Tough Questions for Mitt Romney

As most Americans following the political press know, Governor Mitt Romney, the first Mormon popular enough to actually become President in American history, will give a speech today. It is a speech which everyone has compared to a famous speech by John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign. The American electorate, in the general election of 1960, was concerned that Kennedy would take marching orders from the Pope in Rome. Kennedy went far, a bit too far, to assuage their concerns.

I would like Governor Romney to answer a few tough questions.

Let's get rid of all the cheap shots against Mormonism first. I don't want Mitt Romney to disavow polygamy; I don't want him to tell me how happy he is that black people were allowed to become Mormon; I don't want him to defend himself or his religion against old practices which no longer pertain to him or to his religion.

I don't have a problem with the past. My problem with Mormonism concerns the present and the future. While I applaud the religion for having changed from polygamy to monogamy and from race-excluding to race-including, I am primarily concerned with the reasons for the changes. From what I can gather, the 12 leaders of the Mormon Church, called the Apostles, and particularly the eldest Apostle, called the Prophet, continue to give prophecies and hand down new teachings.

But what are the criteria for these monumental decisions? The conventional Christian view is that monogamy and racial equality are mandated by the natural law. In other words, they are consistent with upright reason. Because the Christian view of God is that he is reasonable, his revelation supports and ratifies what is in the natural law. Even God cannot change it. Hence, the New Testament, which represents the fullness of God's revelation for Christians, orders monogamy and racial equality. It supports and ratifies the natural law, but never contradicts it.

But the Mormon position seems to be different. The Mormon God can change the natural law. He can allow polygamy and then ban it. He can decree the inferiority of blacks and then raise them to equality. His judgements, or at least his prophet's judgements, seem arbitrary and not altogether in accordance with reason.

mittHerein lies my concern with Mitt Romney as President of the United States: if, as believing Mormons say, the Prophet and the 11 other Apostles of LDS truly offer inspired prophecy which can be wholly new and which is not subject to scrutiny or reproach from the natural law; and if Mitt Romney is indeed a believing and faithful Mormon and therefore obliged to follow these prophecies; then why should I not be greatly concerned about the future prophecies of the 12 Apostles of the LDS? If their new teachings have the status of prophecy that must be obeyed and adhered to, then, in order to trust a Mormon President of the United States, wouldn't I have to trust the Prophet of the LDS as well?

I happen to agree with the shift to monogamy and the shift to a pan-racial LDS. But unless the LDS's 12 Apostles have some reliable, explicable, rational basis for these changes, then I cannot adjudge any fundamental belief and policy flowing from those beliefs which Mitt Romney might adhere to in the campaign as anything more stable than the prophecies of the LDS. And history shows that these can fundamentally change.

Since such issues as monogamy versus polygamy are fundamental issues for society and leadership in our government, I am unable to support a devout Mormon for President without a detailed explanation of either (a) the rational criteria which underpins these prophecies, or (b) doctrinal grounds allowing for conscientious objection in the event of fundamental changes in the Mormon faith.

I doubt that Mr. Romney will say that the Mormon faith has no serious or effective influence over the hearts and minds of believing Mormons. This cannot be true. Otherwise, the ban on polygamy would never have been made, or, once made, the majority of Mormons would never have followed it. And I hope that he does not say that he has always followed his own conscience and ignored his faith on all matters pertaining to politics and leadership. This I very much doubt, anyway, because Governor Romney has said he is a devout Mormon, and we know that indeed he was a Mormon bishop and stakeholder.

Either Governor Romney is honest, and therefore very serious about his Mormon faith, in which case I need a detailed explanation of why the Prophet and the 11 other Apostles of LDS will not hand down new and binding prophecies while a coreligionist is in the White House, or he is not honest, and therefore will ignore any future prophecies of the LDS. I hope the Governor is honest, and so I hope he will address my difficult questions.

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  • Guest

    If a candidate is a practicing Roman Catholic then I would expect them to listen to and obey the pope and the magesterium. If a practicing Mormon, then the Apostles and the Prophet. Jewish? His or her Rabbi. Muslim, then iman.

    If you are concerned about the practice of a persons religion and the impact it may have on his/her political decision making then don't vote for them. But do not make them stand up in the public square and explain their faith to non-members. A person's faith SHOULD inform and impact their political decission making. If it doesn't align with your faith, don't vote for them.

    I am very leery of setting any sort of litmus test for a candidates faith. We saw the disastrous effect this had when Kennedy submitted to the Dallas Question. And he was a member of the One True Church. We now have an entire generation of Catholics who think that Rome need only be obeyed when it does not involve a political hot potato.

  • Guest

    The first and necessary thing to correct here is that the candidate is not the first Mormon to run for President. His father, George Romney, the former Governor of Michigan and a noted rescuer of a company long gone — American Motors — did the same thing in 1968 when the opposition was Richard Nixon. It should be noted that George went on to be part of Nixon's cabinet serving as Secretary of HUD. That department has since been melded into additional responsibilities all bent on increasing the power of government over individuals. Also noted should be George's stand against the war in Viet Nam, calling it immoral. 

    All of this is meant to criticize the author of this piece for approaching the candidacy of Mitt Romney from the perspective of Faith, and not making a scant review of the house he grew up in. George the father was a government bureaucrat and corporate shirt, and politician, and yes — a Mormon. But voters need to look at the tree as much as the apples that fall from it. And look closely. I do not quibble with the matters of doctrine that Mr. Mehan details and as my life is informed by my faith agree that there is plenty of squishy stuff in The Book of Mormon. But just as important in the formation of a son are the lessons he learns at the side of his father. And here voters need to pay more attention to the tree from which Mitt fell. 
    I don't much think I want to vote for the son of George Romney but the reasons as you can see are a lot more than his faith.
  • Guest

    While I, too, am concerned about Romney's faith and the sincerity of the changes in his positions on key issues, I'm not sure we can distinguish Romney's Mormonism from the other candidates' protestant faiths, at least in the terms as outlined in this article.  While protestant faiths are not subject to new, inspired prophesy as is the case with the LDS apostles, protestants are certainly free to reinterpret scripture.  We've already seen this in many cases where some protestant faiths now accept abortion and, in the case of homosexuality, embrace it as the Anglicans have with their ordination of an openly gay bishop.  I'll pick on Gov. Huckabee as a baptist minister as an example.  Their position on birth control and divorce has evolved and changed significantly since the 1930's.  If his faith can alter their interpretation of scriture on such key issues as this, what's to prevent them from changing their views in the midst of a Huckabee presidency and having his views track with those changes.  Applying the criteria laid out in this article, how are we truly differentiating Romney from the other protestant candidates?

  • Guest

    Great points sb!!! We have more "Catholic" candidates in the race for the presidency yet we have not one practicing Catholic who accepts the teachings of Catholicism.  Biden, Dodd, Kuchinich and Richardson have all long ago separated themselves from the Catholic Church although for political purposes still "endure" mass without an understanding of the miracle that is taking place with the Consecration of the bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Christ. They all receive Holy Communion in defiance of every Catholic Bishop who has spoken on this issue.

    Guiliani is just as bad.  Multiple marriages, a disfunctional family, pro-abortion and pro homosexual marriage, he openly defies the infallibility of the Holy Father and thus must question Apostolic Succession.  The only thing setting Guiliani apart from the other "Catholic" candidates is that he does not present himself for Holy Communion which means he may just understand the Real presence.

    In a response to Matthew Mehan, I guess I'll take a believing Mormon over a phoney Catholic.  And then I'll pray and have masses said for him.

  • Guest
    You say that polygamy and racism are natural law arguments.
    Yes, it is amazing then how the natural law keeps changing. David and Solomon had many wives. Even the Catechism says
    Catechism 1610
    Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law. In the Old Testament the polygamy of patriarchs and kings is not yet explicitly rejected. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord's words it still carries traces of man's "hardness of heart" which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives.
    And slavery was also common in the Old Testament. When God instituted His covenant with Abraham He said in Gen 17:
    11 Circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the mark of the covenant between you and me. 12 Throughout the ages, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised, including houseborn slaves and those acquired with money from any foreigner who is not of your blood. 
          No, I am not advocating polygamy, slavery,racism, or circumcision. Jesus, in the new covenant changed all these things. My comment is that polygamy and slavery are not natural law arguments, unless God was wrong in the Old Testament.
  • Guest

    rakeys:

    Actually, they are natural law arguments.  Consult Augustine and or Aquinas.  Here is a link: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/5065.htm

    Natural law was not followed because man had become so perverted and weak…that is the reason the OT (for a time) had polygamy as acceptable.  Not because it was in accord with natural law, but because things were so bad that it was tolerated for a time.

     

    The natural law doesn't change.

     

    As for bad Catholics, no fear of religious control of the President, so not a counterargument to the piece.

    As for the Pope and a devout Catholic president and obedience in matters of faith and morals, the morals, the part concerning justice and the common good, do not change their principles, so the Pope can't interfere if someone runs on a natural law platform–Mormonism can change without rational, natural law grounds.  that is the dif.

  • Guest

     

     

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    Father Pavone’s recent pro-life article demonstrated quite clearly that life takes precedence over every right, issue, policy, etc., because without life all else is moot.

    True that abortion, etc., are obvious life fundamentals, even that which we call the just war is driven by the eminent position life takes in all human actions.

    That said, I am ever closer to writing myself in for every office on my ballot. Is there any which in good (‘life’) conscience I could vote for? For post-life-issue instance, in ‘proportionality’, why would I want a Huckabee who is one more politician who never met a dollar of YOURS and MINE he wouldn’t love to spend as HE would – thereby undermining YOUR LIFE and MY LIFE, however indirectly.

    Mormonism? Catholicism? Hedonism? Socialism? Solipcism? Have we any ‘-ism’ (except tinges of that last) as influential as ‘politics’, ‘political agenda’, ‘politicians’, ‘political process’, ‘political campaigning’, ‘political ad hominem attacks’, ‘political correctness’, etc., ad nauseam? Has the current ongoing 2008 Presidential run suffered or been improved by any ‘-ism’?

    The writer about Mitt Bar George has his point. The elder Romney was a ‘sniff’ of a Republican and one more middling ‘politician’. But, without note of ‘tree’, we have the ‘apple’ of Ron Paul, a rather consummate ‘insider’ of some on-and-off Texas representation in Congress for the last thirty-one years, thinking to call himself an outsider! And, because he is a ‘Constitutionalist’? PLUS, ‘I’ve made a career in politics unlike THEIR careers in politics.’ Some credibility and security I feel in THAT! And, as some are into ‘Progressivism’, he’s into ‘Libertarianism’ within his ‘Constitutionalism’. While none of those three ‘-isms’ hold much water as contrasted to the mammoth vessel of ‘politics’, neither do I find comfort, consolation and confidence.

    It seems that Daddies, like ‘-isms’, are less a problem than just plain compromised ‘career’ ‘politicians’.

    (“Quick! Prissy’s on a rant – get the tranquilizer gun!”)

    OKAY – enough – I DON’T like anything about how President 2008 (and below) is working out. (Why do I feel like I need a shower?)

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    MM, perhaps "bad catholic" argument is not an argument against your point but a Guiliani presidency would be very destructive for the Catholic Church.  First, the Republican Party could no longer claim to be the party of life and a return to that mantel would be extremely difficult. Thus pro-lifers would not have a major political party to call home.  Second, Guiliani could not get elected without the Catholic vote and thus, Catholics will need to reject Catholic teachings for this dissident Catholic to be elected. This means rejecting the teachings of the Holy Father on voting for pro-abortion politicians  Third, the message will be that one does not have to pro-life to get elected. Great scandal will be visited on the Church as Catholics get the idea that Church teachings on abortion, homosexual marriage, divorce, fetal stem cell, research etc are simply Catholic suggestions.

     

    The issue of whether we needed to follow Mosaic Law in order to be a Catholic was resolved at the Council of Jerusalem around 60AD.  There it was decided that one need not be Jewish first and follow Jewish law in order to be a follower of Christ.

  • Guest

    Alright, so who do we vote for??? :)

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    sdelange – meet me in the Politics forum – topic – your question – “Alright, so who do we vote for???”

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

     

    I was directed to this article because some thought I would disagree with the position. I have to say I in fact agree. Mr. Romney should answer for his beliefs. JFK sold himself and his religion short by compromising on his answers. I have much more respect for a candidate that loses a general election holding firm to his beliefs.

     

    Anyone who has dealt with apologetics knows that there are some serious issues with Mormonism. Before I get started on this lets think as Catholics how we might answer challenges about changes in the Catholic Church. Yes, we changed from all Latin to the community language after Vatican II. We also had other minor nuances change during this time. These are not comparable to the changes Mormons went through.

     The Mormon prophets have had “revelations” about minority membership and polygamy within the last century. Both of these revelations just happened to correspond with governmental pressure. If these revelations had not occurred, Utah would not have been eligible for statehood. Furthermore, if these revelations are correct then Joseph Smith, whose revelations the religion is base on, was errant. Why should Mr. Romney not answer for this? If Mr. Romney is devout to a religion which changes course due to revelation, why should this not be questioned?

  • Guest

    I am not yet very familiar with Matthew and the MercatorNet website, but I am not impressed wtih the depth of his article.  It rings shallow and suspect to me, and raised points that seem to be broader than mormanism.  I'm a bit surprised that CX posted it. 

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