Top Menu

Mormon Mitt Romney for President?

Note: This article was written 4 years ago when Mitt Romney ran against John McCain for the Republican candidacy but it still applies today.

I have received a couple of questions and expressions of concern regarding the following article. I believe the article addresses these concerns. But allow me to add a couple of points re-emphasize and summarize some issues.

First, I want to stress the fact that the spiritual kingdom takes precedent over the worldly kingdom. Both are very important. We are called to engage and influence the government and culture with God’s truth. Theologically this is called “the cultural mandate”. Romney’s Mormon values are much closer to ours than are Obama’s Liberation theology values (no, I do not believe Obama is a secret Muslim).

But the spiritual state of the collective population is a higher priority. This is the gist of the following article (originally written 4 years ago). My concern is that a successful, attractive Romney as President would open the doors for the acceptance of Mormonism.

But as I thought through this, I began to realize that the dominant liberal media will give evangelicals many opportunities to clarify and expose the differences between Christianity and Mormonism, as well as to demonstrate the fallacies of Mormon’s claims.

And let me reinforce here what I raised in the article. Romney does need to address and explain how he can say that his church or leaders (the Mormon Prophet) will not influence his decisions as President, and yet at the same time has taken a serious (blood) oath that he will submit to the Mormon Prophet who meets with God on a regular basis for His guidance on church and civic affairs.

Thankfully there are the checks and balances of Congress and the Supreme Court.

In closing, I am praying that Christians will become knowledgeable about Mormonism and take advantage of any and all opportunities to contrast and share the truth of Christianity compared to Mormonism.

Do not do what Billy and Franklin Graham did and remove the label of pseudo-Christian cult from Mormonism. In this case pragmatism cannot trump truth.

Politics have become a major focus of activism among Christians. It used to be merely liberals versus conservatives. People claiming to be Christians fell all along the terrain of the political landscape.

But along came Jerry Falwell and The Moral Majority. Conservative Christianity and conservative politics became a major focus of time and hope for Christian influence in culture. The concept has some legitimacy. There has been a neglected theological dimension of the role of the Church or believers as activists in shaping our culture. It is important to note that the baseless cliché, “you can’t legislate morality,” is without merit. All laws and ethics are based on someone’s morality.

The Apologetics Resource Center put together an important conference in Birmingham a few years ago presenting four major views on the role of Christians and the Church in the Public Square. Christians are called to be salt and light – to be in the world (but not of the world). We are called to understand and balance the paradox of Christ’s teaching, “My kingdom is not of this world,” with, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (see also Romans 13:1-7).

So Christians work to influence lawmakers and even to become lawmakers, but not to make the country into a Christian theocracy. Our first priority is to see people converted to Christ via the gospel and to prioritize the spiritual kingdom, realizing that the Law can restrain evil (and provoke it) and can have some positive effect on the consciences of image bearers of God, but cannot convert people. Our priority and ultimate goal in the Kingdom is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, minister to those truly in need, and to promote mercy and justice. Our ultimate and proximal trust is in the triune God – not the Republican or Democratic parties.

Today the media is abuzz with news stories, interviews, talk show segments, and behind the scenes maneuvering about Mormon Mitt Romney and his run for President of the United States. The questions, charges and disputes surrounding Romney have to do with whether an active Mormon should be supported for President of the U.S.

On the one hand, many believe with his good looks, charm, intelligence, winsome style, and conservative values, he would be the best Republican candidate to beat Clinton or Obama. But there are other views as well. Many Americans, especially what the press labels as evangelicals, are negative in varying degrees of supporting a Mormon candidate for President. Some believe that on a pragmatic level Romney’s Mormonism has too much of a negative stigma to gain the support of the general population, much less evangelicals.

To complicate the issue more, there are a number of evangelicals who have openly stated that Romney’s faith should not be a factor. Chuck Colson, Ralph Reed, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, and others have all said, “We are electing a Commander-in-Chief, not a Pastor (or theologian)-in-Chief.” Incredibly Pat Robertson had Romney come to Regent University to give the Commencement address last year! Fundamentalist Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University endorses Romney. The Roman Catholic conservative talk show host, Sean Hannity naively proclaimed that since Romney said he accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior, it should be enough.

But it is precisely because of these perspectives that we need to seriously discuss this issue. Let’s take a moment to lay some foundations and to clarify and define the issues for this controversy.

Mormonism is a controversial religion. Liberals don’t like it because of its general conservatism. Although the liberal Democrat, Harry Reid is a professing Mormon. Knowledgeable Christians know it is a pseudo-Christian cult. Many other nominal Christians, naïve Christians, and general public have varying degrees of suspicion of Mormonism. By the way, Mormonism is slang. The official and preferred label of Mormons is Latter-day Saints (LDS) derived from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is much confusion and ambiguity over what Mormonism represents. This is partly due to the history and public relations strategy of the Mormon Church.

For example many national polls have been taken regarding the public’s perception of Mormonism. An early 2001 CBS poll revealed that among those self-identified as liberal, 50% said they would not support a Mormon for President. 57% of all polled say they know little or nothing about Mormonism. A 2006 Gallup poll revealed that 66% of Americans are “not ready for a Mormon president.”

A June 2006 LA Times/Bloomberg study revealed 37% of Americans could not vote for a Mormon candidate. A December 2006 Newsweek poll revealed that 25% would not vote for a Mormon; a 2006 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll revealed that 53% could not vote for a Mormon President Candidate. A December 2006 ABC/Washington Post study showed that number at 35%. A Fox News study revealed 32% not comfortable with a Mormon candidate. These percentages ranged from 25% to 66% of the general population being negative toward the thought of a Mormon candidate or President, probably due to the wording of the question, ranging from “not comfortable” to “would not” vote for or support. But it is clear that there is certainly a significant liability for Romney’s Mormonism. That will be a major factor in his electability even against Clinton or Obama.

In September 2007, the Pew Research Center found that 39% of white evangelical Protestants have an unfavorable opinion of Mormons while 46% have a positive impression. A CNN poll in October 2007 found that 50% of Americans consider Mormons to be Christians with 41% disagreeing and 9% who just don’t know. Only 19% said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon for president while 77% said it would make no difference. These last two polls indicate that the Christian Church still has a great need to educate its members about Mormonism.

A November 2006 AP/Yahoo poll indicated 56% of white evangelicals in Iowa and South Carolina expressed reservations about a Mormon candidate. 48% of non-evangelicals said it troubled them.

Mormonism is the 4th largest religious body in the U.S behind Roman Catholicism, Southern Baptists, and United Methodists. There are approximately 5.6 million LDS in the U.S. (12 million worldwide). There was an average of 306,000 converts per year from 1990-1999. From 2000-2003, conversions dropped to an average of 273,000 per year.

As I noted earlier, the September 2007 Pew Research Center pole showed that 51% of Americans “have little or no awareness of the precepts and practices of Mormonism…53% say they have a favorable opinion of Mormons.” This same number (52%) says that “Mormonism is a Christian religion.” 31% say Mormonism is not a Christian religion.

This means America is a significant breeding ground for Mormon influence with Romney in such a respected role and platform. On the other side there is a possibility that the liberal press and evangelical Christian Church would then be more motivated to expose the many contradicting and fallacious doctrines and history of the Mormon Church.

What to me is very disturbing is what the Pew research found regarding the understanding of Mormonism among evangelicals. Only 45% of white evangelicals and 30% of black Protestants say Mormonism is not Christian! Only 23% of white mainline members believe it is not Christian. Among the unchurched, 59% say it is Christian while only 25% say it is not. Only 29% of Catholics say it is not Christian.

Their figures tell me two things. One, the Church is still amiss in not educating the congregation on cults (and apologetics in general). Cults are still the least evangelized people group. Second, the mission ground is more fertile for Mormon acceptance and growth than we realize.

Romney and his campaign still recognize the hurdles and barriers of 30% negatives, but are seeing the “uncomfortable with” category diminishing. If Romney can downplay and blur the distinctions, he has a better chance.

I must respectfully disagree with Colson, Land, Reed and other evangelicals who say that Romney’s Mormonism has no bearing on whether he will make a good president. Remember the line is “We are electing a Commander-in-Chief, not a Pastor or Theologian-in-Chief.”

I disagree with that on several levels. First of all, everyone is a “theologian.” The question is, are candidates good or bad theologians? What shapes one’s worldview, the basis of ethics, truth, morality and law are derived from religion based beliefs (even atheists do so without realizing it).

Religion by itself is not a litmus test. But the issue is, what are the specific beliefs of a particular religion? For example, would we consider an Al Queda follower of radical Islam as a candidate? What about a new ager who consulted and sought guidance daily from spirit-guides? What about a Klu Klux Klan member who has made a religion out of racism? What about a Scientology leader?

Are these extreme examples? Well, part of Islam’s strategy is to gain power and influence in a country through conversions, births, and gaining a majority of the population. This is beginning to be observed in France and parts of England. My real concern is that an attractive Mormon candidate will become an effective Missionary-in-Chief for the Mormon Church.

In fact, in our newspaper, The Birmingham News, the front page of the Religion Section had a story “Mormons have open houses around the state.” (1/26/08). The LDS state missions’ president noted that “the Mitt Romney candidacy has recently prompted more questions about the Mormon faith. To answer these questions Mormons are having open house events around the state.” He goes on to note, “There has been a lot of interest in our church since Mitt’s campaign.”

I have studied Mormonism for almost 30 years and I have yet to find a doctrine that is essentially compatible with historical Biblical Christianity (Evangelicalism). Yet Mormons habitually posture themselves as “also Christians,” and they regularly either do not talk about their faith in a public setting, or they utilize soft cover-up tactics by never going very deep into their beliefs or historical studies. Often this is because most Mormons do not know much about their church’s history and many conflicting edicts given by their General Authorities (because the church covers them up), or because some doctrines are considered “sacred knowledge” (ie. secret).

In fact the LDS Church has a strategy to avoid the difficult questions. I noticed this pattern whenever I would bring up significant issues with Mormon missionaries. Often they would parrot the line, “What you are talking about is meat and we need to first talk about the milk.” This is a reference to the Biblical metaphor of a beginner’s knowledge and a more mature understanding.

Yet this is used as a smokescreen. Proof can be seen in the recorded lectures of Robert Millet, religion professor at BYU (the Mormon University), preparing Mormon missionaries for their mission. Millet has also been manager of Outreach and Interfaith Relations for the LDS Church’s public affairs office.

Millet instructs the missionaries how to answer controversial questions about their church. He says you don’t have to provide a straight answer to every question. He goes on to say “never give meat when milk will do,” and when asked a difficult question, don’t answer that question. Instead redirect the question to your planned presentation.

This strategy is designed to hide the changes, cover ups, and errors of a humanly derived religion. The problem for them though is that their actual and official documents are out there and retrievable.

Doctrinally, historically, theirs is a different God, a different Jesus, a different Holy Spirit, and a different gospel. For most of their history they did not claim to be Christians. Their doctrine explicitly states that God told their founder, Joseph Smith, that all of our creeds and adherents are an abomination in God’s sight – that the true Christian church was lost after the death of the apostles and that God restored the church through Joseph Smith and the latter day doctrines, church structure and authority. The existing church is labeled the “whore of Babylon.” The LDS Church has always aggressively proselytized Christian Church members because they believe all others are false churches.

Their God was once a mortal man who became a God just like all heavenly fathers have done in the past. The true Jesus, according to LDS teaching, is a second God who became a God and was the spirit brother of Lucifer in the preexistence. He was begotten by God the Father who had sex with Mary (his own spirit daughter) in some mysterious way through a third God – the Holy Ghost (incest? orgy? virgin birth?). Salvation or eternal life and Godhood is achieved by a man’s perfect obedience to all the laws and ordinances of the (fallible) Bible plus three other infallible LDS books of Scripture (plus ongoing teachings of their Prophets-Presidents).

A correct understanding of these doctrines has great importance when evaluating the honesty or integrity of Romney in his public statements regarding his faith. There are other doctrines that have relevance to judgment, policy, character, and even intelligence which we will see in a moment. (At this point you might want to skip down to the end of this article to read, “Why is Mormonism a Pseudo-Christian Cult?”).

Romney wants to do damage and image control in order to enhance his chances to take the Republican nomination. I believe he sees this as his biggest hurdle. If he can capture that prize, he believes that beating Hillary may be much easier. But others believe that his Mormon negatives spell his defeat with Clinton or Obama nationally.

So Romney is trying to cast the issues in a way to discourage discussion or consideration of his religion as a factor. Romney states, “I’m not here to run for Cardinal. And I am not here to get into discussions about how I feel about all my church’s beliefs and my church’s doctrines…All that does is play into religious bigotry.”

If asked directly about some conflicting or controversial doctrine Romney responds, “There are caricatures that pick some obscure aspect of your faith that you never even think about and assume it’s a central element of the Church. Mormon leaders have said all sorts of things in the past and present but are not Church doctrine.” This is “smoke and mirrors.” These points we raise are not caricatures, are not obscure, and are Church doctrines.

Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University recently wrote an excellent article for the NY Times. [1] He traces “the Mormon path to normalization over the course of the 20th century” after the public relations fiasco of polygamy before and after statehood at the turn of the century.

He notes the path to normalization “depended heavily on the avoidance of public discussion of its religious tenets.” Heretical doctrines like baptism for the dead and men becoming gods were avoided. Feldman writes, “Where religious or theological conversation could not be avoided, Mormons depicted themselves as yet another Christian denomination alongside various other Protestant denominations.”

He notes that, “Another part of the Mormon assimilationist strategy was to participate actively in politics…the condition for political success was that nobody asked about the precise content of Mormon religious beliefs.” He characterized this strategy as “soft secrecy” which would hold “soft bigotry at bay.”

Feldman notes that when the Mormon Church is confronted with the fact that their beliefs are not truly Christian, “they find themselves in an extraordinarily awkward position. They cannot defend themselves by expressly explaining their own theology, because it is heretical to Christianity.”

The December 6th Speech

Mitt Romney decided to make a well-crafted, well publicized strategic speech in part to halt a slide in the polls before the Iowa caucus, but to also address accusations that he was avoiding strong identification with his Mormon faith.

He gave his speech at College Station, Texas at the George Bush Presidential Library. George Herbert Walker Bush introduced him. In the speech Romney attempted to change the debate and public discussion from doctrinal differences to a principled discussion of religious liberty. In a USA Today story on the speech, writer Kathleen Parker wrote, “He not only raised the bar for political discourse, but he also effectively made a case for uniting all faiths in defense of Western civilization.

Well, let’s see if indeed Romney accomplished these goals:

After introducing patriotic remarks Romney began, “Today, I wish to address a topic which I believe is fundamental to America’s greatness: our religious liberty. I will also offer perspectives on how my own faith would inform my Presidency.” That was a hopeful objective but unfortunately, wasn’t accomplished.

Romney had much to say about the history and importance of religious faith in America. He also affirmed the establishment clause of the First Amendment saying, “No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free exercise of religion.” And he correctly seems to understand the error of separation engendered by secularists. He also affirmed that our government should “not insist on a single strain of religion.”

Romney also affirmed that “religion” needs to have an influence on the “weighty threats that face us.” He then asked the next logical question, “Given our grand tradition of religion tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate’s religion that are appropriate. I believe there are. And I will answer them today.”

But this is where Romney again became the “artful dodger,” and began his contradictions. First he claims that he believes in his Mormon faith and will endeavor to live by it.” He will not “disown one or another of its precepts.” He “will be true to them and to my beliefs.”

But then Romney states that “no authorities of my church…will ever exert influence on presidential decisions…I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, no one interest.” But Romney takes solemn vows to follow and support the LDS general authorities and doctrines of the LDS Church. But then he said, “I will take great care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from the God who have us liberty.” Also he vowed in the Mormon Temple ceremonies to promise to use all his talents to further the Mormon Church and to follow the Prophet. So, which oath comes first?

The Mormon Prophet and Apostles (General Authorities) publish and pronounce “Scripture,” doctrinal “truth.” Remember the LDS Church believes it is the reconstituted Church of the first century, and the New Testament was written by Apostles.

The fifteenth LDS “prophet, seer, and revelator” Gordon Hickley (who passed away on January 27, 2008) delivered an address to their General Conference (2003) stating, “The Church will not dictate (i.e. force) to any man what he should think or what he should do. The Church will point out the way and invite every member to live the gospel and enjoy the blessings that come of such living. The Church will not dictate to any man but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein.”

One amazing concession Romney made, which should be analogous to his digging his own grave, was “Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it…Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the whole world.”

Romney only partially answered three questions about his faith. One, he is a true follower of Mormonism; two, he said he would separate his church’s doctrine and authority from the Presidential office (which is a contradiction); and three, he answered “the most fundamental question” covering his belief about Jesus Christ, “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”

Although he conceded that his “church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths.” I am sure that Romney calculated that speaking about Jesus Christ in terms that sounded consistent (knowing they are not) with ordinary American Christianity (Protestants and Catholics), would reassure voters that in the end there is nothing especially unusual about Mormonism.

Romney did play the “tolerance card” several times during his speech. He stated that difference among religions “are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance.” Romney tries to cut off any efforts to get him to “describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines.” He says that would enact the religious litmus test that the Constitution prohibits.

This is a very important issue. Romney’s “scapegoat” tactics must be challenged otherwise he will be able to hide from legitimate questions. The founding fathers inserted a provision in the Constitution expressly prohibiting any religious test for office. In other words, the prohibition refers to the government barring people from becoming a candidate or holding office based on which religion they belonged to. It does not bar voters from considering religious beliefs or convictions (especially as they apply to values, allegiances, worldview, and relationship to government) as they make their choices.

It is noteworthy that former Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, and grandson of the former Mormon Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, Steve Benson is featured in a story titled, “Ex-Mormon Cartoonist Says Romney Not Telling Truth,” following his speech (Editor and Publisher, 12/18/07).

Benson responded with “Yeah right!” to Romney’s claim of not allowing the church’s teachings to influence decisions in the White House.

Benson, a life long Mormon until he left the church in 1993 says one of the reasons he left in disgust was because church “officials tried to fool church members and the general public into believing that his 94 year old grandfather and church President was still capable of leading the church.” He saw with his own eyes that he was very much debilitated.

Steve Benson states, “the only way Romney could be truly independent of the church as U.S. President would be disavow Mormon doctrine. He hasn’t done that.” Benson also after citing several examples like the teaching on blacks and polygamy says, “The Mormon Church has publicly flipped 180 degrees when it feels it’s necessary for its image, for its financial solvency, and for political expediency.”

Mormon Theocracy

Not all are created equal. There are religions like Islam that fundamentally believe in a theocracy. They believe in conversion by persuasion and by the sword.

Mormonism has another problematic issue. The founding “Prophet” Joseph Smith preached for and tried to organize a version of theocratic rule within the framework of his prophetic leadership. He organized a strong Mormon militia, became its General, and attempted to maneuver his way to establish himself as Governor of Illinois or President of the U.S. When he was killed by a mob in a gun battle, he was running for President of the U.S.

Brigham Young, the second “Prophet” even attempted to form a Mormon theocracy in the Utah territory. Even when petitioning to become a state, the Mormons then had only one political party, the People’s Party.

Now all that is but a faded memory. But one must still ask, what are the foundational beliefs that generated such actions?

Another major “Prophecy” held by the Mormon Church which Romney needs to explain is called the “White Horse Prophecy.”

Joseph Smith’s frustration with the U.S. Government early on prompted a public declaration, “if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they will be broken up as a government, and God shall damn them, and there shall be nothing left of them – not even a grease spot.”

In this declaration was recorded in 1843 that Smith prophesied the “White Horse Prophecy,” taken from the image in the book of Revelation. In it he prophesied that there will be a day when the U.S. Constitution will “Hang by a thread” and then will be preserved only by the Church riding in on a “White Horse” (i.e. the Mormon Church leaders).

Recently Mormon apologists have tried to place doubts on this prophecy and treat it as spurious. But the problem is that a chain of more contemporary General Authorities have repeatedly quoted and affirmed portions of it. Sixth Prophet Joseph F. Smith repeated it at a General Conference in 1912. [2] Earlier Brigham Young declared it in the Tabernacle, [3] and again 13 years later. [4]

Apostle Reuben Clark presented it at General Conference in 1942 . [5] Apostle – Prophet Ezra Taft Benson affirmed it twice in General Conferences. [6]

So does Romney agree or disagree with this string of General Authorities who affirmed the White Horse Prophecy section of the Mormon Church coming in to take over and save our country?

Some Political-Social Issues

It appears that Romney’s “flip flopping” has more to do with his Mormonism than people realize. Many are concerned about his changing positions on abortion and same-sex marriage. Questions should also be raised regarding stem-cell embryonic research, polygamy, and his view on the black race.

In one sense Romney embodies a trait found within Mormonism namely that of internal inconsistencies and contradictions. For example, one of Mormonism’s “God directed” foundational doctrines was and is polygamy (Joseph Smith had to justify his philandering).

Polygamy

Second LDS prophet Brigham Young took the bulk of Mormons to Utah after Smith was killed in 1844. Utah was a U.S. territory and monogamy was not the law of the land. But pressure mounted in Congress regarding the practice of polygamy and President James Buchanan renounced Young as territorial governor and sent troops to Utah.

“Prophet” Young still continued to try to establish a theocratic Mormon state partly because of the teaching and practice of polygamy. Young had scores of “wives.” But Congress continued to press Utah to cease polygamy. No statehood would be considered.

There ensued a long protracted period of back and forth antagonism between the LDS Church and U.S. government over polygamy. During that time some LDS leaders, including “Apostles” were imprisoned.

Finally in 1890 the LDS Prophet Wilford Woodruf issued a “Manifesto” which supposedly ended plural marriage. This order (or advice) to suspend the public practice of polygamy came just 10 years after the same “Prophet” received a revelation that plural marriage (polygamy) was absolutely essential to exaltation (godhood). The revelation went so far as to damn anyone who would even hinder Mormons from obeying plural marriage.

Woodruff proclaimed this “Manifesto” only 4 months after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Edmunds – Tucker Act which would have disincorporated the LDS church and seized most of its assets if they did not cease the practice of polygamy. But even with the Manifesto, many LDS, including leaders and general authorities continued to secretly practice polygamy. This led some Mormons to go outside the U.S., to Mexico, and either live with or be married to plural wives. Romney’s grandfather was one of those.

So polygamy continued “under the table” from 1890–1904. Utah was allowed statehood in 1896. But, in 1904 Senator –elect, Reed Smoot, a LDS apostle, came under Senate hearings because of the continued polygamy in Utah. Then “Prophet” Joseph F. Smith issued a second “manifesto” which eventuated in the excommunication of any Mormon who practiced plural marriage. Two Mormon apostles were excommunicated during that period.

So goes the history of LDS flip-flops for convenience and pragmatism. Romney now says polygamy is “bizarre.” But he is a “temple Mormon,” and he was a bishop and stake president for many years (Mormon equivalent to a pastor over several Mormon congregations). Plural marriage by proxy (polygamy) continues to be performed in their secret temple ceremonies, because it is an eternal decree. Romney needs to be asked specifically how can he as a faithful Mormon, call polygamy “bizarre” if it is an eternal decree in his church and still performed in their temple ceremonies?

Even for many years after the “Manifesto,” LDS leaders, including general authorities and Woodruff were doing it. Another example of a public image and secret reality.

This is still an issue because tens of thousands of people in what is termed, Fundamentalist Mormon groups, have continued to practice polygamy without prosecution in Utah. That is until recently with the prosecution of Warren Jeffs.

Do not be naïve to think that monogamous marriage is necessarily an inviolate standard in America. What is the reason or basis of the monogamous standard for marriage? Other cultures allow polygamy. What is our basis for the exclusivity of monogamous marriage?

Currently Mormon polygamous and civil liberty groups in Canada are pressing the issue there. Homosexual groups successfully challenged the marriage law and now same-sex marriage is allowed there. So is marriage simply a social construct, not based on any core religious or biological reality? And if what constitutes marriage and a family is just a matter of personal preference, why should polygamy be excluded as an option?

So how can Romney be a faithful Mormon, and call polygamy “bizarre,” and if the society continues to drift away from a Judeo-Christian base and consensus, what is to prevent Romney from another flip-flop?

The Negro Race

From the early years until 1978, the Mormon church taught that God cursed the disobedient Lamanites (Israelites who migrated to America) with a dark skin. Negroes were banned from progressing to eternal life and godhood. They were denied the priesthood which was necessary step on the road to eternal life. The Mormon Church had instituted racial bigotry and placed it at the level of divine revelation.

But in 1978 the LDS Church issued an “Official Declaration” which extended “priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church,” a “revelation” received by Prophet Spencer Kimball.

Before the “revelation,” the Book of Mormon read that when blacks converted, their skin would turn to “white and delightsome.” After the revelation, the text was changed to “pure and delightsome.”

As one prominent Mormon scholar, Richard Bushman, professor at Columbia University responded to NPR regarding Latter-day revelation, “I think one of the most distinguishing characteristics of Mormonism is its sense that revelation was not restricted to one time in history, but it can break forth at any time.”

So new revelation can justify utilitarian flip-flops?

Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage

Romney ran against Edward Kennedy in the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race and wrote the homosexual Log Cabin Republican group that, “I am more convinced than ever that, as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent…we seek to establish full equality for gays.”

Today Romney says, “From Day One, I have opposed the move for same-sex marriage, and its equivalent, civil unions.” In response to this, Romney claims that on some issues the landscape changed but not him when he held the above position. In 1994, homosexual marriage wasn’t even on the political or judicial radar screen. He points out that in 2003 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution mandated same-sex marriage and he called for a constitutional amendment to ban it.

But what does that tell us about the intellectual capacity and ability to think through the consequences of decisions on issues. Surely he should have known that “seeking to establish full equality for gays” would include same-sex marriage! If not, why not?

Abortion

In a 1994 debate for senator with Teddy Kennedy, Romney stated, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, we should sustain and support it. “And…the right of a woman to make that choice.”

Later as Massachusetts governor, Romney vowed to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose and I am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change any provision of Massachusetts’s pro-choice laws.” In 2002 he stated in a meeting with a pro-choice group that, “I will not allow any chipping away of Roe v. Wade. You need someone in Washington like me.” He maintained that position until 2005.

But in 2005 Romney claims to have moved from “an effectively pro-choice “position” to a different one today. But his position today is very muddied.

Romney claims that he was personally opposed to abortion but chose to support the “pro-choice” law. He now says he wants the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade which would allow states to determine their own abortion policies. But he also says he supports the 2004 Republican plank calling for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution, banning abortion nationwide.

But why is Romney against abortion? Is it because the unborn is a human life and needs to be protected from murder? It would seem so in light of his support of an expansion of the 14th Amendment which adds due process and equal protection clauses to unborn children.

But is Romney blindly and irrationally following his Mormon Church’s teaching on the subject? Romney stated in 2005, “I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother…the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.”

Why do I say this is irrational and consistent with his Mormonism? Romney must answer the question, on what basis is abortion wrong – because the unborn is a live human person?

Well the LDS position is exactly the same as Romney’s. Their prophet Gordon Hinckley in an official general conference address spoke on the abortion issue asking “What has happened to our regard for human life? There is no greater miracle than the creation of human life.”

Human life? Hinckley goes on, “While we denounce it, we make allowance in such circumstances as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent authority to have serious defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”

The LDS Church also does not classify abortion as murder because in their theology, murder is an unpardonable sin – beyond the blood of Christ. The LDS authorities have no “revelation” on when life begins, even though Hinckley, their “prophet” called the unborn, “human life.”

The LDS position has other social/moral issue implications. For example, what about embryonic stem-cell research? The official LDS position reads, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no official position on the moment that human life begins. Further, the Church has not taken a position on the issue of embryonic stem-cell research.”

In Summary

When all is said and done, many Christians and conservatives will vote either for the most conservative candidate or for the one who can pragmatically beat Hillary or Obama. Christian political and cultural activists like Colson, Richard Land, Cal Thomas, and the late Jerry Falwell like most of Romney’s positions and experience.

Even Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine put it, “If he faces Hillary Clinton, I’ll vote for him in a Utah minute.” They like others echo the famous line of Martin Luther who said, “I’d rather be governed by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian.”

And I would agree with them to a point. We normally would want a President who most closely holds to our values and moral issues even if he is an unbeliever (by common grace). But there are additional factors at work here.

In the first place, like I said earlier, the Kingdom of God is not going to be ushered in by politics. The initial Christian Church thrived and grew amidst horrible governance and persecution under Nero.

The Presidency is just one arm of government. We have Senate and House elections too to come. But again the Kingdom of God is foremost. Like James Dobson, on this, I believe a Romney vote would be a compromise to the Church’s mission. Based on enough factors I’m afraid that a successful campaign by Romney will further the damning influence of the Mormon Church.

And there are two many negatives regarding his track record, and potential issues related to the Mormon Church’s core values. To me the analogy of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and Satan appearing as an angel of light, fit too close with Romney.

I agree with Kevin Alan Lewis of the Evangelical Law Institute who writes, “There is an ongoing gospel war and a culture war. When there is a conflict, the gospel takes priority…So in sum, a vote for Romney is likely to be a de-facto vote to mainstream a false religion.” [7]

But even if he wins, we will perhaps be even more diligent to take seriously the “Great Commission.” As for me, I’m voting for Huckabee.

Why is Mormonism a Pseudo-Christian Cult?

This section is not written as an apologetic, demonstrating why Mormonism is wrong. Contact our office or go to our website for that information. This section is designed merely to expose the unbridgeable gap between Mormonism and Christianity.

Anyone is offended by being labeled a cult member, largely because of the very negative connotations drawn from the sensationalistic oriented media coverage of groups like Jonestown, Waco, Heaven’s Gate, etc. And in fact, the word “cult” is not used in the Bible.

But if one accepts the categories of true and false, right and wrong, good and evil, then there can be a true and false category in religion. We accept that counterfeit money exists, identity theft exists. That is because there is a criterion for true and false.

Ironically, the fact that Mormons object to being labeled a counterfeit, not true, a cult, actually makes my point. I say ironic because they have in fact repeatedly and consistently claimed the same thing about us.

If their church authorities, if their scriptures, claim that the historical (from the 2nd Century) Christian churches are wrong, an abomination in God’s sight, teach man-made false doctrines – then they are admitting to a standard and they are it, and all others are wrong or counterfeits. And it must be permissible to declare it.

The Bible, while not using the explicit more modern term “cult,” does repeatedly warn about false teachers, false prophets, false gods, false Jesus, false gospel, twisters or pervertors of Scripture leading to death, and false representatives of the true faith. Some example passages are Mat. 7:15; 24:23-24; 2 Pet. 3:16; 2:1-3; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:3-4, 12-15; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Titus 1:9-13). The standards for the Christian faith are there, as well as our responsibility is given to warn others for prevention and for rescue.

Christianity and Mormonism teach differing sources of authority, different Scriptures, a different God, a different Jesus, a different Holy Spirit, a different gospel or plan of salvation, a different doctrine of hell, a different doctrine of the Fall, the nature of man, virgin birth, atonement, a different cosmology, etc., etc. These are essential and defining criteria. It is not like comparing two breeds of dogs, but it is like saying a dog is a cat (trying to masquerade as a dog).

Authority

The starting place for comparison and evaluation is to identify the sources of authority, from which everything else flows. Whereas Protestant Christianity holds to the Bible as the only final authority, Mormonism explicitly teaches that there are four books of Scripture, plus “the inspired words of our living prophets become scripture to us. Their words come to us through conferences, Church publications, and instructions to local priesthood leaders.” [8] Even though they include the King James Version Bible as one of their scriptures, they conveniently add the escape clause, “as far as it’s translated correctly.” So when one points to where the Bible contradicts their theology; they can dismiss it as an error or translation/transmission. They go on to state that “many plain and precious parts are missing.”

Mormon “prophets,” “apostles,” and “Church publications,” explicitly pontificate that theirs is “the one true Church” and that “we cannot accept that any other church can lead its members to salvation in the kingdom of heaven.” They go on to state “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one and only true Church.” [9]

Mormonism’s second “prophet,” Brigham Young, proclaimed and published, “Every intelligent person under the heavens that does not, when informed, acknowledge that Joseph Smith, junior is a Prophet of God, is in darkness, and is opposed to us and to Jesus and his kingdom on earth.” [10]

Third LDS “prophet,” John Taylor wrote that Christianity in his day was “a perfect pack of resources” and that “the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.” [11]

Joseph Fielding Smith, LDS “Apostle” and 10th LDS “Prophet” wrote in Doctrines of Salvation under the heading “Christendom wholly Apostate in 1820,” that “there was not one fundamental truth belonging to the plan of salvation that was not, in the year 1820, so obscured by as to make it unrecognizable, or else it was entirely denied.” [12]

An official LDS pamphlet, “Which Church is Right?” states that by the second century, “wickedness had nearly taken over the church. Doctrines and ordinances were changed….Christianity did not destroy paganism, it adopted it.” It goes on to rhetorically ask the question whether God’s true Christian Church, which alone could provide salvation, exists on the earth? Here the LDS Church answers, “Until 1830 there was not….The restored Church is known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

LDS apostle Bruce McConkie wrote in his popular theology book, Mormon Doctrine, that “virtually all of the millions in apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ” (p.269).

Mormonism claims that God the Father and Jesus together bodily appeared to Joseph Smith (yet even differing accounts are full of contradictions, discrepancies, and contradict the Bible) who later restored the apostate Christian church as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In Mormon scripture, Joseph Smith claims to have visited Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, seeking which of them to join, but God appeared to him and said not to join any of them, that all professing Christian churches were “all wrong” and were “an abomination in God’s sight.” [13] In the official teaching periodical of their church, The Ensign, we read that there was a complete apostasy and that Satan sits in the place of God as the head of the Christian churches. [14]

So clearly they have (1) agreed that it is correct to call other so-called Christian churches to be fatally false, and (2) that they are lying when they claim to be “also a Christian Church” as if they are of the same genre or another denomination.

To review, the LDS church proclaims that in the first century, the Apostles were killed and therefore the authority and direct revelation was lost. The Christian church went into a “Great Apostasy” and “false ideas were taught as truth, and much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and Holy Ghost was lost.” Also the “full gospel” truth was lost until the “Restoration” through their prophet Joseph Smith, with its restored and new revelatory truth. [15]

On the official LDS website lds.org one will find dozens of articles with titles such as “Apostasy and Restoration,” referring to Christian churches. Most revealing is the statement, “While the same terms are used by Latter-day Saints and other Christians for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost), Latter-day Saints understanding of the three members of the Godhead is significantly different from that of traditional Christianity.” [16]

So let the Mormon cease from taking offense when Christians point out that the Mormon Church is not orthodox Christianity, but a pretender, a counterfeit. At the same time we must also insist that the Mormon Church, like Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and most other religions have the constitutionally protected right and privilege to believe and practice lawfully in America.

But we also have the right to point out and make our case regarding the false claims of Mormonism’s identification as Christianity. Now I will clarify and demonstrate the obvious differences between Biblical, historical Christianity and Mormonism in the essential doctrines. In a legal arena this would be a case of fraud.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. So it is with the commentary of Michael Otterson, director of media relations for the Mormon Church. He writes, “The question, ‘Are Mormons Christian?’ is a good starting point for this discussion. When some conservative Protestants say Mormons aren’t Christian, it is deeply offensive to Latter-day Saints. Yet when Latter-day Saints assert their Christianity, some of those same Christians bitterly resent it. Why? Because both sides are using the same terms to describe different things…Mormons have no argument with assertions they are not ‘creedal Christians,’ or not ‘orthodox’ Christians, or ‘Trinitarian Christians!’ Frankly, the whole point of Mormonism is that it is different.” [17]

But then Otterson goes on to say that in order to best understand “how different,” one needs to go to Mormons themselves to find out – not to “pastors of other faiths, secular journalists, or by those whose self-interest lies in marginalizing a growing religion.”

Whereas I agree that secular journalists are not necessarily a good source (unless they are objective), but most Mormons do not have much depth of knowledge on Mormon doctrines and history. They have been fed an elementary diet, unfortunately much like many Christians.

The information on Mormonism which follows is directly from official, authoritative, LDS sources and is a reflection of some 30 years of study and interaction with Mormons, including several “general authorities.”

God

Christianity teaches that there is only One True God whose nature and Being is eternal (no beginning or end), omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable (unchanging), triune.

The Father is God, Jesus the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. They are not “a god,” or each separate gods. There is not another true God. There are many false gods and it is forbidden to worship these false gods (Deut. 6:4; Hosea 4:12; Is. 2:8,20; 17:8; 31:7; Jer. 10:5,10; Ps. 45:6,7; Gal. 3:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; Jas. 2:19; Jude 25). God explicitly denounces the existence of any other true god (Is. 44:6, 8; 43:10; 45:5, 20, 22).

Mormonism explicitly denounces and declares that God is not a Trinity, stating that belief to be pagan. Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie in his authoritative book, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith writes, “The false gods of Christendom bear the same names as the true gods of the Bible. Beyond this they have little resemblance. They are described in the creeds that the Lord told Joseph Smith were ‘an abomination in his sight’ (JS.H 1:19). Worship of the true and living God leads to salvation; the worship of false deities does not.” [18]

Mormonism teaches that there are many true gods. Their Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods for this world. “Apostle” McConkie writes, “As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists….in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation, and are thus gods.” [19]

In another official church publication and manual, “Celestial Marriage: Key to Exaltation,” the church authorities write, “man is a literal child of God and has the potential, if faithful to divine laws and ordinances, of becoming like his heavenly parent…Less well understood, however, is the fact that God is an exalted man who once lived on an earth and underwent experiences of mortality…The progression of our Father in heaven to godhood, or exaltation, was strictly in accordance with eternal principles…The Lord would have all his children attain exaltation, was strictly in accordance with eternal principles…The Lord would have all his children attain exaltation.” [20]

As the Mormon Prophet Lorenzo Snow wrote, “As man is, God once was. As God is, Man may become.” So, the Mormon God (the Father) was once a sinful human who through perfect works became a God and there are many Gods like him in other worlds, and other men (Mormons) may also attain Godhood.

Jesus Christ

The second person of the one true eternal God Being took on a human nature being born of the virgin Mary. He was fully God and fully man. He bore all sins of those who come to Him by faith alone and His righteousness is imputed to those who receive His as their Lord and Savior. Jesus warned of many false Christs and prophets who would come in His name, misleading many in the latter days (Mt. 24:3-5; 23-24). Paul also warned of false apostles and carriers of a different Jesus (2 Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15).

The Mormon “Jesus” has an entirely different DNA. He is not even a clone. Their Jesus only exists in the minds and on the pages of Mormon leaders.

Let’s begin with their view of the virgin birth. In the LDS Church publication, Family Home Evening Manual; they depict Jesus as being begotten the same natural way we are begotten by our mortal fathers. There is even a graphic printed of Daddy + Mommy = you, and then, Our Heavenly Father + Mary = Jesus. “Apostle” Bruce McConkie wrote, “Begotten means begotten, and Son means son, Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” [21]

Remember the LDS “Father” is a physical exalted man of flesh and bones. Someone needs to explain to Mormons what the word “virgin” means, and they need to be reminded that Mary was God’s own spirit daughter.

Wait, it gets worse. LDS doctrine teaches that both Jesus (who became a God) and Lucifer were brothers, literal sons of Father God and mother God, in the preexistence. [22] Again Bruce McConkie reiterates, “The devil is a spirit son of God born in the preexistence (D&C 76:25-26)…when the plan of salvation was presented…Satan offered to come into the worlds as the Son of God to be the Redeemer.” [23]

The LDS Jesus had a beginning. He had not always been a God. They write “all men and women are…literally the sons and daughters of Deity…Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ.” [24] In addition to these insurmountable differences, the Mormon Jesus atoned only for Adam’s transgressions versus the Biblical Jesus who atoned for all believers personal sins. The Mormon Jesus’ atonement was not able to cleanse some people of all their sins.

If this isn’t enough, the current LDS prophet uncharacteristically directly revealed this fact in a message delivered to members in Switzerland and Southern France, and printed in the official LDS Church News (6/20/98),

“In hearing of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ. No I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak.’”

There are many additional examples but this should suffice. So the LDS counterfeit Jesus was not always God, was one of many Gods, was created, was the Spirit brother of Lucifer, atoned only for Adam’s transgression, and offers only conditional salvation.

The Gospel

And finally the LDS “gospel” is exactly opposite the gospel of Christianity. The Christian gospel is that full salvation, eternal life, everlasting life in the presence of God is a free gift, not as a result of works – by grace alone. Good works are a result of being changed, being saved (Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-8). Justification is a forensic term meaning that we are declared no guilty based on the pure righteousness of Christ imputed or transferred to our account. We are saved not based on our righteousness but on His (Rom. 3:20-5:2; 1 Jn. 5:11-12; Phil. 3:9; almost the whole book of Galatians, especially beginning at 2:16).

The law requires perfection (Mt. 5:48; Gal. 3:10; Jas. 2:10), which is unattainable by all humans but only accomplished for us by Christ. His substitutionary atonement takes our deserved death, and takes us all the way into the very presence of God (exaltation), by grace and not by works (Eph. 2:4-9).

But the Mormon “different gospel” (Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:3-4) is exactly opposite. First we must decipher the semantics in order to compare “apples with apples.” Mormonism has two meanings for salvation – unconditional and conditional.

Unconditional salvation is their “salvation by grace.” Their Christ’s atonement was for Adam’s sin and therefore only conquered physical death for all. Everyone will be resurrected and thus “saved” by grace.

But conditional salvation is gained by grace (resurrection) and their works (perfection). This must be earned by complete obedience to all commandments, no sin, not even a temptation. This brings one to exaltation; the very presence of God where a man can still progress to become a God. But again, the Bible explicitly teaches that grace and works cannot be mixed for salvation (Rom. 11:6).

Hear the different gospel of Mormonism. “Salvation in the kingdom of God is available because of the atoning blood of Christ. But it is received only on condition of faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end by keeping the commandments of God.” [25]

Also among the requirements for exaltation is “those who live the commandments of the Lord and receive eternal life (exaltation) in the celestial kingdom will receive special blessings.” Among “specific ordinances we must have received to be exalted…repent of all wrongdoings…speak the truth always…listen to and obey the words of the prophets of the Lord. In other words, each person must endure in faithfulness, keeping all the commandments until the end of his life on earth.” [26]

And again, “apostle” and tenth “Prophet” Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “No unclean person can enter there…Therefore each who enters the kingdom must of his own free will accept all the laws and be obedient to them…Unless a man can abide strictly in complete accord, he cannot enter there…if there is one divine law that he does not keep he is banned from participating in the kingdom…we must be worthy in every point, or we fail…Every law must be obeyed, and no member of the Church can have a place there unless he is in full accord.” [27] This is Mission Impossible.

Craig Branch

Notes

  1. “What is it About Mormonism,” NY Times, 1/6/08.
  2. Conference Report 1912, p. 10
  3. Journal of Discourses, 2:182.
  4. Journal of Discourses 12:204.
  5. Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 70.
  6. Conference Report, Oct. 1961, p. 70; and Apr. 1963, p. 113.
  7. www.lawandjustice.org
  8. Gospel Principles, 1995 ed, p 55.
  9. The Master’s Church, p 7-8.
  10. Journal of Discourses, V8, p 223.
  11. Journal of Discourses, V6, p 167.
  12. Doctrines of Salvation, p 282-283.
  13. Pearl of Great Price, 1:19.
  14. 12/84, p 8-9.
  15. “The Great Apostasy,” www.mormon.org.
  16. LDS Newsroom – The Godhead.
  17. “On Faith,” Washington Post, 12/10/07.
  18. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p 55.
  19. Mormon Doctrine, p 576-577.
  20. “Each Father had a Father,” Doctrines of Salvation, 2:47.
  21. Family House Even Manual, pg 547.
  22. Gospel through the Ages, pg 16.
  23. Mormon Doctrine, p 192-193.
  24. Gospel Principles, p 9.
  25. “What the Mormons Think of Christ,” pg 20.
  26. Gospel Principles, p 290-292.
  27. Answers to Gospel Questions, V3, p 26-27.
2376 Lakeside Drive
Birmingham, AL 35244
205-552-5597
x