This is a Note for People Who Don’t Care that Mitt Romney is a Mormon
by Frank Wynerth Summers III on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 10:37pm ·
I am writing this note more in the mode of my conventional politics point of view than in the scope of my radical political positions and proposals. This is for people like me who regardless of what they believe about a whole myriad of subjects do believe also in being informed about the upcoming presidential election. Mitt Romney could be the first Mormon President of the United States. He is certainly trying to be just that. Here are some facts, thoughts and ideas about the fact that the apparent Republican Party nominee is a Mormon. I think it is a matter worth discussing. One issue I am going to come back to at the end of this note is the distinction between Mormons and Mormonism in a broader sense and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints often known as the LDS. Most mormons and all the famous Mormons listed at the start of this note are LDS Mormons.
There are a good number of famous American Mormons such as Donnie and Marie Osmond who still appear separately and together on television in a variety of little and not so little venues and have been on television for quite a few decades, Marie Osmond was interviewed by several major networks when Dick Clark died. Then there is the Julianne Hough, who has recorded several hit country songs starred in the recent film Footloose, appeared in Burlesque and along with her brother Derek Hough who is currently dancing with Maria Menounos on Dancing With the Stars has been very successful on that hit dance show. There is the long time sportscaster Steve Young former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. The very controversial political commenter and talk show host Glenn Beck is also a Mormon.
In political life there are already prominent Mormons in government such Orrin Grant Hatch, as the senior United States Senator for Utah he is typical of most successful politicians in and from Utah in being a Mormon and a member of the Republican Party. Very competent as a congressional operator, Hatch served as the chairman or ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1993 to 2005. Earlier posts include that of chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee from 1981 to 1987. He currently serves as ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and outside Congress serves on the Board of Directors for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Hatch is of course in Romney’s party which controls the House of Representatives under leadership not notably Mormon on either side but in the Senate where Hatch serves the majority he opposes is led by a Mormon.
Harry Reid does not match Hatch’s background and neither matches Romney’s very closely. Reid is well dug in against many of the Conservative Republicans to whom Mitt Romney would owe his election. Reid was not reared in Utah’s conservative Mormon heartland nor in Romney’s eclectic background. Actually, he was raised agnostic and he and his formerly Jewish wife with the experiences of imigrant parents both converted more or less together to very marriage conscious institution of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in college. Mormons have other holy books and a living prophet and so in the Bible at least can find real support for sacred beliefs usually assigned to the left or right of politics in our age and not adhereing to such Modern lines. Reid said in 2001: “I think it is much easier to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat than a good member of the Church and a Republican.” He cited the concern for the needs of human beings in much the way liberals of conventional Christian backgrounds often have done in such speeches. In 2007, Ried spoke to tens of thousands of students at Brigham Young University linking Democratic values to Mormon values. In Utah there is among the conservative community little dolubt that marriage between men and women and the procreation of children are very important to the church and society and that Mormons should defend the secular traditions which underly its celestial marital instituions. A great number of Republican Mormons in Utah have doubted Reid’s faith because of his statements that the LDS church’s backing of California’s Proposition 8 to ban same sex marriage had wasted the political and other resources. Reid is from Nevada where Mormons are numerous but his coming from a background in the politics of regulating casinos adds to his being a distinct from the ideal centered in a section of Utah society that some might feel Hatch represents well. How much Romney would interact with both or either of these men is currently hard to say.
The Mormons are in general very Americanist. That does not mean they are not also true and legitimate Americans but only that they also aspire to and keep track of a wide variety of measures of their importance to America and America’s importance to them. Note the following passage from a Church publicationa not entirely unusual:
“Ronald Reagan truly admired the Latter-day Saints. His administration included more members of the Church than any other American president, ever. Three of us, David Fischer, Gregory Newell and I, served on his personal White House staff. Richard Wirthlin was his chief strategist. Ted Bell served as Secretary of Education, Angela Buchanan was Treasurer, Rex Lee was Solicitor General. His White House included Roger Porter, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Beal, Blake Parish, Jon Huntsman Jr., Dodie Borup and Rocky Kuonen, and there were many other Latter-day Saints throughout his Administration. President Thomas S. Monson served on a Presidential Commission on Volunteerism. Others were ambassadors. LDS senators and representatives were held in special regard, and the Tabernacle Choir was his special inaugural guest.” -Stephen M. Studdert, Special Assistant to President Reagan
Source: “President Reagan respected Church,” Church News
Although students of the Bible and upholders of many aspects of ancient Judeao-Chrsitian principles the Mormons are a distinct religion. Their early founders as such a new religiom were men such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young who were mostly US Citizens all or most of their lives. This young church is influenced by the opinion of strangers more than an older religion would be an d there have been many people who have called Mormonism American Islam. I have studied them a good bit and think that the differences between them and Moslems are overall greater than the differences between both traditional Christianity and Islam and the American variants of Christianitythey were reacting to at the founding and Islam. But because of the role of polygamy, nationalism and and some ficxtionalization of peripheral historial events some Christians have cast them in a Muslimist mode and that has had some influence on the young religion. They have a process of succession for a living prophet in almost every Mormon church (meaning the whole communion and not the congregation). That means that for the large LDS church such a man is powerful figure in our society whom most Americans scarcely know exists. Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, its chief living revelator and prophet. He has held this office since 2008. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often referred to as the LDS Church or Mormon Church. Monson’s presidency is headquartered in the largest city built largely by Mormons — Salt Lake City, Utah. The LDS or Mormon Church reports a worldwide membership of 13,000,000 as of June 25,2007, with over 6.8 million residing outside the United States. It is the fourth largest religion in the United States. According to statistics released by the Church, 47% of its members live in the United States and Canada, 36% in Latin America, and 17% in other parts of the world. This central Mormon Church is not the only Church in Mormonism and has denounced polygamy for historical reasons and there are other communions not in union with Monson which have not done so and also have other differences with Monson’s much larger church. Church is growing by about 300,000 members per year, worldwide. The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints seeks to publicize its central belief that Jesus is the Christ. Monson and the LDS assert that Church doctrine revolves around Christ’s atonement as the defining event in world history. Their doctrine is in fact by technical analysis a kind of syncretism of modern (19th century) popular science, varied pagan traditions, Islamic influences in Freemasonry and real study of the Christian and Jewish Scriptures and traditions. This is all recast in terms of American history and archaelogy. Mormons such as Monson see this as a restoration of something lost restored through the prophet Joseph Smith; and continued through the voice of succeeding prophets and leaders of the Church and say that doctrine rests upon the principles taught by the Savior during His ministry; relayed through ancient prophets as recorded in scripture; . The doctrines of Christ are believed to be eternal. Currently Mormonism is finding many ways to influence the world including the Marriot Hotel chain, Glenn Beck and non LDS Mormons such as the fictional Hendricksons of Big Love on HBO and the actual people in the show Sister Wives on TLC. Mormon missionaries are a powerfully active force in the world. Monson was born August 21, 1927 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Mormon American parents G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson. He grew up in a fairly typical Utah Mormon background and lifestyle during that upbringing he received ordination to what Mormons call the priesthood as almost all Mormon young men do. In 1945 Thomas Monson joined the US Naval Reserves. In the year 1948 he reached three significant milestones, he graduated cum laude from University of Utah, became professionally associated with the Mormon publication the Deseret News and late in the year on October 7, 1948 he married Frances Beverly Johnson. The Mormons lack the formal distinction between clergy and laity which most Christian communions and many other religions employ and yet resemble the most clerical and organized religions in much of their level of structure and organization. Monson continued an established rising and climbing in this structure as in 1950 he became bishop of Sixth-Seventh Ward of Temple View Stake in Utah. and relatively shortly thereafter in 1955 June became counselor in stake presidency, Temple View Stake, Utah. 1959–1962. Among other duties undertaken he served as president of Canadian Mission headquartered in Toronto, Canada and then really reached the upper ranks when he was ordained an Apostle on October 10, 1963 at age 36. He became clearly in line to succession to his office in 1985 November 10 Called as Second Counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson. 1994 June 5 Called as Second Counselor to President Howard W. Hunter. 1995 March 12 Called as First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley. 1997. His other personal distinctions include the University of Utah’s Distinguished Alumnus Award., long service as a member of the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America and receiving several distinguished Boy Scouts of America Awards. Monson served on President Ronald Reagan’s President’s Task Force for Private Sector Initiatives. Other awards include: the Minuteman Award from the Utah National Guard, Continuum of Caring Humanitarian Award by Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph Villa. Distinguished Utahn Award from Salt Lake City and Utah Valley Management Society Chapters. Distinguished Public Service Award from Washington, D.C. chapter of BYU Management Society and others.
Now in the larger Mormon context there are the raids on Mormon polygamous compounds which have made the news. Interviews with Oprah Winfrey and others have made people aware of the better and worse parts of the lifestyle experienced in some of these places. HBO ran a series called big Love about the fictional Hendricksons played by Bill Paxton, Jeanne Triplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin as the spouses. Amanda Seyfried plays the eldest daughter. The show is at times thoughtful, sexy and clever in exploring modern polygamy in a media world where it is never touvhed upon. On the other hand it is a times hateful bitter and heavy-handed bashing of polygamy and Mormonism through explotive sripts. A reality show called Sister Wives shows a real family on TLC living as a polygamous family and perhaps is at times as falsely cleaned up as Big Love is overly and bizarrely dirtied in some episodes compared to so many measures. But it is still real peopleliving a life together. Mitt Romney’s father grew up on a compound where polygamy was common if not really legal down in Mexico. However Mitt Romney’s father was from a monogamous home.
I am not sure if I will write about Mormonism or Romney’s faith a great deal more or not at all. But for some of you who may not know very much about the religion this may be a start to discussing the question intelligently. It is no real answer to say that it will not affect how you vote. I believe a Mormon could earn my vote and have voted for people of varied faiths. No Mormon has yet appeared on my ballots as I am not a Republican and this primary was closed in Louisiana. But whoever I vote for I want to know something about. So this is something about Mitt Romney — he is a Mormon…