Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mitt Romney, Mormons, and Politics

Ralph Kostant's latest submission, on the Mitt Romney Atlantic article, follows below. I will be posting myself on that subject a little later. In fact, I've been meaning to post about the Atlantic article for several days, but as Steve Alen used to say, I had a suden attack of employment.

Here are Ralph's thoughts:

The current issue of the Atlantic Monthly has an article on Mitt Romney, called "The Holy Cow Candidate," which provoked a great deal of discussion on the Hugh Hewitt Show this afternoon. I thought that the article was quite informative, but did a double-take when the author asks Mitt Romney whether he wears temple garments. Why is that of any more legitimate interest to the voting public than whether Senator Joseph Lieberman wears ritual fringes? To his credit, Governor Romney refused to respond.

Given my personal experience with members of the Mormon faith from childhood on, I find the assumption that membership in the Mormon Church would affect one's political positions to be very questionable. While today many people may associate Mormon politicians with Republican conservatism, growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, in a New Deal Democratic Jewish family, my Mormon friends and acquaintaces generally were also liberal Democrats in what then was largely a conservative Republican city.

The leading family of Mormon politicians in Arizona were the Udalls, all Democrats, including Stewart Udall, who served as JFK's Secretary of the Interior, and Congressman Morris "Mo" Udall. Today two Udall cousins serve in Congress, Mark Udall (CO), the son of Mo, and Tom Udall (NM), the son of Stewart. Biographical information available online on Mark Udall identifies him as a Mormon. They are both liberal Democrats.

My father was a party-loyal Democrat, but he greatly respected Michigan Governor George Romney, who was a liberal Republican, and a champion of Civil Rights laws. In the early 60's, George Romney was the arch-enemy to Goldwater Conservatives.

In short, in my view, the fact of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a poor predictor of political positions.
As a fifth-generation Mormon who grew up in Salt Lake City and has been very active in politics there (although I've been gone for 24 years) I have some thoughts. Check back later for more on that, and on Mitt Romney.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. I'll try to keep a lid on how I feel about the heir to Tom Daschle (and a worthy one indeed from all appearances) and the fact that he's a Mormon.

I'm betting nobody in the MSM is asking him about his underwear. 

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Friday, July 29, 2005 7:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, BlueBuffoon, well said. 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Friday, July 29, 2005 7:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting and true. i find that i need to be careful in assuming that every other mormon is a conservative republican. i hardly bring up current events anymore at ward playgroups because politics seem like such a hard topic to discuss with other members. in my experience, it never ends on a good note. why is this?

it seems obvious to me (of course, that's my opinion!) what to support because it's hard to ignore the moral issues. it's sad that it boils down to just that though. because maybe if most people lived the way we should, we would be able to see the other issues. mayeb this is just a passionate mother who wants to defend family and human rights and the importance of keeping freedom of believing in god and practicing religion speaking...but what is the solution?  

Posted by jenny vorwaller

Friday, July 29, 2005 8:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I generally have no problem with the fact that some co-religionists have different political views from mine. The big exceptions are those areas in which moral issues overlap political issues--but even there, when I'm willing to get down to the essentials, my disagreements tend to ultimately boil down to whether government regulation or other intervention consistent with my or another's beliefs is appropriate or not. I think it is fair and proper if we may come down politically on different (and even diverse) sides of those questions.

I've found that the tension arises in Mormon discussion because, too often--at least in some circles, we tend to try to insist that Church doctrine requires  a particular political position. This is a big problem for some conservative Mormons who seem to believe, notwithstanding some very clear statements from Church leaders to the contrary, that somehow you can't be a "good Mormon" and a Democrat. Among liberal Mormons I deal with, the biggest temptation to which they seem to succomb (out of what type of desperation I can't imagine) is to adamantly assert that the Mormon church's abortion position is "pro-choice" despite clear (at least to my mind) suggestions that any such perception is the result of deception.

The worst possible result of such divides is that civil discussion of such important issues (and current events, generally) comes to an abrupt and uncomfortable halt, much to the impoverishment of political understanding and solutions, to say nothing of the damage done in other, probably more fundamentally important, areas such as neighborliness, brotherly kindness, etc. 

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Friday, July 29, 2005 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Although church doctrine certainly does not require  a particular political position, a sincere study of such doctrine could never lead to many liberal positions. It could never lead, for example, to a pro-choice position (unless one's idea of choice is whether or not to engage in procreative activity in the first place, rather than what to do after the choice to do so is made). It could never lead to a position supporting same-gender marraige. It could never lead to an idea that a married couple should not have more of a right to adopt a child than two men or two women. It could never lead to the notion that the Boy Scouts should be prohibited from using churches and synagogues for their meetings. It could never lead to positions like high schools should make condoms available to students and teach them how to use them. It could never lead to the idea that it is wrong and unconstitutional for students to be told, "God bless you" at their graduation or the advocacy that "In God We Trust" be removed from our money or "Under God" from our Pledge. The list goes on and on (see

While not every Democrat/liberal supports these views, everyone who does support them is a liberal and the leaders of the Democrat Party support these ideas. So it is not difficult to grasp why many believe that somehow you can't be a "good Mormon" and a Democrat.

The Democrat Party is indistinguishable today from its JFK heyday. Unfortunately many so called "liberal" Mormons may not realize it. I, for one, believe that if "good Mormons" who are Democrats did truly realize what their party stands for, they would not be able to stand their party and Choose The Right instead. 

Posted by Jeff Gillies

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy Jensen said...

"I, for one, believe that if "good Mormons" who are Democrats did truly realize what their party stands for, they would not be able to stand their party and Choose The Right instead. "

So, every good Mormon Democrat is simply unaware of what their party stands for, or what Republicans think their party stands for? Apparantly, you're willing to completely disregard the words of the Prophet that states that the Lord doesn't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. The issues you cite, some of which I agree are contrary to the church's teachings, some of which I disagree are contrary to the church's teachings, are a small part of the overall message of the Democratic party. I noticed that you called the Democratic party the "Democrat Party" which is a dead giveaway that, not only are you conservative, but that you're a close-minded right-wing soldier. Folks should keep that in mind when they read your comments. 

Posted by Jeremy Jensen

Friday, November 04, 2005 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeremy Jensen said...

Another thing, Jeff, can you find one mainstream liberal that says that the Boy Scouts should be legally prohibited from using churches?

Friday, November 04, 2005 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans should not consider Mitt Romney for President precisely because he is a Mormon. Mr. Romney is entitled to his beliefs, but Americans are entitled to judge how stupid the man is to believe in the Book of Mormon, which “forms the doctrinal foundation of the Church” and “speaks the word of God to all the world.". ( Encyclopedia of Mormonism). The founder of this “religion”, Joseph Smith, claimed that in 1823 an angel named Moroni appeared to him and revealed gold plates written in “reformed Egyptian letters” buried in a hill near his Palmyra, New York home, plates which contained "the fullness of the everlasting Gospel." After digging up this book, which Smith claimed no one else could look upon or risk instant death, Smith began "translating" the text "by the power of God.", using the technique of burying his face in his hat in order to shut out all light and allow him to look into mystical “seeing stones”, the identical technique used for treasure hunts had culminated in Smith’s criminal conviction for fraud upon an elderly man who financed one treasure hunt expedition. This book was a cunning, wicked fraud calculated by Smith to deceive thousands. Romney’s professed belief in this ridiculous work of fiction, which forms the foundation and basis for such wild and preposterous beliefs that dead Mormon believers will become worshipped demi-gods on alien planets after death, demonstrates Romney cannot be trusted to review and critique thousands of non-fiction documents President reads from trained analysts at the CIA, FBI, and other national security agencies about actions of terrorists and nations in the world that seek to do us harm. Mr. Romney’s belief in this fabricated book, and his statements regarding his perceptions of morality obviously based thereon, demonstrates that for his entire lifetime he has made personal and policy decisions upon “failed unintelligence”, as influenced and guided by John Smith’s fictional work called the Book of Mormon. Though he has the constitutional right to stupidly believe what he wants to as to religion, we have the right to judge his intellect for such beliefs. We cannot risk Mitt Romney’s inability to separate fact from fiction as a national leader, and thereby his proven lack of intellectual acuity.. Anyone dumb enough to vote for Mitt Romney is sufficiently ignorant to believe in the Book of Mormon, and probably should become a Mormon too, but please, stay out of national politics. Anthony

Monday, March 05, 2007 8:26:00 AM  

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