Mitt Romney, who the Republicans call “Him”, has a past that speaks to a matter of his soul, which I believe is the foundation of his core beliefs. Mitt spent 32 years in a religious organization that indoctrinated the idea that blacks were fundamentally cursed — by God — and that by virtue of their birth were unworthy of the highest spiritual affirmation. Being an African America and someone who believes in God this ideology is a huge problem for me.
Let me give just a brief historical background of his faith. The word Mormon most often refers to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of their belief in the Book of Mormon, though members often refer to themselves as “Latter-day Saints” or sometimes just “Saints.”
The term has been embraced by most adherents of Mormonism, most notably the fundamentalists, while other Saints denominations, such as the Community of Christ, have rejected it. The term Latter-day Saints (LDS) was given to its founder Joseph Smith during an 1838 revelation mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants. The term “saint” was used by Paul the Apostle to refer to early members of the Christian church with “later-day” being added to differentiate the modern church from the early church.
Most people associate the Mormon religion with polygamy or sex with young girl through marriage which was a distinguishing practice of many early Mormons. However, it was renounced by the LDS Church in 1890, and now they say is discontinued. Today, polygamy is practiced only by fundamentalist groups that have broken with the LDS Church.
From the start, Mormons have tried to establish what they call Zion, a utopian society of the righteous. Mormon history can be divided into three broad time periods: (1) the early history during the lifetime of Joseph Smith, (2) a “pioneer era” under the leadership of Brigham Young and his successors, and (3) a modern era beginning around the turn of the 20th century.
Now back to the cult’s racial views. Romney was confronted during a NBC’s Meet the Press (12/07) appearance when the late Tim Russert brought up the ban on blacks and the fact that Romney was an adult before the ban was lifted. Russert pointedly asked if Romney had a problem with associating himself with an organization that was seen as racist. Romney answered, “I’m not going to distance myself in any way from my faith.”
Russert asked if Romney was willing to disavow the Church’s earlier teachings, and Romney refused — choosing instead to cite examples of how his father supported civil rights. Mitt even claimed that his father, George Romney, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.; a statement that was later proven false and that Romney recanted.
There is “no religious test” for holding political office, but there is a moral one. As a leader in his church, a young Romney would have been compelled to teach the racist Mormon ideology to others. His curious answer to Russert affirms the belief that the church was infallible in its teachings. Romney cannot be excused of his own affiliation with an explicitly discriminatory organization without, at the very least, providing an acceptable answer.
Barack Obama was forced to disavow controversial statements by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, during the 2008 campaign culminating in his now famous race speech. Romney cannot be given a pass especially when, unlike Obama’s situation, Romney remains in a church whose codified beliefs are sketched in proverbial stone. The priesthood ban may be gone, but the cursed text remains and is still taught as divinely inspired doctrine.
The former governor rarely discusses religion. But the recent controversy over the contraception clause of the new healthcare law and the Catholic Church’s public disagreement with the Obama administration precipitated comments from Romney that Obama was attacking freedom of religion. Romney spoke while campaigning ahead of the Michigan and Arizona primaries that he “knows a lot about being persecuted” for one’s faith.
There is a cognitive dissonance inherent in the idea that one can be a victim of religious persecution, while simultaneously adhering to a faith which does the same based on race.
It’s a complicated subject, with an equally complicated history, and though Romney may not now, or ever have held racist feelings or beliefs on a personal level, it is a public office that he seeks. And, as such, he must be compelled to offer an open and honest explanation. Frankly, with his well documented history of flip-flopping (lying) – is this the guy any American would want to be the next president of the United States.
And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…