You Gotta Believe

A little while ago we opined that, odd as it may seem, here in America the particulars of a politician’s faith matter less than that he have some sort of religious affiliation. Quoted in today’s Wall Street Journal, Mitt Romney seems to agree:

I think the American people want a person of faith to lead the country. I don’t think Americans care what brand of faith someone has.

It’s nice to have explicit confirmation from such a prominent public servant, but a bit disappointing nonetheless. One can still hold out hope that an avowed faith in, say, centaurs, or the John Frum cargo cult, would cause a few raised eyebrows among the electorate, but perhaps not.

Well, maybe so. In fact, it appears that even some of his fellow monotheists are getting around to at least a superficial examination of Utahn dogma; apparently the Mormon assertion that the Second Coming is to take place not in Jerusalem, but in Missouri, seems odd to some:

Mr. Romney has to tread a fine line between allaying concerns about his faith and not alienating his coreligionists. When George Stephanopoulos of ABC News quizzed him about a Mormon belief that Jesus will return and build the new Jerusalem in America, Mr. Romney replied that Mormons believe the Messiah will return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, “the same as the other Christian tradition.”

Tom Grover, a Salt Lake City talk-show host, says that some of his Mormon listeners were upset. “They are just in disbelief, saying that’s not true, Jesus is coming back to Missouri.” The truth is that while it is Mormon doctrine that the new Jerusalem will be built in Jackson County, Mo., the church also holds he will return and appear in old Jerusalem. “So the evangelicals are right, the Mormons are right, and can’t we all just get along?” asks Lee Benson, a columnist for Salt Lake city’s Deseret Daily News, which is owned by an LDS Church holding company. Well, not quite. Even Mr. Benson says that Mr. Romney was “employing a good bit of doublespeak” in his answer.

Yes, a good bit of doublespeak; it’s handy that the prophets had the necessary revelation regarding the Prince of Peace’s subsequent itinerary. There may be some further quibbling, however, when other articles of Latter-Day-Saints doctrine — or the embarrassing story of the church’s founding by that convicted flim-flam man, the perspicuously mendacious Joseph Smith — become more widely known.

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5 Comments

  1. I think that Mitt Romney was channeling President Eisenhower, who said something similar way back in the 1950s.

    Jeffery Hodges

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    Posted June 26, 2007 at 4:55 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Jeffery,

    Do you have the quote? I do recall that Eisenhower was raised as a Jehova’s Witness.

    I’d be surprised if Romney is made of the same timber Ike was, but we will have ample opportunity to learn more in the months ahead (and certainly I hope he is never tested as Eisenhower was). I think he did quite a good job as governor of Massachusetts, a state of which I am a part-time resident.

    I am particularly curious to see how Romney’s Mormonism is presented, and received, in the coming battle. There will surely be those for whom it disqualifies him to profess a belief in such recently minted zaniness, of such preposterous origin. Folks in these parts generally prefer the all-too-human origins of their dogmas to be safely cloaked in the mists of antiquity.

    Posted June 26, 2007 at 10:15 am | Permalink
  3. I advocate a new hybrid between Judaism and Mormonism: the Church of Latter Day Retailers.

    Posted June 26, 2007 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Maybe something featuring the concept of Harvey Fierstein as Simon Templar: The Church of Fatter Gay Saints.

    Posted June 26, 2007 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm, you got me. It’s a ‘quote’ that I read in a history book, but now that I’m trying to find it, I find that it’s elusive:

    “A system of government like ours makes no sense unless founded on a firm faith in religion, and I don’t care which it is.”

    This is more or less what I read, but Richard John Neuhaus of First Things, in “The Public Square,” doesn’t believe that Ike ever said it.

    So, maybe it’s apocryphal.

    Jeffery Hodges

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    Posted June 26, 2007 at 6:11 pm | Permalink