Romney’s Mormonism

Last week, there were more stories about posthumous Mormon baptisms–this time of Daniel Pearl. Pearl’s parents sent an email to the Boston Globe with their formal response to the Church:

We appreciate your good intentions but rest assured that Danny’s soul was redeemed through the life that he lived and the values that he upheld. He lived as a proud Jew, died as a proud Jew and is currently facing his creator as a Jew, blessed, accepted and redeemed.

Pearl’s widow called on Mitt Romney to condemn the practice; Pearl’s father asked that the baptism be nullified. The idea that the same believers who harvested Hitler’s soul are also baptizing iconic Holocaust victims like Anne Frank is deeply weird and creepy–but I’m not sure what purpose it serves to put Mitt Romney on the spot for it. The LDS doesn’t officially sanction the practice any longer and if you take your Judaism seriously, you should realize that it doesn’t actually DO anything. It’s not like Anne Frank and Dan Pearl have to live as Mormons in the after life. If religious Jews are right about God, then Mormon rituals carry no more weight with the Almighty than Baalist sacrifices do. Christians who fear Satanism do so because they believe that Satan and Hell are real. For Jews, Salt Lake City is just another earthly capital.

Romney had to deal with the Baptism question back in 2007 (“When asked by NEWSWEEK if he has done baptisms for the dead—in which Mormons find the names of dead people of all faiths and baptize them, as an LDS spokesperson says, to ‘open the door’ to the highest heaven—he looked slightly startled and answered, ‘I have in my life, but I haven’t recently'”).

Given all the troubles he’s having just being Mitt Romney it seems almost like piling on. You don’t have to dig into Mormonism’s bizarreries (and as the author of Isms & Ologies, I know that no religion is without its odder tenets–I’m not singling out the LDS) to look for negatives to attach to him. If Romney really is a believer (and he did used to be a bishop), then his beliefs would be reflected in his ideas and attitudes and could be gleaned from his public record.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion presumes that the Jews have a secret agenda that is encoded in the Talmud; just being Jewish is enough to implicate you in its evil. A lot of Mormon-bashing seems to be based on a similar set of presuppositions. Romney shouldn’t have to answer for the LDS’s racist past unless it can be shown that his politics reflect it–anymore than a moderate, assimilated Islamic American should be held accountable for what his fundamentalist co-religionists are doing halfway around the world (or an American Jew should be presumed to unconditionally support Israel).

I don’t like Romney and I don’t feel sorry for him, but it’s painful to see him squirming in the pincers of Mormonism–vilified for it by the bigots in the Republican base whose votes he so desperately needs and embarrassed by his co-religionists’ excesses.

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2 thoughts on “Romney’s Mormonism

  1. In a democracy we each have one vote. In choosing to cast that vote we each take into consideration different facts. While there may be many illegitimate rumors we should not consider, are there any illegitimate facts? I think not. A person’s faith is factually a part of who that person is and therefore a legitimate part of any voter’s consideration.

    While I am not in agreement with Santorum, it is refreshing to see a man unashamed of his faith and willing to talk about it even if it means he will not be elected.

    Be bold Romney and let us know what you truly believe. Stop trying to make your faith palatable.

  2. The ironic thing is that LDS belief is actually that by being a Mormon, you are adopted into one of the twelve original tribes of Israel. Mormon teens undergo a ritual called a “Patriarchal Blessing” where a sort of elderly spiritual sage in their church gives them a blessing from God promising certain benefits in life and calling upon them to do certain things (it’s highly personalized and varied). Part of the blessing also names which tribe of the House of Israel the individual belongs to.

    In my blessing I was adopted into the Tribe of Ephraim, incidentally.

    We’ve had a few Jews convert to Mormonism in life. Usually their Patriarchal Blessings name them as a part of the Tribe of Judah (no big surprise there).

    So even if we did think these baptisms were automatically converting dead Jews to Mormonism (which we don’t), we don’t believe they cease to be Jews.

    In a sense, you might say, we don’t believe that Jews have to become Mormons in order to get back home to God. Rather, we believe that all people have to become “Jews” to live with God.

    Which makes this whole discussion just a tad odd to me – and a lot of believing Mormons.

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