The last installment compared Mitt Romney’s statement of faith to Kennedy’s address to the Houston Ministerial Association in 1960. This time, we will examine just a few features of Romney’s Mormon faith.
In some ways, Mitt Romney’s situation is similar to Kennedy’s, in others quite different. In Romney’s case there are really two questions; one concerns the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints Church hierarchy and another concerning Mormon theology.
Romney is a Bishop or Ward President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, considered by many to be a cult. Outsiders know little about the Church’s history, theology, and organization. The theology, the core beliefs of Mormons are vastly different from Christianity. In a letter to the Atlantic Magazine published December 6, 2007 an anonymous Mormon, in a rare moment of openness, explored some of the fundamental differences:
“Unlike orthodox Christianity, Mormon theology is polytheistic, teaching that the Gods organized the universe from pre-existing, eternal, uncreated chaotic elements. It rejects Salvation by Grace, teaching that individuals must “work out their own salvation” and learn to become Gods [themselves] the same as all Gods before have done.” At its inception, with the publication of “The Book of Mormon” in 1830, Mormonism rejected the doctrines of Biblical infallibility and Biblical literalism.”[i]
Even that admission only scratches the surface. Mormons believe that Jesus is the son of “Heavenly Father”, a character very much different than the god of the Christians. “Heavenly Father”, Mormons believe, was once a mortal man, a white man at that, who having lived a virtuous life was rewarded with a planet in the Kolob star system located at the center of the universe. This alien being has, according to Mormons, multiple wives and offspring, including Jesus and his brother Satan.
It comes as no surprise that most Mormons go out of their way to conceal their beliefs from outsiders. That is apparently what Romney tried to do in his Faith in America Speech made during his failed presidential bid in 2007. In that speech he explained that he is firm in his Mormon faith but refused to discuss any details.
“I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I'll be true to them and to my beliefs. There's one fundamental question about which I'm often asked: What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind.”[ii]
But as to specifics about Mormon theology, Romney, the returned missionary and Bishop who examined potential converts to insure they understood the Mormon faith, claimed to be unqualified and referred his audience to a LDS Church website, that contains a sanitized version of those beliefs. Perhaps he is embarrassed by the crazy beliefs of his Mormon faith and knows that the public would laugh at them.
[ii] Willard Mitt Romney, Faith in America Speech, Delivered at the George H.W. Bush Library, December 6, 2007. http://mittromneycentral.com/speeches/2007-speeches/faith-in-america/