Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Why I will never vote for a Mormon as president

I know that very soon after I post this, those who have "Mormon" for a Google search term will find this posting and try to start in on me. But I'm blocking comments on this posting. I don't have the time to deal with replies, but I have been wanting to say this for some time now. However, what I say is not said with any personal animosity toward anyone at all (except, perhaps, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young), least of all Mitt Romney whom I have never met and have only the most remote connections to.

That said, if I can help it, I will never vote for a Mormon as president. Now there are probably Catholics out there who will pounce on me and tell me that the Constitution says we can't have a religious test for anyone who holds public office. Amen to that. But that's a governmental regulation for those who hold official posts. It isn't meant for individuals like myself who are using their best judgments to choose the best candidate possible.

So without further ado, here are some reasons why I will not vote for a Mormon:

1) Mormon theology is (to be blunt) screwy.

The reason this is important is because how a person believes guides how a person behaves. Now I know that many people will throw the "Catholic" politicians like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry at me. And still I say, yes, as a person believes, so a person behaves. Kennedy, Kerry, et al, do not believe that what the Catholic Church teaches really binds their consciences, so they are free to do as they wish. And they do as they wish.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is by all accounts a faithful Mormon. That is, of course, better than being one who claims to be Mormon but does not live the faith or who claims to be Catholic but says the Pope can go to hell. But that he is a faithful Mormon should give us pause because Mormonism's doctrines are strange.

  • They believe that God the Father - who is the god of this planet, not the God who created the universe and who has no beginning and no end, as Christianity has always taught - had sexual intercourse with Mary in order to beget Jesus.
  • They believe that men who are faithful Mormons will, after death, get to have their own planets over which they are gods and that they will each have a bunch of spirit wives with whom they will generate spirit children, and then the created people on that planet will be expected to have sex in order to incarnate those spirit children as happens here on Earth.
  • They believe that "as we are now, God once was. As God is now, so we will become."
  • When a couple are married in a temple ritual, the woman is given a secret name. After death, the only way that she can make it into the highest heavens, the highest happiness, is if her husband calls her by this secret name.

I could go further, but this should demonstrate perfectly well that Mormonism not only isn't a Christian belief, but the strangeness of their beliefs can lead to some strange behaviors.

I for one don't want a president in office who believes that a woman's highest happiness depends entirely on her getting married and her husband calling on her secret name after death.

Or who believes that he will someday be the god of his own planet.

2) Mormonism is part business, part religion

Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were Americans through and through. The religion which they developed is an American religion. Their connections are all American.

That may seem obvious and pointless, but consider this: the Mormon church owns many huge businesses and it has many faithful members who either own or are chairmen/CEO's of huge businesses. To name a few: Ryder, La Quinta, Franklin/Covey, Iomega, American Express, SkyWest, Tropical Sportswear, Sports Capital Partners, Cadence Design, Five Star Quality Care (based in Newton, Mass., of which state Mr. Romney was once governor), Headwaters, Central Pacific Bank, Black and Decker. Others hold influential positions like CFO or are presidents of key operations of major corporations. Oh, and did I mention Marriott and JetBlue?

This doesn't include the rather lengthy list of businesses owned directly by the church itself, businesses like Beneficial Life, Bonneville Broadcasting, and just about everything with the name "Deseret" in it. The Mormon church actually owns the largest ranch in the country, which isn't in the mountain West somewhere, but outside of Orlando. Their agribusiness companies are huge. In fact, TIME magazine said that if Mormonism would be considered a business, it would fall in the middle of the Fortune 500, somewhere between Nike and Union Carbide.

Along with this, one must take into consideration that all faithful Mormons are required by their religion to tithe 10 percent of their incomes to the church. If they don't do that, they find themselves on the outs with their local leaders. So all these corporate leaders who are making loads of money are giving 10 percent of their personal income to the church. And who's to say they're not doing that with their corporations' money as well?

In other words, Mormonism isn't like other religions. It's part business, part religion. When the church itself owns at least 23 major companies, one must seriously question what the primary purpose of its existence is.

3) Influence doesn't only come from Salt Lake

When JFK ran for president, we all know what happened and what the accusation was. Many were expecting that he would be taking orders from Rome and from the bishops in the U.S. Of course his speech Houston cleared that up -- he wasn't going to take orders from anyone except himself.

Some people say that Romney's recent speech did the same thing. But there's a huge difference between Catholicism and Mormonism. (Well, there are actually dozens of huge differences between the two, but we'll stick to discussing politics right now.) With Catholicism, you have a very clearly defined hierarchy that is separated from the laity. The clergy are celibate, and they are supported by donations from the faithful, donations which are voluntarily given.

With Mormonism, however, there is no separate hierarchy. All "bishops" and "elders" are laypeople. They may work for the church itself, but most work at regular jobs. That means that the president of Franklin/Covey, for instance, could just as easily be the president of his local stake or the bishop of his ward. In fact, he could even be on the highest levels of the church, acting as counselor to the president, Gordon B. Hinkley, who is the so-called prophet, seer and revelator.

In other words, it is not inconceivable that a President Romney or one of his staff would consult with a so-called apostle of the Mormon church, for whatever reason.

In fact, the Salt Lake Tribune reported on 30 December that former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who is now the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, held meetings with his staff to figure out how they could get Mormon doctrines implemented into Utah state policy. (Personally, I'm not sure why that was needed. The state legislature is around 97 percent Mormon and they vote on their beliefs.) Leavitt says he hasn't done that on the federal level, but there's really nothing to prevent him from doing so.

Nor is there anything to prevent a Mormon president from doing the same thing.

This story from AP also shows that Mormon business owner can have an influence over Mr. Romney. (Let's not forget that he is the one who saved the Salt Lake Olympics when they were under the cloud of a corruption scandal.) These business owners live Mormon theology daily and they themselves work to see their faith grow in influence. And since these guys have the money and the connections, their influence is very strong. That it would extend to the president of the United States is a scary thought.

4) Race

Jason Riley at the Wall Street Journal wrote a superb column about the problem of race in the Mormon church. It is well-known that in their scriptures (i.e., The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price), Mormons look upon dark-skinned people as inferior to whites. This is written in their documents as well and was enforced until a lawsuit that went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978 suddenly prompted a "revelation" that blacks could be part of the church hierarchy.

That racism persists to this day, Riley says, and I wouldn't doubt it a bit. For just as Mormons still cling to polygamy (just try to criticize that practice in front of someone who descends from a polygamous line) as the pure way to go despite the ban that was placed on it so that Utah could enter the Union, so racism is not easily eradicated after being told for more than a century that whites are the superior race and non-whites are cursed by God Himself.

5) The Mormon church is not 100 percent pro-life.

Despite the image to the contrary, Mormons are not pro-life people. I got a lesson in this back in 1997 when I went to the Roe v Wade rally at the Utah state capitol on January 22. I was expecting the nearly 5,000 people that I see annually at the Minnesota state capitol and was stunned when I got there and there was no one around. I went inside and all I saw was, at most, a couple hundred people gathered under the rotunda, most of them Catholic. Someone explained to me that Mormon theology actually does allow for abortions. In fact, I found out that at that time, Utah had the highest rate of abortions among married women in the country (I don't know if that still holds true.) The reasons for the abortion have to be serious, but they still do allow for the taking of innocent human life.

These are but a few of my reasons for not voting for a Mormon as president. If I had to choose between two Mormons for a legislative race, I wouldn't have too much difficulty with that because legislators aren't executives who have things like executive privilege within their grasp; they can be held in check by fellow legislators. But because of his executive powers, a president is a different story and requires far more consideration than legislators.

Is Romney better than Hillary? Certainly. And in that kind of contest, I'm not sure what I would do. But while we're in the primary season, I am not going to give any kind of consideration to Mitt Romney at all.