When Mitt Romney rules the world from the exact replica of the Oval Office hidden inside the Washington, D.C. Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Tidal Basin will turn into a giant baptismal font and the cry will go out: We are all Mormons now!
I think I got your attention.
To be clear this is not what Mormons talk about; not at all. Some overzealous denigrators of the Mormon faith would have you believe that Romney’s intentions are nefarious and theologically gratuitous – the Oval Office replica joke above is an actual and laughable accusation from these same authors.
Laying aside these humorous tangents, I thought you might be interested to know what Mormons actually talk about as Mitt Romney gears up to take on President Obama in the upcoming Presidential election.
“I can’t believe he’s going to be the nominee”
Many Mormons are still in a bit of a shock over the current turn of events. The nasty primary infighting turned many Republicans off and Mormon voters were no exception. Going into the primary season many Mormons still had a bad taste in their mouths over Governor Huckabee’s insertion of doctrinal differences into the political fray in 2007. We expected serious religious mudslinging from day one.
Thankfully, tensions between Mormonism and traditional Christendom remained mostly on the periphery and were never instigated by the opposing candidates themselves. Indeed, most of the attacks on the Mormon faith came (and continue to originate) from the Left.
As Mormons mill around for Sunday worship we mostly avoid discussion of Romney’s run for the Presidency. We discuss it one-on-one but never from the pulpit. The LDS Church is deeply sensitive to charges of bias and makes a point of staying politically neutral in regards to party and candidates. With rare exceptions (Proposition 8) the Church will not involve itself in political ballot issues.
Mormons do steer decidedly to the conservative side of things with 64% identifying themselves as Republican or Republican-leaning. Conservative principles of self-reliance, family values, and entrepreneurial thinking keep us squarely on the GOP side of things for the moment.
We’ve all but forgiven Governor Huckabee and while the blogs were ablaze with theological discussions the candidates showed great poise when religion was brought up. Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. The feeling among members of the LDS Church is one of “Can you believe it?” with no hint of “Here we go! Woot! Woot!”
“What is this going to do to the Church?”
This is probably the biggest topic of discussion among Mormons. We’re a friendly bunch and we like the limelight but we worry about what happens next.
Many of our leaders are being trained on how to address media questions; how to host press who attend our meetings; and how to answer pertinent questions about our faith to any member of the public. Most Mormons are excited to have the opportunity to explain our faith in detail.
“Are you ready for the attacks?” One prominent blogger asked me. To which I replied: “My great great grandparents were burned out of their home, beaten in the fields of Illinois, and forced to cross the plains in the dead of winter. I think I can handle some irrelevant attacks from the Left.”
Many Mormons are taken back when others assert that we are not a Christian faith. We take much deeper offense however when someone accuses us of being a cult. The former charge is unfortunate and disheartening; the latter smacks of slander and even malice. Like our ancestors before us… we take it all in stride.
“A Prophecy? Eh… Interesting but really, who cares?”
Are you an evangelical Christian? Are you worried that a President Romney will somehow give undue credence to the Mormon faith? Hey… it’s ok to admit it. I don’t begrudge you some concern. I feel the same way about the Dallas Cowboys. Any win by Big D upsets me -- but let’s not go overboard. Some of the same begrudging conspiracy types mentioned above predict a Mormon communist-style theocratic takeover of America based on some obscure supposed prophecies that have never been accepted as Mormon creed – ever.
Here’s what you need to know about Mormons and America. We love it. We think it’s the greatest thing since Christ’s resurrection. The Book of Mormon is replete with passages lauding Columbus, the founding fathers and the incredible potential of the American people. Joseph Smith praised the Constitution on a regular basis. Every prophet since has paid homage to our great country even in the midst of being hunted down by the law for that polygamy thing over an hundred years ago. No takeover, no way, no how. For heaven’s sake, over 35% of all Boy Scout troops are LDS!
Suffice it to say, Mormons are a busy lot. Certainly we’re excited about the prospect of a member of our faith being elected President of the United States but don’t spend our days shilling for Mitt or anxiously anticipating a windfall of converts from a potential Romney win.
In my opinion, if you’re going to worry about Mormons and politics, start with Harry Reid.
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