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Is Mitt Romney Really Mormon?

Texas megachurch pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee, prayed today at the US Jerusalem embassy opening. [1] Mitt Romney is mad about that.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [3]

A Catholic (and therefore hellbound, according to Robert Jeffress) reader e-mails me to comment:

Although I loathe Jeffress as much as Romney does, think of how religiously un-self aware someone has to be to not think to himself, “You know, I belong to a faith that sends out missionaries. In fact, I served as one in France in the late 1960s. What I did, as all LDS missionaries do, was go door to door telling people of other faiths, and in my case, mostly Catholics, that they do not have the Restored Gospel, and that if they don’t become Mormons they are unlikely to progress to the highest heaven. Also, the founder of my faith, Joseph Smith, Jr., whose Restored Gospel I preached door to door, said that in a vision God the Father told him the following about other faiths:

No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

change_me

He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1 [4])

“For that reason, perhaps it would be unwise to call Jeffress a bigot for saying negative things about other faiths. After all, if believing one’s faith is right and others `an abomination,’ as the founder of my faith asserted, makes one a bigot, wouldn’t that make me a bigot, since I was a missionary and I preached the Restored Gospel of my founder’s faith?”

This is the problem of a theologically illiterate media. It never even crosses their minds to bring something like this up, since they are grossly incurious about what religious believers actually believe. Can you imagine someone at any of the major networks ever raising this question to Romney, or tweeting back to him?

This is why, even though I believe that Jeffress is a clown, I find myself coming to his defense on this matter.

That’s a very good point. I look forward to Mitt Romney advising the LDS Church to stop sending out missionaries, given that Joseph Smith was wrong to quote God as saying that all non-LDS creeds are “an abomination.”

I strongly reject much of what John Hagee and Robert Jeffress stand for, but if you’re Donald Trump, and you’re going to have Christian clergy pray at this event, those two vivid Protestants are the ones to go for. You would not have been able to get Catholic or Orthodox clergy to do so, out of solidarity with Arab Catholics and Arab Orthodox.

Anyway, had Trump invited an LDS official to offer a prayer at the Jerusalem embassy, and had Protestants, Catholics, and others objected on the grounds that he represents a religion that considers other religions to be “abominations,” what would Romney have said? How can he call Jeffress a religious bigot without also condemning himself and his fellow Mormons by the same logic?

Jeffress may be an ignoramus, but I don’t think he’s a religious bigot. Nor do I think Romney is. If the standard for “religious bigotry” is believing that other religions are seriously wrong, then most believers are religious bigots — in which case the designation “religious bigotry” is meaningless. Most religions are not universalist, in the sense that they preach that all faiths are equally valid ways to God. This is not news! Do we really want to hold that clergy who pray at public events (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) must first denounce the exclusivist teachings of their faith before being allowed to pray? In that case, only heretics and Unitarian Universalists need apply.

I actually do not care that religious leaders delivering anodyne prayers at public events may believe that my own particular religious convictions may lead me to hell — as long as they don’t lift a finger against me and my co-religionists to send us there prematurely.

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70 Comments To "Is Mitt Romney Really Mormon?"

#1 Comment By galanx On May 15, 2018 @ 2:09 am

I doubt if the Israelis are upset about this; I think they regard the American Fundamentalists supporting them as “useful idiots”.
A long as they don’t criticize Jews while they are in Israel they can say what they want back in the US.

#2 Comment By Dennis Crane On May 15, 2018 @ 2:23 am

You would not have been able to get Catholic or Orthodox clergy to do so, out of solidarity with Arab Catholics and Arab Orthodox.

Catholic and Orthodox clergy, especially in the developed world, don’t give a damn about their Arab brethren. They’re too busy appeasing Islam, talking out of both sides of their mouths and trying to sound intellectually fashionable and politically correct, especially regarding Israel.

The Catholic Church has been accommodating Islam ever since John Paul II, at least — and likely since Paul VI. The Russian Orthodox have been in bed with Putin since his ascent to power — the latest move in a tradition that had been in bed with the tsars for centuries.

“Solidarity” for Catholics and Orthodox is nothing but a veneer in which their clergy cover themselves. A lot of us saw through these naked emperors a long time ago.

#3 Comment By JonF On May 15, 2018 @ 6:36 am

Re: Trump’s ballsy fulfillment of previous Republican and Democratic presidential lip service, is a political success.

Yes, it’s cost the lives of dozens of people.

#4 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 15, 2018 @ 9:27 am

Anne: Sending missionaries doesn’t have to imply contempt for what went before.

You are absolutely correct, and it took me years to find that truth for myself.

What it doesn’t apply to is the results of missionaries in many places, notably Africa: the direct destruction of the culture and religion that “went before”. That is what so many modern people and governments see when they react to Christians with hostility, or ban them from their borders.

#5 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 15, 2018 @ 9:50 am

What it doesn’t apply to is the results of missionaries in many places, notably Africa: the direct destruction of the culture and religion that “went before”.

Chinua Achebe’s book Things Fall Apart features, among other things, two different Anglican missionaries with two very different styles. One spent pleasant afternoons having long talks with a village elder about their respective beliefs and traditions, trying to win him over, but also trying to understand the local traditions and find common ground. The other was inspired by his first converts (who were generally outcasts from local society and not respected by much of anyone) to militantly encourage them to disrupt traditional rituals and “destroy idols,” leading to violent confrontations and heavy handed intervention by the emerging British colonial administrators.

Somehow, a large portion of the Ibo and Yorbua peoples did adopt Christianity, while the Hausa, who already had a monotheistic faith, remained Muslim.

Catholic and Orthodox clergy, especially in the developed world, don’t give a damn about their Arab brethren. They’re too busy appeasing Islam

Painting with a dubiously broad brush there, and assumes facts not in evidence. No doubt the commenter knows one or two clergy who are like that, or has read a quote from one in a news article somewhere.

I think we need to send a number of political and religious apostates to a tropical island for a really entertaining reality show. Hillary Clinton and Jeffress would be prime candidates. It would be fun to see them “form an alliance” in order to survive the machinations of several others.

“Do we really want to hold that clergy who pray at public events (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) must first denounce the exclusivist teachings of their faith before being allowed to pray?”

I would suggest that IF we are going to have clergy pray at public events, not events sponsored and initiated by their religious body, then they should REFRAIN from enunciating the more exclusivist tenets of their own doctrines, and should orient themselves to pray FOR the event and those present, not to pray TO them.

I’m an ex-Mormon and I never once met a Mormon who liked Mitt Romney.

But he did win Utah and Idaho, didn’t he?

Trump’s ballsy fulfillment of previous Republican and Democratic presidential lip service, is a political success.

(Which it is. Debate on actual policy is another subject.)

You mean like, Krystalnacht was a success, even if it succeeded at perpetrating a great evil?

#6 Comment By Richard M On May 15, 2018 @ 10:41 am

What it doesn’t apply to is the results of missionaries in many places, notably Africa: the direct destruction of the culture and religion that “went before”.

When what “went before” was mass human sacrifice and imperial conquest in certain places in Meso-America and the Andes, it full deserved direct and complete destruction. Not everything that preceded Christianity deserved to survive.

#7 Comment By Joseph M On May 15, 2018 @ 11:46 am

@ LDS Watcher
I’m sorry but you are incorrect. Elder McConkie’s personal opinion aside membership in the “Great and Abominable Church” is dependent on ones obedience towards Christ not ones denominational affiliation and a bad Mormon is more likly a menmger that a good Catholic. In any case the Prophet Joseph’s relations with Catholics were quite good.

From [5]

Although Nauvoo was primarily a Mormon community, the Catholic Church had been active in the area as early as 1820. Traveling priests had planted apple orchards on the west side of the river, however, they did not have a regular presence in the area until 1840. The Catholic parish record tells us that the two groups got along well.

Original Nauvoo TempleDuring the time when the Mormons occupied Nauvoo, the Catholics were permitted to celebrate Mass in the Mormon Mansion House on Main Street, in the Mormon Hall of Seventies, located on Parley Street, and in the Mormon temple [before its dedication], commonly referred to as the Nauvoo Temple, where a place was set aside for the Catholic people of the vicinity (Pamphlet excerpt, pg.1 “Highlights of the SS Peter and Paul Parrish. Nauvoo Illinois, 1986).

Joseph Smith befriended a Catholic priest named Father Aleman. He was a priest in the neighboring McDonough County. Their interaction in the 1880’s is recorded in the Catholic NRI History File.

Needing to visit a parishioner, Father Aleman approached Joseph Smith and asked him for help. Smith provided him with ferry service and a carriage to his destination. He reportedly said of Aleman “The priest attends to their people faithfully….and mind their own business, whereas the other preachers are continually bothering the Latter-day Saints.”

#8 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 15, 2018 @ 12:12 pm

Richard, reasonable point. Where do you draw the line? Your example is false, though, because in those cases the intervention was economic and military, not religious. The conquistadors were not missionaries by any possible stretch of credulity.

#9 Comment By Houstonian On May 15, 2018 @ 3:11 pm

Is Mitt really Mormon? Better yet: Is the Pope really Catholic?

I’ll bet commenter, Robert B. Lewis, would say, “Yes!” to the latter. Lewis believes just like the “universalist Catholics” who teach at the school my daughter is about to graduate from.

So which Catholicism? Which Mormanism? Case in point: a dear friend of mine would never have voted for Mitt the Mormon. Why? Because she’s black and had encountered a Mormon who expressed their regret that my friend would be in hell owing to her race. More damning than being Baptist, as it were. But Mormons have dropped that belief — which unlike becoming universalist — was a theological improvement.

#10 Comment By Lee (in KY) On May 15, 2018 @ 8:48 pm

Krystalnacht?

Really?

I honestly wasn’t trying to troll. Just suggesting Romney was being cynical. I was trying to sidestep the policy debate and just focus on the political aspect. So yeah… Trump did something “ballsy” by fulfilling this long-standing American promise, it worked for him politically, (policy-wise too soon to tell), and Romney reacted.

But Krystalnacht?

Listen, I understand it is tedious and cliche to simply yell Godwin, declare myself the victor and this comment thread dead. But…

It is not nearly as tedious or cliche as the tendency to throw around Nazi imagery concerning anything Israeli. Very tedious. Very cliche. Much too common.

#11 Comment By Robert B Lewis On May 16, 2018 @ 9:34 am

@Houstonian: Yes, the Pope is definitely Catholic!

The Anglican monk Bede Griffiths lived for years amongst villagers in India, wore saffron robes like Hindu holy men and built hospitals and schools for his neighbors. At the end of his life, he was asked how many Indians he had “converted.” He replied that, to his knowledge, he had not “converted” anyone. He probably had, but was averring that he had not designed to “convert” anyone, and had just intended to live out the Gospel’s message among the disadvantaged of India.

In doing that, he was following the advice of the great Catholic saint, Francis of Assisi, who ordered his followers to “preach the Gospel, but rarely with words.” The inclusive Roman Catholic soteriological doctrine of “faith AND works” was really always there, but only had to be formalized at Trent, in opposition to the Protestant heresy of “salvation by faith alone.”

#12 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 16, 2018 @ 10:53 am

When what “went before” was mass human sacrifice and imperial conquest in certain places in Meso-America and the Andes, it full deserved direct and complete destruction.

No, it didn’t. Even the Spanish at the time recognized that the Incas, for one, were a very well functioning society that compared favourably to what they knew at home. One of the last conquistadors to die, who’d personally accompanied Pizarro to Peru, repented on his deathbed for his involvement in that affair. (In terms of such things as, for example, a generally well nourished populace and full employment). You can make a very good case that the Inca Empire was morally better than Spain or for that matter most societies in Europe, and that we’re all worse off for the fact it was destroyed.

#13 Comment By marteen On May 16, 2018 @ 10:55 am

Hound of Ulster says: Tell me again Rod how you trust someone like Jeffress to respect your religious liberty and not mainstream liberals like Hillary Clinton? Considering what Jeffress has said about Catholics, Muslims, and Jews?

That sir is a perfect question for this blog. Thank you!

[NFR: Jeffress may think that Christians with beliefs like mine are in danger of hellfire, but he’s not going to mess with the way we worship, run our schools, or anything else. He’s not going to do that with Jews either, and probably not with Muslims (he wouldn’t be able to even if he so desired, because the same principles under which he would defend the religious liberty of Southern Baptists would apply to the rest of us). In a 2015 speech, Hillary Clinton publicly said that religions have to change to accommodate abortion rights. There is no question that she would be hostile to religious practices that contradicted abortion rights and LGBT rights. Jeffress would not. In the year 2018, the greatest religious liberty threats to the greatest number of Americans comes from left-liberals advocating that LGBT rights must in all cases trump religious liberty. To claim otherwise is not credible. I would probably find it much easier to have a pleasant, trivial conversation with Hillary Clinton than with Robert Jeffress, and I would certainly rather talk to her than to Donald Trump. But I am under no illusions about which one is the greater threat to religious liberty. — RD]

#14 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 16, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

Hector, I remember reading the speculation of an historian, who found human sacrifice a major contributor to the defeat of the Aztecs by the Spaniards. It was a two-fold speculation:

Aztec soldiers did not kill their opponents, they disabled them with the intent of using them later for sacrifice. Until the Spaniards and their very different conduct in battle, starting with continuing to fight after being injured, Aztecs expected fallen foes to passively await their “collection”. They were amazed by the Spaniards in that regard.

The vassal tribes were the main source of human sacrifice. They saw an alliance with the Spaniards as a path to ending that.

#15 Comment By Gerald Arcuri On May 16, 2018 @ 2:57 pm

Rod,
Excellent reply to “marteen”. Why do so few people regognize wolves in sheep’s clothing?

#16 Comment By JonF On May 16, 2018 @ 4:20 pm

Re: . You can make a very good case that the Inca Empire was morally better than Spain

I’ve seen the opposite position maintained, with evidence (I wish I had a link): Despite smallpox et al, the average subject of the Spanish Empire in the Andes was better off than his ancestors had been under the Incas. If you were an elite of the Inca Empire, you lived like a god. If you were a subject, not so much.

#17 Comment By KD On May 16, 2018 @ 5:31 pm

In the end, I think every rational person must reject Mormonism.

How can a Divine Being who forbids the consumption of coffee be worthy of worship?

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 16, 2018 @ 9:57 pm

How can a Divine Being who forbids the consumption of coffee be worthy of worship?

It turns out that processing large volumes of coffee can produce fatal lung illnesses. Maybe God wants to save people from this effect.

NFR: Jeffress may think that Christians with beliefs like mine are in danger of hellfire, but he’s not going to mess with the way we worship, run our schools, or anything else.

I wouldn’t be too sure of that. He does’t have the power now, but it is logically consistent with his utterances that he would if he could. As for the hypocrisy of wanting to preserve his own religious freedom, Jeffress might well respond like Cornelius Vanderbilt… “H’ain’t I got the power?” If he had it, that is.

Trump did something “ballsy” by fulfilling this long-standing American promise, it worked for him politically, (policy-wise too soon to tell), and Romney reacted.

You originally said it was a “success” whatever the debate on actual policy. I just applied your own logic to an evil everyone recognizes. If I meant to say, “Trump is going to perpetrate another Krystalnacht,” I would have been quite explicit about it. I have no opinion on whether it was “balsy,” or even “ovalsy.” Save Godwin’s Law for a situation when it applies.

#19 Comment By BCZ On May 17, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

“In that case, only heretics and Unitarian Universalists need apply.“

If your going to rail against religious illiteracy you might want to demonstrate some knowledge of who universalists are…. like your anabaotist friends at the Bruderhof and many other otherwise rather strict and faithful Christian communities….

#20 Comment By Doug FORBES On May 18, 2018 @ 12:35 am

Jesus Christ is co-eternal and co-equal to God the Father. He was begotten, not made, before all worlds. Who says so? Mormons, Roman Catholics and most Protestants. Read the Athenasian Creed.