Romney would not be the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to run for the nation's highest office. He follows Orrin Hatch (2000); Mo Udall (1976); his father, George Romney (1968); and not least of all Joseph Smith, who ran in 1844 on a platform of "theodemocracy," abolition, and cutting congressional pay. Despite a strong showing in the Nauvoo straw poll, Smith didn't play much better nationally than Hatch did, and had to settle for the Mormon-elected post of King of the Kingdom of Heaven.I about fell out of my chair when I got to the last line. How many Mormons would be shocked by that statement? How many would realize that it is true? I wouldn't have until I started reading non-church sources.
I continue to cackle whenever the church's apologists claim that Smith didn't gain anything from his role as prophet other than hardship and persecution. You know, other than never having to hold down a real job, being able to command people in the name of God to build him houses and support him, being able to get loans for the church (and not coincidentally himself as leader of the church), having divinely sanctioned marriages to whoever he wanted, a divinely commanded mansion, a riverboat, power, fame, being King of the World, etc. Other than that there was nothing in it for him.
I sincerely hope that Romney is a front-runner for the presidency because it will force the Mormon church to center stage and bring it the journalistic scrutiny that it so deserves.
Here's another great excerpt addressing whether refusing to consider voting for a devout Mormon represent religious bigotry.
Others, myself included, would not, under most imaginable circumstances, vote for a fanatic or fundamentalist—a Hassidic Jew who regards Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as the Messiah, a Christian literalist who thinks that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old, or a Scientologist who thinks it is haunted by the souls of space aliens sent by the evil lord Xenu. Such views are disqualifying because they're dogmatic, irrational, and absurd. By holding them, someone indicates a basic failure to think for himself or see the world as it is.Here's the author's take on Joseph Smith and people who believe in him.
If you don't know the story, it's worth spending some time with Fawn Brodie's wonderful biography No Man Knows My History. Smith was able to dictate his "translation" of the Book of Mormon first by looking through diamond-encrusted decoder glasses and then by burying his face in a hat with a brown rock at the bottom of it. He was an obvious con man. Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don't want him running the country.She didn't get it quite right. No one saw the magic glasses and I've never seen them described as diamond-encrusted. In fact, I've never read anything indicating that anyone saw him using the "interpreters," as the Book of Mormon calls them, to translate the book. Everyone who witnessed the translation described the rock in a hat method that most Mormons know nothing about. If you buy into miracles and revelation then I can forgive believing in the Urim and Thummim. But as soon as I found out he was using his treaure hunting seer stone it was an immediate deal breaker. There's a good reason the church doesn't tell the correct version of the translation in Sunday school or seminary. Only members sufficiently enmeshed in the belief system would be able to swallow that story. I wonder if Romney is as ignorant of the church's real story as most Mormons are. It goes a long way toward explaining why an otherwise knowledgeable man can believe in such an obvious fraud when you realize that the evidence of the fraud has been carefully concealed from him. However, it still leaves the question of whether you'd vote for a man who'd be willing to avoid looking at contradictory evidence because it conflicts with his personal beliefs. That kind of dogmatism would be decidedly bad for the leader of the free world.
Here's a little more.
One may object that all religious beliefs are irrational—what's the difference between Smith's "seer stone" and the virgin birth or the parting of the Red Sea? But Mormonism is different because it is based on such a transparent and recent fraud. It's Scientology plus 125 years. Perhaps Christianity and Judaism are merely more venerable and poetic versions of the same. But a few eons makes a big difference. The world's greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor. The Church of Latter-day Saints is expanding rapidly and liberalizing in various ways, but it remains fundamentally an orthodox creed with no visible reform wing.A transparent fraud. I couldn't have said it any better. Why is it so easy to see now and was so difficult to consider for most of my life? This is a question that the nation will have to consider because Mitt Romney and many like him are true believers in this transparent fraud.