5 Questions Mitt Romney Should Answer About His Mormonism
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3. Are Governor Romney's values concerning material wealth on the one hand, and the 47% on the other, reflective of Mormonism? An unresolved debate as to whether Mormonism is a Christian religion was skewed in one direction when Governor Romney, in a lengthy, apparently off-the-record exposition of what appeared to come as close to his core values as one is likely to see, wrote off nearly half the population of this country: "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." Simultaneously, he has never shied away from holding up his immense wealth -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- as a quintessential success story of capitalism. How does he reconcile both values with the core messages of Jesus, who consistently pleaded with his disciples to take care of the poor who are "always with you," and leveled some of his harshest condemnation towards those who sought "treasures upon earth"? Do Mormon values and Christian values diverge on these points? As one who has been obliged by his political party to wear his Christianity on his sleeve, Governor Romney takes a moral obligation to explain the dissonance.
4. What would be the relationship between a President Romney and the LDS Church hierarchy in Salt Lake City? Credible reports of discussions between then-Governor Romney and the LDS hierarchy about social issues and the limits within which Romney might act and still have the nod of approval of the Church suggest that the question is highly relevant to the presidential campaign. We do not seek to deny Romney or any other elected official from consulting with spiritual leaders, but Romney's former position as a high-ranking ecclesiastical officer--equivalent to Catholic bishop--coupled with his prior consultations begs a statement of clarification.
5. Has Governor Romney resuscitated the long-disavowed Mormon tradition of "Lying for the Lord"? While politicians are well known for bending the truth on the campaign trail, Governor Romney's recent claims about the automobile industry were so outrageously untruthful that they elicited unprecedented condemnations from Chrysler and GM--in the former instance causing CEO Sergio Marchionne to call him out personally, and in the latter eliciting from GM spokesman Greg Martin the charge of "campaign politics at its cynical worst." A New York Times editorial this week used what may have been unprecedented harsh language in chastising Governor Romney for the episode: "It takes an especially dishonest candidate to simply turn up the volume on a lie and keep repeating it." LDS Church members who qualify to enter a Mormon temple--and Romney is so qualified--must first certify to their bishops that they are, among other things, "honest in their dealings." Those with even a cursory knowledge of Mormon history are aware of the Senate hearings accompanying the seating of Mormon Apostle and Senator Reed Smoot a century ago, during which some church leaders intentionally gave false testimony and later boasted that they had "lied for the Lord." Is Governor Romney a product of an earlier age of Mormonism that is now strenuously disavowed by the institutional church in its qualifications for temple admittance, or is he merely a cynical politician for whom truth is a commodity?