Oct 2012 31

by Steven Whitney

Mitt Romney has done a good job keeping religion out of this election. . . and for a good reason. Many Americans view Latter-Day Saints (LDS) with some skepticism, mostly because they’re not sure who or what Mormons really are. Are they Christians? Are they a Messianic cult? Are they a hybrid, a little bit of everything – a touch of Masonic ritual here, a little Christianity there, and a little sci-fi way over in the corner? Or are they something else entirely?

A close friend whose opinion I respect warned me that going after someone’s religion might be considered a low blow. Normally, I think he’d be right because until recently most candidates were Sunday-only churchgoers in mainstream religions we’re all familiar with and nothing more. And as long as they weren’t zealots, their religious views were none of my business, just as my personal beliefs are none of theirs.

But recently we’ve been dealing with a whole new breed of cat – particularly an extreme Religious Right that insists that only they know the truth and that everyone else must live by their interpretation of what was heretofore a good book. That is not only an outrageous breach of our 1st Amendment Freedom of Religion rights, it tells us that we need to take longer looks at candidates’ religious choices to gauge whether or not we, the electorate, are comfortable with them.

Besides, I’m not “going after” anyone’s religion – Romney and any citizen can believe anything they want within the laws of our country. But it must be pointed out that he has taken several sacred vows in his ascent to the position of bishop in his church – an office achieved only through strict adherence to Mormon doctrine – that raise serious doubts about his fitness for office.

Much of the LDS religion is, by its own choice, secret both to outsiders and to those within the church who have not achieved certain ranks. As a Constitutional matter, that’s perfectly legitimate. But it also means that many voters don’t know the ins-and-outs of the Mormon sect and, in a political arena, the electorate has the right to full transparency.

The embedded 7-minute video was filmed so people outside the inner circle of the LDS church could look “Behind the Veil” and glimpse just a small portion of secret Mormon beliefs, agendas, and ceremonies. Using a covert remote camera, the filmmakers recorded the hallowed Endowment Ceremony in which Saints (what Mormons call themselves) are given the key passwords and handshakes (called “tokens”) they need to pass by angels guarding the way to heaven.

For much of the last week, I have sourced the video to ensure its accuracy by contacting both its original website and ex-Mormons I know who went through this ceremony. While the entire video is fascinating, two short sections – from 3:30 to 3:45 and from 4:00 to 4:28 – stand out as the most relevant to our election. Watch for them:

If Mitt Romney believes in the god Elohim and the planet Kolob, that’s fine – those are matters of faith. . . and no one should posit definitive views on anyone else’s religious beliefs.

But the video reveals at least two doctrines that are relevant to this election.

First is the LDS notion that our civil government should be replaced by a religious one administered by Mormons. Does Romney himself believe that? And does he consider his candidacy the first step in a LDS grand plan?

If so, it’s a clear violation of the democratic principle regarding the separation of Church and State (and confirmed by our government in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli). Not to mention the fact that he would then be engaging in the treasonous act of “overthrowing” our government, not a good qualification for the Presidency.

Secondly is the Oath of Vengeance against the United States for the “murders” of Hyrum and Joseph Smith:

“You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophet Elohim upon the United States and that you will teach the same to your children and your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”

Did Romney himself ever take a vow to wreak vengeance on the United States for any reason whatsoever? If so, it’s not the best back story for someone who wants to be our Chief Executive.

So if he answers yes, he did take both those vows, he remains a good Mormon but his candidacy must be weighed in the light of those promises to the LDS.

Then again, if he swats these issues away in avoidance as he has done so often with other legitimate questions, we have the right to fill in our own answers based on what little we know of the real Romney.

But there’s a third alternative, one buried in LDS tradition and appropriately called Lying for the Lord – an accepted custom of lying to protect the church which has been described by an ex-official of the LDS as “a pattern of institutionalized deception established by Joseph Smith” that has now become “standard practice.” And routine for Romney, as it allows him to lie without sanction about himself and his agendas if he believes it serves the greater good of his church.

The problem, of course, is that 97% of voters are not Mormons and they would rather a President – or any elected official – serve his country rather than the LDS.

Even if he “lies for the Lord” and answers no – that he does not and never has sought or envisioned a religious government nor swore vengeance upon the U.S. – we have to wonder how he became a bishop of the LDS without adhering to two of its principle doctrines. Or if he has expediently forsaken his religious vows to win the political office he now seeks. And if he broke promises to the church he holds sacred, how can he be trusted to keep the oath of office of the Presidency?

It’s the Romney conundrum. No matter how he responds to these specific questions,
red flags are raised. Is his first allegiance to the LDS. . . or to our country? Or, glancing at his personal history, is he just out for himself?

There have been so many deceptions in Romney’s campaign about where he really stands on issues, about his business practices (the phrase “vulture capitalist” keeps raising its ugly head), about his secret plans for tax reform, healthcare, Social Security, and nearly everything else on which he constantly flip-flops, he’s become the Invisible Man of American politics – he’s smack-dab in the middle of the election, but no one can see him clearly.

A participatory democracy mandates an electorate informed by facts. It needs a true understanding of the issues, the candidates and their platforms, and the vision each holds for our sovereign nation.

So a last question must be asked: should anyone trust Mitt Romney, whose true nature and agenda remains deliberately unseen?

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