I lived in Utah for almost a year- and, from experience, I can tell you that Mormons (i.e. Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints or LDS) are actually pretty nice people.

They don’t push their religion on you and they aren’t judgmental.

If you invite someone out for a drink after work (Mormons don’t drink alcohol) or offer to get them a cup of coffee (Mormons don’t consume caffeine)- they are not offended they simply decline politely.

The rest of the world, however, is not so polite when it comes to the Mormons.

Historically, they have been feared and abused. One of the best examples of this was Missouri Execute Order 44 (1838) which made it legal to kill any member of the LDS church. And, while mobs of crazed locals are no longer murdering Mormons, people still think of them as weird and cultish.

Which, I imagine, is why Mitt Romney’s biography does not mention anything about his membership in the LDS church.

It does, however, say this:
“Governor Romney received his B.A., with Highest Honors, from Brigham Young University in 1971.”

And, if you know anything about BYU, then you know that Mitt is, most assuredly, a Mormon.

Wikipedia says:
Brigham Young University, often referred to as BYU, is the flagship university of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). About 98% of the students at BYU are members of this church[1] and, as a condition of admission to the university, they commit to obey a stringent honor code prohibiting alcohol and extramarital sexual relations. Each LDS BYU student is part of a Mormon congregation with about 150 people in it, and this congregation forms the primary social hub for students. BYU does not have a Greek system. BYU also does not have a Spring Break.

Again, I like Mormons- and I certainly think we need more politicians that don’t drink and don’t have extramarital sex. Hell- it would even be nice to see politicians taking fewer breaks to focus on their work.

Unfortunately for Mitt, with the world’s attention focused on the capture and upcoming trial of Warren Jeffs, the polygamist Mormon kook, our country is much more likely to elect a woman or (gasp) an African American president if the other candidate is a Mormon.

24 Responses to The Country is not Ready for a Mormon President

  1. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    You do not list the original source for this post, but I received an e-mail message about 7 weeks ago that used sections of this message word-for-word. Evidently, there is some individual out there who is very passionate about his smear campaign against Romney.

    Though I am not a Mormon, I am struck by the inaccuracies of this message. (As an example, Warren Jeffs is not really a Mormon, but a leader of his own unaffiliated cult.) That should be sufficient reason to take this message with a grain of salt.

    I deplore religious persecution, and that’s what this amounts to.

    Romney was a governor of Massachusetts, so he has a track record in elected office. We should base our criticisms of Romney on his public stances on issues and on his track record. To make a big deal out of Romney’s religious beliefs when Romney himself doesn’t play up his religion in his political rhetoric is out of place.

    It is amazing to me that in the 300 or so years since European immigrants fled to this country because of religious persecution, we haven’t matured much as a society because the vilification of religious denominations continues to the present day.

    Let’s measure Romney’s presidential bid according to politics, not religion.

  2. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    My apologies. You do list Wikipedia as one of your sources.

  3. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    Now that my temper has died down a bit, I think I was too harsh in my criticism. I apologize.

    In reading a post that said nothing of Romney’s politics or track record, only religion, headlined as it was, and mentioning Warren Jeffs, I immediately saw red.

    Just putting the Warren Jeffs name in the post causes a mental linkage between Jeffs and Romney.

    In the aftermath of public attention over Congressman Keith Ellison being sworn in with the Koran, I find myself hypersensitive to the public filtering their views of politicians based upon the politician’s religion. Many outspoken critics were making linkages between Ellison and Osama Bin Laden, and I was infuriated by it. Mentioning Romney and Jeffs in the same paragraph elicited a similar response.

    Now that a cooler head is prevailing, I see, upon re-reading, that the post is not as negative toward Mormons as my first impression of it was.

    For the record, BYU students are not required to be Mormon. Jim McMahon, quarterback, who led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory was never a Mormon even though he played college football at BYU.

    Also for the record, the Mormons don’t forbid caffeine. The Mormon church specifically urges its members to refrain from coffee and tea (as well as tobacco and alcohol), but Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, chocolate, and other commodities with caffeine content aren’t specifically included among the list of items to refrain from.

    The Mormon church offers no recognition of polygamist congregations, so it is incorrect to identify polygamist sects as Mormon.

    I’m sure that Mitt Romney’s biography doesn’t mention his religion for the same reasons that many Americans would never list their religion on their resume or job application–religious affiliation is not a qualification for the job.

  4. Joseph says:

    Religion has played an important role in recent presidential elections. It was also a big part of the rhetoric used in the 2006 Ohio Governor’s race and is, without question, a valid topic of discussion as we head toward the 2008 elections.

    In an ideal world, voters would study the important issues facing the country, and select the leader they believe most capable of confronting and resolving those issues.

    Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works.

    Voters will openly admit to being swayed by a candidate’s personality, charisma, charm and looks.

    Voters are also influenced by a candidate’s race, age, sex and, yes, religious beliefs- even if they don’t want to admit it.

    Discussing religion and its role in our political process is not, in any way, religious persecution.

  5. Joseph says:

    There certainly is no reason to apologize.

    This is supposed to be a political forum- and that only works if there are multiple viewpoints and differences of opinion that lead to discussion.

  6. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    “In an ideal world, voters would study the important issues facing the country, and select the leader they believe most capable of confronting and resolving those issues.”

    Having said that, shouldn’t your post have reflected that ideal by measuring Romney according to the important issues facing the country? Do you think you should be perpetuating the misplaced focus on things that don’t matter?

  7. Joseph says:

    The ‘Mormon’ post was a follow-up to my previous post discussing the unique characteristics of the 2008 candidates that will make the election difficult to predict.

    Mitt Romney is a member of a church about which most americans have an opinion (i.e. cult, kook, whatever)- yet know very little about.

    And I was simply asking the question “Is America Ready” not “Is Mitt Romney Capable”.

    Either way- it IS going to be an issue- like it or not- and, again, it certainly is something worth discussing.

    Fortunately for Gov. Romney, he isn’t the first one to face this issue.

    Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected president and, while campaigning, was forced to address concerns about his faith- which he did directly and effectively.

    A great example of this is his Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association- in which he clearly says that his religious beliefs will not interfere with his choices as president. (quote included below)

    Unfortunately, George Bush has won the previous two presidential elections with exactly the opposite message. Claiming not only that God wants him to be president- but also saying that his faith helps him make decisions.

    It seems both approaches can work.

    Anyway- here’s how Kennedy did it:

    But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured–perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again–not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me–but what kind of America I believe in.

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

    I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

  8. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    But your headline is not in the form of a question. It is a declaration. Is it really an issue, or are just a few people agitating to try to make it an issue? The only state I can think of with a smaller Mormon percentage of the total state population than Massachusetts is Rhode Island. It didn’t seem to be an issue in Massachusetts.

    On the national level, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is a Mormon, but though he’s just a step behind Speaker Pelosi in the order of Presidential succession, no one seems to take issue with Reid for being Mormon.

    Count me as one voter who wants to leave religious denomination out of the criteria for picking the next President.

  9. Eric says:

    Religion is now firmly planted in modern political discourse. You don’t have to look very hard to figure out how that happened.

  10. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    I can figure out how it happened, but I’m not pleased about it.
    The useful aspect of a candidate’s declaration of their fervent adherence to religious principles is that it provides a little reassurance (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course) that the candidate will be more prone to follow one’s conscience and thus resist committing acts of corruption (such as bribery, sexual harrassment, embezzlement, etc.) if elected to office.

    Beyond that, too much public attention to a candidate’s religious views sidetracks the public dialogue away from the most pertinent issues and obscures the candidate’s message and track record. As such, it is a disservice to voters who really want to be informed about the candidate’s views.

    I am turned off by religious witch hunts. Such politics of personal destruction often run counter to the tenets of the religions of those engaged in the witch hunting.

    I am also put off by those who purposely attempt to instill the fear that a candidate who professes to be a religious adherent will establish a theocracy, if elected, and will coerce the public into adhering to the candidate’s religious principles. Such contentions would be laughable if their purpose wasn’t so sinister.

  11. Eric says:

    I’m not pleased that there are attempts to comingle religious and political discourse either.

    I’m not really sure about the purpose of a declaration (grain of salt indeed). We’ve seen several recent events that might even suggest that the ones declaring most loudly might be the ones buying crystal meth, subverting democracy, and covering up page sex scandals.

    I think you are dismissing theocracy fears a bit hastily. There is a definite movement by Evangelical Christians to inject their beliefs into the innerworkings of our Republic. Make no mistake about it. The candidates play to the religious constituency to get elected and then have to pay the piper – in the form of $65 billion dollars worth of handouts. Enter the “faith-based initiatives”. This is, indeed, marching toward a theocracy. We need to pay attention when $28 billion is made available to religious charities that proselytize and discriminate in hiring.

    Take a look at HR300 and tell me there is not an active movement to erode secular governance. Don’t swipe it away as the stuff of tinfoil hats. You are right that it probably isn’t any one candidate – it is a great many actual officeholders.

    I also find the limited “God Bless America” to be a setup to a dualistic mindset. It creates an us versus them mentality that is harmful in the end. I’ve always wondered why they don’t say “God Bless Us All” or something.

  12. Joseph says:

    “God Bless America” was written by Irving Berlin (a Jewish immigrant from Siberia) and, according to Wikipedia, the “song is in the form of a prayer for God’s blessing and peace for the nation not an appeal to nationalistic sentiment nor a suggestion that the United States is particularly favored by God.”

  13. LaVonne Cross says:

    Joseph, by your statement “Mitt Romney is a member of a church about which most americans have an opinion (i.e. cult, kook, whatever)- yet know very little about.” you appear to want to perpetuate the false myth that Mormons or, more properly, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are ‘cult kook or whatever’. How about Christian? Your leaving out ANY positive reference to the Church shows your own personal bias, in my opinion. Hopefully, voters will examine ALL the issues, and not make snap judgments. Religious affiliation is and should be an issue, if for no other reason to help define a candidate. Generally, one’s personal belief system DOES affect how one will perform on the job. That should be a consideration. It should NOT be the pivotal point of any candidate’s bid.

  14. Eric says:

    box cutters were invented to cut open boxes in factories and shipping warehouses…

  15. Eric says:

    Also Joe, I wasn’t talking about the song.

  16. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    I think there will be faith-based initiatives as long as there is corporate welfare. There are so many non-profits who derive their funds from Congressional spending. Many non-profits use their Federal funding to pay employee salaries and to lobby the politicians (re-circulating money from pork spending into campaign coffers). If we stop the feeding frenzy at the trough, the faith-based initiatives will be turned away as well. As long as we maintain the status quo, why not include the faith-based initiatives? It’s not as if the non-faith based organizations lack a self-serving agenda.

    I think true fiscal conservatives would see the funding of faith-based initiatives as yet another flow of taxpayer money requiring the axe if it can’t stand up to close scrutiny.

  17. Brian says:

    I think true fiscal conservatives would see the funding of faith-based initiatives as yet another flow of taxpayer money requiring the axe if it can?t stand up to close scrutiny.

    The last 30 years should have firmly established the fact that Republicans are not fiscal conservatives. Unless fiscal conservatism is defined as tax cuts primarily targeted at the wealthy, and sticking future generations with the bill.

    Deficit spending under Reagan Conservatism has rivaled that of our government during WWII.

    Also, I’m squarely in the corner of Eric and Joseph on the fact that there is a concerted effort to “de-secularize” America. It’s most definitely not tin-foil hat stuff – just look at Ken Blackwell (or George Bush). It’s quite a sell-job by religious conservative politicians – while they’ve been making our government more and more religious, they’re telling the people it’s becoming less and less so, and dagnabit, it’s time to do something about it! Remarkable.

  18. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    Blackwell was openly religious, but Blackwell was certainly not going to establish a theocracy. The more you repeat this silly line, the more you damage your credibility, especially if you want to persuade any conservatives to your point of view.

    If you want to persuade the conservatives that they need to tone down the religious overtures in political dialoge, then I’ve given you three clues already:

    1) Don’t disrespect a candidate because of their religion. Showing your intolerance of openly religious candidates (like Blackwell) only makes your opponents want to assert their freedom of speech and freedom of religion more fiercely. You are convincing them that they need to fight back against you in an effort to protect their religious expressions from your attacks.

    2) If a candidate doesn’t parade their religion around, then you shouldn’t either. It is contradictory for you to protest against blatantly religious expression in political discourse while, at the same time, making a big to-to about a candidate’s religion when the candidate himself (Romney, in this case) isn’t making a big to-do over it. Lead by example. You can’t lead through hypocrisy.

    3) Attack faith-based initiatives on the basis that it’s not a good use of taxpayer money. Make the fiscal conservative appeal. The Democrats won Congress, in part, by making that appeal to fiscal conservatives about runaway spending. It worked, didn’t it? Use it. Don’t blast it because it’s religious, because you’ll end up coaxing religious conservatives to go ballistic on you.

  19. Brian says:

    Blackwell was openly religious, but Blackwell was certainly not going to establish a theocracy.

    Was he going to change the title of Governor to “Pontiff” and his staff to the “College of Cardinals”? No. But I think you weren’t paying close enough attention. How else do you describe defining the law of the land purely by religious fiat other than “de-facto theocracy”? Making something illegal for religious reasons is forcing other people to follow your religious beliefs. You can see Blackwell’s close ties to people who intended to do just that here.

    Don?t disrespect a candidate because of their religion. Showing your intolerance of openly religious candidates (like Blackwell) only makes your opponents want to assert their freedom of speech and freedom of religion more fiercely.

    I, for one (and I suspect this is true for most of my fellow PlunderCrew), don’t have any kind of “religious litmus test” for politicians I support. There are genuinely religious liberals I’m proud to support. That someone is or is not publicly religious doesn’t really matter to me. Their policy does – including their policy on forcing their brand of religion on the people at large.

    If a candidate doesn?t parade their religion around, then you shouldn?t either.

    I think you are misunderstanding Joseph. His point is not that Romney is unfit to be President because he’s Mormon. It’s that he won’t win because he’s Mormon, because there are too many voters who flat-out won’t vote for a Mormon.

    Attack faith-based initiatives on the basis that it?s not a good use of taxpayer money.

    That’d be nice, but I don’t think that’s the position most of us opposing faith-based initiatives have. Personally, I ideologically have no problem with private organizations looking to acquire federal funds to help with their charity – including religious organizations. What I have a problem with, because I believe it unconstitutional, is for those organizations to use that money to proselytize. Got a church that wants to run a federally-funded soup kitchen? Great, just don’t preach to that “captive audience”. Does a church want to run a community rehab center or halfway house? Awesome, just don’t give the treatment regimen a religious aspect.

    Of course, the implication of “faith-based initiative” is directly counter to that – thus my opposition. Religion is not government’s business, and vice-versa. It’s better for both that way.

  20. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    I read the linked article “Ohio Restoration Project,” but it falls far short of explaining how electing Blackwell would have established theocracy in Ohio. The article says that some concerned ministers were making plans to support a slate of candidates that they preferred, not with an outright endorsement, but with voter drives, political activism, and, oh . . . Blackwell may be invited to speak at a church. To me it sounds no different than a Rev. Jesse Jackson presidential campaign, but though Rev. Jackson may have been mixing religion with politics, I was never fearful that electing Jackson would pave the way to establishing a theocracy. Clinton and Gore campaigned in churches, too.

    Even if Blackwell had won in November, how would he have established a theocracy? How would he have the power to do so? This is where your assertion becomes ridiculous.

    What track record do we have of Blackwell imposing his religious values upon the SOS office or the Ohio Treasurer’s office? As treasurer, did Blackwell, who’s Catholic, send a tithe of the state’s revenues to the Catholic Church? As SOS, when a county Board of Elections was deadlocked over how to proceed, did Blackwell arrive at the BOE office and ask everyone to join hands together in prayer to ask God for the solution? Did he kick any candidates off of the ballot because they were atheist?

    As for the tips I gave you for turning the tide on mingling religion with politics, I see that you have rejected them in favor of promoting hysteria over religion. I can see the tide won’t be turning any time soon.

  21. Joseph says:

    Actually, Blackwell is not Catholic.

    According to the Dispath:

    Blackwell, who grew up in a close-knit family in Cincinnati?s projects, said his religious upbringing was influenced by Southern Baptist and Catholic theology.

    “I have been blessed to have been taught by some of the great theological minds of the Jesuit order” at Xavier University, he said. Despite published reports, Blackwell said he was never a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

    After he married Rosa, Blackwell said, “The church that I was fully immersed in, in terms of my baptism, was the Apostolic Church.”

    Asked if he is a born-again or evangelical Christian, Blackwell said, “The answer would be yes, but I choose to describe myself … as an earnest follower of Jesus as my lord and savior. And if that fits your definition of evangelical Christian, that?s fine, but I just grew up not knowing that that was the exclusive property of the evangelical.”

  22. Joseph says:

    The problem with Blackwell- and others like him (Rick Santorum comes to mind)- is not which religion they choose to practice- it’s how they seek to impose it on the rest of us.

    And yes- they can and have done it…

    Ken and his pals think homosexuality is a sin, therefore NO state employees can get benefits for their domestic partners- same-sex or opposite-sex.

    They think abortion is a sin so state medicaid funding for abortions has been eliminated.

  23. Daniel Jack Williamson says:

    Okay, I stand corrected about Blackwell’s religion. See? He didn’t promote his church as much as people say he did.

    Those positions you state are the product of legislation, which is decided in the Ohio General Assembly, not the office of Treasurer, nor the office of SOS.

    It’s all too easy to come up with reasons for denying medicaid funding for abortion that have nothing to do with religion.

    As an example, abortion is an elective procedure, and I can’t think of any elective procedures covered by Medicaid. Should Medicaid pay for extreme makeovers complete with capped teeth, nose jobs, and tummy tucks?

    Does opposition to domestic partner benefits necessarily spring from the viewpoint that homosexuality is evil? You, yourself, said that these proposed benefits are withheld from domestic partners of opposite sexes. Doesn’t that clue you in that there are other reasons for opposition?

    Again, your assertions that Blackwell was capable of establishing a theocracy in Ohio are utterly ridiculous.

    But go ahead. Feed the hysteria. See where that path leads.

  24. Brian says:

    Mr. Williamson, I do appreciate your participation here, but at this point we are going around in circles. You continue to insist that we are opposing religious candidates, despite our very plain language that we do not support policy dictated by religion, specifically because it is illegal, and violates the religious freedom of US citizens. The fact that you seem to think that we think Jesse Jackson should be ineligible run because he is a Reverend pretty much proves that. If I may be so presumptuous as to speak for Joseph, we believe no such thing. (Let us not forget, Gov. Strickland is an ordained minister, and I know Joseph and I both supported him.)

    In the interests of keeping all of us from becoming dizzy chasing each other’s tails, I’m closing this thread.