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Defending one's faith

Justin Webb | 10:25 UK time, Monday, 19 November 2007

I saw Karl Rove (President Bush’s former bag-carrier) repeating the truism that Americans do not mind what faith a candidate professes, provided that he or she has some faith.

romney3_ap_203.jpgLet us assume the Bishop Rove is right. Where does this leave Mitt Romney?

Supporters of the Mormon Republican presidential candidate say voters in New Hampshire have been cold-called by "pollsters", who point out that the Mormon faith is odd.

At a party here in Washington recently, I conducted a scientific survey of my own.

I asked all those I met what they thought of Mormonism. The respondents (including a very senior member of a mainstream Christian denomination) all thought it was weird, weird, weird.

Several sniggered about multiple marriages, despite the fact that official Mormons have not been polygamous for a century.

My point is this. At the moment, with Mitt Romney refusing to get drawn into a defence of his faith, people are free to characterise it as they see fit. Perhaps he does need to address it full-on, and ask people to think about what Mormons do and what they stand for?

He would, after all, be taking a cue from Mormon culture, where the missionary aspect of the faith is hugely important.

mormon_getty_203.jpgI think if he began a thoroughgoing discussion of his faith, Americans would be fascinated, interested, and end up having their minds put at rest.

To continue my (un)scientific thought: the Latter Day Saints approached me more than a year ago through a Washington-based public relations company.

I have no particular sympathy for religion (as some have noted!), or indeed for public relations companies, but the experience was, well, transformative.

I met many Mormons, and not one I didn’t like. I do not care, and more importantly I do not think Americans will care, about their belief that the Garden of Eden might be located in Missouri.

Much more important, their hearts are often in the right place. They are good to their kids and thoughtful about the world. Not bad starting qualities for a president.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:13 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Jame wrote:

As a Christian conservative myself, and coming from an entire family of Christian conservatives, I can state that in my experience it doesn't really matter what religion politicians are. All that matters is that they approach politics from a religious perspective.
While I was not old enough to vote in the 2000 election, I vividly remember my parents expressing respect for Joe Lieberman's religious attributes.
The reason why many Christians are questioning Romney's Mormon faith is simply because they do not really know anything about it. He would be well served if he took steps to "educate" the Republican base on his religion.

  • 2.
  • At 02:17 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Sam Davis wrote:

My take on this issue is this: only a minority of Americans seem to care what faith a candidate for public office professes. Until well into the last century, it did in fact make a difference, with high office reserved unofficially for Protestants. The election of John Kennedy changed that. Today, two Buddhists, including an African American Nichiren Buddhist from Georgia, and a Muslim, and at least one atheist, sit in Congress. Alabama, that most Baptist of states, has elected Catholics to statewide office. Romney's main problem is not his religion but his late conversion to small government conservatism from whatever collectivist ideology he held while government of Massachusetts. That will prevent him getting the GOP nomination, not his religious faith.

  • 3.
  • At 02:40 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Alexander Heijnen wrote:

I don't think it matters so much what religion a candidate is. As long as their policies are sounds and just. To comment on what the first preson said, Jame, re-read the Constitution of the United Sates, there is supposed to be a seperation of chruch and state. otherwise meaning, this is a secular country, we accept everyone's religion, and endorse none.

  • 4.
  • At 03:27 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Tom Mortensen wrote:

As a member of the Mormon faith, I couldn't agree more with Jame's comments. It doesn't matter what religion a candidate professes. I think the American public deserves some answers about our faith from Romney. If there were something I thought was strange about a candidate, I would want to know more about it before casting my vote and I'd prefer to hear it directly from the candidate. Once these religious questions have been answered, the public as well as Romney could move past this and talk about all the other important issues rather than just one piece of the pie.

  • 5.
  • At 03:31 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • an observer wrote:

I was watching the Osmond family on Larry King earlier. I have spoken to mormons in America and agree they do seem to be, on the whole at least, very friendly people.

Regardless of this, in an ideal world, a persons faith should be considered irrelevant in relation to their ability to the job.

But, as God apparently guided the incumbent into invading Iraq, maybe it is something which should be considered.

  • 6.
  • At 03:33 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Ann wrote:

Talk is cheap. Many people say they are a Christian, and are quick to point their finger at others, without taking the needle out of their eye first. Jesus said, they will know you by your fruit. It's not what they say, or how they find your faults but not their own, but it's how they live. The fruit of the spirit is love, peace, patience, kindness, joy, mercy, gentleness, forgiveness, goodness, and self-control. President Bush says he is a Christian, but he is quick to start a war for greed, torture people, ignore children's healthcare, ignore healthcare in general so $16 million people die, and much more. His fruit is lacking like the wicked fig tree in the bible. Therefore, do not listen to whether they say they are a Christian, but how they treat others and how they love their neighbor.

I've got to say I don't think he should follow your advice regarding the discussion of his faith. He can't set the tone for the debate on Mormonism. The more he acknowledges it, the more people think of him as a Mormon, and the less likely they are to vote for him. There are too many weird things about Mormonism for one person to dispel. The media loves pointing out things that are weird all the time, and will look for every chance they can get to expose the oddities of the faith, and the more Romney brings it up, the more they'll keep it up.

Response to #2 -

While it may be true that America was mostly presided over by Protestant presidents, it's misleading to use this as evidence for America having a conservative or evangelistic religious past. In fact, there have only ever been less than a handful of Baptist presidents, and the majority of Presidents who were denominational were Presbyterian or Methodist, two denominations which have been traditionally to the left of the religious right, and who respected other faiths.

Also, the majority of the "Founding Father" presidents were either Deists (Madison), Unitarians (Jefferson, Adams, Quincy Adams), or non-denominational (Washington).

So, while you could make the argument that we are more open to different faiths in general (as your points regarding the U.S. House referred to), as far as a President is concerned, the last non-Christian president we had was Abraham Lincoln. It may not be a steadfastly progressive as you previously thought.

  • 8.
  • At 03:57 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Jame wrote:

To #3Alexander Heijnen,
I was making reference to the Christian conservative base the Romney is seeking support of.
Like or not the Republican base, aka Republican primary voters, are more religiously conservative than the ones needed to win the general election.
Did I not make complementary reference to a religious Jew in my comment? How was my statement derogatory to a religion?
I do not believe that the U.S. should forgo separation of church and state. I was referring to the religious pandering that has to be done to win elections.
P.S. I read the read the sections of the constitution regarding separation of church and state last week for school.

  • 9.
  • At 03:58 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Andrea wrote:

Americans are quite "touchy" about religion right now. In fact, they bristle at the mention of it. Given this irrational sensitivity, perhaps Romney is actually better off not discussing his religion.

I know nothing about Mormonism. However, the Mormons I know are extremely hard working, dedicated to high standards, compassionate and decent. Overall, very impressive.

  • 10.
  • At 04:15 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Julie wrote:

As a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon as sometimes called), I support the idea of the president being a religious person but I don't think he should be elected based on his specific religious affiliation.

In respect to Mitt Romney and his lack of clarification on his religious beliefs, he is running for president as a person not as a religion. If there are questions concerning his religion, they can be answered by the church headquarters located in Salt Lake City, UT or on the offical website which does clearly state the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

  • 11.
  • At 04:21 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Phil wrote:


Faith = accepting and believing in something as told, disregarding evidence, reasonable thought and a parsimonous conviction. It seems this is required for the highest office. "Reason" help us.

  • 12.
  • At 04:46 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Andrea wrote:

Jame, you are correct. Heijnen's reference to "separation of church/state" in the context of your comment is misguided.

It is an example of what happens when something is taken to the extreme, which, in his case, means that you cannot even formulate an opinion based on religion.

Separation of church and state is a principle of our country. Unfortunately, it has led to thought patrol by people who don't fully understand where its boundaries lie. My own belief is that it ends where censorship begins.

  • 13.
  • At 05:04 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

I think that Americans have an initial mistrust of other religions but this is not insurmountable. What is unforgivable, is Atheism. The (mistaken) idea that morality comes from religion is one that I can't imagine changing in my lifetime.

  • 14.
  • At 05:28 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Aaron Clausen wrote:

It's a pretty sad state of affairs that the most secular democratic state on the face of the Earth has what amounts to a religious test (something that no employee of the state has to worry about) for achieving high office.

I suppose it's some level of progress that Catholics, Jews and Muslims are now considered part of some vast and nebulous "faith community", but the fact remains that it would be nothing short of political suicide for a candidate to say "You know what, I'm not religious at all". This would also follow for "icky" religions, like Wicca or some other strain of neo-Paganism.

The fact is that if you're running for Congress or the Presidency, there might as well be a line on the signup form saying "Atheists, agnostics and off-the-wall faiths need not apply."

It's my contention that darned few of the Founding Fathers would have a hope in Hell of getting elected. Can you imagine someone like Thomas Jefferson, who had some pretty nasty things to say about Christianity, actually achieving the nomination of either party? Could you imagine the outroar against Washington over the Treaty with Tripoli with the phrase "the Government of the United States of America was not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion"? Lincoln had a hard enough time with the Slave States, but I'd wager he might as well have stayed home if his lack of faith in a deity had become widely known.

In the United States that the Founding Fathers envisioned, a candidate would be elected solely on his abilities, and not on whether he attends church every Sunday and mentions God with sufficient frequency. On the one hand it opens the door to silly demogogues like Fred Thompson and on the hand it forces good men like Lincoln to dissemble their own beliefs or lack thereof.

  • 15.
  • At 05:35 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • JLF wrote:

I understand a reporters job is to generate stories that are interesting to the reader and not necessarily a complete treatise on any one subject. However, in the case of Mormonism, there is so much misinformation extant that a modicum of effort should be spent to correct some mis perceptions so as not to participate in the disinformation game. It is perfectly OK with us that others have their own theological ideas. What we ask is that our theology be portrayed accurately if it is to be used to make decisions about us. We only have one world to live in and we would like to be safe and secure in it and not to be held up to ridicule and derision for things we do not believe in. You can hold us accountable for the things we do believe in. So, I suggest you ask us for an explanation of our belief on any given subject before you claim it as factual or a reasonably complete explanation of what we believe. Please try to put things in context.You can go www.byutv.org for a broad array of information and www.mormon.org for a brief explanation. Personally I really like the Sperry Symposiums at https://www.byub.org/sperry/ for a more in-depth intellectual approach to often misunderstood or controversial subjects.

Let me add one more short paragraph. The issues between Mormons and historical Christians are essentially two: We believe there is an open scriptural canon and second that we do not adhere to the Trinitarian concept of Divinity. All other issues flow from these two things. So, rather than debating whether Missouri is the next Zion or if the Book of Mormon is held in higher esteem than the bible or any question about Joseph Smith, address these two things. The entire basis of our religious belief is either defensible or it is not. Addressing these two issues changes the nature of the of the discussion entirely. Prove either false and it forever addresses all other differences that spring from them. Prove either correct and that settles the likelihood of the others being correct too. Maybe it makes more sense to go right to the heart of the matter and not waste time on where the Garden of Eden was.

  • 16.
  • At 05:51 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Kyle wrote:

In response to a few of the posts... I am a government teacher. The separation of church and state does not exist in the Constitution; in fact, religion is mentioned nowhere in the actual Constitution. That wording comes from the writings of Thomas Jefferson. The only mention of religion is in the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion not prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Their intention was to prohibit the governnment from sponsoring a state church, like the Anglican church in Britain at the time. They also wanted all people to be able to practice their religion (or to not practice any religion) as they so choose.

While I am a supporter of the heralded separation of church and state (to paraphrase: religion tends to weaken government and government corrupts religion), I think that it impossible to leave matters of faith out of the public discussion in elections. If a person truly is a man or woman of faith (which I highly respect), then that faith will inevitably affect their decision making; if it doesn't, then their faith is not genuine but rather hypocrisy - saying one thing and doing another. That being the case, it is important to understand what a candidate believes as it will serve as an intrical part of their decision making process as a national leader.

Our campaign process needs to include the discussion of what the candidates believe and how that will affect their choices as president. Only then will we truly be able to make an informed decision for president.

  • 17.
  • At 06:21 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • M. D'Avanzo wrote:

There is entirely too much religion in American politics. Completely separate from whether or not they are a decent, ethical human being, a candidate can barely hope to elected to any significant office without professing (hypocritically for the most part) how important a role religion plays in their lives and throwing the word "God" into an answer at least twice per debate rather than appealing to us rationally and by virtue of sound, just policies.

  • 18.
  • At 07:00 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Patrick Reay Jehu wrote:

I see no evidence for atheists being ethically superior or inferior to religious believers.

That American candidates need to have some religious belief, no matter what, just demonstrates that proclaimed relgiosity is just a sham to get elected, and the US public, if they really believe this, merely show that they are not really interested in an individual candidates ethical or moral views. They just have to showily pretend they are religious. The American public thus shows too that they are hypocritically flaky on religion and ethics.

I am an atheist, (in England, so I don't need to cover it up),who in Richard Dawkin's words, believes in one god less than monotheists.

  • 19.
  • At 07:36 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Jame wrote:

To #12 Andrea:
I totally agree with you about how "it ends where censorship begins".

  • 20.
  • At 07:47 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Maria Amadei Ashot wrote:

I, too, met some Mormons a few years back that I could not help but like... A few years later, after doing business with them, my opinion was quite the opposite from my first impression. Granted, one case can never be used as conclusive evidence of anything. But the gentleman I dealt with, and later found to be less than what he had seemed at first, was a Bishop in their community, a man of learning, a 'role model.' What I find most difficult about Mormons are two aspects of their belief system: (1) the separation of the human race into 'us' and 'them' -- into those who are the Elect, and the ones who are LESS than they are. Two sets of rules apply: one for dealing with your 'own' kind; one for dealing with 'gentiles.' I needn't elaborate why I find that both offensive and primitive, to the point of being incompatible with leading a world power in a difficult age. (2) The view that women are to be governed by their men. While most Mormons no longer practice polygamy, they still feel comfortable enough about it to be particularly cozy with polygamous societies, and to 'understand' why they endorse this practice. Yet, polygamy undeniably places each woman at a disadvantage with respect to her 'lord & master'; furthermore, it tends to produce much higher rates of reproduction, which is simply not good for the planet. But even in the post-polygamous LDS community, females are still pushed if not forced into marriage at an early age; instructed to obey; instructed to preserve the patriarchy; instructed to have many children, setting aside personal goals. Furthermore, marriages are often put together by elders, not by free & unconstrained young people who love each other. Mitt Romney cannot deny that there is a higher rate of interbreeding within the Mormon community, and a higher rate of disability, because of young girls being driven to marry first cousins, uncles, step-relations -- anyone the leadership feels they ought. These two elements make Mormonism very difficult to support in the 21st century. A Mormon President would be bound by Mormon practice to continue to 'tithe' -- meaning to give 10% of his all (money, time, contacts) to the LDS. That would mean many Mormon appointments, taking their peculiar -- and fundamentally unjust -- doctrine into areas of national influence such as they have never yet attained. They already shape education, the courts, the media, commerce in the regions where they live. Do you really want to give them the chance to reshape the American schoolroom, legal system, journalism, policy institutions, financial mechanisms, the tax code? The gains made by women over the past generation have not been so great they couldn't be lost again. Try watching Pleasantville -- it's like that: charming, for about 2 hours.

  • 21.
  • At 07:47 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • DLPoff wrote:

What religion a candidate professes is between that person and their deity. No one need be involved.

What the candidate should do, however, is keep that religion to themselves. Religion has no place in public life, and frankly, I tend to vote the person who mentions it the LEAST often.

  • 22.
  • At 08:02 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

If Romney was running for the Democratic party's nomination then there wouldn't be a problem. In the general election, Romney's faith more than likely won't be a problem. Yet, one of the biggest constituencies of the Republican party (if not the biggest), are conservative, evangelical christians. This group does not see Mormons as Christians and does not support any non-Christian faith. For instance, when the muslim congressman swore his oath of office on a Koran rather than a Bible, it was evangelical christians who denounced the act. If Romney can get past the primaries then his Mormonism won't matter much in the election. However, getting past the primaries without the support of the Religious Right will be a major, if not insurmountable, challenge.

  • 23.
  • At 08:07 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • George Victor wrote:

From a resident of Canuckistan with relatives in the U S of A, and some travel time there, it's clear that anyone wanting to get elected should hew to the Christian line. Have tried to understand the good book over the years myself.

That sermon in Matthew, or James brief work, and Ecclesiastes in the Old historical books, speak of wisdom. But they are works shunned by the folk who want only a God for themselves.

And can someone tell me just which social institutions have taken "the church(es)" from the healthy, skeptical position of the late 1700s (following the universal witch-dunking/burning of the previous century) to the frightening, rapture-obsessed spectre of today?

As for Mormons, don't ask your well-dressed young proselytizer at the door what he (somehow it's always a he) thinks of Mark Twain's account of the mountain meadow massacre.

History, for all these folk, is frightfully foreshortened.

George Victor

  • 24.
  • At 08:14 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Mat wrote:

Which is more ridiculous: That Joseph Smith received golden plates from the angel Morini, that Jesus came back from the dead, or that Mohammad rode to heaven on a winged horse? Any public admission by candidates of belief in any of this nonsense should automatically disqualify him or her from becoming the next leader of the free world. How about we vote for a rational free-thinker who acknowledges evolution and global warming instead of someone who will believe just anything you tell them?

  • 25.
  • At 08:17 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Shaun Hansen wrote:

Should Romney teach the American about Mormonism? No. If anyone wants to learn about Mormonism- ask the Church- go to their website- lds.org

On the other hand, should Romney discuss the influence of his faith in his life? Absolutely. The product of his faith, he says, is his happy family. Is this true? Does Mormonism produce happy families? See the statistics:

https://www.adherents.com/largecom/lds_dem.html

  • 26.
  • At 09:08 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Curly Surmudgeon wrote:

The issue isn't "what religion" a president has but that they are religious at all.

We've seen the disasters of theocracies in Iran and Washington, can we not learn from our mistakes? It distresses me to see candidates groveling to non-existant superstitious icons for reporters and speaking of how humble they are while basking in the limelight of corrupting influences.

The brilliance of our founders is cast in the Constitution, a seperation of Church and State. Let us not repeat the errrors of others and learn from history.

Mitt Romney is a greater danger to our liberty than George Bush as been.

  • 27.
  • At 09:53 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • elbeau wrote:

What "Maria Amadei" (post #20) wrote is pretty much wrong in it's entirety. This is a political blog so I'm not going to get into it with her...but here's one tidbit:

I grew up Mormon in Farmington, Utah (population about 97% Mormon). I served a Mormon mission for 2 years. I've attended Mormon church every Sunday my whole life...and as far as I know, I have NEVER met a polygamist!!!

People just don't get it. They will believe ANYTHING about us. Growing up Mormon you get used to it...but seeing how many Americans would use this crap against a Mormon candidate is very disheartening.

  • 28.
  • At 10:39 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • Aaron Clausen wrote:

I don't agree at all that Romney is any greater risk. He has, in the past, played down his religious convictions, but because everyone else in the US is completely obsessed with religion, he is forced both to talk about his faith and try to tow the fundementalist line that the GOP has come to expect from its candidates. Even Guilani is going out there, despite his pro-abortion and pro-gray stances, and make sweet media love to individuals who would just as soon, tie rocks to his feet and dump in his beloved Hudson River.

What Americans on all sides of these questions should realize is that by emphasizing religion among the candidates, they are creating a situation where all the candidates are forced to dress themselves in false colors. This unnuanced, one-dimensional view of faith is absurd and does a disservice to the candidates and the American people. The debate is so poisoned that we really can't believe anything any of the candidates say.

  • 29.
  • At 11:22 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • John Drexel wrote:

Justin Webb confesses (if I may use that religiously charged word): "I have no particular sympathy for religion..." There, in a nutshell of his own making, lies the hollowness at the heart of his thinking. He has no "sympathy" for religion of any kind; therefore, why should his readers take his tendentious and frequently offensive pronouncements on the subject with anything more than the proverbial grain of salt? It's all of a piece with what we have come to expect from our aggressively secular friends at the BBC. As for Governor Romney: I'll confess that I have no "particular sympathy" for Mormonism, but I do respect Governor Romney's adherence to a faith that he understands better than I do. Any decision I make about whether to vote for Romney or not won't be adversely affected by the particular faith he holds and practices, however peculiar it might seem to Mr. Webb and his associates.

  • 30.
  • At 12:16 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • JLF wrote:

Maria Amadei Ashot
Bad examples exist all over. The LDS church is no different. What you say you observed is not typical and not in keeping with church doctrine or practice. We have our share of rogues, scalawags malcontents and brigands. We have people for whom the only good thing we can say is they are a good example of what not to become. And we excommunicate some too. Including bishops. But the overwhelming number of members are good examples and good neighbors and citizens. I am deeply sorry you found one who was not.

  • 31.
  • At 12:17 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Tracy wrote:

From reading many of the above posts, I think it is abundently clear why Romney would choose to avoid discussing his religious beliefs. A person's personal beliefs are just that, personal. Why should he open up that which is most sacred to him to be distorted and lied about by people like Maria Amadei or Mat as seen above. Mormons have had a difficult past in the United States and in the UK for that matter. They were driven from three states and eventually from the U.S. altogther. Their homes were burned and their religious leaders martyred. Thousands died as they made their escape from Illinois across a frozen Mississippi river. As a member of the LDS church, I read the rhetoric above and can't help but cringe. Perhaps Romney has some good reasons for being reserved about his religious beliefs.

  • 32.
  • At 12:29 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • tarwig wrote:

The current President is a man of faith and a complete dissaster.

Bush said God told him to invade Iraq. I guess God messed up badly.

This governmnet of faith lied to the people to start an illegal war that continues to cause real pain and suffering. Did God tell Bush to lie?

Who's ultimatly responcible for this trajedy?

Am I concerned which religion the president follows?

I don't want any president who relies on whispers from "God" to determine policy.

That kind of bahavior has NO place in government.

A great many of us live in the real world. We want leaders who live there too.


  • 33.
  • At 12:40 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Maria wrote:

Currently, I am a non-practicing Mormon. My issues with the religion go beyond the faith itself and are not necessarily because of the religion. Regardless of my decision to leave the church, I have never made fun of/criticised my ex-faith nor the people - Mormons are really nice and extremely generous people. However, any time that I have had to delved into the theological of the religion, I have not only confused many of my highly rational friends, but received extremely harsh criticism because people are not as open minded about a religion that goes beyond the basic standards accepted in society. I think it would be very wise for Mitt Romney to perhaps clarify/debunk the myths, but I don't think we need Mormonism 101 because it'll take more than that to portray a clear picture.

Seperation of church and state is the way to go.

GO ROMNEY!!!!!!!

  • 35.
  • At 01:44 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Jame wrote:

To#16 Kyle,
Thanks for the correction. It wasn't until an 2 hours ago that I realized how horribly wrong what I wrote was. (in reference to the constitution)
What I should have written in response to #3Alexander Heijnen, was what you said. In all honesty I did have to read the a fair portion of the constitution for one class as well as review Jefferson's Deist writings for another class.
Sorry to spout wrong info.

  • 36.
  • At 03:05 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

"Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer ("Into Thin Air") discusses the "us and them" perception (God's chosen people 'peculiar unto him' vs. 'gentiles' = all non-Mormons), and the number of schisms and sects that arose from direct revelation being central to the Mormon religion.

The main LDS church has adapted to become more and more mainstream, accepting minority members, banning polygamy, while maintaining some anachronisms described in earlier posts.

The range of all LDS sects is a spectrum that goes as far as a number of polygamous settlements in the southwest USA. The secondary role of women is apparent over most of that spectrum, even to the point of violating state and US federal laws at the polygamous, forced-child-marriage settlements recently in the news in Arizona and Utah.

Individually, mainstream Mormons are by and large some of the nicest and most honest people I know. I like best those who gained a little worldliness from their missions, enough to make them more open to 'gentiles', but who also hold to the probity and work ethic that are a strong part of LDS tradition. These people tend to overcome any 'us and them' mentality and are a pleasure to know and work with.

While the mainstream LDS church leadership distances itself from the fringes, there seem to be many less wordly members who sympathize with behaviors outside the mainstream, and who still have an antagonistic and divisive view of government, in opposition to 'E Pluribus Unum'... I would not want to see a lot of the anti-government fundamentalist-sympathizers in political appointments.

Many other US Christian denominations or sects also range into patriarchal views and have supported prejudice or fought science, and also worry me as a voter today - but polygamy (announced by Joseph Smith after he practiced it in secret, as a special revelation that caused one of the first schisms in the Mormom church) and the literally combative relationship between early Mormons and 'gentiles' are two of the special legacies that can take LDS fringes even further from support of mainstream liberty and civil rights in America.

No matter who is elected, we need a President who reads the Constitution and Bill of Rights at work and reads scripture after work.

  • 37.
  • At 03:26 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

You say, "Much more important, their hearts are often in the right place. They are good to their kids and thoughtful about the world. Not bad starting qualities for a president." The problem is that Governor Romney is not 'thoughtful about the world' as so many of his co-religionist may be.

This is the same man who wishes to "double Guantanamo", who supports the war in Iraq, who encourages the adoption of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' and who considers nuclear strikes against Iran a 'viable option'.

A Romney-led govermment would make the Bush administration look 'thoughful about the world.

  • 38.
  • At 04:57 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • A wrote:

I am a descendant of both Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. My mother's family came across the continent from Nauvoo with Brigham Young and were some of the first settlers of Utah. My mother and 90% of my family are from eastern Idaho where Mormons are dominant. Would I vote for a Mormon? No.
I am not a Mormon. Living in the west and being from a formerly Mormon family, I have gained a distrust of Mormon politics as well as a distrust of anyone of strong religious faith. My grandmother, who left the Mormon church, once said "A single Mormon is the nicest person you will ever meet. But in a group, they are the devil."
Mormons have a very strong group mentality which prohibits people from being different and promotes a strong uniformity.
I also cannot support anyone who supports the Book of Mormon which is so blatantly historically false to any educated person who reads it.
I know my post is a bit all over the place, but I feel very strongly about the issue. Our nation is being destroyed by religion and even though Mitt Romney may be a good man, I cannot trust anyone who belongs to both the Republican Party and a religion from which so much of my family has felt so much pain.

  • 39.
  • At 05:13 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • sm wrote:

well since it is now about romney ppl seem to have a milder take on the topic. when it was about obama i thought most of the comments that came here had a tough take bcos of his colour and relegion that his parents belong to....i dontunderstand this

  • 40.
  • At 05:59 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Addie Elizabeth wrote:

Maria Amadei Ashot makes me laugh! Growing up Mormon I have never met a polygamist, and if I ever did I would report them in hopes they would be arrested! In regards to the intermarriage thing GROSS!! I’m not even going to go there. You can’t be serious, can you? By the way, I have my own marketing business in Charlotte, one of my sisters is a CPA working in New York, and her twin is a Dr. in Oklahoma. Does this sound like we are “suppressing personal goals” to you? Oh Maria, it would be good for you to get some facts straight before you say these ridicules things. Every talk I’ve heard in church recommends that woman “get all the education we can.” Another fact you might like to know is that each year more female students are admitted to BYU then male. Maybe it’s time for you to go back to school? I’m so tired of having to defend my religion. This is a political election we are talking about here. If you want to slam the Mormons, go to another board that bashes religions, I’m sure there are plenty of them.

  • 41.
  • At 06:52 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Kyle, you wrote, in part:

"... religion is mentioned nowhere in the actual Constitution. ... The only mention of religion is in the First Amendment...."

The First Amendment is *part* of the actual Constitution. Perhaps you meant to say "the *original* Constitution before the Bill of Rights was adopted", but what's the point of basing an argument on disregarding an amendment that has been in effect for over 200 years?

In any case, you're wrong even about that. The passage relevant to this topic is in Article VI, section 3, of the *original* Constitution:

"... no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • 42.
  • At 06:57 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Steven Quinlan wrote:

I've always been bitterly dissapointed that a secular candidate who is otherwise a perfectly wholesome man or woman, with good family values, a keen sense of that unique quality of 'american' and a fine understanding of both domestic and international politics, wouldn't even be able to clear the first hurdle because of his lack of faith.

This ridiculous notion that you can't be a good man and a moral leader without piety belongs in the dark ages.

  • 43.
  • At 10:28 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Melli wrote:

In a previous post, Curly Surmudgeon wrote:

The issue isn't "what religion" a president has but that they are religious at all.

Curly almost gets it right. The core of this issue isn't so much what relgion a president (or any public leader, for that matter) adheres to, but to what degree their personal beliefs affect public policymaking. A politician's job is fair representation. That entails the ability to represent a wide variety of religious backgrounds. Any candidate who cannot check their religion and other personal preferences at the door in order to make decisions that represent all of us has no business in the political arena. Let's quit putting personal issues on centerstage and get back to the issues that matter: economy, energy, education, etc.

  • 44.
  • At 10:32 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Luke Fochler wrote:

Elbeau missed the main point of what Maria Amadei was saying - women in the LDS church are generally restricted to being mothers, and desire to have a career outside of the house is discouraged. I can only imagine that the LDS facebook groups are representative of the LDS church (at least surrounding the Provo area) and it seems discouraging that the topics on the discussion forum most frequented by women are modest swimwear, what sort of man is suitable to marry, as well as how to make their future spouses happy. Of course, one can go on about how men and women have different roles, but when you get down to it, the women in the LDS church are clearly in a subservient role.

  • 45.
  • At 11:33 AM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

I think most of the Americans tend to vote according to the christians political ideas from the Politicians proposal, otherwise why would had Bush became for the second time President of the United States, but the positive thing is that there are still some States with a free mind opiniòn to choose who to vote for.

  • 46.
  • At 12:11 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Wendy wrote:

I think the Founding Father's WERE God fearing men, they believed in God. What they didn't believe in or appreciate was the way Christianity at the time defined the nature of God. I think they could not bring themselves to accept the tenets of the time. European Christianity had been cruel and they new first hand the effects of doctrines of men mingled with scripture. I know many people today that cannot abide organized religion because when they read the Bible, what they read is not what is being preached from the pulpit. I don't think the founding fathers turned from God at all....I believe they turned from the forms of Christianity on the earth at the time in which they lived.

There is not space to reference everything about the Founding Father's and Presidents but I give a few examples:

Excerpt from: Mark A Noll, "The Ambiguous Religion of President Abraham Lincoln"

"Considerable uncertainty arises... when Lincoln's own religion is examined... it is obvious that Christianity exerted a profound influence on his life. His father was a member of Regular Baptist churches in Kentucky and Indiana. Lincoln himself read the Bible throughout his life, quoted from it extensively... during his years as president he did regularly attend the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington. On the other hand, Lincoln never joined a church nor ever made a clear profession of standard Christian beliefs... Lincoln's friend Jesse Fell [suggested that Lincoln's views on Christian theology] were not orthodox... It is probable that Lincoln was turned against organized Christianity by his experiences as a young man in New Salem, Illinois, where excessive emotion and bitter sectarian quarrels marked yearly camp meetings and the ministry of traveling preachers. Yet although Lincoln was not a church member, he did ponder the eternal significance of his own circumstances..."
www.adherents.com/people/pl/Abraham_Lincoln.ht


"They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion."

-Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800


"The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills."

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814


On 15 June 1775, when Colonel George Washington was elected General and Commander in Chief of the Army of the United Colonies, he had been for many years an active vestryman and respected leader in his church. However, during the turbulent days surrounding the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, there is little recorded evidence of Washington's making reference to religion other than in a letter to his wife written eight days after he became Commander in Chief in which he said, " I go trusting in that Providence which has been more bountiful to me than I deserve. . ."8

In his speech accepting the appointment of Commander in Chief of the Army, Washington made no reference to God. But soon thereafter, on 5 August 1775, the matter of prayers and church services appears in the general orders issued from Cambridge. These orders directed that "the Church be cleared tomorrow and the Revd. Mr. Doyles will perform Divine Service therein at ten o clock."9

"Not only was George Washington a man of religion, he was one who respected the religion of different faith groups. His magnanimity, even toward the enemy, was manifest during the early part of the Revolutionary War when he ordered Colonel Benedict Arnold to take command of a detachment of the Continental Army and move against Catholic Quebec. The first article of the instructions reads:

You are immediately, on their march from Cambridge, to take command of the detachment of the Continental Army against Quebec and use all possible expedition as the winter season is now advancing and the success of this enterprise, under God, depends wholly upon the spirit with which it is pushed.10

And the 14th instruction reads:

As the contempt of the religion of a country by ridiculing any of its ceremonies, or affronting its ministers or votaries, has been deeply resented, you are to be particularly careful to restrain every officer and soldier from such imprudence and folly, and to punish every instance of it. On the other hand, as far as lies in your power, you are to protect and support the free exercise of the religion of the country, and the undisturbed enjoyment of the rights of conscience in religious matters, with your utmost influence and authority."11
The Religion of George Washington
a Bicentennial report

Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Edwin S. Davis

https://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1976/jul-aug/edavis.html


Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams, and many more were men of faith, honor and devotion to God and Country.

As in times past; there are many great men and women on the earth today that are saddened by the way that Christian Sects of this time interpret God and his word, the Bible.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • 47.
  • At 12:45 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Janet Kreger wrote:

Justin,

Very few people in the U.S. really practice religion, in the religous sense. Please lay off this topic for two reasons: (1) it's divisive; (2) it gets you nowhere and doesn't really explain where Americans are coming from.

  • 48.
  • At 12:49 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

The more way out the guy's religious views, the less I want him running the country. And Romney is out there. On the other hand Bush is a fundamentalist Christian and look at how he has botched the job. Maybe we need a guy in the Twilight Zone.

  • 49.
  • At 01:10 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • John Kecsmar wrote:

The Americans may not care what faith their president has, so long as he has some faith...hmmmm.
Well, the 5th amendment clearly emphasizes the separation of church and state, in the separation of powers, for a "democratic society". T.Jefferson coigned this phrase in 1802, to prevent one religion being dominated or "endorsed" by the state.
Yet GWBush has refused stem cell research, because it is "morally" wrong, tries to change the constitution, because marriage is between a man and a woman only, says that "FREEDOM" is a right given by the all-mighty himself.
Americans may love his faith-based presidency, but it clearly polarises the radicals in the rest of the world and makes the "War on Terrorism" about religion, which is exactly what GWBush has done.
So, before they say it doesn't matter, the question really should be will the next president keep those thoughts and faith to him/herself or try to convert the world, rather like the British crusade did and failed.
Oh yeah...and maintain the separation of powers to be truely democrate!
Just imagine if Mitt said that marriage is only possible between church memebers to ascend to heaven.....just as it does, to be a true mormon. Would the whole US suddenly convert???

  • 50.
  • At 01:15 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Dan Fromm wrote:

It is dangerous to generalize about believers, because each, like the rest of us, is a unique individual. That said, I've worked with a number of Mormons who have collectively left a bad impression. They all, perhaps because of the requirement that they go on mission, present themselves better than most of the people I've encountered. What's unfortunate is that their surface polish often, not always, hides what I see as a lack of integrity and ability. They've all seemed to be salesmen who believe their sales pitches but have no idea whether the pitches are honest. Faith, like sincerity, is dangerous.

Even worse, my view of Mormons has been warped, and for the worse, by one that we hired. He preferentially hired more Mormons, nearly all of them incapable. I view our first mistake as a rogue, can't tell whether his religion has anything to do with it. But his hiring preferences were clearly tied to his religion. So now I tend to distrust every Mormon I encounter until it is proven trustworthy. Several times burnt, extremely shy.

Which brings us to candidate Romney. Another salesman, at the moment searching for a sales pitch that will work. I don't see his floundering as growth or as an honest response to new information, but as evidence of inner emptiness. I can't tell whether this is a defect of the man or a consequence of the faith he claims to hold.

i think the fact that this is even on the web and that so many people are commenting on it points to the conclusion that americans still care very much about what faith their president is. i live abroad and most people show great respect for the presidentiary hopefuls but are absolutely mum on their religious beliefs. i have found that generally this is because they do not care. citing JFK, Lieberman, and some (what i think are troubling) statistics about the religious make-up of our congress only further proves the point. Americans want someone like them. end of story.

  • 52.
  • At 01:47 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Heidi wrote:

Luke,

Does your Mother know about your opinion of her role?

  • 53.
  • At 02:05 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • K. Tyson wrote:

Everyone I know of thinks Mormonism (with its belief that men can become G-ods and start their own universe) is a cult.

I dont know of anyone who is willing to vote for a Mormon.

  • 54.
  • At 02:39 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Rick McDaniel wrote:

In the end, there is a great deal of religious conflict in the US, despite our espousal of religious freedom, with a good deal of friction, violence, and intolerance associated with that conflict.

Moreover, the US was built on religious misfits from Europe, who tended to have extremist views. (Thus the Salem witch trials, etc.)

Do not look for a great deal of religious tolerance in the US.......it is entirely a fantasy.

  • 55.
  • At 03:10 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Elbeau wrote:

Being a Mormon man, Greg won't believe me no matter what I say, so please refer to "Addie Elizabeth"'s comments instead.

You really need to get out more and meet some actual Mormons.

  • 56.
  • At 04:41 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • daveescaped wrote:

I think the author and several that made comments below qare mistaken on two accounts. 1.) That the voting public does not care what faith a person professes. A rudimentary knowledge of American politics would show this to be false. It isn't coincidence that we have only allowed one non-protestant to lead the country. Comments to the contrary regarding congressman have little to do with the office of President. It is perhaps true that a slim majority of Americans do not care what faith a candidate profeses. But there is a sizable minority who hold to ignorant prejudices and bias. And importantly for Romney, many of those voters are Republicans.

2.) That Romney should speak out about his faith in an explanatory and open manner (a thoroughgoing discussion of his faith" as the author put it). This is also, I believe, mistaken. Take a moment and consider what the result would have been if John Kennedy had made a speech wherein he declared, "let me explain communion. It's a bit like what Protestants do except that by the power of transsubstantiation, I am able to directly eat of the blood and flesh of Christ". Would this have allowed for better understanding of catholics? Would this kind of talk endeared voter to Kennedy? Or would they have made for the exits?

Romney can (and perhaps should) offer to speak to Americans about what it means to be a Mormon. He should describe his upbringing where he was taught to respect other faiths and help the poor and needy. Where Christmas was a joyous occassion in his home. Where he was taught moral principles from the Bible. These uniting concepts will perhaps endear some to him and his cause. Those that are still critics, after such a speech, will not be won over. But to delve into doctrines in a country that flocks to preaching light on doctrine and strong on a positive, uplifting messages, would be to seriously misjudge the tolerance of a nation that has selected one member of another faith (a none of a differnt sex or race)in 200 plus years of leaders.

As a fellow Mormon, I wish it weren't so, but thems the facts.

  • 57.
  • At 04:50 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • daveescaped wrote:

Luke Fochler - To your point that women in the LDS faith are subservient to men. I can only speak for myslef and those I associate with within the LDS faith. In our home, my wife and I both hold masters degrees. We waited to have children while she completed her education. we also waited while she worked at a fortune 500 company in an important position. Then, after condsidering the matter only among oursleves and God, we chose to start a family. She then chose to stay at home with our son. I have offered to make whatever changes we might need to allow her to return to work or do whatever she may choose. All of this time we have not received ONE WORD ofcriticism from peers or church leaders. We got the complaints typical of a mother-in-law waiting on grandkids but not even much of that. In our peer group we have other couple-friends that are both working and many waiting on children. In my experience, LDS women have the greatest amount of choices available to them. They are supported in a typical desire to be stay at home Moms. They are also strongly encouraged to get an education. As a man, I have some jealously as I leave for work living in a society that would rarely ecept a man staying home with children. So who is so subservient here? Please tell me.

  • 58.
  • At 05:28 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

a number of people have cited the idea of "Separation of Church and State" in the Constitution, but so many people don't seem to know how it works.

first of all, that phrase is NOT mentioned anywhere in the constitution itself. or any legal document from the time period that I am aware of.

The first Amendment pretty much explains how church and state are to be separated, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Pretty cut and dry if you ask me, the president and the congressmen, and any other public official can pray and read their religious books to us all day long if they want, they just can not pass any religious laws. either establishing a religion or religious practice. or forbidding a religion or religious practice.

however this is second to any religious practice that inhibits the rights of another person. and this is were people get crazy, thinking it is their right to not hear someone speak if it offends you. Force is the only thing the Constitution is against. and it's just as illegal for a private citizen to force another citizen as it is for a public official to force another citizen.

but there is no separation of church and public officials in the constitution, they can share as much or as little of their faith as they feel like, as long as no one is being religiously strong-armed, or made a criminal for lack of adherence

  • 59.
  • At 06:20 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Sally wrote:

I would hope that the American People would look at a person's ability to run a country rather than their religion. I agree with the person that said he does not need to give a talk about his religion because he is running as a person not a religion. However, I would hope that those who think his religion is "weird" would do some research on their own. It's always good to research something at the direct source and not through sites that are theory or rumor. I would suggest www.lds.org and www. mormon.org These are official sites for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

  • 60.
  • At 07:49 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • RS wrote:

The only faith a president need declare is their faith that the American people are big enough to handle their own religious matters *privately*.

I'll vote for whoever says that. Really.

  • 61.
  • At 07:55 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Superhuman Sight wrote:

americans don't get the issues so they look for someone from their church to handle the issues with divine inspiration. they'd think an athiest would not align with their own views on future and yet-unknown issues. the closer the candidate is to their own faith the better. they will not want to admit this though, because they need to act humbly and be accepting of all to go to Heaven. which is basically another act- much like kids being good for Santa.

  • 62.
  • At 08:53 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • Ed Feeney, USA wrote:

I assure you sir, you are giving Mr Rove and the evangelicals way to much credit in the Open-minded and Tolerant dept. These groups have no intention of excepting a QUACK religion. Its just been very recent since they started tolerating Catholicism and Judaism. The GOP camps will easily whip them into a frenzy against Mit Romney and his Mormonism. Theres millions of these zealots who aren't gonna accept anything but their own firebrand of religion. Other than these FANATICS I don't believe it will make much difference to the rest of the Country.

  • 63.
  • At 11:26 PM on 20 Nov 2007,
  • john braddock wrote:

This post is about faith - yet I've not seen anything about faith in people -just lines and lines of theology and pro's and con's of various denominations . Where are the words about the poor; the underfed children; uneducated young; those millions of Americans with little or no health care - what was it? 'Send me your poor huddled masses' ( being British I may have misquoted) but very little seems to have been done for them.We have just rid ourselves of a Prime Minister who made no secret of his religious leaning - and it was difficult for the political system to function properly because of fear of being labelled an unbeliever, it also affected his policies both at home and abroad . Since his departure it is as if a weight has been lifted from the government - there is a much freer system in place now and opinions can be stated without fear of the thought police intervening . I think the British people have learnt the lesson and will not be so eager to elect a leader who lets his faith affect his judgement.

  • 64.
  • At 12:06 AM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • Eric wrote:

The only politician I would trust not to favor any religion or religious policy over any other, would be an atheist.

Only someone without religious involvements of any sort could really be counted upon to represent them all fairly (or none of them unfairly).

Sadly, I think people in America would rather vote for a Satanist or Santa Clausist than an Atheist, since what most people say is that it isn't your brand of faith that matters as much as simply having one.

  • 65.
  • At 01:15 AM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • steve wrote:

Religion is important in every election all over the world. Imagine if an evangelical christian ran for office in humanist Europe! Would his religion become a factor in the election? Many posts have commented that it is the person who is running for election. This is true, but how do you judge the person? A persons' religion is a factor, as much as his war record, his marriage record and his ethical record (his or hers actually!). Romney must be careful discussing his faith, not because people will find it silly ( in america a silly religion can be a plus!) but because the issues that devide Christianity and Mormanism are huge. The issues revolve around the very nature of God. In truth the evangelical christians have more in common with Jews, Muslims and Jehovahs Witnesses than they do with Mormons. Like some have said here, do research, make a list of the fundamental differences between the Christian religion and the Mormon religion and you will see the hurdles that Romney must overcome. Can Romney get the evangelical vote? Sure! as some have noted they voted for Bush, who is not a strong Christian and a liberal Methodist as well! They also voted for a divorced hollywood actor who who avoided church religiously, named Reagan. Though honestly Romney would have a better chance running as a moderate democrat, he might have got the diversity vote!

  • 66.
  • At 01:58 AM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

transformative? I thought you didn't know what that word meant.

  • 67.
  • At 11:34 AM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • Maria Amadei Ashot wrote:

"Encouraging" women to get an education, and "allowing" them to work, or have a business, or stay at home, is not the same as recognising their individual sovereignty as adults over their lives, associates and pursuits. When an adult male in a position of authority suggests that a woman may choose to do this or choose to do that, he is not empowering her to be free. Freedom is intrinsic; it is inherent and inalienable (as the Declaration of Independence accurately reflects). As soon as we are born into this world, we are free. Parents may only exercise the necessary nurturing care and protection over their offspring that allows these to mature to adulthood. If a man comes to an adult woman and asks her: "What will please you most?" he is recognising her equality and freedom. If a man, or parents, or siblings, or teachers, or clergy come to an adult woman and say: "Let's talk about what you should do," or "What's the best way to use your time," or variations on those themes, that is NOT evidence of her freedom: it is subtle but overt influence, an attempt to steer the subject into an "acceptable" decision. Maybe someone's Fortune 500 wife would rather have been an actress or a dancer or a horse wrangler or a stuntwoman? How free are our daughters, really? How tolerant are the LDS brethren of women who enter into lesbian unions, or prefer not to marry at all? Why does the mainstream LDS community feel it is correct to 'baptise by proxy' people who have died in other religions, or in no religion, who are not there to express their consent? Why are there so few Mormon families with only one child, or no children at all? Why are there so many Mormon families with severely disabled children from cousin marriages? Why would a Mormon judge deny me justice on the basis that another Mormon denounced my ethnicity as being 'suspect', clearly making a distinction against me on the grounds that I am not a Mormon? Why would they have done this after I had contributed a great deal of money, not to mention free services, to improving their own commercial enterprises? Why would they basically drive out of business someone who had helped them build up their own? And yes, to all the decent Mormons out there, I have nothing against you. I don't know Mr Romney: maybe he's a good man. But I have yet to meet a Mormon who has done more for my bottom line than I have for his. If I ever do, maybe my opinion of them will change. Still, I have to tell you, as a woman raised in a rather conservative religious tradition: NO ONE who denies the right of a female person to have exactly the same kind of autonomy & freedom of operation that she would enjoy were she born male deserves to hold office in any country in the world. And NO ONE (including my own parents) who ever implies or implied to their offspring that 'it is time for them to marry,' or that 'they should look around and find someone suitable,' or that 'here's someone for you' -- or, conversely, that the person you have chosen to love is a poor choice -- is in fact being charitable, godly, righteous, well-meaning, or kind. Suggesting that two people who have not both consensually made the decision of their own accord, in an informed way, without outside influence, ought to hitch their wagons together and share a bed and procreate is about the worst kind of abominable abuse possible -- since those making the suggestion will not be the ones living with the consequences. And when the enlightened Mormons agree, and so stipulate to their congregations, I will be the first to vote for Mr Romney.

  • 68.
  • At 01:08 PM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • Lisa wrote:

In post #8, Jame replies that he just read the sections about separation of church and state in the US Constitution in school.
Jame, what version are you reading? Separation of church and state is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. That reference comes from the personal correspondence of Thomas Jeffereson---who, by the way, did not write the Constitution no matter what your school may be teaching you.
Protection of religion is granted by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, granting freedom of religion from government interference. How in modern times this has been foolishly and contextually flipped on its head to protect government from religion is beyond me.

  • 69.
  • At 06:15 PM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

To Maria in post #21.

I have had business dealings with many Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans and indeed atheists. Without exception, I have been sorely disappointed by at least one member of each respective faith who failed to live up to the tenets of that faith. Mormons are not unusual in their interpretation of what constitutes a fair business deal and human nature often dictates that a fellow Mormon will come out of the deal in better shape than a 'gentile'. However, you make a very silly comparison by painting all Mormons with the same brush. There are good and bad in each religion and casting all Mormons as bad based on one, obviously painful, business deal is illogical and shows pre-justice.

However, it is your additional comments that I find most puzzling and obviously biased against a religion that attempts to help people better themselves by basing their teachings on, what Mormons believe, are the original and unaltered teachings of Jesus Christ. The religion to which Mitt Romney associates himself abandoned plural marriage or polygamy in 1890 and, for the record; members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have followed a monogamous lifestyle for 117 years. Breakaway small, fundamental groups of Mormons, who still practice polygamy, have as much in common with Mitt Romney and his church as they do to you Maria.

It is true that members of the LDS faith believe in a patriarchal society but the women members of the faith are not disadvantaged and are, in fact, held in high esteem by their husbands, fathers and sons. A feminist might find this objectionable, but LDS women find this old fashioned respect to be quite deferential.

Maria, you wrongly state that, “females are still pushed if not forced into marriage at an early age” and your claim that, “marriages are often put together by elders, not by free & unconstrained young people who love each other” is so preposterous that one has to wonder which cave you crawled out of. You obviously have spent little time around Latter-day Saints and seem only to want to push some kind of hidden agenda.

As for your claim that, “young girls being driven to marry first cousins, uncles, step-relations -- anyone the leadership feels they ought” then please go and visit any Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and ask ANY young women which uncle they are going to marry. I am sure that you would laughed out of that church unit. Again, your ideas are ignorant and from the middle ages. If you sincerely believe that in this day of modern communications, (yes! Mormons do watch television and have computers with internet in their homes) that a young women with a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate from BYU is going to put on sackcloth and live in a hut in Southern Utah with her wife beating, second cousin and his other wives then you are very delusional.

Granted, Mormons do tend to have larger families than what is currently accepted in modern Europe, however, to limit population size based on what you perceive is, “simply not good for the planet” smacks more of communist China or even Nazi Germany than an open democratic, free choice society.
I am sure that Mitt is a tithe paying Mormon and you consider that to be a bad thing whilst I consider that any person who is able to run his household (and it appears to be a prosperous household) on ten percent less than the rest of us has to be good for a free-spending, credit-ridden, debt-laden, modern society such as ours.
As for all of those “Mormon appointments”, count the number of influential Mormons around the country and world and you will come up with about TWO – Harry Reid – the Democrat – who is the currently the leader of the Senate and Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health & Human Services . If Mormons are so hell bent on taking over the government then why is it that Senator Reid hasn’t made sweeping changes to assist this Mormon conspiracy. The reality of the US system of government is that there are ‘checks and balances’ to prevent such a coup. However, I will agree that there are many successful Latter-day Saints in the public eye – Steve Young, Donny and Marie, the wife of Larry King, one British MP, three contestants on Dancing with the Stars and Gladys Knight; however I really doubt whether we will see Ambassador Young or Secretary Donny.

  • 70.
  • At 07:35 PM on 21 Nov 2007,
  • Kathy wrote:

As an American who relates mostly to the secular humanist point of view, I am suspicious of any candidate who professes his or her faith. Here are only a few things that Bush's "faith" has forced upon the American public: the Iraq war, threatened civil liberties, road blocks to stem cell research, attempts to teach Creationism in our science classes. I think candidates should keep thier religious ideas to themselves. This is not Tehran!

  • 71.
  • At 05:19 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • David Smith wrote:

Many people, myself included, view all religions as cults historically responsible for much of the death and suffering in the World.

There is no evidence to suggest the existence of a God and a huge amount of evidence implying much of the religious texts are simply false.

In any other context we would label a person who holds views which are clearly wrong, delusional.

Why is a complete disregard of overwhelming evidence a prerequisite for being a leader of the “free world”?

  • 72.
  • At 05:57 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • David Somuah wrote:

It shouldn't matter, but it does. Americans will say over and over that a person's faith doesn't matter, but were a muslim running for president, there is no doubt that his faith will become an issue.

  • 73.
  • At 06:43 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Jame wrote:

To #68Lisa:
I realized my mistake and corrected it in Post#35.
I meant writings I read in a Colonial Deism Unit. I post during class breaks and thereby jumble things on occasion.
To repeat again: Sorry to spout wrong info.
#16 by "Kyle" is a good synopsis of the separation of church and state aspect.

  • 74.
  • At 11:40 AM on 22 Nov 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

I'm glad Senator Reid was mentioned as a reminder that it is really the individual and their character that matters most.

Since he gained the spotlight as majority leader he has impressed me, like his politics or not, as a solid person and an effective advocate for his state and party. His faith did not cross my mind until now, and it never seems to have shadowed his public service.

Knowing much less about Romney makes his faith seem to become more of issue, and easy to follow stepping stones of uncertainty to bias or prejudice...

  • 75.
  • At 01:07 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Surfermandan wrote:

What an interesting read through of comments.

I have been debating the importance of religion with myself since I was about 11.

The funny thing is that its so easy to justify your own religious beliefs and yet no matter how hard you try to make someone with different beliefs see your point it can be an impossible task.

Personally I dont have a problem with any religion but I do object to religion being mixed with politics because like someone said earlier; I live in the real world and decisions must be made about our future survival as a species not about ensuring our continued worship of the latest religion.

  • 76.
  • At 11:54 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Elaine Gilmartin wrote:

Any "religion" that allows you to marry a dead person is, I'm sorry, "wierd." Polygamy is still practiced by fundementalist Mormans...one was recently jailed for it. AND since Mormanism is a very closed community will likely continue to be perceived as whackadoo into eternity.

Having said that, I have no issue with a Morman president if he's a fair president.

  • 77.
  • At 04:05 AM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Jonathan M. wrote:

As someone who joined the 'Mormon' Church in London in 1975, and lives as a agnostic these days in Australia, I find much more worrying the idea that one has to be rich (or have access to very substantial funds) in order to reach the heady heights of potential President of the world's most powerful democracy. True, it also seems one must support the gun lobby, be prepared to pour massive amounts of money into Israel's coffers, AND be (or pretend to be)a devout, bible-believing Christian to stand a chance.

While I retain a very deep affection for the Mormon Church and many of its members, in fairness I would probably not, were I an American voter, find it easy to vote for a devout believer of ANY description.
Too bad there are so many fundamentalist evangelicals out there. That bodes well for Huckabee, but probably bodes ill for the world. Just why these evangelicals think someone holding such beliefs is almost by definition, a better bet than ANY Mormon is merely an example of their own particular naivety or bigotry.

Giuliani is perhaps the best of an unimpressive bunch as Republican candidate, Barak (if I remember the spelling)the best of a similarly unimpressive list of Democratic candidates, in my opinion.

  • 78.
  • At 12:13 AM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Andrea wrote:

Sadly, there seems to be a bias against people who are religious.

Wonder if they realize how intolerant that makes them appear.

  • 79.
  • At 03:08 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Don Kelley wrote:

The sooner that the separation of Church and State become a reality, the better it will be for America and the rest of the World.

Individual religious beliefs have no place in the role of Government.

It is time to focus on policies that affect the real world.

  • 80.
  • At 09:23 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Mary wrote:

Having read through everything, I can honestly say I'm concerned: the good people of Europe apparently believe Santa Claus has an excellent chance of winning the election, (see comment 64) and my own countrymen are sounding off various opinions, even quoting men that, although part of a generation that laid the bedrock for certain policies, have long since been dead (how many Deists do you see trolling about outside a college campus? Personally, I am more interested in debating what is much more recent-I think looking at the past 50 years gives a better analysis for outcome, Mr. Webb.

Honestly, as an American, I do not give a hoot if Romney thinks the Garden of Eden is in Indiana. I don't care if Barak Obama spends a portion of his campaign at a gospel brunch on Sunday or if Giuliani keeps an advent wreath in his office. For all I give, Hillary Clinton can believe in a giant flying unicorn with purple wings and two heads. What I am most concerned about is the bottom line: what is x candidate going to do once he's won it?

This has been what's made the religious kettle boil for American politics for fifty years, going back to Kennedy: for generations a Catholic candidate couldn't get arrested because of some fear of where his loyalties would lie, with a Pope or with the people. Kennedy obviously proved the ability of a man to separate faith with reason, and all of this while being physically very ill and battling with a shoe banging Kruschev. (To this day, he is applauded for it.)

On the flipside, we have Bush: I would never defend this man and quite bluntly many people on this side of the pond are counting the days until he is finally gone. He used the old southern strategy that old paragon of virtue Nixon invented (using religion to bring conservatives to the voting booths in the south) and it's been a dark twisted merry-go-round ever since! He has damaged the reputation of his party and conservative Christians alike, he has the blood of thousands on his hands, and he has now has a Congress that drags its heels on most of his "core issues."

So what does this really mean for Mitt? It means that if he understands that he must BALANCE his faith with the needs and wants of the people the world will be his oyster regardless of denomination. People now more than ever are looking at the bottom line-screw ups will be far too costly. If he understands history he knows that Nixon and probably Bush are never going to be revered for their actions, regardless of a religious base. The fact that he's a Mormon may bring pause, but it is unlikely that it will be insurmountable: there are plenty of men and women on the bench, for example, who are Mormon and seem to preside over cases without impediment. His record as Mass. governor will be of particular interest if he makes it past nomination b/c of a Democratic led Congress (he didn't do very well in a state that is blue as a blueberry) but if he drives his religion into people's skulls it will all but guarantee a Democratic win. This is probably what he is doing now, to lay the groundwork.

As for an atheist winning an election, we can only see: it will be difficult, I will not deny that, especially when most oaths of office are sworn in on a Bible (or Koran, in the case of one US Rep.) It will simply puzzle most Americans why a man doesn't believe in God. (Bear in mind that a much higher percentage of folks around here believe in God, always have.) I have yet to witness outright hostility towards atheists here in New York, but I am certain if one ran for office he'd have to at least explain what he does believe in: fundamentally, like Kennedy did 48 years ago, to guarantee that he won't impose his beliefs on others, be a president who happens to be atheist, not an atheist president.

Although, if I ever do see a President S. Claus in my lifetime, I think it is only fair to wish for the Tooth Fairy to become Prime Minister and a banshee to become Taoseaich.(When do Ahern's and Brown's terms end again ;)?

  • 81.
  • At 03:33 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Angela wrote:

If you ever want to know about Mormonism watch any episode of Big Love. This is why you don't want a Mormon for president. Furthermore any political candidate that mentions religion want get my vote.Oh well, I guess I'll be voting for Homer Simpson.

  • 82.
  • At 03:57 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • g wrote:

South Park is right about all religions..Dumb Dumb Dumb.

  • 83.
  • At 04:41 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Rick wrote:

In reply to post #20. I don't know where you learnt all that stuff about the LDS faith but you are so, so wrong. The man and the women are seen as a team they work together to achieve the same goals. They just have different jobs. Womanhood is very highly respected by our faith. And as for arranged marriages. I don't know where you got that from but it is utter rubbish. I am a convert to the church and live in the heart of LDS country and I can tell you that there are no such things as arranged marriages! It amazes me the things that people profess to know about our religion and how off the mark they are. I suggest you to LDS.org and get your facts straight.

  • 84.
  • At 04:52 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Chris Kayt wrote:

I once picked up the book of Mormon
in a motel where they are readily
available and read. I found it to
be both very eccentric and very ordinary.

Perhaps written over the course
of the life of a single individual,
it simply cannot stand up to the
spirit and history documented in
the bible over thousands of years.

  • 85.
  • At 06:57 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Maria wrote:

I'm a practicing Mormon living in New York City. I simply cannot understand the value of knocking another's beliefs, or a group of people. How can a self-respecting person proclaim a group of people as "the devil"? It's the 21st century! Chris Kayt, the Book of Mormon, if perceived as valuable, can lead you to enormous insight. Everything is to you as you perceive it to be, a subjective perception. You've chosen to think of it as useless, and so it is to you. I choose to draw inspiration from it, and thus phrases from it like "That which you send out will return to you again" inspire me. My love to all.

  • 86.
  • At 07:26 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

"The respondents (including a very senior member of a mainstream Christian denomination) all thought it was weird, weird, weird."

Christianity, of course, being very logical, sensible, and not at all irrational nonsense.

What hypocrisy!

  • 87.
  • At 07:59 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • David wrote:

How is Mr Romney going to appeal to the Black vote with the Mormon history of discrimination - black people of African origin were not permitted to hold positions of office intil 1973!!!

  • 88.
  • At 09:55 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

An interesting contrast that, apparently, Tony Blair was concerned that his faith would harm his electoral chances while, in the USA, faith seems to be essential for political success. It occurs to me that you could be wasting an awful lot of talented people simply because they don't go to church.

  • 89.
  • At 12:06 AM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • RE James wrote:

This is all about "direct democracy" and Robert Lafollette must be turning over in his grave. The idea of primaries in the first place, was to take power from the poltical bosses and give it to the people. Unfortunatly, the "people" don't vote in primaries, apparently only the lunatic fringe do. This whole debate has nothing to do about Mitt Romney or Mormanism, but has everything to do about Southern Baptists who have the mistaken belief that the United States was created by fundamentalists.

The Puritans collapsed in Massachusetts Bay by 1700 and the Founding Fathers were mostly Deists and token Christians.

These people have to get over it- its the 21st Century, we are a diverse country, most Americans are at best Agnostics, and we did evolve from a lower form of life.

  • 90.
  • At 12:39 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I am an American, and a Christian with some Pelagian values. The fact is that we are a nation of religious freedoms. All faiths are free to worship as they see fit and not be told how or what they should worship, so long as that worship does not impinge on anothers rights.

Mister Romney will most likely not be elected, or even nominated, but he has the right to strive for the top office of this government no matter his faith. I cannot judge him, and I will not. I happen to know about the religion he professes and I find it...well...wierd. But I also find the people compassionate and concerned for the values of the more mainstream Christian faiths. Remember folks, Christianity was once a cult as well.

  • 91.
  • At 10:26 AM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Claire wrote:

Being Christian is one thing, being Mormon is another thing entirely. As a Mormon, Mitt Romney has agreed in a serious commitment to the Mormon church to follow its prophet come what may. To vote Romney is to vote Hinckley and the mormons. And that would be a big mistake.

  • 92.
  • At 11:02 AM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Richard wrote:

I have lived in Salt Lake City nearly all my life. Despite what one person wrote, polygamists are not that hard to find. They ar not uncommon, but prefer to remain under the radar. The state government here (largely mormon of course) tolerates this unless they become highly visible and rock the boat and face prosecution as some have found out. In general, Utah has a live and let live policy towards them - even though their many wives and children sap the welfare system.
That Mitt should decry prejudice is ironic - the mormons here practice it freely. Go for a job interview. It is unlawful to ask your religion, so you will often be asked where you served your mission. Tell them you didn't serve a mission, and you may as well leave. Interview over for all practical purposes. Finished. Kaput.
Many mormons have over the years in fact admitted to me that they did not believe in mormonism. They only adopted it because it is their ticket to that plum job, that great promotion, entry to social circles - in other words, upward mobility.
Many mormons crack under the strain of their religion - and seek relief from tranquilizers or other mood altering drugs - drug use in Utah is very high, check out the stats. While smoking and drinking are taboo for "health" reasons, seeking to meet your maker through gluttiony is not. While you won't find a smoking or drinking mormon bishop, try finding one who is of reasonable weight. Mormon are frequently referred to as "mormon waddlers" because of their obesity. Liposuction the people of Utah, refine the fat and you solve the energy needs of this country.
Molestation here is a favorite sport. I know of one bishop who gave up his "calling" because he could no longer stand to hear the confessions of a father who was molesting his daughter. While by law such events are to be reported, they are often not - best to keep the resulting publicity out of the eye of the public lest they get the "wrong" image.
I once was told by someone who was a relative of the "prophet" that when the prophet was dying, he apologized to this relative for leading him down the wring path - that mormonism was NOT true. Was he telling me the truth? I don't know, but I have no reason to doubt this account and the person himself was deeply disturbed by this confession.
My uncle, a return missionary, once asked a question to a church authority and was told that he should not worry about getting an answer as the question posed has already been considered and he should just accept that and not worry about it.
If you want to see how "little" influence mormons have on politics - come to Utah. They run the liquor industry here. You have to go to a liquor store to buy alcohol. A restaurant can only serve alcohol by getting a license to do so. Movies that are televised across the country have sometimes been blacked out and banned here if they somehow offended the mormon hierarchy.
There is the common belief here among mormons that some day the Constitution will hang by a thread, and (you guessed it) it will be the mormons who come to the rescue and save the country. This belief is not just offensive, it is dangerous. Just WHO is that will decide when the Constitution hangs by a thread, and HOW will the country be saved.
Utah is close to being a theocracy. Think about it. Mitt has wisely refrained from revealling much about mormonism as voters would run the other way. Only the blissfully ignorant could vote for Mitt - or a mormon. Utah has gone for him in a big way. I wish I could say it is because they have decided on Mitt because of his platform, but alas, they are for him only because he is a mormon. Beyond that, his platform makes little difference to them.

  • 93.
  • At 01:45 AM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • John O'Neill wrote:


One of the main reasons the USA is such a great country is its tolerance of all religions.
Guess which country bans any Catholic from ever being its head of state - the United Kingdom.

  • 94.
  • At 12:02 AM on 06 Jan 2008,
  • Craig wrote:

Post 92 is quite correct, except that the obeisity problem is more reflective of the Nation, then it is of Utahns. I was raised a Mormon, and hve lived in Utah almost all my life (48years). I am a Democrat because I cannot tolerate the knee-jerk Republicanism among Mormons.

All this talk about a religious test seems to forget that it only applies to the GOP. Support McCAin and break the Evangelicals' hold on your party.

With regard to Mitt Romney, I don't think his Mormonism would effect his judgement as president, but I don't trust him.

I listen to him, because Utahns are very excited about him, but I cannnot tell you waht he believes politically. He commits to nothing, criticizes everything (Dissing McCain on immigration after telling Tim Russet that McCain's ideas were reasonable)

Please don't post telling me what Mitt's postion is because I can promise you he has had a different one recently, ON ANY SUBJECT. Any republican who complained of Bill Clinton pandering for votes, or John Kerry flip-flopping would be guilty of the most heinous self-denial in supporting Mitt.

(Not that that has ever stopped the GOP)

  • 95.
  • At 10:23 AM on 06 Jan 2008,
  • Bill Robedee wrote:

It seems quite fashionable at present, in the UK in particular, to blame religion for all war, famine, plaugue, etc. "If only atheists were in charge", the fashionable party line goes, "and religion banned from the public arena...then reason and morality would prevail".

Atheism has its own problems, in a small mind it becomes a license to justify any desire however twisted and evil, once in power, history shows, it becomes social darwinism at its worst.

Just one case in point - Lenin and Stalin and their progeny in Eastern Europe. Atheism, when it got its first chance to "run the show", gave us an orgy of blood that would make a crusader, inquisitor, or suicide bomber blush. I think official Atheism may have a body count in excess of 25 million in the 20th century alone.

Maybe we need to step back from our dogmas (including trendy leftie atheist nonsense, most of which is about as rational as mormonism and as well informed as the crowd at a snake handling tent revival), and think, study, listen, and ask hard questions about what kind of world is possible, what we truly value, and what we need to guard against and why.

We must seek the truth in humility, full stop, and go where it leads us, even if it challenges our most closely held beliefs, left or right, atheist or believer. The promise of democracy is that we will truly govern ourselves, lead ouselves, inform ourselves, and that this freedom is the only condition worthy of our human dignity. This is that famous "self evident truth" of Mr. Jefferson. If America can harness the potential inherent in this, then we might be able to accomplish something worthy of note as a civilization again.

  • 96.
  • At 01:51 AM on 25 Jan 2008,
  • Peter wrote:

When anti-mormons complain about "theocracy" in Utah, what they are really whining about is the fact that they can't ban mormons from voting anymore.

I lived a few years in Utah, where I met met plenty of folks like #92 -- brainwashed mormon-haters who spread rumors that they picked up from other mormon-haters.

Salt Lake City is not even majority LDS. And while Utah's liquor laws are absurdly strict, there are other states (Kansas, for instance) with even stricter liquor laws. Historically, Utah's vote made the repeal of Prohibition possible.

I have met some mormons that are as bigoted as #92, but they don't represent the whole group.

  • 97.
  • At 06:42 AM on 27 Jan 2008,
  • Nancy wrote:

Two comments to add to this interesting discussion:
1) I believe that the media has pushed the idea that the "religious right" is a powerful voting block to a much greater extent than is reality. The media has thus create a false fear and subsequent paranoia about religion. Bush has never said that God told him to go to war in Iraq. But In the mind of the media: Bush calls himself a Christian + Bush has started a war in Iraq = Bush claims God has told him to start that war. This is fallacious thinking, but many people believe it.

2) It is true that religious people have caused much war and suffering over the centuries; but atheism has an even worse, track record. Nazi Germany was an atheist regime, and it was the belief in the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest" that led directly to their extermination of millions of people. Many thinking writers predicted, in the early 1900's, that this would be the natural consequence of the "modern" scientific thinking. Then there is Stalin. His atheistic regime out-murdered even the holocaust by nearly 10 to 1. (approx. 40,000,000 people died in the Soviet Union under his rule.) Why is this not taught in our schools?

  • 98.
  • At 09:22 PM on 27 Jan 2008,
  • Andy Lyall wrote:

To suggest, as some do, that Hitler and Stalin were atheists, is false. Hitler pandered to all sorts of christian, semi-christian and pagan beliefs whilst Stalin practised a cult where he was the god (in reality if not in open admission). Both were demagogues of thw orst kind, as was Mao, who was responsible for as many as Stalin, if not more.

Anyway, if you're starting a contest, how many indiginous people died in North and South America, Africa and Asutralia when the Christian colonists took over? Entire civilisations were wiped out forever.

I'm with Darwin and the poster above, one less god that a monotheist and I'd have no chance of getting elected in the US (forgetting that I'm not actually American for a moment). The test of a presidents religion is alive, well but unofficial.

  • 99.
  • At 11:46 PM on 27 Jan 2008,
  • robert webb wrote:

As a latterday saint I feel that Mitt Romney will have little chance of becoming president, because of his beliefs. I have a son who is a Mormon missionary in the West Indies, who has had a wonderful reception from the various islands he has visited. The exception being from other christian faiths, who at times have published anti Mormon leaflets in oposition. I too experienced similar opposition as a missionary in England, and feel that if Mitt gets close to becoming president, then the community of so called christian churches will unite in thier opposition.

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