Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

4/30/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

For Mitt, as for most politicians, religion is window dressing. It's the suit and tie they put on to be acceptable to the voters.

Most Americans are unaware of just how peculiar the beliefs of Mormons are. Do they know about Mormonism's exclusivity? It's secretive rituals? It's strange doctrines? Probably not. Even if they do know all the shady and weird stuff about Mormonism, do most Americans care? Should they care? With the possibility that their next president is a Mormon, does it matter?

Highlights

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/30/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Mitt Romney, Mormon, Mormonism, LDS, Latter Day Saints, Election 2012, Fr Dwight Longenecker


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - It's easy to judge the Mormon religion by the earnest, white shirt and tie, bicycling missionaries who knock on your door. For most Americans the Mormon religion is made up of clean cut, somewhat naive folks from the heartland. They're not quite so wide eyed and wild as the fundamentalist Baptists, nor are they quite so dowdy and serious as the Jehovah's Witnesses. Most people figure the Mormon religion is just another version of the predominant American Protestant faith. Sure, they have their extremists, but pretty harmless for the most part. Most Americans are unaware of just how peculiar the beliefs of Mormons are. They are familiar with the charges of polygamy and racism, but "they don't do that anymore do they?" Are Americans aware of just how strange the story of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are? Do they realize that this religion doesn't even come close to being orthodox Christianity? Are they aware of the scandals, hoaxes and fraud of the Mormon founding fathers? Do they know about Mormonism's exclusivity? It's secretive rituals? It's strange doctrines? Probably not. Even if they do know all the shady and weird stuff about Mormonism, do most Americans care? Should they care? With the possibility that their next president is a Mormon does it matter? To answer the question we have to sort out the different kinds of Mormons. It doesn't take long to realize that there are three modes of Mormonism just like there are three divisions of all religious groups. The three modes could be called "Maniac", "Moderate", and "Modernist". Maniac Mormons are the weird extremists: Warren Jeffs, the man convicted of child abuse, with his polygamous compound in Texas is a good example. The "maniac" Mormons are the wide-eyed and wild fundamentalists of the Mormon religion. Like all fundamentalists they allow no criticism. Their holy books and their beliefs will be defended against all attacks--even those driven by common sense. The Mormons have their fair share of 'maniac' members, but then so do the Muslims, the Catholics and the Protestants. It's part of any religion to have "fruit" but you can't have fruit without nuts. Most Mormons, like most Christians are probably "Moderates". The moderate Mormon believes what his religious leaders tell him. He is a follower not a leader. He accepts the laundered version of the Mormon history and goes along with the practices. He tithes, does his best and Mormonism probably serves him well as a belief system that helps him cope with this life and plan for the next. In every religion the moderates are practical and sensible. They don't question their beliefs because they don't have the time or they don't want to upset the apple cart. Modernist Mormons are revisionist and progressive. They have considered Mormonism's historical and literary claims and realize they don't stand up. That hasn't led them to leave Mormonism. Instead they say that the history doesn't really matter. What matters is the theology--the teachings of the Mormon religion. What matters is that Mormonism is a religion that helps people be good, honest and upright citizens.

Modernist Mormonism is much like modernist Christianity. It's all about making the world a better place, being nice people, having good manners, helping the poor and doing good. Any idea that the whole of Mormonism is supernatural and involved with divine revelation and an interaction between this world and the next is quietly dismissed as out of date and irrelevant. This is the Mormonism of smiling families in slick advertising campaigns, clean cut All American values and an apple pie utopian dream of America as the prosperous and peaceful promised land. Mitt's Mormonism, I suspect, is of the third mode. He's a modernist Mormon. So does his Mormonism matter? I don't think it matters any more than George Bush's Episcopalianism or Barack Obama's Church of Christ membership or JFK's Catholicism. For Mitt, as for most politicians, religion is window dressing. It's the suit and tie they put on to be acceptable to the voters. Modernist Mormonism, like modernist religion in all its forms, is utilitarian. It serves a purpose--the politician's purpose. So does Mitt's Modernist Mormon religion matter? In one sense it doesn't matter at all because it's not really a religion. It's a set of table manners. It's a part of a respectable facade. When American politicians declare that their religion will not affect their policies they're usually being very honest because their religion also doesn't affect their life much at all. In one sense Mitt's Mormonism doesn't matter, but what does matter is that, because of their modernism, our politicians are increasingly cut off from the wisdom, the truth and the spiritual insights that true religion has to offer. A modernist religion that is not much more than a lightweight self-help creed will not provide our politicians with the vision, faith and courage to make the tough moral decisions, and if they can't do that - they will not be able to lead their people into the real promised land. -----
Fr Dwight Longenecker is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his website and blog at www.dwightlongenecker.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Mitch McConnell says he will wipe out Obamacare with simple 51-vote majority Watch

Image of In the waning days of President Barack Obama's presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is vowing to overthrow his signature legislation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the waning days of President Barack Obama's presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is vowing to overthrow his signature legislation. Health care reform, better known as "Obamacare" has been a cause of disagreement with conservatives and ... continue reading


Moves made to oust John Boehner from Speaker of the House position Watch

Image of Rep. Mark Meadows [not pictured] declared his intention a day before the House was set to leave town for its five-week summer recess. Described as a rare procedural move, it's by far the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner's [pictured] speakership.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Many of his fellow conservatives and Republicans were taken by surprise when North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said he was trying to oust Speaker John Boehner. Many say it's a bad idea, coming just before August recess. Others say such a move could plunge the House of ... continue reading


Ivana Trump hotly denies that ex-husband Donald Trump ever raped her Watch

Image of Ivana Trump, the former wife of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied claims that he ever raped her.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ivana Trump, the former wife of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has denied claims that he ever raped her. "I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is ... continue reading


HILLARY LIED! Inspector General says personal emails contained classified information Watch

Image of Only allowed to review a sample of 40 out of the total of 30,000 emails from Hillary Clinton's private email server, four of those emails contained classified information.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hillary Clinton's personal email account "contained classified information when they were generated," "remain classified today" and "should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system." Those are the findings of the U.S. Intelligence ... continue reading


GLOVES ARE OFF: Donald Trump denounces Bush, Walker and Clinton as being beholden to donors Watch

Image of Speaking east of Des Moines, Donald Trump was most concise in his attack upon Walker. Criticizing the Wisconsin governor's handling of his state's economy, Trump accused him of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At a "free-wheeling" press conference, GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he is putting no cap into the money he is going to pour into his campaign. A self-made billionaire in real estate, Trump denounced Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Scott ... continue reading


Nuns vs. Obama: Obama Administration refuses to exempt Little Sisters of the Poor from regulation forcing them to distribute birth control Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The national debate over the Affordable Care Act is heating up. A Romantic Catholic group of nuns, who manage a nursing home around the world called the Little Sisters of the Poor, continue their fight against the law's debatable contraceptive mandate. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


Millions upon Millions of United Kingdom aid money funneled to the Clintons Watch

Image of The Clinton Health Access Initiative spends its funds on improving the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the developing world, such as in Africa and Southeast Asia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Influential people, falling sway to a former United States president - and his wife, with eyes on the White House, it was learned that tens of millions of pounds of United Kingdom aid money has been siphoned through charities linked to Hillary Clinton. LOS ... continue reading


Displeased with 'attack' editorial, Donald Trump bars Iowa newspaper from campaign event Watch

Image of It was yet another gutsy move from the billionaire real estate tycoon, which may alienate some - as well as win new friends.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was yet another gutsy move from the billionaire real estate tycoon, which may alienate some - as well as win new friends. Displeased with an editorial published in the Des Moines Register, asking him to withdraw from the 2016 presidential race, Donald Trump ... continue reading


FLAT-OUT LIE: Ted Cruz says fellow Republican Mitch McConnell lied about Export-Import Bank Watch

Image of The denouncement was a highly unusual one, even if Ted Cruz has made no effort to disguise the fact that he has called out his fellow Republicans for wrongdoing.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Well-known for his reputation fieriness, Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor last week and said that Mitch McConnell told a "lie." The Texan lawmaker accused the Senate majority leader of deceiving him and the rest of the GOP conference over McConnell's plans for ... continue reading


Destroying the Competition: Will Donald Trump launch a third-party candidacy? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Donald Trump has made numerous headlines during his campaign, so far. He has received criticsm from both the Republicans and the Democrats; it can even be said that the Republican party is "shooing" Trump away, making him an outsider. Is this the smartest move for ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38
16 Moses did this; he did exactly as Yahweh had ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:47-53
47 'Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter