Mormon Critics Aiming At Romney

It was inevitable. Just as John F. Kennedy was excoriated by anti-Catholics before winning the Presidential race in 1960, the anti-Mormon activists are coming out of the woodwork to harass Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with claims that as president he would be torn between two masters – the Mormon Church and the United States.

The latest attack is by an ex-Mormon woman who had been raised in the Latter-day Saints church and whose daddy was a bishop (meaning he was the head of a single church). In the rebellious fashion of many children reared in a particularly strict churchy environment by churchy parents, she is taking out her frustration on Romney. As she touts her new book, Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters? The Mormon Church Versus the Presidency of the United States, Tricia Erickson’s conclusion is obviously biased: No, he can’t, and America would be the worse for a Romney presidency.

Her anti-Mormon rant is heavily laced with emotionally charged hype: “secret endowment ceremonies,” “deeply entrenched in Mormon doctrine,” “obedient Mormon,” “completely violent,” “mind controlling,” “secret temple ceremonies,” “truly stranger than fiction,” “false doctrine of attaining Godship,” “feeding the innocent at the troth (sic) of deceit,” “horrendously blasphemous,” and “enslavement of the soul.”

Whew. With this much hyperbole, one has to question her objectivity.

As it turns out, I’ve had my own indoctrination into LDS. I spent 14 months in Hanoi in a tiny cell with over and under bunks with a young Air Force pilot, a Mormon from Idaho. Like most Mormons, he was a natural missionary and taught me all he knew about his religion. Let me say at the outset, I admire Mormons greatly for their family orientation, for their industriousness (Idaho is called the “Beehive State”), for their knowledge of their own religion (which like all Christian religions is Christ-centered), and for the requirement for young Mormon men to serve at least a year in mission work.

But I do have to say some of their doctrine is a little “non-linear.” As I understood it – as a captive student – all Mormons go to heaven, which is made up of concentric circles with God in the middle. Mormon “hell” is to end up in an outer circle, far from the Lord, and knowing for eternity you could have been so much closer if you had led a more sinless life. A man and woman are married in the Temple for their first marriage and they will be in heaven together. A widower or a divorced man will be in heaven with all his wives from all marriages.

So for a Mormon, heaven is polygamous. For Mormons, the Bible is augmented by The Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. It’s in these books things get a little dicey to a non-Mormon. But there are no Mormon beliefs any more “far out” than the Christian belief that after being slain on the cross, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. And probably most important, all religions have a wide spectrum of adherence to specific beliefs and doctrines – birth control, for example.

There is nothing that complicated about Mitt Romney. Nothing in his background suggests anything but loyalty to America in his leadership. Like many Mormons, he is a decent, talented family man, well-educated (degrees in both law and business).

Oh, yes, my cell mate and I were separated suddenly one night when the guard slammed open the door and indicated for me to roll up my meager gear in my rice straw mat. As I walked out into the passageway and looked back, there was my Mormon mentor leaning out the door half shouting his final words to me, “I know one thing, Coffee, you may never become a Mormon, but you’ll never go back to being a Catholic!”

He was right on both counts.