Framing the Romney Question

Enough has been said about Presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s religion. Yes, as a Latter Day Saint (Mormon), Romney adheres to beliefs that are ludicrous. Almost anything conceived by an attention-seeking adolescent (Joseph Smith), whose personal standards led him to scam and manipulate friends and family, is ludicrous.

Criticism of a Presidential candidate for such beliefs has limited validity. In an absolute sense, criticism is valid. What does such valid criticism leave us? Every other major Presidential candidate in my memory has claimed religious beliefs which, despite mostly being different from Mormon beliefs, are exactly equivalent in their ludicrous elements. I will not belabor that point. Most readers can supply plentiful examples of offenses upon rationality by any particular religion. This is a subject which incorporates the supernatural, so deviations from rationality are inherent.

The pertinent consideration is what a candidate’s personal beliefs and attitudes reveal about how he (or she, on occasion) will perform the duties of a President of the United States of America.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Evangelical Christians, who often identify Mormons as apostate, have expressed their reluctance, due to his religion, to support his candidacy. My contention is that they are confabulating personal beliefs and public performance similarly to the (dominantly) Mormon state of Utah. In 2008, Utah primary voters gave Romney 89% of all votes. John McCain, who garnered much resistance from Evangelical Christians, received 5%. Ron Paul and other Protestants received crumbs. I doubt that the voting represented that the losing candidates had overwhelmingly unfavorable policy positions.

Mitt Romney has provided the proper context to discuss the relationship of his personal and public commitments. He has required a signed pledge as a precondition for meeting him privately.

At a Republican National Committee meeting in Arizona, RNC members and state GOP chairmen -superdelegates- were asked to sign a pledge to support Romney at the national convention in Tampa as a precondition for meeting privately and being photographed with Romney. Several members of the Iowa delegation were refused admittance when they did not sign the pledge.

Depending on how Romney answers the following question, we may subsequently find additional context to inquire about how details of Romney’s personal life will affect his performance in office. This may be easier than gaining additional details about his financial life, which would be far more relevant to his duties as President.

This is how the question should be framed in a Presidential general election debate:

Questioner: Governor Romney, we have many commitments as adults and as professionals. One of our tasks is to balance those commitments and resolve any conflicts. You have demonstrated that commitments have a significant priority for you. You have made certain commitments and you have required others to make commitments, even as a precondition to meet with you privately. Your oath as President is serious, yet it does not include a committment to foreswear other oaths. Uniquely for a general-election candidate, you have sworn such oaths, oaths which are inviolate, even upon penalty of death.

How will you reconcile your prior commitments with the Presidential Oath of Office?

Candidate Romney:
{A} I have nothing to resolve. My committment to God and to America are completely compatible.
{B} Like all Americans who want America to become the great country that it once was,
my first committment is to God, then to my family and country.
{C} My oath as President comes before all other oaths. Serving as President and restoring
America’s prosperity and values is the greatest form of devotion to God.
{D} My religious oaths were patterned after those which millions of loyal Americans take.
These Americans have helped to make America a light to the world.
{E} Reconcile what? I don’t know what oaths you imagine that I have made.


2 Responses to “Framing the Romney Question”

  1. May 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    As a great great great grandson of Brigham Young (he had 28 wives so many can make that claim) I so know thing or two about the religion. Sure it’s a religion that is not well know as it tends to keep it’s ordinances sacred. This of it as not casting one’s pearls before swine – Matt 7:6. (of course that can be a discussion in it’s own right). It is a religion that follows and tries to live by the teaching of Jesus. Granted they don’t take the “traditional” christian religion approach, the commitment to their believes are beyond approach. For the most part the LDS people are kind nice people that truly care for others. Sure their doctrine is unconventional, but if everyone tried to live up to their commandments, the world would be a much better place. And according to South Park – is the only religion that makes it to heaven (of course you can take that with a grain of salt). It is a religion that has no paid ministry and often opens it’s doors for others to use their facilities.

    As far as all those questions you mentioned, the reality is this a very pragmatic religion that really doesn’t delve into minutia. Gas mileage, vaccinations, private schooling, evolution, etc. are not main topics. Faith, prayer, baptism, repentance, forgiveness, are more of the weekly discussions.

    It is not surprising that a religion with strong “tradition” and “values” often has it’s members choosing a conservative political ideology, however there are also members that are much more progressive. Since LDS is a world wide religion, progressive members are more common in other countries, but the US is not one of them.

    Sure it’s a bit of a nutty religion, but really, what religion isn’t? Like you said, every religion acknowledges no other authority than it’s self.

    Oh, and this is important – Mitt Romney doesn’t represent the typical mormon. Most of us have more integrity than that.

  2. May 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

    The LDS Church is not like other Christian religions. How does it differ?

    1. It is secretive and reclusive relative to non-members.
    2. It is authoritarian. (Compare Catholicism, which intends to be but generally fails in America.)
    3. It is financially powerful and controlling. (Tithing is mandatory and appears to be 100% achieved.)
    4. It is politically pragmatic. (e.g., elimination of polygamy, effective control of the state of Utah.)
    5. It is consistently successful and growing, with a world-wide missionary program involving all able members.

    The LDS Church is religion on steroids, it is serious religion. There’s no way a religion this serious can be eliminated from its member’s reasoning. What kinds of decisions might be affected? Shall we speculate?

    a. Environment. Pollution, power generation, emissions standards, gas-mileage standards. Should government shrink and leave those concerns to God?
    b. Medicine. What about vaccinations? Is that intervening with God’s will? Should end of life programs be left to organized religion and government programs for hospice eliminated? What about personhood legislation?
    c. Social programs. Eliminate Social Security and Medicare and relegate those matters to organized religion?
    d. Science. Is discussion of evolution heresy? Should theology be relevant to government funding of R&D?
    e. Education. Should public education be eliminated and replaced with private schooling mentored and funded by religious entities? Should evolution be eliminated as a proper topic?
    f. Defense. How will consideration of national religions or no religion, as in Pakistan, India, Iran or Israel, play a role in a Mormon president’s reasoning relative to initiating military actions by executive powers?

    I am no expert on the LDS religion. What I know of it is from Wikipedia and from having observed several acquaintances who were Mormons. The latter were straight-shooters all, impeccable in their behavior, models of clean living and proper comportment. But I do know that mixing religion and government is problematic, which is why the founders proscribed religious tests from government function. Religion’s realm is that of faith and, yes, superstition. Religion is tribal culture, and like all other religions the LDS Church acknowledges no other authority than itself on any subject. Think about that, and what it means about how its members view members of other religions.

    Please consider again the list of differences above, undoubtedly incomplete, and the potential of electing an adherent of that religion to the most important political office in the world. Jim is right to raise this topic and every voter should be concerned.

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