Is Mitt Romney's Candidacy Part of 'The Eternal Plan' of the Mormon Church?
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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.” He was the “alpha male” in the rarefied Cougar pack, according to Michael D. Moody, a BYU classmate and fellow member of the group. Composed almost exclusively of returned Mormon missionaries, the club members were known for their preppy blue blazers and enthusiastic athletic boosterism. Romney, who had been the assistant to the president of the French Mission where he was personally in charge of more than 200 missionaries, easily assumed a leadership position in the club.
Both political and religious, the Cougar Club raised funds for the school and its members emulated the campus-wide honor and dress codes, passionately disavowing the counterculture symbolism of long hair, bell-bottom jeans and antiwar slogans that were sweeping college campuses throughout America. They held monthly “Fireside testimonies” — Sacrament meetings at which each member testified to his belief that he lived in Heaven before being born on Earth, that he became mortal in order to usher in the latter days, and that he recognized Joseph Smith as the prophet, the Book of Mormon as the word of God, and the Mormon church as the one true faith.
Such regular testimonies encouraged the students to live devout lives and to resist the encroaching outside influences overtaking the nation at large. “It helps them cope with such external pressures as evolution-teaching professors and cranky anthropologists who expect answers that conflict with LDS teachings,” according to James Coates, author of “In Mormon Circles.”
They traditionally hosted frat-like parties (Greek fraternities were banned from the campus) to raise a few thousand dollars for the college’s sports teams. But Cougar president Romney drove the young men to aim higher, orchestrating a telethon that raised a stunning million dollars. Romney’s position as head of the club was widely seen as a calculated steppingstone for a career in national politics.
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.