Friday, March 27, 2015

Mitt Romney embraces Mormonism while avoiding scrutiny

Mitt Romney has presented his faith as part of the reason that people should vote for him; then when people try to examine his faith he has often accused them of being prejudiced without actually reviewing the claims being made about his faith. He seems to indicate that this is all a result of “Anti-Mormon prejudice” which dates back to the nineteenth century.

(This was originally posted on Open Salon June 26, 2012)

Whether this is true or not, he may essentially be attempting to convince people to support him because of his beliefs, while simultaneously saying they should be above scrutiny. Furthermore many other politicians may be attempting to make the same argument; regardless of who attempts this it should not be acceptable. If they don’t want their faith to be subject to scrutiny they should cite it as a reason that people should vote for them or base decisions about public policy on it.

In all fairness there has been plenty of Anti-Mormon prejudice that has gone back to the nineteenth century but there has also been a lot of research into the beliefs that shouldn’t qualify as prejudice; and furthermore once the Mormon religion became established they began developing their own prejudices about other religions and belief systems. Prejudice, or prejudgment, is based on whether people come to conclusions without checking the facts or applying scrutiny; if someone claims that others are prejudiced without actually explaining why or how, especially when some of the individuals in question may actually check the facts, then that person is making a prejudicial statement about prejudicial statements.

This has become routine for the Romney campaign.

This is especially true since the reliance on a large and devoted Mormon base is being used to help him with his campaign. And, quite frankly, there should be some doubts about whether or not these people understand the issues or they’re just going along with the crowd and supporting Mitt Romney based on his faith regardless of his position on the positions that may be contrary to their own best interests. This may sound like prejudice to many people; however after reviewing many aspects of the Mormon religion I think that a review of the facts might support this possibility.

It would be perfectly reasonable, and even advisable for people to be skeptical of this possibility at least until after understanding how I came to have these doubts, unless perhaps, some people came to their own conclusion based on their own knowledge of the Mormon religion. I covered the history of the Mormon religion, and how I came to some of my conclusions, generally speaking, in several of my past posts including A Brief History of the Mormon Religion, Mitt Romney’s Mormon prophets and The Assassination of the first Mormon Presidential Nominee. These posts include sources from several different points of view, including some that have researched the subject more thoroughly than I, and explain many of the details of the religion. This is a religion that essentially has its leaders dictate the truth to the followers and strongly discourages scrutiny in most cases. However a close look at the history of the religion indicates that some of the founders argued against this practice at times; unfortunately some of those same founders also made arguments supporting these practices.

This means that, like many other religions, there are plenty of contradictions that need to be sorted out.
Fortunately some of the people that have done the most to sort out these contradictions are Mormons or ex-Mormons. Unfortunately they have usually had to do this against the wishes of the leadership and have had to either walk a fine line to avoid excommunication, conduct their research in secret, or anonymously or leave the Church before being excommunicated. Furthermore these are not the people that get the most attention in the corporate media; in fact, in most cases they don’t seem to get much if any attention at all unless you look at alternative media outlets.

Furthermore throughout history countries have fought one war after another over religion without allowing rational scrutiny in most cases and religion continues to be used as part of the argument against other candidates, including those that oppose Romney. Why would it be rational to accuse Barack Obama of being unqualified because of his religious beliefs while putting Mitt Romney’s off limits? This is especially important since the criticism about Mitt Romney’s religion might have more truth to it than that of Barack Obama’s. Furthermore I suspect that they’re both using religion as a method to attract support without reviewing the issues; Obama may not be much if any better than Romney when it comes to most issues.
Another question that might be worth considering is why the Mormons support him so strongly when he has an enormous problem telling the public what his positions are or telling the truth at all. This seems to imply that their support may not have much if anything to do with his positions; they may just be supporting him because he is the right religion and that is who their leaders have told them to support.

As the following article indicates he has an enormous campaign base in Utah and this story as well as others clearly indicates that they support him strongly and are being used as a major campaign resource. If this was based on rational support then it shouldn’t be a problem but if it is based on a cult following then the rest of the public should know why Mitt’s constituency supports him. Furthermore the public should understand how his religion might affect his actions as president.

Utah is Mitt Romney's Key to Western contests 
OREM, Utah - Mitt Romney’s campaign has opened headquarters in state after state over the past year, only to shutter them weeks later after the primary race there ended.

That is not the case in Utah, even though it is probably the safest on Romney’s electoral map and there is little need for organizing locally. Campaign officials consider the state - with its prime location, its large number of highly motivated volunteers, and a population that shares Romney’s Mormon faith - a staging area for battles across the country, particularly in Western swing states such as Colorado and Nevada.

College Republicans at Brigham Young University are primed for grass-roots organizing when they return from summer break. A virtual war room is in the works for Salt Lake City. And the state Republican Party is making plans beyond its borders. Full article

A close look at the article seems to indicate that officially the church doesn’t endorse political activity and is neutral; however in practice there is some reason to believe that this may not be the way it is actually working out. It seems clear that a large portion of the Romney campaign is Mormon and that his campaign wouldn’t be nearly as strong without this support. The Mormon upbringing that most of these supporters may have a major impact on why they support Romney so strongly without asking questions about his constant flip flops or lies.

As I indicated in some of my previous blogs about Mormons, one of the most important things that they’ve been taught from early childhood is that they should believe what they’re told from their leaders and they should be obedient.

This would explain why they accept a religion that was established from a man who allegedly received messages from God while holding his face in his hat, (Source: Mormon Think, original source is actually the immediate followers of Joseph Smith according to written history) and dictating a new version of history that is overwhelmingly refuted by facts and research. It might also explain why they don’t think much if at all about the enormous amount of lies being told by Mitt Romney and the fact that he has routinely flip flopped on his beliefs. Mormons and other religions often use intimidation, sarcasm and other manipulation tactics to present their version of the truth to their followers without allowing scrutiny.

This is actually quite common when it comes to the beliefs of the Mormon religion and the most devout followers believe what they’re told. These lies have been compiled in a long collection as part of a weekly series, Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXIII (latest episode) on the Rachel Maddow blog that is often featured on her show. This series has compiled a list of hundreds of lies that Romney routinely tells and rarely ever acknowledges critics or stops telling them when he is caught.

This is an enormous list of lies that should clearly indicate that Mitt Romney can’t be trusted to be dog catcher let alone president if they’re true. In all fairness many of them are redundant and they report on the fact that he keeps telling the same lies over and over again. However this doesn’t make it much if any better; in fact this is a standard propaganda method; if you tell a lie often enough without scrutiny then it seems like the truth. In this case it is getting plenty of scrutiny and you would think that it wouldn’t work at all. Or if there are problems with the claims that Mitt Romney is lying then they could review the claims and address the details one after another proving that his accusers are actually the ones that are lying. This doesn’t seem to be what they’re doing at all; presumably because the accusers aren’t actually the ones lying, although in some cases a minor amount of spin, at least, is inevitable when they provide this much coverage. Instead they seem to be ignoring the claims that he is lying all the time and they continue to support him without question.
How could anyone possibly support this method of campaigning?

As far as I can figure they simply don’t take it into consideration or perhaps they dismiss it as liberal propaganda without checking facts. This isn’t uncommon when it comes to devout believers in a religion; they’re often taught that they should only listen to their own leaders and in many cases they’re even told that others are trying to lead them astray often as part of Satan’s plan to lead them into temptation. Ironically if they don’t scrutinize their own leaders they could be the ones leading them into temptation in many cases.
Whether it is Mormon supporters or not the next question might be, if they aren’t campaigning by discussing the issues in an honest manner what methods do they think are appropriate to campaign?

Apparently they arrange for hecklers to do their campaigning for them, or at least give them tacit approval.

When maturity is abandoned

Earlier this week, President Obama's senior campaign strategist David Axelrod took a firm stand against heckling. "I strongly condemn heckling along Mitt's route," he said of the hecklers targeting Mitt Romney in Ohio. Axelrod added, "Let voters hear BOTH candidates & decide." 

Obama spokesperson Ben LaBolt added, "We have sent a strong message to our supporters that this campaign should be an open exchange of ideas, not one where we drown out the other side by heckling and crashing events." 

Any chance the Republican will also aim for the high road? Apparently not. …… Full article

for more information see Talking Points Memo Romney Declines To Condemn His Campaign’s Organized Heckling

These are exceptionally well dressed hecklers but I don’t see how this could possibly be considered an appropriate manner to campaign for office in a system that pretends to be democratic. 

A democratic system should focus more on discussing the issues in a manner that enables all of the members of the public to understand them and participate in the decision making process. This clearly isn’t what our system is doing and the willingness of many people to follow the leader without question is a major part of the reason for this. My best guess is that these hecklers have been instructed to do this by their leaders. Even if they weren’t Mitt Romney’s statements about the subject clearly indicates that he approves and I suspect that if he objected that this would end immediately; or at least the heckling that is being intentionally organized would end immediately.
Apparently Mitt Romney may not be the only one that is relying on Hecklers; according to some stories including, Anti-Romney Protesters Say They're Paid To Heckle, the Obama campaign is doing the same thing despite their denials of it; although a close look at the article might indicate that another possibility is that they’re spreading misinformation. 

There should be major doubts about the effectiveness of this tactic which is utterly absurd and counterproductive. Most hecklers are almost certainly those that are fed up and often have a hard time getting their point across when the establishment refuses to give them an opportunity to speak in a forum that has a chance to reach a large audience. Even if there are some doubts whether it is the campaigns that are doing this or there are some people making it up to discredit the campaign in question if there is little or no discussion about the issues from either campaign then this is all the more reason to support other alternatives that aren’t being presented by the corporate media. This may be an indication that blind support may be involved in both campaigns from many people. 

This shouldn’t be considered an acceptable way of electing our officials by anyone but if religious people, or any other people, are taught in this manner from birth then they may not recognize it as being unacceptable. 

Many of Romney’s supporters are apparently taught from birth to blindly adopt the beliefs of their leaders and obey. This includes the Mormons and it may also include many of the people that have been opposed to the Mormons but have now been encouraged to support Romney at least for the duration of the election. Many of the Christian evangelicals that have normally opposed Mormonism because they consider it a “cult” are being encouraged by people like Robert Jeffress, who once said that he would “hold my nose” and vote for Romney if he became the nominee. Fortunately I find it hard to believe that many of the people involved in the evangelical movement are inclined to follow this endorsement especially those that are familiar with all the evangelical Anti-Mormon preaching and websites. Some of the most common Anti-Mormon movements are those that are trying to recruit them back to other Christian religion. 

In fact it appears as if this election cycle could bring about many more discussions between different religions about their beliefs. Some members of the Mormon Church seem to consider it an opportunity to teach others about their religion and even convert more people; the problem with that is that it may also draw more attention to their religion and make it harder to ignore the flaws in it. Part of the method that many religions preserve their following when they have a flawed belief system is by keeping them segregated from different ideas. Furthermore if they attempt to use this as an opportunity to increase awareness to their religion it is virtually guaranteed that people with other beliefs including traditional Christians and atheists might make more efforts to educate the public about the flaws and it could lead to a major loss of support for the Romney campaign. 

The following are a sample of some of the recent articles that have been published about the subject.

Romney bid an opportunity, challenge for Mormon Church 
Washington » When the world came to Salt Lake City in 2002 for the Winter Olympics, the LDS Church courted American and international journalists with snazzy videos, calendars and press packets, pitching stories on how the faith sprouted from humble roots to become one of the fastest-growing religions. 

Ten years later, as the spotlight on Mitt Romney’s candidacy reflects onto the Utah-based religion, the church says it plans to be more restrained — using the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings but not to convert people to the Mormon fold or weigh into the politics.
"Our primary interest is simply to educate people about the church and to help them understand who we are," says Michael Purdy, the faith’s media relations director. …. Complete article

Romney’s run evokes pride, fear in Mormons 
SALT LAKE CITY - Tourists stroll among the faithful, their conversations competing with the birds and fountains. Old couples walk hand in hand amid a steady stream of brides and grooms emerging from the massive granite temple. 

Temple Square, the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, emanates harmony. But fresh anxieties pulse just below the surface. 

For Mormons, this is a potentially volatile moment. They are deeply proud that their faith’s most prominent adherent, Mitt Romney, is steps away from a presidential nomination and could push the faith further into the mainstream of American life. With these feelings, though, comes a nagging fear that their beliefs, often misunderstood, will again be subjected to scrutiny, even ridicule, on a national scale. ….. Complete article

Column: Why Mormons flee their church 
The nation is having something of a "Mormon Moment." It is evident in unprecedented scrutiny of Mormon beliefs stemming from Mitt Romney's candidacy, the rise of social media, and a popular Broadway show and television programs. But largely overlooked is the growing reform movement within the Mormon community — one aimed at helping church leaders adapt to the modern world. They need help. 

This year, Elder Marlin Jensen, the Mormon Church's outgoing official historian, acknowledged that members are defecting from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "in droves" and that the pace is increasing. 

This poses a particular dilemma for a hierarchical church that was historically isolated like no other. Church leaders can crack down and continue to see members, especially young people, leave. Or they can allow church-wide dialogue and changes relating to the church's historical and doctrinal claims, financial dealings, proselytizing and treatment of women, skeptics and outsiders. ….. Complete article

This is just a small sample of the articles being published about this issue; and it is inevitable that even if the media doesn’t cover it much there will be an enormous amount of discussions at the grass roots level about this issue in the next few months; and many people may decide how to vote or whether or not to change religions as a result of it. There are mixed messages being sent about whether or not there will be attempts to convert people or not; while the first article says that they’re not trying to do so later on in the article they say, “….and some local leaders have been pointed in telling congregations not to quote from non-official LDS publications.” (full context)  

A close look at the article indicates that they might be putting out mixed messages and it may be hard to tell whether or not they’re following the claims that they’re not trying to use this as an opportunity to convert people or not. If they do then they may find that it might backfire and lead people to decline to support Romney in some cases where they would otherwise have supported him. This will increase awareness of many of the unusual aspects of this religion and raise many new doubts. Inevitably many of the Mormons may call this additional persecution when people hold their beliefs to scrutiny. Whether this claim is accurate or not may depend on how they’re scrutinized; if the people reviewing them attempt to use the opportunity to argue in favor of another religion that has as many flaws as Mormonism replacing one superstition with another then there could be some truth to this. If on the other hand those scrutinizing the Mormon religion are pointing out legitimate flaws with it then the Mormons may only consider it persecution if they’ve been taught to perceive scrutiny as persecution, which many religious people have been, including Mormons. 

These discussions will almost certainly be impacted by stories about Mormon extremism that is still going on including the FLDS led by Warren Jeffs. Stories like the following are bound to be taken into consideration by some people.

US Justice Dept. sues Arizona, Utah polygamous towns 
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Authorities in a pair of polygamous Utah-Arizona border towns have supported a campaign of intimidation against the unfaithful, denying them housing and municipal services and allowing members of the dominant religious sect to destroy their crops and property, the U.S. Justice Department said in a lawsuit. 

The federal civil rights case was filed Thursday against the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where most residents are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, run by the group's jailed leader Warren Jeffs. US Justice Dept. sues Arizona, Utah polygamous towns

The Mormons will inevitably claim that the FLDS is no longer part of the real Mormon Church, and in some ways this will be true; however it is very similar to the earlier stories about the church from history that took place in the late nineteenth century and even in the early twentieth century. The end of the article claims that the Mormon Church abandoned Polygamy in 1890 which is officially when they did so; however in practice they kept it hidden and it didn’t actually end for decades after that while they gradually reduced and eventually eliminated it. This was done only reluctantly when they had to to maintain their status as a legitimate religion in the US and they made a claim that it was a result of a “revelation” from God which happened to come at the same time as it became politically inconvenient for them to maintain it. Many of their other “revelations” came at times when they were convenient as well. 

The traditional church is clearly not as extreme as Warren Jeffs cult but they almost certainly are more extreme than most other religions that are widely practiced. A more rational example of how some members of the current church might be inclined to behave in some cases could be the recent story about a mother that was told that she could reduce her daughters punishment by cutting her hair in the court room, Eye for an eye, hair for hair? Judge orders Price woman to cut off daughter's ponytail in court. The behavior of the children in this story is clearly inappropriate but if they were raised in an environment where this type of treatment was considered acceptable then it’s conceivable that the children learned this type of behavior from the adults that raised her. It may seem to many that the adults behaved even more inappropriately; the mother of the victim complained when she didn’t initially cut it short enough. The mother of the perpetrator may not have taught her daughter well enough in the first place and the fact that she was so quick to cut her daughters hair without questioning the judge seems to imply that she was inclined to obey authority without question. It wasn’t until later that she decided to file a complaint. 

It isn’t guaranteed that these people involved are Mormon but in Utah Mormonism is the dominant religion and it impacts everyone even if they aren’t part of the religion. Furthermore the behavior described clearly does fit the pattern of behavior of the Mormon religion. 

Some of the most thorough research on Mormonism has often come from more moderate Mormons including those that maintain the website Mormon think who have raised many important questions about the legitimacy of the Mormon religion. These are mostly Mormons that have had first hand experience with the church including many that still participate in the Church. This may, in many cases, be because they were raised in the church and they may be closely tied to other Church members. When people leave the church they’re often ostracized which is why some of them tend to keep quit about their doubts. 

The people at Mormon think have raised some legitimate question about Mitt Romney, or quoted from others that have done so in a page devoted to Mitt Romney. This includes many doubts from his own cousin, Park Romney, who has left the Church and has done his own work to debunk the Church, although a lot of it has a lot in common with other efforts to debunk the religion. It also includes an alleged “White Horse Prophecy” which is considered controversial and many doubt its legitimacy; however if others believe it then they may act accordingly and it could impact the country if they have a sufficient amount of power. 

Clearly the public should take a much closer look at any issue that could have a major impact on how our country is run including religion before choosing a president. This is especially true when a large segment of the political establishment has been behaving in such an irrational manner, which is the only way someone like Mitt Romney could have obtained the nomination. If the electorate had a better choice he almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten the nomination in the first place. 

This doesn’t mean that we should blindly go for the only other candidate that the traditional media is presenting to the public as “viable” though. The fact that the corporate media which had control over the vast majority of the coverage that enabled Mitt Romney to gain the nomination didn’t cover him better should also raise doubts about whether they covered Barack Obama adequately or not. The corporate media has also declined to cover many of the other lesser known candidates for the presidency that are listed at Project Vote Smart including Jill Stein, whom I reviewed previously. It should be clear that the corporate media isn’t trying to provide coverage on many of the most important issues that impact the public and we shouldn’t continue to allow them to decide who our presidential candidates are or any other candidates for public office. 

Accepting the claim that refusing to vote for the candidates sponsored by the corporations is “throwing away your vote” guarantees that the corporations can continue to choose only candidates that will carry out their agenda without any real scrutiny from the public. The truth is that if you vote for candidates that have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from the corporations who want a return on their investment then you will be “throwing away your vote.”
This effectively ensures that there will be no reform in the system and many of the same people that finance Romney’s campaign will continue to hedge their bets and finance Obama’s campaign. Obama has proven repeatedly that he would be willing to do what he can to give them their money’s worth. In many cases he has made promises before the election and forgotten them after the election and when he has responded to the will of the people it has only been after a massive uproar like the black out when they attempted to pass SOPA and PIPA. This is just one of many other examples; he has also indicated that when it comes to protecting the environment he does so only when attention is drawn to it; he will continue to fight wars based on lies; his attempts to stand up to Wall Street have been limited to lip service and many other issues. 

This won’t end until the public makes it clear that they’re not dumb enough to believe the corporate media and the political establishment anymore!!

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

[r] As always, so importantly and well said! The Mormon authoritarianism is chilling. As is Obama's moral nihilism and his followers lack of conscience.

I only wish citizens would go and dialogue beyond the surface.

Enjoyed the speculations re unintended consequences for the Mormon church, itself. Also, particularly appreciated:

"It should be clear that the corporate media isn’t trying to provide coverage on many of the most important issues that impact the public and we shouldn’t continue to allow them to decide who our presidential candidates are or any other candidates for public office."

"Accepting the claim that refusing to vote for the candidates sponsored by the corporations is “throwing away your vote” guarantees that the corporations can continue to choose only candidates that will carry out their agenda without any real scrutiny from the public. The truth is that if you vote for candidates that have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from the corporations who want a return on their investment then you will be “throwing away your vote.”"

I'm voting for Jill Stein. A few more days for people to help her make matching funding with a donation.

best, libby

libbyliberalnyc June 26, 2012 06:14 PM

Excellent post. When you see all the different articles in one place this this, it makes you wonder how this guy wound up the leading Republican contender.

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall June 27, 2012 01:59 AM

10 Facts You Should Know About Mormon History and Belief before Shooting Your Mouth Off

1. Mormons believe in a trinity of three divine persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who are one in purpose.

2. 1832 - A runaway slave named Elija Able is baptized and ordained to the priesthood. He serves multiple missions to Canada where he would be safe from the Fugitive Slave Laws. He was probably the first black Mormon.

3. 1833 – While about half of all Mormons were residing in Missouri, a slave state, Joseph Smith received a revelation that became section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Verse 79 says "Therefore it is not right that one man should be in bondage to another."

4. 1838 - Mormons were expelled from Missouri under threat of extermination (Executive Order 44). A petition of complaints against them made no mention of polygamy but complains that Mormons invited "free negroes and mulattoes" to join them in Missouri.

5. 1844 - Joseph Smith runs for president with a plan to free all slaves by 1850. He is murdered the same year.

6. 1852 - Utah enacts the most liberal divorce laws in the United States and possibly the world. Any woman who insists on a divorce gets one. Meanwhile, Brigham Young imposes a lineage restriction on the Aaronic and Melchezidec priesthoods; withholding them from presumed descendants of Ham.

7. 1869 - The Utah territorial legislature which was dominated by Mormons voted to give women the vote. At the time, only Wyoming had female suffrage.

8. 1887 - The federal government takes the vote away from Utah women (Edmunds-Tucker Act) .

9. 1978 - Governor Bond of Missouri officially rescinds Executive Order 44 (which had not been enforced for over a century) and formally apologizes for it. The same year Spencer W Kimball and the quorum of the twelve decided to end all lineage requirements for holding the Aaronic and Melkezidec priesthoods.

10. Mormons believe that Jesus is co-eternal and co-equal with God the Father and also believe that Jesus was begotten by the Father before the creation of all worlds.

dougtheavenger June 27, 2012 09:27 AM

Libby, this religion is stranger than most people realize but in order to see what is so strange it takes time to look through the details and double check everything. In many cases the relatively quick debunking leads to more questions if you look close enough; this includes some of the authoritarianism involved. However in the short run discrediting it is the most important thing, which isn’t hard, then sorting out the rest of the details.

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, it does make you wonder that. Do you think the establishment did any planning at all before choosing him as their front runner? This was predictable to those that knew more about the religion. The same could be said for GW Bush in 2000. How could they pick someone when they should have known he would be such a bungler?

With all the research they do what could they be thinking?

zacherydtaylor June 27, 2012 09:36 AM

Dougtheavenger, sorry I didn’t even notice your post right away. First of all if you look at some of the other Blogs I did about the subject you’ll see that I have addressed some of the issues that you point out. It is true that they didn’t mention polygamy in Missouri, as far as I know it wasn’t known outside the church at that time and it was shortly after that when the practice began to expand dramatically. However it was a major issue when the newspaper article that exposed it led to the burning of the press and indirectly to his assassination. This had more to do with polygamy than with his opposition to slavery which was very selective.

The main reason they allowed woman to vote was to appease their critics; and they apparently used coercion to control the votes of women as well as any other Mormon as I pointed out in Semi-Secret Fundamentals of Democracy. this was based on a story by Ann Eliza Young but there are many more similar reports some of which I have cited in some of my previous Blogs about the subject.

None of this explains why God would use revelations as a way to communicate without maintaining a regular line of communication or why he would remain silent while so many people put out conflicting stories attributed to him and fight over them. This hardly seems like appropriate behavior for a benevolent God.

Thanks for responding although I don’t agree with you and to be honest I think the points of view you have expressed are selective.

zacherydtaylor June 27, 2012 10:51 AM

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