Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Media villagers are terrified of asking questions about a candidate's religious beliefs. The reason for this is that there is always a knee-jerk reaction from the candidate and his or her supporters accusing them of "religious bigotry" and attacking "religious liberty." It is a way to silence any legitimate inquiry.
This is a problem for media villagers because so many candidates run for office citing their religious beliefs as a source of their moral character and a qualification for office. (The U.S. Constitution and Arizona Constitution prohibit a religious test for political office). If a candidate is going to cite his or her religious beliefs and piety as a source of their moral character and a qualification for office, then they ought to be questioned about their religious beliefs. They injected their religious beliefs into the race, they cannot deflect questions.
I read today that Willard "Mittens" Romney begins to open up, just a little, about his Mormonism. The Romney campaign recenty released a series of commercials that ask "Who shares your values?," as the start of a broader Romney effort to emphasize values and religion as he courts undecided voters.
Philip Barlow, a Mormon historian at Utah State University who worked with Romney when he was bishop in Belmont, Mass., said that trying to understand Romney without Mormonism would be like "watching a football game with half the players invisible."
His decades of involvement in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has shaped every aspect of Romney's life, from his family to his decades in private business and his political career. Romney has donated millions to his church and its charities, and has volunteered countless hours to the Mormon community and others.
Yet Romney has spoken only in the broadest terms about religion.
OK then, here is a subject that Romney had to address during his 2008 presidential run, but has not been questioned about, to my knowledge, during his 2012 presidential run. Sally Denton at Salon, back in January of this year, wrote Romney and the White Horse Prophecy - Salon.com (excerpts):
Upon completion of his foreign mission, [Romney] immersed himself in the 1970 senatorial campaign of his mother, Lenore Romney, who was running against Phillip Hart in the Michigan general election. That same year, the Cougar Club — the all male, all white social club at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City (blacks were excluded from full membership in the Mormon church until 1978) — was humming with talk that its president, Mitt Romney, would become the first Mormon president of the United States. “If not Mitt, then who?” was the ubiquitous slogan within the elite organization. The pious world of BYU was expected to spawn the man who would lead the Mormons into the White House and fulfill the prophecies of the church’s founder, Joseph Smith Jr., which Romney has avidly sought to realize.
Romney avoids mentioning it, but Smith ran for president in 1844 as an independent commander in chief of an “army of God” advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government in favor of a Mormon-ruled theocracy. Challenging Democrat James Polk and Whig Henry Clay, Smith prophesied that if the U.S. Congress did not accede to his demands that “they shall be broken up as a government and God shall damn them.” Smith viewed capturing the presidency as part of the mission of the church. He had predicted the emergence of “the one Mighty and Strong” — a leader who would “set in order the house of God” — and became the first of many prominent Mormon men to claim the mantle.
Smith’s insertion of religion into politics and his call for a “theodemocracy where God and people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteous matters” created a sensation and drew hostility from the outside world. But his candidacy was cut short when he was shot to death by an anti-Mormon vigilante mob. Out of Smith’s national political ambitions grew what would become known in Mormon circles as the “White Horse Prophecy” — a belief ingrained in Mormon culture and passed down through generations by church leaders that the day would come when the U.S. Constitution would “hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber” and the Mormon priesthood would save it.
Romney is the product of this culture. At BYU, he was idolized by fellow students and referred to, only half jokingly, as the “One Mighty and Strong.”
* * *
So it seemed disingenuous to his former club mates when, in a 2006 magazine interview, Romney denied his longtime political aspirations. “I have to admit I did not think I was going to be in politics,” he told the American Spectator. “Had I thought politics was in my future, I would not have chosen Massachusetts as the state of my residence. I would have stayed in Michigan where my Dad’s name was golden.”
Michael Moody says political success was an institutional value of the LDS church.
“The instructions in my [patriarchal] blessing, which I believed came directly from Jesus, motivated me to seek a career in government and politics,” he wrote in his 2008 book. Moody recently said that he ran for governor of Nevada in 1982 because he felt he had been divinely directed to “expand our kingdom” and help Romney “lead the world into the Millennium. Once a firm believer but now a church critic, Moody was indoctrinated with the White Horse Prophecy. Like Romney, Moody is a seventh-generation Mormon, steeped in the same intellectual and theological milieu.
“We were taught that America is the Promised Land,” he said in an interview.”The Mormons are the Chosen People. And the time is now for a Mormon leader to usher in the second coming of Christ and install the political Kingdom of God in Washington, D.C.”
In this scenario, Romney’s candidacy is part of the eternal plan and the candidate himself is fulfilling the destiny begun in what the church calls the “pre-existence.”
Several prominent Mormons, including conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck, have alluded to this apocalyptic prophecy. The controversial myth is not an official church doctrine, but it has also arisen in the national dialogue with the presidential candidacies of Mormons George Romney, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and now Mitt Romney.
“I don’t think the White Horse Prophecy is fair to bring up at all,” Mitt Romney told the Salt Lake Tribune when he was asked about it during his 2008 presidential bid. “It’s been rejected by every church leader that has talked about it. It has nothing to do with anything.”
* * *
Just as the Christian fundamentalism of former GOP candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry informed their political ideology — and was therefore considered fair game in the national dialogue — so too does Mormonism define not only Mitt Romney’s character, but what kind of president he would be and what impulses would drive him in both domestic and foreign policy.
Romney’s religion is not a sideline, but a crucial element in understanding the man, the mission and the candidacy. . . Like his father before him, Romney has charted a course from missionary to businessman, from church bishop to politician — and to presidential candidate. The influence that Mormonism has had on him has dominated every step of the way.
* * *
Romney, like his father before him who voluntarily tithed an unparalleled 19 percent of his personal fortune, is among the church’s wealthiest members. And like his father, grandfather and great-grandfathers before him, Mitt Romney was groomed for a prominent position in the church, which he manifested first as a missionary, then as a bishop, and then as a stake president, becoming the highest-ranking Mormon leader in Boston — the equivalent of a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
Called a “militant millennial movement” by renowned Mormon historian David L. Bigler, Mormonism’s founding theology was based upon a literal takeover of the U.S. government. In light of the theology and divine prophecies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, unamended by the LDS hierarchy, it would seem that the office of the American presidency is the ultimate ecclesiastical position to which a Mormon leader might aspire. So it is not the LDS cosmology that is relevant to Romney’s candidacy, but whether devout 21stcentury Mormons like Romney believe that the American presidency is also a theological position.
Since his first campaign in 2008, Romney has attempted to keep debate about his religion out of the political discourse. The issue is not whether there is a religious test for political office; the Constitution prohibits it. Instead, the question is whether, past all of the flip-flops on virtually every policy, he has an underlying religious conception of the presidency and the American government. At the recent GOP presidential debate in Florida, Romney professed that the Declaration of Independence is a theological document, not specific to the rebellious 13 colonies, but establishing a covenant “between God and man.” Which would suggest that Mitt Romney views the American presidency as a theological office.
I suspect a whole lot of people have a problem with viewing the American presidency as a theological office.