenses, or something like that.

    Now, one does tend to suspect that religion is important in politics. It can tell one a great deal about a potential leader’s nuanced thought – not every day but when the chips are down. Religion, or lack thereof, affects us even in ways that we know not – look at how our atheists are prone to Judeo-Christian values even whilst hating God.

    Different cultures and different religions both tend to have the same values but often in different orders of priority. Is religion a political determinant? I wouldn’t vote for a fellow Catholic who is also a charlatan or a moon-calf (and we may know who I mean), or prefer someone born in my hometown over a Punjabi – but I know where a Punjabi might tend to differ for good or ill. This is why better schools would teach something of all religions and many cultures.

  11. "Mormons are the most Christian of all Christian faiths"

    With all due respect, that is a joke just waiting to be laughed at.

  12. Publius, above: Just as a matter of historical fact, through most of the Christian past, Catholics were the only Christians. Having said that, from a more or less anthropological position, all of the Christian groups that have emerged since the formal splitting of the Church during the Reformation were also present in the universal Church before the Reformation. Just as all Christian heresies emerged by about the third century AD, so did all the forms of worship and even organization that we have come to recognize as "denominations." There were always pietists, and latitudinarians, and militant evangelicals, and baptists, and many kinds of "restorationists." And they all lived uneasily, as they still do to some extent, within a general framework that was always more decentralized than it appeared to be. This country was founded partly as an extension of the Reformation, and that it should have been culturally hostile to the mother church should surprise nobody, although those who study the sordid history of anti-Catholic bigotry in the US are always surprised by its intensity. You are right in thinking that lines are and have been blurring, in part because of how numerous Catholics have become in almost every American neighborhood, in part because Catholic distinctives have greatly disappeared since the 1960s (not always to the liking of traditional Catholics, one may note), in part because of the general secularization of American culture. But Mormons are a different case. They are still a tiny, tiny minority, with a restorationist agenda far more complete and apocalyptic than any mere "denomination," and while I would never advocate any form of bigotry against them, I believe that it is completely fair to raise the issue of an LDS President.

  13. Anonymous says Mormons are the best Christians and Anonymous says phooey, it's a joke.

    Are they both the same person? If so, can we help him get treatment? If not, could at least one of you find a more inventive name?

    As I understand it, Mormons stopped attacking wagon trains long ago and it seems to have been a one-off occurrence anyhow. Catholics halted that Inquisition business (at least for now) and TIC has not yet developed a retaliatory Falangist wing. Why all this cowardice? It's unseemly. I can probably say this literally without poor manners: for Christ's sake, cut it out!

  14. Mr. Willson, when you assert "Latter Day Saints are not Christians" you're engaging in a form of equivocation by assigning a meaning to the word "Christian" that is more restrictive than that found in a standard dictionary. You're trying to impose upon the word doctrinal suppositions that simply aren't there. You apparently would like it to be a synonym for those who share your doctrinal affinity; but it isn't valid. Disciples of Jesus Christ were called Christians in Antioch–long before there was a New Testament or any council to define the so-called Trinity. The term originally designated disciples of Jesus Christ; and the majority of English speaking people still perceive it in the same way.

    You can surely claim that I don't share fellowship with you because I reject the doctrinal strictures of your brand of Christianity; but you cannot reclassify people based on whimsical definition. My standard Webster's defines a Christian as "someone who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ." It doesn't say anything about the sufficiency of the Bible, or the Trinity or a host of other doctrines. It seems to me that if you want to exclude Mormons from being Christians, you should first look up the meaning of the word.

  15. I'm really sorry that you think a "standard dictionary" defines Christianity, and that I should "look it up" before bowing to the infallible Webster. Goodness. I do not begrudge you your beliefs, or those of Mormons or Jews or Muslims, or Unitarians for that matter. But please don't claim to be able to tell me that you are a Christian just because you say you are. It is exactly the same as if I insist that I, as a Catholic, am a Mormon just because I say I am. I also find it interesting that you claim to speak for a "majority of English speaking people." Really. And where might that majority reside? Unfortunately, it may be correct to say that a majority of English speaking people could not care less what Christianity is, but that's a far different question than the one you propose.

  16. John, indeed. Every concocted religion invents some bogus antecedents as soon as it crawls wet from the eggshell. Thereafter its every believer bores the world legless, strutting and explaining how Yahweh, Moses, Christ etc somehow missed the most important bit that came to them later and was revealed to the Prophet Elmer Fudd, or Mary Baker Eddy, or assorted Middle Eastern personages, etc. It is to the lasting credit of that egregious, self-admitted conman Ron Hubbard and his Scientologists that they seem to claim their theological thunder-mug filler came from space aliens and they are not simply the most advanced form of Christians. It is also interesting that, despite the numerous mystical hair-balls coughed up by India over four millenia, it seems as if America will win the trophy for concocting the goofiest and most unnecessary religions.

    as irksome as it may seem, we can take pleasure in two aspects. first, like atheists, these various heretics and moon-calves cannot establish any claim to value apart from making reference to Christianity. If i manufacture a soft-drink advertised as 'better than Coke' but it tastes like liquefied sweat-socks, at least i paid respect to a beloved product. second, while we may laugh at these hallucinatory frauds, pickpockets and perverts here on earth, think what fun we will have in the celestial pub among Dean Swift, Mencken, GKC, Drs. Johnson and Kirk, Joe Sobran and other kindred spirits. book your table early.

    meanwhile every self-appointed Prophet of Onan will tell us his religion is the only 'real' Christianity but the poor logic, bad spelling, greed, body odor or sheer silliness will give it away to all but the most credulous.

    • Lisa Cardon: Mother of six in Idaho. Shame on you! I have devoted my life to Chrisian teachings, homeschool, reading the bilble, practicing the beatitude, worshing my Savior Jesus Christ every Sunday, and taking to time to reflect and improve my life, based on His perfect life, He is my exemplar, my strength, and who I depend on daily to raise my six children, five boys (one with autism, four teenagers and one 3 year old) We serve in the community, do Eagle scout projects to help the community. We humanitarin effors in Equador to help orphans and serve God children. Every month we sacrifice 10% of all income to help the less fortunate, and the neediest of Gods Children. I personally work tirelessly as a mother to provide help and plans in our community in case a crisis arrives, financially, spiritually, or physically. I plant a garden and have some hay to teach my boys the benefit of working hard on a farm. I I serve, visit, help those struggling in our community, and I expect my five teenagers to do the same. My teenagers serve about 15 hours a week in the community collecting food for local food banks, teaching lessons about Jesus Christ, ans serving others in need. We pray daily as a family to emulate and be like our Savior in thought, word, and deed, and live the “Godlen Rule” I work tirellessly to instill in my children a love of America, the constitution, and true American ideals. We pray daily for struggling neighbors with cancer, health concerns, family stress, and we serve with our teenagers by weeding gardens, visiting the downtrodden, and spreading the good news of the redeption, grace, forgiveness. To say that our family in NOT Christian, is a lie. Come live with our family for one week, and feel the difference of sacrificing your time, efforts, and prayers, in behalf of others. Serving others in need. That’s what the Savior did, who loves and respects all children, we served all children, sick, palsied, ingorned, and the downtrodden. We are all children of God. Shame on you Mr. John Wilson for being misinformed, judgmental, and critical of the millions of Latter-day Saints who truely sacrifice time, money, contributions, to others in need and worthy American causes, true American and constitutional principles. Get off your your high horse, and work in the trenches to be like Christ, read the scripltures, and try to raise of family of sixw with strong work ethic, strong American beleifs, who will stand for truth and righteousness, no matter what the cost. Shame on YOU!

  17. " A community organizing thug"? Interesting…. you call yourself a conservative – The apposite application of time honored prose is, I presume, your qualifier.

    Others seem to agree…. " a gentlemanly piece"!! O tempores, o mores….

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