If Romney Wins, Will Mormons Like the Limelight?


There is a good chance that Willard Mitt Romney next January will be making the White House his home. If he does, he will be the first Mormon to serve as president.   I don’t presume to know what this would mean for the country. But it may not be  a great public relations coup for the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

Earlier this year in June I wrote a piece about the LDS.  I framed the piece in  a series of questions.  I simply asked whether a few alleged beliefs were indeed real beliefs.  I got over 60 comments. Mostly from Mormons and ex-Mormons. I’m a Democrat. So I’m still curious blue.

Perhaps, it should be patriotic to be proud of Mormonism. After all, it is  truly an  American religion. It’s founder was an American, Joseph Smith.  In the 1800s Smith claimed that an angel, Moroni, appeared to him and gave him the Mormon Scriptures.  Smith and his early converts were  persecuted and driven out of communities by other Christians. And often—as Smith himself was—brutally murdered.   

But similar to the growth of Christianity under  the Roman emperors, the blood of its martyrs helped the LDS to flourish.  It grew expontentially  in numbers. Eventually, led by Brigham Young and others, the Mormons settled in what is now Utah.

Today there are over 14 million members  around the globe.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is world-famous. And Mitt Romney is on his way to the White House.  A far cry from April 6 , 1830 in Fayette, New York, and  the six original Mormons.

I don’t know whether the sun was shining that  spring day in Fayette.  But if  Romney takes  the presidential oath,  the sun will get very intense on  the Church of the Latter Day Saints.  The man on the street who probably assumes  it’s just another form of Christianity, like the Baptist variety or Methodism will begin to look deeper into its backstory.

Is it a cult like many Christian Fundamentalists  say?  Does it use Masonic symbols on magical underwear? Was Joseph Smith a con man?  A Romney presidency might go a long way to debunking these myths, misconceptions and misapprehensions. If that’s what they are.

Or maybe it’ll  just raise new questions.


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    I see attempts on the part of many to try and get it right about us. Writers and respondents should keep in mind the following by Krister Stendahl (1921-2008), Lutheran minister and former professor at the Divinity School of Harvard University, famous in part for outlining very insightful guidelines for religious discussion:
    Stendahl’s Three Rules of Religious Understanding
    (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.
    (2) Don’t compare your best to their worst.
    (3) Leave room for “holy envy.” (By this Stendahl meant that you should be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition or faith that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith.)
    Continue to try and raise the level of religious commentary. I am sorry for the critics who persist in violating the above rules.

    Phillip C. Smith, Ph.D.

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