Friday, December 07, 2007

The Mormon Question.

Politico suggests that although Mitt Romney's speech may be playing well on the news, not so much in Iowa:

"Romney takes risk with talk on faith," read the headline above David Lightman's syndicated story. The piece included significant skepticism about the political impact of Romney's speech. But worse for Mitt's camp, it included this key right under the story ended on page one:

"Learn more about Mormonism" (yes, it was in bold). On the back of the front section was a list of bullet points under "Beliefs of the Mormon Church." Naturally, included were all the key differences between the LDS church and mainline Christianity.

This is the problem I feared. Look, Mormons have strange beliefs to mainstream Christians. Romney would never have stated specific beliefs of the Mormon faith because he knows the impact. When Romney starting running for President I did research on Mormonism. I had known a bit about it because I had a babysitter for years that was a Mormon. Just to give you an idea of some of the beliefs that don't line up with mainline Christianity here are some I took from a site I won't link to:

To the Mormons, Jesus is the firstborn son of an exalted "man" who became the god of this world. The man-god of Mormonism was made the god of this world because of his good works on another planet somewhere out in the universe. He "earned" godhood, and was thus appointed by a counsel of gods in the heavens to his high position as the god of planet Earth. The Mormon god of this world was a man, like all men, who became a god. This is what the celestial marriage and the temple vows are all about. LDS men, by doing their temple work, are striving for exaltation by which they, too, shall one day become gods. Their wives will be the mother goddesses of "their" world and with their husband will produce the population of their world. This is the Mormon doctrine of "eternal progression."

For most of us we might say to ourselves, "Hmm.. that is strange," but evangelicals don't have the same vague sense of anti-Mormonism prejudice that some do. For them it's doctrinal. It is based on very specific theological disputes that can't be overcome by shared values or positions on social issues. To many evangelicals, Mormonism isn't just another religion. It's a cult.

I asked my babysitter about several things. I was told that elements of their worship were for worthy members only. In other words you have to share the faith to be given the opportunity to learn some of it, because you will not understand it otherwise. Mormons believe that they are the fully realized strain of Christianity--hence the "latter-day saints." They have extra-biblical works of scripture (such as the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants), that follow a series of prophets who claim to have received divine revelations. Beginning with Joseph Smith's vision of God and Jesus in 1820 in the woods near his home in western New York when he was 14 years old.

Maybe you can see why Mitt can't really talk specifics, but it gets a bit stranger. From Wikipedia about the Golden Plates:

The golden plates, also called the gold plates or the golden bible (an antiquated reference),[1] were a set of engraved plates, bound into a book, that Joseph Smith, Jr. said was his source material for the Book of Mormon, a scripture of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith, the founder of that movement, said he obtained the plates on September 22, 1827 on Cumorah hill in Manchester, New York, where they were hidden in a buried box and protected by an angel named Moroni. After dictating a translation and obtaining signed statements by eleven other witnesses, he said he returned the plates to the angel in 1829.

According to the Book of Mormon, the golden plates were engraved by a pre-Columbian prophet-historian, from an early American civilization, named Mormon and his son Moroni (who after death protected the buried plates as the angel Moroni) in about the year 400 AD. These men said they had abridged earlier historical records from other sets of metal plates in a language they called "reformed Egyptian".[2] Part of the plates were said to have been sealed, and thus could not be translated. The golden plates are the most significant of a number of metallic plates important to Latter Day Saint history and theology.

Too bad he had to return the plates, it would be rather useful to see them now.

I'm not trying to make light of this. I am trying to illustrate why so many Christians will not vote for Romney no matter what.

Do I think these things are strange? Sure. But I have also been on the receiving end of strange. I've had friends and co-workers question my Catholic beliefs. For example, the belief of the real body and blood present in the Eucharist. I can see why some would find that strange.

So, for me, it isn't about what he believes doctrinally. I am not electing a priest or a pastor. As I have said before, Christ said "You will know a tree by it's fruit." Romney has proven to be a good man and a good leader. The strangeness of his faith does not detract from that for me.

But my opinion is not what matters. What I am trying to point here is that evangelicals make a large portion of our voting bloc. I think Mitt has been able to rise above it, so to speak, and get most in Iowa to see him for himself. But all it would take are more articles like the one mentioned above or a focus on the beliefs spelled out as I have, to make that all turn around rather quickly. Which is where Huckabee comes in. In Huckabee they see someone who shares their beliefs.

I think Huckabee might win Iowa. But he won't win the nomination. Romney will have to surge ahead in states that aren't so driven by evangelicals. Can he?

We shall see.