Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

4/30/2012 (2 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 (2 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Rockefellers to sell investments in fossil fuel to switch to 'clean energy' Watch

Image of From left to right: Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, the chair of the fund, and Steven Rockefeller, a son of Nelson Rockefeller and a trustee of the fund, in New York, Sept. 16, 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a bold move that illustrates just how far climate change has reached the public's consciousness, heirs to the Rockefeller family have announced that they intend to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy. The announcement is a ... continue reading


CAN'T KEEP UP: So many employees leaving Department of Homeland Security, it poses risk to U.S. Watch

Image of The vacating of those in top management positions in the Department of Homeland Security has helped slow the rollout of key cybersecurity initiatives.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS has seen an exodus of employees over the past four years. According to officials, this is leaving the United States open to potential terrorist strikes and cyber-attacks. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Employees ... continue reading


Shell game in Kansas - why Democrats don't have to win Kansas to win the Senate Watch

Image of Independent investor Greg Orman seems to have the advantage in the newly-reshaped senate race.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The race for Senate in Kansas may suddenly be the most crucial contest in the nation as Republicans scramble to protect their longtime incumbent, Bob Dole is back on the campaign trail, Democrats are being as quiet as possible about not having a candidate, and a ... continue reading


Are they on to something? Judicial Watch says terrorists are operating in Mexico Watch

Image of Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat who represents El Paso in the U.S. House of Representatives, called the area offices of various government agencies in response to a report that Middle Eastern terrorists were operating across the border in Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Judicial Watch, a controversial Web site that maintains that Middle Eastern terrorists are operating just cross the border from the United States from Mexico is evidently stirring up waves. Federal law enforcement sources in El Paso, Texas say that a United ... continue reading


CLOTHES HORSE: Wasserman Schultz losing confidence among Democrats Watch

Image of Stylish  Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman has alienated members of her own party by reportedly demanding that the party pick up the tab for her wardrobe!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two "faux pas" have alienated Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz from her party. Her criticism of the White House's handling of the border crisis and comparing tea party members to abusive husbands have alienated her constituency at ... continue reading


Supreme Court justice Sotomayor warns about drones encroaching on American way of life Watch

Image of Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that she's particularly troubled by the potential for commercial and government drones to compromise personal privacy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Unmanned surveillance planes called drones pose a threat to the privacy of American citizens, warns Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. Speaking to students at Oklahoma City University's law school, Sotomayor says that frightening changes in technology ... continue reading


Obama says Islamic State 'is not Islamic' - what are they, then? Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama vowed to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria, He intends to do so with airstrikes and a minimal military presence on the ground. The president also declared that the Islamic State terrorists "are not Islamic." ... continue reading


Obama vows to attack Islamic State militants 'wherever they exist' Watch

Image of There has been some progress made against the group. After more than 150 U.S. airstrikes in Iraq in the past month, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have halted the Islamic State advance.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has vowed to attack Islamic State militants "wherever they exist." Obama will be sending a limited U.S. military presence of 475 personnel. The president also declared that the United States will act in concert with a broad coalition ... continue reading


Opinion: We Need a Blue Collar Conservative like Rick Santorum in the 2016 Presidential Campaign Watch

Image of Rick Santorum is not an establishment candidate. He threatens establishment leaders in both major political parties. he has always played the role of the underdog and been counted out by the many self professed experts. That is one of the greatest assets he would bring to the 2016 Presidential campaign. He has the potential to draw voters from across party lines and help to forge a new governing coalition which can resuscitate the American dream and set us on a course to brighter future. I sincerely hope he runs.

By Keith A. Fournier

Rick Santorum is a statesman in an age of salesmen - and women. He is a man with a chest.  I will be watching his movements over the next few months. If he decides to run, and I hope he does, he will bring along with him into his presidential campaign a ... continue reading


Pelosi favors sweeping regulations to save net neutrality and ban Internet 'fast lanes' Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's an unpopular stand for many Republicans, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she wants to give federal regulators sweeping new powers over Internet access. It's a necessity in order to save net neutrality and protect Internet users, she says. ... 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, Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13
1 Like flowing water is a king's heart in Yahweh's ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44
1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:19-21
19 His mother and his brothers came looking for him, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Padre Pio
September 23: Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was born to ... 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