5.11.2006

A view from the Inside

Mitt Romney is thinking of running for president, but has one slight problem: he's a Mormon. Many wouldn't consider this a problem at all: about 5,599,177 Mormons nationwide would surely vote for him. Unless of course I am considered one of those Mormons...in which case 5,599,176 will vote for him. Which is, of course, not enough to get him into office.
So, to try and get past what some would call a major stigma, Romney plans a Kennedy-esque speech to try and reassure the American people that politicians are guided by the Constitution before the Bible...or Book of Mormon.
Problem is, I've seen the inside of the church. I've lived in a state that 1,720,434 Mormons call home. And I know that nothing guides their life more than the church. Not necessarily the Book of Mormon (as evidenced by the overwhelming number of Mormons that are still Republicans despite views in direct opposition to said Book), but by the church.
And the influence the church has over its members is overwhelming. The use of guilt and reward is such that anyone who would vote incorrectly, or stand up to something the majority of members believe in, would soon have a visit from an authority, a phone call, or a cold shoulder from the entire congregation on Sunday.
The Mormon church, unlike the Catholic church, is not just a set of beliefs. It is a lifestyle. It is a culture. For someone to say they will put the interests of the Constitution above and beyond the interests of Mormonism is hypocrisy. After all, is it in the interests of the Constitution to write in an amendment that would discriminate against at least 12.6% of American households? NO. But if Mitt Romney were to veto such a measure, that would be in direct conflict with his beliefs, and he would never do it.
So, for those of you who have not seen the inside, let me tell you now...Mitt Romney will not be able to separate his Mormonism from his politics. If you're comfortable with that, than by all means, vote for him. Or, find out more about the church here and then determine if you're comfortable with that ideology and dogma sitting on Pennsylvania Avenue. Otherwise, trust your gut and vote for the other guy.

8 comments:

Jenni said...

Great post. I think you are spot on about being able not being able to separate from his Mormon lifestyle.

I'm a former Mormon, but I haven't been involved with the church for many years now. I sort of remember a "prophecy" from my Mormons days, how in the "Last Days" the US government will be "hanging by a thread" and that it will be the Mormon church that will swoop in and save the day. If I was a non-Mormon, that would be reason enough not to vote for him.

Cliff said...

Hi Juniper,

Welcome and thank you. As you know that there are many fighting hard right here in Salt Lake for equality.

Besides Chris Johnson is the recently recovered and reinvigorated Ed Firmage. You are too young to remember, but he was the first high priest to suggest giving the priesthood to women.

Yesterday, we posted the first in a series of open letters confronting the Church's terrible decision to sign the joint proclamation advocating for a consitutional amendment defining marriage....you know the one.

You can read the letter and offer your supportive comments at www.oneutah.org

I also invite you to join us at the State democratic convention at the Salt Palace on Saturday to help get Chris Johnson get the party nomination.

Cliff

Juniper said...

Cliff,
Consider me there. I was planning on attending anyhow, but I am glad to learn of someone I can put my full support behind. Also, interesting blog. It's good to know there are Mormons out there who actually believe in what they live. My dad is one of them. He'll be there tomorrow too.

an LDS guy said...

You have severely misunderstood the relationship between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the constitution. The Church holds the Constitution up with the highest regard, openly teaching that it was inspired of God. The Church also declares it's beliefe that its members should be subject to the laws of the country in which they live. That's why the Church's efforts to define marriage as between a man and a woman are being done through Constitutional means--get the 2/3 votes needed to make an ammendment. That's far more respectful of the Constitution than redefining it through the politics of a judicial decision that are neither based on reason or logic or the laws of the land.

Furthermore, I disagree with your comment that Mormons are unique in teaching a lifestyle rather than just a set a beliefs. Are the two not the same? The real question is, what are the set of beliefs that are taught, and how well do the members of that faith live according to them? You imply that other religions are superficial components in the lives of their believers. I think that many Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Lutherans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc whould completely disagree with you.

Juniper said...

lds guy,
I appreciate your comments. Let me address them:
Let me reiterate that I spent 19 years of my life as a fully practicing member of the LDS church. I understand the views they have towards the Constitution and that they consider America the Promised Land. I understand that they believe the founding fathers divinely inspired.
I respectfully disagree with your statement that the judicial decisions regarding same-sex marriage are without reason or logic. Is it reason to give a majority the ammunition they need to tear apart families? Is it logic to tell one set of people they are substandard to another set?
Also, the judicial system is one branch the Constitution that the Church holds so dear created, that the founding fathers created in their divine wisdom. It is the branch that is most likely to uphold the rights of the minority. That's the beauty of our system...if the majority always rules, what will prevent us from becoming Nazi Germany? The majority is not always right.
"Furthermore, I disagree with your comment that Mormons are unique in teaching a lifestyle rather than just a set a beliefs. Are the two not the same? The real question is, what are the set of beliefs that are taught, and how well do the members of that faith live according to them? You imply that other religions are superficial components in the lives of their believers. I think that many Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Lutherans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc whould completely disagree with you."
You have taken my comments out of context. I was comparing a speech that Romney might make with the infamous speech given by JFK. JFK was very able to separate his personal beliefs from his work as a politician. I believe Kerry could have done this as well.
The Mormon Church is quite different from Catholicism in that they have rules not only based on the Ten Commandments, but also on what you eat and drink, similar to the Jewish religions. As a Church legislates not only what you think and believe, but your choices even down to how you spend your money and what you drink, it begins to be a much larger influence on your life, whether for good or ill. I personally believe that many of these rules and regulations distract from what should be the main tenets: a belief in and love of God (and Jesus Christ if you believe in Him), and a love and respect for your neighbor. Most Christian religions seem to understand these tenets without all the extra stuff.
I respect people who can truly live what they believe. However, I have met and known few Mormons who look past the superficial rules to the basic foundations of their faith and actually live that. Love your neighbor particularly comes to mind.
Further, one has only to look at the history of Mormonism to see how they work when it comes to politics. They vote as a block. Here is where I draw my premise that the Mormon Church is a culture and lifestyle that cannot be easily broken from. I know the overwhelming influence members of the church have over each other, even if it is not officially stated. And I know how in every Sunday school class you are told that if you question your beliefs you may as well invite the devil in right then. Perhaps I was too influenceable, but these words still echo in my mind. The familiar phrases haunt me at every turn. Romney is "inviting the devil in" by saying the church will not influence him in his politics. You and I both know that it will. So, he is either not a "good" Mormon, or he is not telling the American people the entire truth.
Further, I encouraged people to learn more about the church rather than instantly judging him because of it. While I know his religious beliefs will be a definite influence people should take into account, I think they should find out exactly what that entails.

Matthew Whiting said...

LDS Guy already chimed in with my initial response that I would be offended if I were Catholic. Thank you for the clarification.

I see many problems with various members of the LDS church's interpretation of the church's teachings, but not really any more so than I have problems with other Christians interpretations. I must say here that I am active LDS. Radio West (KUER radio) did a program a little while back that referenced an insident in an LDS testimony meeting where a marine got up and pledged his support to Bush and the war said it was of God and that anyone who disagreed with he would meet out back. I feel sorry for that marine who has a lot of growing up to do. If Mitt is that kind of Mormon I certainly wouldn't want him in any elected office, but I don't get that impression. Look at the health care reform in MS. I'm a regestered Rep. that has not yet voted for a Rep. president. If Mitt will start addressing energy policy in a way that makes sense he might get my vote, otherwise we'll see if the other party's are serious about energy.

Juniper said...

matthew,
A clear and level-headed comment. I'm glad to be getting all this discussion, and I've learned that I should maybe clarify myself a little futher.
I haven't really researched Mitt's health care reform, but anything that reforms our health care system seems good to me. Better than what we've got anyway.
I also wanted to say that, regarding the LDS church voting as a block, the Catholic church is not that way...else why would we have Catholic candidates on all sides of the political parties? maybe that's what I should have said.

Cameron said...

To characterize Mormons as "only" Republican is wrong.

There are Mormons on both sides of the political spectrum as well. Two very well known and powerful senators come to mind: Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Harry Reid.

Are these powerful politicians with basically polar opposite political views "receiving visits from an authority, a phone call, or a cold shoulder from the congregation"?

Based on the wildly different politics of these two public figures, the church authorities must not have much pull.

Also, you act like Mormons are the only group that supports the ammendment you allude to in your post. You keep bringing up the Catholic church in contrast to the LDS, and yet the Catholic church supports the same ammendment. So do many Protestant denominations. It is not a Mormon-only issue.

Furthermore, it is incredibly difficult to pass an ammendment to the Constitution. If it is passed while Romney is president, it will not be his "fault". It will be because the proposed ammendment passed the rigorous approval process. That is the definition of "upholding the Constitution".