Romney’s Bit Will Bite Back

Romney deserves credit for understanding the superficiality of the public and targeting that majority in his speech. As political theater, … Continued

Romney deserves credit for understanding the superficiality of the public and targeting that majority in his speech.

As political theater, Mitt Romney touched all the bases and sounded all the alarm bells necessary to staunch the bleeding of his lead over Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Whether planted or not, the public applause rose when the governor voiced the clichés that are in the US political toolkit. “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Savior of mankind;” “The president needs the prayers of all faiths;” “Our freedom comes from God.” These are the one-dimensional statements that serve both as the pabulum and main course in US politics today. He deserves an “A” for the material.

A bit less satisfying was the use of “man” and “mankind” without gender sensitivity. Most Catholic and mainline Protestant churches have adopted more inclusive language. But once again, knowing the narrowness of the targeted public for the primary season, Romney made a wise choice. Better to cater to the evangelicals who have doubts about you than worry about the more tolerant believers who probably won’t punish you for gender insensitivity. Overall, he looked “presidential:” the navy blue suit and matching tie, the crisp white shirt, the gray at the temples, all out of a movie casting guide. Another “A” for delivery.

There were two missed opportunities, however. These could come back to haunt Romney, once the talking heads begin the endless parsing of the speech. He misused the concept of “secularism,” conflating it with “atheism.” Atheists believe that God does not exist and conclude that religion is therefore not rational. Secularism, on the other hand, is the original creation of the founders of the nation who were indifferent to personal beliefs and were concerned about the non-religiously defined common good. The citation about “self-evident truths” made in defense of religious tolerance at the birth of the nation is actually taken from the medieval concept of natural law. The natural law allows reason alone without faith to understand certain basic truths, all of which are in harmony with religious teachings. Thus, it lays the foundation for modern secular governments. A government like that of the US can be secular, i.e. building upon rational consensus, without resorting to religion as a basis for public morality. Religion prospers in such a setting, as the governor pointed out. By making secularism the whipping post, however, Romney actually undermined his own call for tolerance and for a focus upon values shared among people of good will.

More worrisome was Romney’s characterization of religious extremism only as “jihad,” squarely making this abuse Islamic alone. How can he have omitted including the Crusades as violent religious oppression? History shows not only that Muslim jihad caused the Crusades, but that the First Crusade was itself a jihad. Nor should Romney have left off the 16th century religious wars in which Catholics and Protestants killed each other. Most tellingly, he omitted the savage reprisals taken by Mormons against other faiths and even against their former believers trying to escape from Utah. There is enough blame to spread out among all faiths and categorizing it as jihad was wrong.

Ultimately, and perhaps wisely, Romney left out the nettlesome public points of Mormon theology that continue to plague ecumenical relations of the Latter Day Saints with other religions. Doesn’t the practice of baptizing the non-Mormon dead offend the rights to privacy? I resent the notion that the LDS church would cull the name of a Jewish ancestor of mine from a newspaper, put it in the hands of one of their believers and baptize that person in absentia. How would Romney react as president if a bill were passed to protect the privacy of non-Mormons against such temple baptisms of Jews and Muslims?

I also believe that while masterful in comparing himself to Catholic John Kennedy, Romney has not answered the issue about obedience to religious tenets. While JFK as a Catholic layman could separate himself from the bishops, the pope and the church magisterium, Romney comes from a church of lay bishops – including himself. The LDS Church allows revelation to flow from God to its followers with considerably greater frequency than with Christians who teach that revelation was closed with the death of the last apostle. As recently as June 9, 1978, a lay Mormon bishop pronounced the new revelation from God that black people could become priests, contradicting a previous revelation to Brigham Young that they could not, which itself contracted the practice of Joseph Smith who earlier had ordained a black man as priest.

Religions are always adapting (for instance, many hope that the Catholic Church would ordain married men and women). But there is a clear difference in Catholicism between divine revelation and church practice. So also in Judaism and Islam, there are boundaries drawn between the revelation in the scriptures and the various theological interpretations given to those words by commentators on the contemporary practices. The issue many believers have with Mormons is how the LDS faith uses (some would say “abuses”) divine authority in direct revelation in making decisions. What would Romney do if he had a divine revelation one night in the White House that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations? What would he do if the head of the LDS Church had this revelation? While the politically correct answer would be, “That would never happen,” the theological issue is that it might. Sadly, I didn’t hear this issue addressed by the governor and I still have my doubts.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Mitt Romney is your typical M.B.A. moneyman who is adept at squeezing the last penny out of any project, to the exclusion of all other interests and values.When such a one attempts to speak on larger and more important issues, such as religion and government, he discovers that his mind is insufficiently imaginative, generous and expansive to talk sensibly about the topic.He’s therefore reduced to mouthing thoughtless cliches which pander to the ignorant religious.Paraphrasing Dr. Johnson:”Sir, Mitt Romney’s attempting to speak on religion and government is like a dog walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

  • Daniel

    Fact Check – a lay Mormon bishop did not pronounce the 1978 revelation you are referring to. Rather, that revelation came through the Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Sean Allen

    The only reason Willard Romney decided to address whomever it was he addressed, was to recover the momentum he lost to the recent Huckabee surge in Iowa. The latter’s gain is the result of a rallying of Christian conservatives to his camp. Where, except from these recent converts to Huckabeeism, did Romney expect to expand his support? He avoided the theological issues that distance him from that group of voters thus ensuring a status quo among them, at best. Today’s speech was a waste of time for everyone except the independents who might have found reason to dislike Willard’s generic, faith based thinking.

  • Paganplace

    He’s still an MBA moneyman who did a number on the State of Massachusetts, claiming to be all about ‘tolerance’ (for himself, not for the others he’s promised to) till he started angling for a GOP nomination. He was a carpetbagger brought in by corporate interests who wanted state money to cut puclic services, with only Olympic Committee experience to get called on while his Democratic opponent was being subject to character assassination. He said he’d honor Massachusetts’ social liberalism, and turned on it when offered more power.*That’s* a fact check. 🙂

  • Jed J.

    Romney left out the reprisals by Mormons and you left out the savage acts perperated against them. You can’t even follow your own preaching.

  • Anonymous

    JFK himself said: I think Romney did a good job of representing that today.

  • Jed J.

    Romney left out the reprisals by Mormons and you left out the savage acts perpetrated against them. You can’t even follow your own preaching.

  • Jed J.

    Romney left out the reprisals by Mormons and you left out the savage acts perpetrated against them. You can’t even follow your own preaching.

  • CALIFORNIAMARTY

    “Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s home church in Chicago pushes a black separatist agenda, says columnist, author and speaker Erik Rush. According to the conservative Christian writer, Senator Obama’s congregation — Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago — “is not simply Afrocentric, it’s African-centric.””The first thing that I did was that I went through the list and I substituted the words white for black in it,” the columnist notes. ” And I, in addition to being disturbed, wondered just how far a white candidate with beliefs like that would get. It looked like it was either being overlooked or excused, and I thought that it needed to be brought to light.”One could argue that Obama’s church “worships things African to a far greater degree than they do Christ,” Rush contends. Meanwhile, he says the writings and speech of Trinity United’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, appear to be more Marxist than Christian. Rush formed this opinion of Wright “after doing some digging and then seeing him appear on Fox News the night after I did,” the columnist points out. He says he became convinced that the pastor’s views are “nothing short of militant; and he complains about living in the United States of white America and … talks about giving back to the black community, et cetera.”Rush says “like the Nation of Islam, a white separatist church, or the Branch Davidians, Trinity United Church of Christ more resembles a cult than a church.” Senator Obama’s office did not return calls seeking comment.”Should Barak Hussein Obama be now called upon by the Media to do what they forced Mitt Romney to do…explain his church and beliefs to the American people? Should he be called upon to explain why he is not a Muslim as he says his father was before he left the family? His step-father was also a Muslim he says. Why isn’t he a Muslim?Only Mitt Romney gets the heat for his Chrisianity. Not Barak Obama, and not even Huckabee who is “an ordained Minister” Can Sen.Lieberman run and not be questioned about why he is not a Christian. Something really stinks about the bigotry applied to Mitt Romney alone.There is no religious test for the office of President of the United States and ones faith is a private matter unless there is probable cause to believe that it will interfer with the canidates ability to preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

  • CALIFORNIAMARTY

    “Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s home church in Chicago pushes a black separatist agenda, says columnist, author and speaker Erik Rush. According to the conservative Christian writer, Senator Obama’s congregation — Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago — “is not simply Afrocentric, it’s African-centric.””The first thing that I did was that I went through the list and I substituted the words white for black in it,” the columnist notes. ” And I, in addition to being disturbed, wondered just how far a white candidate with beliefs like that would get. It looked like it was either being overlooked or excused, and I thought that it needed to be brought to light.”One could argue that Obama’s church “worships things African to a far greater degree than they do Christ,” Rush contends. Meanwhile, he says the writings and speech of Trinity United’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, appear to be more Marxist than Christian. Rush formed this opinion of Wright “after doing some digging and then seeing him appear on Fox News the night after I did,” the columnist points out. He says he became convinced that the pastor’s views are “nothing short of militant; and he complains about living in the United States of white America and … talks about giving back to the black community, et cetera.”Rush says “like the Nation of Islam, a white separatist church, or the Branch Davidians, Trinity United Church of Christ more resembles a cult than a church.” Senator Obama’s office did not return calls seeking comment.”Should Barak Hussein Obama be now called upon by the Media to do what they forced Mitt Romney to do…explain his church and beliefs to the American people? Should he be called upon to explain why he is not a Muslim as he says his father was before he left the family? His step-father was also a Muslim he says. Why isn’t he a Muslim?Only Mitt Romney gets the heat for his Chrisianity. Not Barak Obama, and not even Huckabee who is “an ordained Minister” Can Sen.Lieberman run and not be questioned about why he is not a Christian. Something really stinks about the bigotry applied to Mitt Romney alone.There is no religious test for the office of President of the United States and ones faith is a private matter unless there is probable cause to believe that it will interfer with the canidates ability to preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

  • CALIFORNIAMARTY

    “Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s home church in Chicago pushes a black separatist agenda, says columnist, author and speaker Erik Rush. According to the conservative Christian writer, Senator Obama’s congregation — Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago — “is not simply Afrocentric, it’s African-centric.””The first thing that I did was that I went through the list and I substituted the words white for black in it,” the columnist notes. ” And I, in addition to being disturbed, wondered just how far a white candidate with beliefs like that would get. It looked like it was either being overlooked or excused, and I thought that it needed to be brought to light.”One could argue that Obama’s church “worships things African to a far greater degree than they do Christ,” Rush contends. Meanwhile, he says the writings and speech of Trinity United’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, appear to be more Marxist than Christian. Rush formed this opinion of Wright “after doing some digging and then seeing him appear on Fox News the night after I did,” the columnist points out. He says he became convinced that the pastor’s views are “nothing short of militant; and he complains about living in the United States of white America and … talks about giving back to the black community, et cetera.”Rush says “like the Nation of Islam, a white separatist church, or the Branch Davidians, Trinity United Church of Christ more resembles a cult than a church.” Senator Obama’s office did not return calls seeking comment.”Should Barak Hussein Obama be now called upon by the Media to do what they forced Mitt Romney to do…explain his church and beliefs to the American people? Should he be called upon to explain why he is not a Muslim as he says his father was before he left the family? His step-father was also a Muslim he says. Why isn’t he a Muslim?Only Mitt Romney gets the heat for his Chrisianity. Not Barak Obama, and not even Huckabee who is “an ordained Minister” Can Sen.Lieberman run and not be questioned about why he is not a Christian. Something really stinks about the bigotry applied to Mitt Romney alone.There is no religious test for the office of President of the United States and ones faith is a private matter unless there is probable cause to believe that it will interfer with the canidates ability to preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

  • N Thomas

    The writer reveals his utter ignorance of Mormon history and practice by noting that a “Mormon lay bishop” received revelation for the Church in 1978. Uh, no. This was change “revealed” by Spencer W. Kimball, President of the LDS Church at the time. Mormon bishops preside over individual congregations. This is very basic.Also, what is the world is the author talking about when he mentions “the savage reprisals taken by Mormons against other faiths and even against their former believers trying to escape from Utah.” Excuse me but the Mormons were savagely persecuted themselves in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois before fleeing to the Intermountain West. This is basic American history, well-documented, but too often overlooked by outsiders.

  • Doug

    On the contrary, Romney ~did~ address the issue of “divine revelation(s)” from his Church, and indicated that they would not dictate his responsibilities as president. As to his own personal “divine revelation(s)”/inspiration/etc., such an influence is a theoretical possibility for any presidential candidate who adheres to the judeo-christian tradition (i.e., all of the current candidates). I know of no such claims by Romney during his term as governor of Massachusettes, and am at a loss as to why this possibility would trouble Mr. Stevens-Arroyo. Turning to Romney’s speech, I thought that it was a masterpiece. Such eloquence would be a welcome change from the current administration.

  • larry

    Romney’s biggest anti-American statements go to those suggesting or explicitly stating that “faith” is necessary to holding public office. No, it isn’t, and that is exactly why the Founding Fathers put in the provision that there is no religious test for office–not of a specific religion, or of religion at all.

  • Paganplace

    Hitting ‘post’ once generally works, Californiamarty. Hitting it *four* times never helps. “Only Mitt Romney gets the heat for his Chrisianity. Not Barak Obama, and not even Huckabee who is “an ordained Minister” Can Sen.Lieberman run and not be questioned about why he is not a Christian”Nonsense. Barack Obama’s heartfelt Christianity expresses in a way that doesn’t preclude my full support, despite a general cynicism about the profession of such in politics. Huckabee’s not yet to draw *my* criticism, despite standing for everything I *do* criticize here, cause until this week he has not been a serious candidate. The fact that all other GOP candidates but Guiliani and Romney pretty much gave up on Iowa may have to do with this, too. Romney’s Christianity or Mormonism therein have to get in line behind a lot of other things one notices when living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts before it even enters into it. It doesn’t give him ‘diversity’ credentials in my book, cause he already played that card and betrayed it.

  • Paganplace

    And maybe I should state openly at this point, my political ‘dream ticket’ all public sentiment and media monopolies aside, would be an Obama/Biden ticket winning. So that’s in the open.

  • Grant Duffin

    I appreciate efforts made to present opinions and fairly represent facts with regard to Romney’s speech but am concerned about the accuracy and speculative nature of some statements regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the “Mormons”. The prophet and president of the church received the “. . . new revelation from God that . . . ” all worthy male members (to include blacks for the first time as a general practice) could receive the priesthood, not a ” . . lay Mormon bishop . . .” who is the equivalent of a local pastor or rabbi in other faiths. I have read a fair amount of early historical accounts of the settlement of Utah, from both friendly and unfriendly sources and have not encountered the account of “. . . savage reprisals taken by Mormons against other faiths and even against their former believers trying to escape from Utah.” which is presented as if it is a credible well known and documented series of events. I would be interested in your sources for such events. I am quite familiar with the aroused feelings and some of the inflamed rhetoric inspired by the circumstances surrounding the early settlement period. I can assure you that no special effort was required for a believer or former believer to “escape” to California or any other place they chose to go and a number of believers (and former believers) chose to leave for various reasons and I have read of no reprisals levied or attempted against them. The great tragedy and those involved in the “Mountain Meadows Massacre” is well documented and I believe familiar to most students of the early settlement period. It certainly was an exception to the general behavior of the Mormons though not particularly unique from the general behavior of other settlers in the early western frontier settlement period.Thank you for your comments and the opportunity for readers to contribute and respond as well.Grant Duffin

  • Paganplace

    “and even against their former believers trying to escape from Utah.”Sad to say, but, actually, this has gone on in my own lifetime, …’escape from Utah’ has too often been exactly the circumstance of a lot of abused women and gays, who still had Mormon operatives trying to chase them down and demand ‘tithes’ of the homeless while claiming the abuse they were fleeing never happened. …the Mormon Church has certain PR images, but check the backing on those ‘Foundation For a Better Life’ commercials and track it back to affiliated private security firms and collection agencies. This is not pretty and it’s not just the fact that some Christians are in fact actually bigoted against Mormons. They just don’t care if it also suits *their* agenda, whoever it hurts. To claim the Mormon organization don’t hurt people is like saying the Catholic Church don’t hurt kids or the Protestants don’t ring up for outcalls. Forget about it.

  • John D the First

    “Most tellingly, he omitted the savage reprisals taken by Mormons against other faiths and even against their former believers trying to escape from Utah.”Mr. Arroyo is mistaking propaganda for history. It is generally recognized by non-Mormon historians that the evidence for so called blood atonement murders of former believers amounts to very shaky hearsay, on par with the evidence for other boogeyman characterizations of the “Mormon other” during that period. It reminds me of modern claims of Satanic ritual abuse (for which no evidence has been found) and claims that early Christians practiced infant sacrifice. Furthermore, the mountain meadow massacre is not best characterized as reprisal “against people of other faiths“, as it is an act of a desperate people who read calls for their extermination daily in non-Mormon papers. This was not a hypothetical. Because of their previous experience with expulsion, it would be analogous to Jews daily hearing calls for another holocaust by an enemy with the power to do it. In the midst of this extreme anxt the federal government had sent an army to Utah, and they had reason to believe allowing the Flancher party to go to California would insight the long called for extermination. They were wrong. What those Mormons did was wicked. But calling it “reprisal” misrepresents the situation. Utah was generally pretty tolerant of other religions, allowing them use of church buildings and providing opportunities for people from other faiths to address Mormons in the tabernacle. Any antagonism resulted from mistrust of outsiders that American society had earned from Mormons by their deplorable treatment of them in the preceding decades.

  • Paganplace

    Meant it about those ‘Foundation for a Better Life’ commercials: Ever wonder what they’re selling? Follow the money. It’s not hard. Gets spooky real quick.

  • Barbara Sockey

    Just an FYI: ALL male members of the Mormon church become members of the Melchizidek Priesthood at a very young age and remain so as long as they are in good stead with the Church, so it’s really not that big a deal that Romney is involved in the Priesthood.

  • larry

    –“As recently as June 9, 1978, a lay Mormon bishop pronounced the new revelation from God that black people could become priests”

  • Jack Joplin

    Mr. Stevens-Arroyo clearly does not have a firm grasp of the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This lack of understanding is clear by some basic errors in his comments. His comments would be more credible if he demonstrated a basic grasp of the Church’s beliefs.

  • BGone

    Maybe Romney will help Latinos out getting their gold looted in the name of Jesus by the Conquistadors back from the Roman Catholic Church. I understand he’s in favor of ad hoc immigration or something like that. You should put a “bug” in Mitts ear that he can get the Latino vote as well as a lot of converts to Mormonism.Diablo is behind religion anyhow – Devil just loves gold, ministers and politicians. They would seem to be rather compatible. Don’t you think?

  • Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA

    At least the nations leading newspapers editorial pages get it:From the NY Times:Faith vs. the Faithless By DAVID BROOKS…“But now the landscape of religious life has changed. Now its most prominent feature is the supposed war between the faithful and the faithless. Mitt Romney didn’t start this war, but speeches like his both exploit and solidify this divide in people’s minds. The supposed war between the faithful and the faithless has exacted casualties.The first casualty is the national community. Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious.”…And again from the NY Times:Editorial“Mitt Romney obviously felt he had no choice but to give a speech yesterday on his Mormon faith. Even by the low standards of this campaign, it was a distressing moment and just what the nation’s founders wanted to head off with the immortal words of the First Amendment: A presidential candidate cowed into defending his way of worshiping God by a powerful minority determined to impose its religious tenets as a test for holding public office…He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact.Mr. Romney tried to cloak himself in the memory of John F. Kennedy, who had to defend his Catholicism in the 1960 campaign. But Mr. Kennedy had the moral courage to do so in front of an audience of Southern Baptist leaders and to declare: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”Mr. Romney did not even come close to that in his speech, at the George Bush Presidential Library in Texas, before a carefully selected crowd. And in his speech, he courted the most religiously intolerant sector of American political life by buying into the myths at the heart of the “cultural war,” so eagerly embraced by the extreme right.Mr. Romney filled his speech with the first myth — that the nation’s founders, rather than seeking to protect all faiths, sought to imbue the United States with Christian orthodoxy… CNN, shockingly, required the candidates at the recent Republican debate to answer a videotaped question from a voter holding a Christian edition of the Bible, who said: “How you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? Specifically, this book that I am holding in my hand, do you believe this book?”The nation’s founders knew the answer to that question says nothing about a candidate’s fitness for office. It’s tragic to see it being asked at a time when Americans need a president who will tell the truth, lead with conviction and restore the nation’s moral standing, not one who happens to attend a particular church.From the Washington Post:No Freedom Without Religion?There’s a gap in Mitt Romney’s admirable call for tolerance.“RELIGIOUS liberty is, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared yesterday, “fundamental to America’s greatness.” With religious division inciting violence across the globe, he is right to celebrate America’s tradition of religious tolerance. He’s right, too, that no one should vote against him, or for him, because he is a Mormon. We only wish his empathy for religious minorities such as his own extended a bit further, to those who do not believe in God…”Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government,” Mr. Romney said. But not all Americans acknowledge that, and those who do not may be no less committed to the liberty that is the American ideal.

  • Herb

    You show your own ignorance by your incorrect statement that a lay Mormon “Bishop” pronounced a new revelation from God when it was the

  • JoeT

    The speech was total hypocrisy. First, it was not about the general public fearing Mormons (they don’t – George Romney and Mo Udall ran without the subject ever coming up). It was (as Charles Krauthamer writes today) about Huckabee in Iowa claiming to be the Christian, and polls showing evangelicals in Iowa squirming at a Mormon. Second, he invokes the “no religious test for office” clause as a convenient way of not describing his religion, then turns around and proclaims Jesus his lord and saviour (so he can fool evangelicals into not paying attention to the fact that no evangelical theologian thinks Mormons are christians), and then proclaims that you have to have some religion to be an American at all (atheists are not welcome). despicable.

  • Tracy Hall Jr

    Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo writes:”How would Romney react as president if a bill were passed to protect the privacy of non-Mormons against such temple baptisms of Jews and Muslims?”Ah, so Stevens-Arroyo would extend the fictitious “right of privacy,” which already “protects” abortion-on-demand, to the dead?When his bill is presented to Congress, will the dead be called upon to testify? If not, just who is their authorized lobbyist?Nobody owns the dead, nor do we even own our own ancestors. When we go back far enough in time, we all share a limited set of founding ancestors. This isn’t a religious idea — it’s a scientific and statistically overwhelming certainty.I can almost certainly guarantee that Stevens-Arroyo has distant Mormon cousins who have just as much “ownership” of his Jewish ancestors as does he — namely none.I would hope that any president who had sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States would veto such an intrusion into the free exercise of religion.Nor do Mormons “baptize the dead.” Rather, we perform proxy baptism “in behalf of” the dead. This is an important distinction that is lost on those who jump to such angry conclusions. It is based on our belief in the moral agency (freedom in religious choice) that God grants to all his children.Like Jews, Mormons have 13 articles of faith. Our 11th states, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.””All men” and “where” includes the dead! We believe that the dead continue to live on in the spirit world, where they are completely free to accept or reject our temple work in their behalf. Without their free, informed, acceptance thereof, any ordinance performed in their behalf is null and void.I would be delighted if other religions, instead of preaching that my ancestors are forever damned to hell, were to perform some kind of ritual that offered my ancestors all the benefits of their religion. Although I have really have no right to command otherwise, I hereby give my explicit permission, after I am dead, for others to do so in my behalf. If it turns out I was wrong and they were right, well, thank you for allowing me to hedge my bets!For more on the LDS practice of proxy baptism, seehthalljr’gmail’com

  • Mr. Reason

    I have a few questions:1. So how likely is it that there is an angel called Moroni and that he/it actually visited Joseph Smith? 2. How likely is it that native American Indians are descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israel?3. How likely is it that the golden plates actually existed?Be honest with yourself before you answer and please support your answer using 200 words or less for each question.

  • Jeff P

    I lived in Salt Lake City for 14 years. As a (former and now de-converted) Lutheran, I can tell you that the LDS culture (and I call it a “culture” on purpose) is indeed “tolerant,” but I felt many times only out of a subtle curiosity of people who weren’t of the fold. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Ironically, and off the topic a bit, is that the LDS culture seems to need the most Prozac and ADD medications per capita compared with the rest of the civilized world. Go figure–some example of “religion and freedom” being tied together.The LDS culture is deeply ingrained into all facets of public life, and there is always public debate regarding the power and influence and wealth of the “church”–just take a look at almost any random day within the Salt Lake Tribune editorial page. Particularly troublesome is the marriage of public education with the “seminary” which is, in all cases, right across the street from the public school so that there is a “separation” of church and state. I know that well enough, having to wait in traffic for the last kid to cross the street with his bible in hand.There is also a deep “need” for the church to feel persecuted there, and to demonstrate at every opportunity just how misunderstood and persecuted they are collectively. N Thomas might do well to remind us why the Mormons were persecuted in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois before fleeing to the Intermountain West. What did they do to their neighbors that seemed to piss them off? And incidentally, was it those damned “secularists” who persecuted the LDS church, or was it other religious folk? Would “secularists” of that time have given a s..t about how many wives they owned?Romney’s speech seemed to me to be a way to pander, but also to present that “persecuted” history that’s so contingent with the LDS culture. Why on earth was he given this time on network television, standing wrapped in flags in front of the presidential seal podium. Is this guy slick?

  • larry

    “Excuse me, but isn’t the Prophet and President also a bishop?” No he is not. They are two very specific and very different things. The comparison to the Catholic church is meaningless.Mr. Arroyo was trying to make the point that Mitt Romney could not separate himself from Mormon leaders because he is one himself: “While JFK as a Catholic layman could separate himself from the bishops, the pope and the church magisterium, Romney comes from a church of lay bishops – including himself.” He then went on to claim that a lay bishop (like Romney) revealed something that was binding on the worldwide church and that contradicted previous presidents of the church. But this does nothing to support his argument because it is not true.It is understandably difficult to understand all the specific practices of a religion that you are not a part of. I will try to explain some differences between the president of the church and a bishop. There is only one president of the church. He leads the world-wide church, and can receive revelations concerning doctrine and practice for the whole church. Men like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Ezra Taft Benson, and currently Gordon Hinckley are presidents of the Church.There are many bishops throughout the world. (This is a position Romney once held.) Bishops lead local congregations for a period of time (usually around five years) and then return to normal church membership. Bishops can, in a very limited way, receive revelation dealing with the administration of their local congregation. They cannot pronounce new doctrine, or make any changes to church policy. There are thousands of current and former bishops. They serve without pay and continue to work in their chosen profession during their time of service.

  • Eloist

    Excuse me, but isn’t the Prophet and President also a bishop? As I recall, the Catholic pope is bishop of Rome. Seems to me the Mormon proclivity for making new revelation is the point: it can happen at anytime and a Mormon would be bound to obey it. So would a President Romney choose the nation or his religion?A Massacre is a massacre and the attacks on ex-Mormons is a documented fact. Such don’t make the Mormon worse than everybody else: just the same. All religions excuse their mistakes and some apologize for them, but they all make them. Why did Romney use jihad for excessive religion? I know: he is appealing to the ultra right for votes.

  • Eloist

    Excuse me, but isn’t the Prophet and President also a bishop? As I recall, the Catholic pope is bishop of Rome. Seems to me the Mormon proclivity for making new revelation is the point: it can happen at anytime and a Mormon would be bound to obey it. So would a President Romney choose the nation or his religion?A Massacre is a massacre and the attacks on ex-Mormons are well documented, even today. Such don’t make the Mormon worse than everybody else: just the same. All religions excuse their mistakes and some apologize for them, but they all make them. Arroyo is right to hold the Mormons to the fire: no more “holier than thou.” Why did Romney use jihad for excessive religion? I know: he is appealing to the ultra right for votes.

  • Elohist

    Thanks Larry. Now I understand it. The LSD church decides which person God will enlighten with revelation. God doesn’t make the choice: the board of church directors does. Somehow I prefer the Christian concept that “the Spirit blows where He wills” to the Mormon concept of ecclesiastical corporation. Now I’m more afraid of an LSD president than before.