March 27, 2012

"Area Mormons welcome chance to explain their faith as Republican primary heads to Wisconsin."

A Wisconsin State Journal article.

Has this been a feature of the GOP primary in other states? I hadn't noticed. Romney seems extremely low key about his religion. I get the impression he's one of the many people who continue the traditional religion within their families, not because any of the particular details of that religion seem especially persuasive, but because a person tends to need a religion, for social and psychological reasons, and the most moderate approach to religion is to adhere to the faith of your parents and grandparents.

60 comments:

damikesc said...

Romney doesn't preach his faith...but unlike our President, he does abide by it.

Democrats seem REALLY concerned about his faith so the questions conservatives are ambivalent about at worst need to be addressed incessantly.

Bruce Hayden said...

I get the impression he's one of the many people who continue the traditional religion within their families, not because any of the particular details of that religion seem especially persuasive, but because a person tends to need a religion, for social and psychological reasons, and the most moderate approach to religion is to adhere to the faith of your parents and grandparents.

But, he has apparently been very involved in his religion over the years, from his mission to France to being, apparently, the highest ranking Mormon in MA, fully tithing (before taxes), all along the way (which means that he has given many millions to his church). I remember a story a couple of months ago, by a Mormon in that state, who helped build a new church there. Throughout the process, Romney would set achievable goals, which they would achieve, and this would repeat, until, one day, they had their new church, with the required number of members.

Frankly, I respect people like Romney who can work hard for their faith, but never wear it on their sleeves. (BTW - I don't have any reason to believe that Santorum is any less devout - he but has let the MSM push him into corners because of his religion).

Quayle said...

Three points:

1. I can speak from the inside that Mormons are as much or more leery about the attention than welcome it. (For example, I wonder if we'll get dragged into and used for a full-out Axelrod assault.)

2. The church is taking great pains to restate its long-standing position of political neutrality. So Romney has caused them additional work, in some ways, and probably some concern.

2. I think the record is clear that Mitt is clearly more than just a 'family tradition follower.'

In today's Salt Lake 'opposition' newspaper, Peggy Fletcher (a very outspoken free thinker/reporter who happens to be Mormon) today published an 'inside' look at Mitt when he was a lay leader in Boston. You don't get called to those positions unless you're pretty clearly with the program.

Balfegor said...

I'd second what Bruce Hayden says -- Romney seems to me to be deeply devoted to his faith, just not particularly demonstrative about it. That's not necessarily incompatible with his being a man who follows the faith of his fathers because it is the faith of his fathers -- as a kind of historical accident, rather than as the result of some tormented agonizing after spiritual truth, or of at least of a search for a faith that conforms exactly to one's prejudices and validates all one's appetites. I just don't think that quite conveys what Mormonism appears to mean to him.

bagoh20 said...

I've been making this point lately usually in comments in response to Crack MC's vetting of Romney's Mormonism.

As I understand them, most religions, if followed to the letter, would not give one much ability or time to make a living. If you really believe, how could you justify doing anything else but worshiping and evangelizing.

In general, I think we look down on and suspect mental illness in people who act in strict accordance with their teaching.

I prefer religious people, and I think it's generally a good influence on our society, but I'm just expressing what I see around me.

Jana said...

To add just a little bit to Quayle's good point, yes, you don't generally become a Bishop if you're only moderately attached to the religious practice. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy to be a Bishop, and there is no pay.

It's true that there are many "cultural" Mormons -- those who continue the tradition as an accident of birth. But to serve in the higher callings, it is very likely that you will be challenged and stretched in ways you would not otherwise be. It can test faith, to be sure. It takes some spiritual fortitude to endure such a calling.

I think it more likely he sees his religious and public life as two separate things.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'd second what Bruce Hayden says -- Romney seems to me to be deeply devoted to his faith, just not particularly demonstrative about it."

That's not inconsistent with what I've said. You can be deeply devoted to the tradition without really believing or needing to believe the actual supernatural unprovable parts of it. You can believe and revere the culture around the religion and the way the religion works to make people ethical and morally upright.

If you think about religion this way, it doesn't matter much what religion people believe, just that they use religion in a way that is good. It doesn't matter about the golden plates or the burning bush or what really happened with Muhammad. It's the idea that people need something in the area of religion.

Converts are doing something else. The nonconvert is doing something completely conventional, and the only question should be whether he is a good person in the secular domain. Plainly, Romney is a good man. That is all that matters with respect to religion.

I know he went on a mission, which is ostensibly looking for converts, but that activity is part of the tradition. I don't see Romney displaying any neediness to get more people to become Mormons.

edutcher said...

Mormons usually go on a mission when they college-age (we had a couple speak to our Soc class when I was at Villanova). This may be more part of that than the Romney campaign or a special effort of the Mormon church.

PS Third on what Bruce says about Romney's faith.

He seems personally an all-around good guy - family man, etc.

Scott M said...

I don't see Romney displaying any neediness to get more people to become Mormons.

Who can say what his inner desires are in this regard? To proselytize openly in the middle of a presidential contest is a sure way to give Obama all the flexibility he wants in dealing with Putin.

Titus said...

He doesn't talk about it because it is not a winning issues with social conservative base of the republican party.

Bender said...

AA: I get the impression he's one of the many people who continue the traditional religion within their families, not because any of the particular details of that religion seem especially persuasive, but because a person tends to need a religion, for social and psychological reasons

BH: he has apparently been very involved in his religion over the years, from his mission to France to being, apparently, the highest ranking Mormon in MA, fully tithing (before taxes), all along the way


Bruce, everything you describe here is entirely consistent with having social reasons for being involved in his church, and not necessarily sharing in the faith (belief).

Now, it is true that for some religions, faith is not merely a matter of belief, but is a living faith, a faith that is manfested by one's actions in life. But action does not necessarily indicate belief. That Romney is a Mormon with his hands does not necessarily mean that he is one in his heart, much less his head.

Or, at least, such action is not necessarily an indication that he has cared enough to give serious and critical thought to the substance of the Mormon faith. Rather, he has just gone along with it, with no inner core, much like his political history.

Unless and until he gives witness to the substance of his faith, we cannot know.

damikesc said...

Why is it even discussed? Conservatives don't seem to care at all. This is just another Progressive "Ain't he WEIRD?" attack not dissimilar to Edwards and Kerry's baffling references to Cheney's gay daughter.

I agree with the South Park guys. The faith is a bit odd, but the adherents seem happy and well-adjusted so it works for them. Ive personally never met an unfriendly Mormon and I live within a mile of one of their churches so it isn't rare.

Next door is a church for Jehovah Witnesses. Far less friendly.

Partridge said...


Converts are doing something else. The nonconvert is doing something completely conventional, and the only question should be whether he is a good person in the secular domain.


Many evangelical-style Christian faiths see everyone, even those born into the religion as needing of conversion. So you can be born into the religion, but you don't really stay in it, either in terms of practice or culturally, unless you really believe it. My experience with Mormons would suggest that they see their own experience in the same way. They seem to be very tightly knit and I don't think they see their religion as something you can just sortof practice without really believing.

Will Cate said...

Correct, damikesc! This is a clever ploy by the newspaper, just a subtle way of reminding the evangelical Christians of his "differentness."

Bender said...

I don't think they see their (Mormon) religion as something you can just sort of practice without really believing

And yet, you don't see very many exploring Mormon theology, you don't see them probing and prodding and asking questions of the Mormon faith, as a theologian would. It is less a "faith that seeks understanding" (to quote the great theologian St. Augustine), than it is a faith of doing.

Or so it would appear to this outsider.

Is that because if they took a serious and long look at the substance of the Mormon faith they might have problems with it (such as Crack might point out)?

Again, as an outsider, I don't know.

Quayle said...

Ann wrote: You can be deeply devoted to the tradition without really believing or needing to believe the actual supernatural unprovable parts of it.

Yes, but Joseph Smith doesn't really give you that space, because (and this is his particular genius - the key to why his teachings and religion stand out among all the other preachers of his age and is still being propelled forward) -

Joseph Smith said, in essence that:

(a) there is no true living religion unless there are 'supernatural' events happening around it and in your individual life because if it, and

(b) everyone is entitled to those supernatural events, including and particularly having God give you a direct personal revelation on the central truth-claims of the religion, and on what you personally should be doing in and with your life.

Joseph pretty clearly taught that tradition is what kills true authentic connection with God.

So, to a Mormon, without those living, current miracles, both in the church and in your life, there isn't really a religion, there is only dead tradition.

And that belief in tradition, and holding to traditions, isn't real religion.

Which is why, I think you'll find, that when a Mormon leaves Mormonism, they tend to leave all organized religions, as compared, say (and I know I'm taking liberties here) when a protestant leaves protestantism and moves to Catholicism. (See e.g. Tony Blair)

bagoh20 said...

The thing I notice about the Mormon's I've known is that I never knew they were religious until I was told. Often they were very devoted privately, but I suspect they learn early on to keep it on the down low.

Bender said...

The word "Islam" does not mean "peace," it means "submission." A Muslim does not question, he submits. He submits to Allah and his prophet Mohammed as set out in the unquestionable Koran.

Aside from the obvious comparisons between Mohammed and Joseph Smith, and the subsequent origins of the Islamic and Mormon faiths, it has been suggested elsewhere (by others than Crack) that Mormonism is likewise a religion of unquestioned submission, of doing more than thinking.

Is that so?

DKWalser said...

That was an interesting article. The author got a lot of the details of Mormon faith wrong, but the main thrust of the article is accurate.

For example, most Mormon men are not priests, which is an office in the priesthood. Most men are Elders, which is a different (higher) office in the priesthood. However, the important point made by the article is that most Mormon men hold the priesthood. The title that they might hold is a detail that, while wrong in the article, does not detract from the truth that Mormon men (generally) hold the priesthood and perform without compensation much of the work necessary for the running of the local churh units.

The article contains several similar innacuracies, but none that create significant distortions.

Greg said...

Ann wrote: That's not inconsistent with what I've said. You can be deeply devoted to the tradition without really believing or needing to believe the actual supernatural unprovable parts of it. You can believe and revere the culture around the religion and the way the religion works to make people ethical and morally upright.

I'm sure there's an exception out there somewhere, but I've never run across it: You don't become a bishop, then a stake president in the Mormon Church and not believe. I've met Romney, but I don't know him personally. However, I interacted with his father in two different small church settings, and there was no doubt in my mind that he believed.

That Mitt doesn't talk about his faith on the stump is understandable--to me at least. Sacred and deeply held beliefs don't fit on bumper stickers and don't play well in 30-second sound bites.

DKWalser said...

...Mormonism is likewise a religion of unquestioned submission, of doing more than thinking.

Is that so?


No. The fact that you, as an outsider, don't see the private questioning and examination that each Mormon is encouraged by the church to conduct does NOT mean that such questioning and examinations are not taking place. It just means that they're private.

damikesc said...

I think most recognise Mormonism doesn't hold up to serious inquiry...but it seems harmless and they seem really friendly. Who had a more disconcerting church: Obama or Romney?

Partridge said...

It is less a "faith that seeks understanding" (to quote the great theologian St. Augustine), than it is a faith of doing.

I think what you're getting at is what we would consider the difference between a focus on orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

Orthodoxic religions focus on belief and faith in that belief, while Orthopraxic religions focus on the practice. Of course, there isn't really a strict dichotomy because Orthopraxic faiths often see the reasons for Orthopraxy as coming from sincere doctrinal beliefs.

Islam is generally considered an Orthopraxic religion. But that doesn't mean there isn't a theological tradition existent. In fact, Islam has a very strong tradition of theological inquiry. It also has a strong tradition of textual interpretation, which you could say itself is an evidence of "questioning" and "seeking to understand."

However, Mormonism, like most Christian religions, is decidedly Orthodoxic. This is partly evidenced in the discussion over the issue of whether Mormons are Christian. It's a highly debated point because Mormons and Evangelicals mutually denounce each other's understandings of Christianity. But the fact that a religion is orthodoxic does not prevent it from believing in or encouraging strong evidence of that orthodoxy in practice. Which is why it might make it hard for outsiders to tell the difference.

Greg said...

DK, thanks for hitting that nail on the head.

Bender said...

It just means that they're private.

But if we accept for purposes of argument that Mormonism is true, if Mormons really did care about other people, wouldn't they want people to know the truth?

Wouldn't they openly and publicly share their faith, rather than keep such questioning and examination private?

Quayle said...

And yet, you don't see very many exploring Mormon theology, you don't see them probing and prodding and asking questions of the Mormon faith, as a theologian would.

If there was one thing I wish others could know about Mormons, it is that we have a very rich theological and cosmological life and lots of space in which to think and struggle and probe and question and converse.

"We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." Article of Faith 9:

"Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection."

"And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." D&C 130:18,19

No time to make the case further, but Mormonism isn't being propelled forward because it is weak tea.

rsb said...

There is no god.

Bender said...

Quayle, with all respect here, theology is more than merely repeating quotes.

What is the meaning of these propositions? Who is this God? What has He revealed? What does it mean to be resurrected? Is it merely a continuation of the prior life? Or is it something more? If the knowledge we gain here is an advantage in the next life, does that mean that the next life is limited by what we do here, that if we don't acquire certain knowledge now, we won't be able to acquire it then?

But all this is really beside the point of whether Romney has engaged in any such critical thinking or not.

DKWalser said...

Ann - Allow me to try to address a question and an observation you made in your original post:
1. Area Mormons welcome chance to explain their faith.... Has this been a feature of the GOP primary in other states? I'm sure it has been happening to one extent or another in other locations, but this is NOT a program of the church. It's just the natural consequence of having more people asking us about our faith. Mitt Romney's a Mormon and people are naturally curious about his faith, so many of those people are apt to ask the Mormons they know or meet about the church. Since most Mormons enjoy discussing our religion, we "welcome the chance to explain [our] faith". Since not all those questions will be friendly or courteous, many of us also have a sense of foreboding about Romney's pending nomination.

Second, Romney seems extremely low key about his religion.... Low key is not the same thing as not believing in the supernatural. I cannot speak for Romney, but I believe God has acted for the benefit of me and my family. I don't discuss those events publicly because they are sacred. I might share such experiances with my wife and children. Rarely, I'll share an experiance as part of a lesson in church, but only rarely.

I also don't introduce the topic of religion at work (or on the internet). If my co-workers have a question, my door's open to them. I don't raise the topic. How could I and still function as a professional in a pluralistic society? I once had a close associate who was living with his girl friend. Was I supposed to call him to repentence every day? No. People don't want to be preached at, particularly by a co-worker.

I think religion is a private matter that's best kept private. Sometimes co-workers will discuss private matters, which is fine if both want to discuss the subject. I suspect Romney feels the same way.

Bender said...

And more to the point of that which is exclusively Mormon theology. What you have stated here, Quayle -- and not to single you out or put you on the spot -- is rather generically Christian, and not specific to LDS.

Is there much theology, much critical thinking, with respect to the origin of Mormonism, i.e. Smith, the prophecies, etc., or is this aspect merely accepted "as a matter of faith"?

Partridge said...

with all respect here, theology is more than merely repeating quotes.

It's impossible to determine whether a theological tradition exists without some serious study into a religion. Saying that others (whether it's Muslims or Mormons or Catholics or Jews or anybody else on the table) are simply unquestioning and do not engage in such critical thinking without seriously looking into the tradition at issue is bordering on insulting and a little bit... well... stupid.

I might suggest that your failure to understand both Muslims and Mormons is just that - your failure not theirs.

Quayle has limited space in which to present his beliefs, but it doesn't prevent you from reading up a little.

shirley elizabeth said...

Bender, if you want to see the questioning and examination made public, attend a testimony meeting. Usually the first Sunday of any month in any congregation. But not this Sunday. This Sunday you can watch what the rest of us are streaming online - General Conference. Also, to tell people about the things we know, we send our sons, brothers, boyfriends off on missions. Other members invite friends and neighbors to activities or meetings. But I think most just share their love of the gospel and their fellow man through neighborly actions and deeds.

If you wonder about learning much about our theology and questioning it, attend an Institute class, which are held on most college campuses, or at a church nearby. Or you could attend any Sunday School class, in which members will be discussing and debating different aspects of the gospel.

William said...

There are diffent types of agnosticism. There are those who don't believe and who have never believed. Then, there are those who while they do not presently believe in God, have, nonetheless, in the past, believed in God and know what a state of grace feels like. Spinsters and divorced men do not believe in marriage, but for different reasons. Anyway, as a lapsed Catholic, I don't believe in the Church and its sacrements, but I do know that they work.....We cannot say with certainty whether or nor God exists, but we can say with absolute certainty that the wish to believe in God exists and that this wish can enhance life.....Romney has found sustenance in his faith. Good for him.

Bender said...

Well, Partridge, others cannot learn, they cannot know, and must necessarily remain "stupid" if those who purport a belief in something refuse to share it.

"Area Mormons welcome chance to explain their faith"

Except that when you ask questions, you are told that it is a private matter and you are stupid if you make observations and any failure to know is your fault, not the fault of them not explaining it to you.

Bender said...

You gotta give me more reason to go to all that trouble Shirley. Why should I invest all that time and energy to obtaining simple basic answers?

I am acutely interested in truth. I have no desire to follow or believe in things that are false or irrational.

If Mormonism is true -- if it is the one true faith -- why won't you all tell me here and now how it is true? Why won't you be a light of truth to this dark combox?

Can't you provide a simple and basic witness? Why Mormonism specifically, why Joseph Smith, and not some other religion that shares some of the same values?

Smilin' Jack said...

Ann Althouse said...

If you think about religion this way, it doesn't matter much what religion people believe, just that they use religion in a way that is good. It doesn't matter about the golden plates or the burning bush or what really happened with Muhammad. It's the idea that people need something in the area of religion.



Well, of course. It's impossible to be a good person unless you believe in some kind of crazy stupid shit. And if you're lazy as well as stupid, it's easiest to just believe in whatever kind of crazy stupid shit your parents believed in.

Partridge said...

Well, Partridge, others cannot learn, they cannot know, and must necessarily remain "stupid" if those who purport a belief in something refuse to share it.

Good point. I'm just not sure that this is the type of forum where theological inquiries can adequately be explored, and therefore evidenced. That or when people on the forum tried you rejected their attempts. Which also seems to happen anytime I try to explain the nature and diversity of the Islamic experience. So please excuse me if I'm assuming the presence of a biased mind where there isn't one.

DKWalser said...

But if we accept for purposes of argument that Mormonism is true, if Mormons really did care about other people, wouldn't they want people to know the truth?

Wouldn't they openly and publicly share their faith, rather than keep such questioning and examination private?


Mormons have tens of thousands of full time missionaries working to "share the truth" with the world. In addition, each local congregation has an organized effort to share our faith with interested people in their local community. BYU and other organizations regularly publish scholarly papers on theological subjects. Deseret Book and other Mormon publishing houses, publish dozens of books each month. Many of these books are academic examinations of theological questions. So, it cannot be said that Mormons don't want to "share". We do.

Having said that, Mormons believe that each person must strive to receive a personal witness from the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the World. Such a personal witness is obtained by personal study and prayer -- which makes it a private experience not one that can be displayed on stage for all to see. However, if you'd like to hear Mormons describe the witness they received, you're welcome to show up to any Mormon church on the first Sunday of most months. That's when we hold our "testimony meeting" where each member is allowed (but not expected or required) to share their account of their own personal witness that Jesus is the Christ.

Bender said...

Islam has a very strong tradition of theological inquiry

Like I said, I am acutely interested in truth. As such, some years ago, I wondered why anyone should be Muslim.

Why Islam? What is it about Islam that should compel our belief beyond "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet"?

Accordingly, as Shirley would have me do now, I read the Koran.

And what did I learn about the sum and substance of Islam? I learned that there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet. That's it. That's what I learned, which is nothing more than I did not know before. No reason whatsoever to become Muslim as an intellectual or theological matter.

Bender said...

I'm just not sure that this is the type of forum where theological inquiries can adequately be explored, and therefore evidenced

Oh, come on Partridge, I bore people here to tears on practically a daily basis writing about the Church and Catholic Faith.

Here now is the big chance for Mormons -- "Area Mormons welcome chance to explain their faith"

Althouse has opened her house here. No need to avoid things here, claiming that this is not the time or place.

If not now, when?

If not explaining it to me, explain it to Crack, explain how Mormonism is a reason-based faith, not the cult that he says it is.

Bender said...

DK -- that is more generic Christianity.

Why Mormonism specifically, why Joseph Smith, and not some other religion that shares some of the same values?

Quayle said...

Bender, what did you learn when you read the Book of Mormon?

My ancestor in Liverpool joined Mormonism in the 1830s based solely from reading a copy of the Book of Mormon that a traveling missionary gave him. He never had met or heard Joseph Smith preach.

Of it my ancestor said that no wicked man could have written it, and that no good man would have written it unless it were true.

It is a singular book in the Mormon religion and in America's history for that matter, yet so very few people have read it.

Which doesn't seem to stop anybody from having an opinion on Joseph Smith and Mormons.

You might start there to understand our witness to the world.

You can find one in any Marriott hotel nightstand.

Partridge said...

No reason whatsoever to become Muslim as an intellectual or theological matter.

Well, I would assume that your decision to become a Muslim or not would have little to do with "intellectual" reasons why you should become Muslim and more to do with the simple question of whether or not you believed what you learned about Islam. If you believed Muhammad was a prophet, then becoming Muslim, I would think, would be the natural way to go as a matter of furthering your understanding of what this prophet taught and becoming part of the community of people who also believe so.

Interestingly enough, many Muslims today themselves believe that religious knowledge, including knowledge of the verity of Islam, is achieved through the use of reason. Which it seems you somewhat agree with.

I actually disagree. I think religion is primarily a matter of belief. And belief, while not entirely separable from reason (nobody believes anything that doesn't make sense to him or her) is not entirely subject to reason either (many things make sense to us because of non-rational or extra-rational evidence that they are true or because we believe them to be true). For example, is it rational or extra-rational to assume that prayers are reaching God because you feel something when you do it? I would argue it is both and the two are rather inseparable in the end.

In other words, the theological tradition of probing and questioning is based on a belief that these are things worth probing, and the questioning of theological traditions is inherently necessary for the reconfirmation and strengthening of religious beliefs among people who might already be considered believers. So it's all wrapped up together.

Oh dear. I'm sounding like an anthropologist or something. Now there's a religion for ya...

shirley elizabeth said...

See Bender, if you are looking for truth, you would do something instead of say "just tell me now because I don't really care enough to try anything." And when that is the case, no one will want to share their deep held feelings and beliefs. I'm most certainly not going to do so here, on an Althouse blog thread. If I had personal contact, I'd be happy to answer your questions.

But also, calling up missionaries to answer your questions is not hard. You can even make calls to the MTC call center with questions and not have to give them any info so they don't come "find you."

Oclarki said...

Until a mormon can explain the absolute lack of any corraborating archeological evidence for the claims in the book of mormon, I'll continue to regars it as a cult for the easily duped.

Partridge said...

And what did I learn about the sum and substance of Islam? I learned that there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet. That's it. That's what I learned, which is nothing more than I did not know before. No reason whatsoever to become Muslim as an intellectual or theological matter.

Why is this surprising? Since that is the central tenet of Islam, I might ask what else you expected to learn?

What seems really weird to me, though, is why if the central tenet of a religion is that Muhammad is a prophet, you wouldn't immediately think that in order to understand the religion you need to understand the teachings of the prophet, which are, by extension, central to that religion.

I could say the same thing about Joseph Smith. Merely inviting Mormons to tell you why it is a "reason-based faith" is, I don't think, a serious question because if you really were interested in understanding the religion or the people's experience with it, your first question might not be "Is this faith reason-based or merely a cult?" but "What are the central beliefs of this faith AND what are their epistemological underpinnings? What is the role of reason as compared to other methods of epistemology? And if they believe in a prophet, what does that prophet say about reason and epistemology? And how do the people in the religion engage with the teaching of that prophet and with their own scripture? How do people in the religion engage with theological misunderstandings or questions?"

What I'm merely suggesting is you might try to add a little depth to your own intellectual examination of other people's religion, and you just might find what you're looking for. I'm not saying you will believe any of it. But I'm suggesting you will at least understand larger groups of people and the power of traditions that, whether true or not, have shaped the world.

dmoelling said...

You can see a lot of Mitt's Mormonism in his campaign. Obedience to church authority is a prime teaching (goes hand in hand with having a living prophet). So public dissension is pretty much taboo. There is also a history of communal ism in Mormon doctrine and history (they ran quite a nationalized industry in their early years in Utah that failed as all do). Mitt's enthusiasm for RommneyCare shows this.

The Mormons are also deeply attached to Latin America due to doctrine (ancient israelites settling in Ancient America) and history (Mitt's Polygamous grandfather fleeing to Mexico). The church has it's greatest missionary success in Latin America , so it is not supportive of tight immigration controls in the USA.

Even more so than Catholics are supposed to follow the Popes proclamations, Mormons are duty bound to follow their current President/Prophet. Much more of an issue for Mitt than for JFK

Denton Romans said...

"That's not inconsistent with what I've said. You can be deeply devoted to the tradition without really believing or needing to believe the actual supernatural unprovable parts of it. You can believe and revere the culture around the religion and the way the religion works to make people ethical and morally upright. "

I agree that it's not inconsistent, but it's also not very likely, at least when it comes to Mormonism and the kind of commitments Romney has had (missionary, bishop, stake president).

To go to the temple, a member must have two interviews at which they are are asked questions such as if they have a testimony (witness) of the restoration of the gospel (which very much includes Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon).

So if Romney didn't believe in Joseph Smith and the gold plates, he'd have to lie about it to go to the temple (which is a prerequisite for going on a mission, and being a bishop, etc.).

Mark Nielsen said...

Wow. A post about Mormons that didn't get Cracked. Bent, but not Cracked.

I'd add something from a the perspective of a Mormon Bishop, but Quayle has said it all better than I could.

belleyoftheball said...

I knew Mitt at Harvard, and he was a very compassionate and kin man. The mormon feminist group Exponent II still think he was too obedient to the gospel. He just reflected and lived the Christian ideals of the Mormon faith. He is still the same man.

I won't go into his many personal virtues, but I assure you I am not working for his campaign. I found him very supportive of my career as a singer. I wish more of his personality shone through, but his abilities to work with all kinds of people demonstrates his political strengths.

Ryan said...

Quayle wrote: "Which is why, I think you'll find, that when a Mormon leaves Mormonism, they tend to leave all organized religions"

I am a data point that supports this belief - a mormon atheist. My father was a bishop and in the stake presidency of the neighboring stake to Romney while he served as stake president. I see the argument that Romney is just going through the motions as specious. If you knew how many nights and weekends that stake presidents spend away from their friends and family to serve their congregations you would better understand the level of commitment to your faith that the calling requires.

The mormon faith is a west coast religion by and large. East coast mormons generally try to avoid the subject of their faith - as the people around them are generally suspicious when it comes up.

Quayle said...

The mormon faith is a west coast religion by and large. East coast mormons generally try to avoid the subject of their faith - as the people around them are generally suspicious when it comes up.

Ryan is right: suspicious or don't care one way or the other.

My New Jersey teenage friends didn't know what a Mormon was and didn't care.

Bender said...

Well, I'm sorry that no one accepted my invitation to explain in a concise way "why be Mormon"? Why Mormonism specifically, why Joseph Smith, and not some other religion that shares some of the same values?

All of that generic Christian belief is all well and good, but one can get that in any Protestant denomination or any Orthodox or Catholic Church.

Why should anyone go to the effort of learning more? What value is there in enlightening ourselves?

There are complaints of so much ignorance about Mormonism. And yet when given the chance of providing a little information, so as to encourage people to go learn more themselves, all we get here is rebuffs.

"Always be ready to explain to anyone who asks for a reason for your hope." 1 Pet. 3:15

I'm sorry that you have to deal with that BIG stumbling block that people have, that BIG elephant in the room, regarding the origin of this faith. But it is your faith. Why? Why is it your faith?

And why this reticence at explaining it? If that stumbling block is all that much trouble, why not repudiate it?

There would appear to be much that is good in Mormonism -- why not embrace those and repudiate the rest since not only is it a stumbling block for others, but you yourselves are so unwilling to explain it?

Quayle said...
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Quayle said...

OK, Bender, I'll bite:

Why Mormonism specifically, why Joseph Smith, and not some other religion that shares some of the same values?

For the same reason that people followed Samuel and not Eli.

For the same reason that people marveled that Zacharias took so long when in their lives others had never taken that long.

cold pizza said...

Ok, Bender, I'll bite. Concisely (or not), why be Mormon? Or, why choose to be Mormon? I am a convert to Mormonism. As a child I attended nearby Christian denominations (Episcopalian, Presbyterian) within walking distance of my father’s house. For a while I lived with an aunt who was Jehovah’s Witness.

Even as a child I wondered and pondered about the mystery of life, spirit, soul, epistemology and the nature of “being.” I attended evangelical Bible study in a neighbor’s home. It always seemed to me that the single most important question in human existence would have to be “Is there a God?” It is not hyperbole to state a definitive answer would have the most profound effect on humanity.

Long story later, I’d read the Book of Mormon (along with both Old and New Testaments) and I took the challenge to God. Only Paul could tell what really happened on his road to Damascus and words cannot adequately convey the force of the power of light and love and energy I felt pouring into me as I cried to God for an answer. I knew the power I felt was coming from a source outside myself and I felt such an overpowering blanket of pure love envelope me that now, over 3 decades later, I can still feel it burning.

I’ve also learned your results may vary. Some very good people in the church go their entire lives building testimonies straw by straw without being interrupted on a road to Damascus.

So now I’ve spent the better part of twenty-years now in study of the Mormon faith and can go on about Hebrew poetic forms found in Alma, a limited geographical explanation for Book of Mormon lands, the expositions of Isaiah as found in 2 Nephi, and much more. Suffice it to say, the scholarship is available for those who look for it, but are nothing more than bright baubles compared to a witness received by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I also have a brother who occasionally posts here on Althouse whose path went in a completely different direction. Faith is an intensely personal matter. I have the answer I need and it has had the most profound effect on me and how I view humanity.

All religion looks unbelievable to the unbelievers. All faith looks unreasonable when viewed through pure logic. I believe because I believe I’ve been touched by a force outside myself, that reason could not explain and logic cannot defend. I am a Mormon because to not be, I’d have to deny Damascus. -CP

wyo sis said...

Religion is not a question that can be resolved with logic. It's a personal spiritual journey. It's useless to speculate about why people believe the things they believe.
Mormons are good citizens who believe deeply that freedom is essential to maximize human potential. I believe that too. So, on that basis I have no problem with his religion and I don't think it disqualifies him to be president.

ken in sc said...

I once had a boss who liked to instigate drinking games on business trips. He would get people drunk and goad them into doing stupid and humiliating things. I didn't participate. He told people he thought I was a Mormon. I let him think it. I'm a Presbyterian.

Bender said...

Thank you Cold Pizza.

A personal witness, rather than, "it's private" or "go read a bunch of books and attend a bunch of meetings" or the latest completely vague nonanswer "for the same reason as X."

To you others -- was that all that hard?

Thanks again CP. If such an answer had been given earlier, we might have been able to have a fruitful discussion. But alas, this posting is now long passed by.

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