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It was once said of George Romney, former Michigan governor (1963 to 1969), “There but for the grace of God goes God.” The quip was made in response to photogenic Republican brashness, but there’s a grain of theocratic truth to the taunt.
Romney was a Mormon, born of a polygamous family in Mexico, his birth making him ineligible to run for President of the United States. His son Mitt was born in 1947 and raised in Bloomfield Hills, so there’s no keeping him from running. Getting elected is another story.
There’s concern about Mitt’s religion among Christian evangelicals. Mitt they argue is not a true Christian, but member of a cult started by Joseph Smith, Jr., in upstate New York, 1830. (The year Smith translated the Book of Mormon, from golden plates left in his keeping by an angel named Moroni.)
Mark Twain called the Mormon bible, “printed chloroform”. Many quotes are lifted verbatim from the King James New Testament. In Mormon theology Jesus visited the Americas after his resurrection, preaching to native populations. (How much lasting good it did is debatable.)
According to Mormon teaching, male priesthood members in good temple-endowment standing will be exalted in the afterlife, and with their wife (or, plural wives) become a god over their own planet, as Adam once was on earth, with wifey Eve.
An “end times” turf war is waged between biblical fundamentalists and the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). The Mormon Church is one of the world’s fastest growing faiths (6.5 million members; estimated wealth at $8 billion). With membership predicted to triple in 20 years, it poses a threat to Bible-based faiths.
This October issue of Harper’s carries an article, “Pennies from Heaven: How Mormon Economic Shapes the GOP,” an eye opener as 2012 looms on the horizon.
Up until the mid-1880s the practice of polygamy was a tenet shared among Mormon leaders and priesthood Saints. (Smith had 44 wives; President Brigham Young, 55. But who’s counting?) And, while anyone practicing polygamy today is excommunicated, an estimated 30,000 persons are actively engaged in plural marriages in Arizona and Mexico.
Excommunicated families live covertly and isolated, where teenage girls “harems” are not uncommon. (See Jon Krakauer’s shocking disclosure, “Under the Banner of Heaven;” Random House; or Fawn Brodie’s bio of Smith, “No Man Knows My History.” Brodie has been excomunicated for her honesty.)
Mormon leaders have never publicly denounced Smith’s polygamy revelation as false or doctrinally unsound. Its overt expression was reluctantly abandoned in exchange for Utah statehood.
Krakauer’s book quotes Mormon President, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator John Taylor (1880): “God is greater than the United States…Polygamy is a divine institution. It has been handed down direct from God. No nation on earth can prevent it. The United States cannot abolish it.”
Biblical traditionalists fear Mormon missionaries will continue to steal converts, gain stronger political and economic clout, and – as God’s Restoration Church, self-styled – at some future date press for legal resumption of the overt “spiritual blessing” of polygamy as optional to those spiritually inclined to practice it. (So, much for their $20 million opposition to California same-sex marriage.)
While the Mormon Church is homophobic (“masturbation leads to becoming gay”), conservative, aligned with Focus on the Family and the American Family Association in promoting heterosexist family values, a Constitutional Amendment limiting marriage to “a man and a woman” may neatly checkmate future moves toward polygamy.
Halloween Footnote: The Mormon Church practices baptism for the dead. Recent proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims got the church in hot baptismal water with Orthodox and Conservative Jews. (Oh, yes! Blacks were excluded — their color the Genesis “mark of Cain — from the priesthood until 1978.)