Brace Yourself for the Anti-Mormon Slime Machine
If Mitt Romney manages to win the GOP nomination, then we need to hope he is far better-prepared to handle the liberals' anti-Mormon slime machine than he was prepared to handle intra-party jabs at his Bain record, his tax returns, and his flip-flopping.
I would be quite dishonest if I said that I wasn't worried about what the liberals and their lackeys in the press will do to defame the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in their win-at-any-cost zeal to re-elect Barack Obama. Mitt Romney's religious faith is likely to be mocked, sensationalized, disparaged, and dragged through the media gutters. It could even be uglier than the fanning of racial tensions and demonization of the wealthy, also projects pushed by the Obama machine.
If that were not bad enough, moderate, not-particularly-religious voters in the general election may well be susceptible to the filth. That prospect is looming like the big, fat, completely unacknowledged elephant in the nomination room. Republicans seem to believe that if they don't talk about it, then neither will the Democrats.
That's just more than a little naïve, in my opinion.
Here's a clue for the GOP ostrich-class. When Barack Obama and his surrogates slyly played the race card against the wife of the "First Black President" to jujitsu the Clinton machine, your country-club blinders should have hit the dustbin with sentient ferocity.
And just because the GOP establishment ruled Jeremiah Wright and his un-Christian black liberation theology out of bounds, they may be now thinking Barack Obama's super PACs wouldn't dare -- would not dare -- to use Mitt's Mormonism to attack him.
What an adorable fantasy that is. Almost too cute for words.
And far too naïve for shrewd Republican primary voters to indulge.
The only way to beat off an attack you know is coming is to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best. I've seen no sign, so far, that Mitt Romney has adequately prepared for any of the easily predictable attacks against him, which is a glaring deficit in his managerial competence credentials.
So, how might the liberal slime machine work to instill fear of the first LDS president among the fence-sitting moderate and not-particularly-religious independent voters?
Well, here's one clue from Slate in 2006. Jacob Weisberg, then chief editor at Slate (a Washington Post company), wasn't the least bit reticent in this piece, titled "A Mormon president? No way." While acknowledging that some might call him a "religious bigot," Weisberg nevertheless came out blasting -- not against Mormonism's "cult" status among mainline Christians, but against "the founding whoppers of Mormonism."
The LDS church holds that Joseph Smith, directed by the angel Moroni, unearthed a book of golden plates buried in a hillside in Western New York in 1827. The plates were inscribed in "reformed" Egyptian hieroglyphics - a nonexistent version of the ancient language that had yet to be decoded. [Snip] Smith was able to dictate his "translation" of the Book of Mormon first by looking through diamond-encrusted decoder glasses and then by burying his face in a hat with a brown rock at the bottom of it. He was an obvious con man. Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don't want him running the country.
Weisberg's was a withering attack, aimed not at righteousness, but at the non-religious twin jugulars of reason and intelligence.
Christopher Hitchens, outright foe of all religions, saved some of his most virulent intellectual attacks for Islam and the Latter-Day Saints:
If the followers of the prophet Muhammad hoped to put an end to any future "revelations" after the immaculate conception of the Koran, they reckoned without the founder of what is now one of the world's fastest-growing faiths. And they did not foresee (how could they, mammals as they were?) that the prophet of this ridiculous cult would model himself on theirs.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- hereafter known as the Mormons -- was founded by a gifted opportunist who, despite couching his text in openly plagiarized Christian terms, announced that "I shall be to this generation a new Muhammad" and adopted as his fighting slogan the words, which he thought he had learned from Islam, "Either the Al-Koran or the sword." He was too ignorant to know that if you use the word al you do not need another definite article, but then he did resemble Muhammad in being able only to make a borrowing out of other people's bibles.
Hitchens, like Weisberg, questioned not the "cult" label applied to Mormonism among mainline Christians, but rather the intelligence of any reasonable adult who would put his faith in a putatively proven charlatan. Hitchens reminded his readers that shortly before Mormon "prophet" Joseph Smith "discovered" the Book of Mormon on the golden tablets, which only he could translate, he was convicted of "being a disorderly person and an imposter." In an 1826 Bainbridge, New York courtroom, "prophet" Smith had admitted that he had "defrauded" people and that he possessed dark or "necromantic" powers.
And as Weisberg cannily noted in 2006, whether Moses and/or Jesus might also have been religious charlatans, there is certainly not now any easily obtained historical record to this effect. Religions thousands of years old require faith, to be sure, but the Latter-Day Saints' less than two centuries in existence, and with historical evidence of their prophet's sketchy police record so abundant, requires squelching one's reason to put faith in it.
Other Mormons now serve in American government, unmolested by fervent attacks on their intelligence and beliefs. But Mitt Romney, seeking the mantle of first LDS president, who, if elected, will unseat the first black president, will have no such genteel protection.
The doctrines and founding stories of any religion can be mocked, of course. But the LDS, whose doctrines are unfamiliar to most gentiles (as the LDS refer to non-Mormon people) is especially vulnerable. Those asking Mormon questions won't need to rely on Baptist or Catholic theologians or upon the definition of a "cult" to give them ample fodder. They can merely go to Wikipedia and ask about the Mormon belief in "exaltation" and "eternal progression":
In Mormonism, the goal of each adherent is to achieve "exaltation" via the atonement of Jesus, as a result of which they inherit all the attributes of God the Father, including godhood. Mormons believe that these people will become gods and goddesses in the afterlife, and will have "all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge". Moreover, Mormons teach that exalted people will live with their earthly families and also "have spirit children". Their cosmic posterity will continue to grow forever.
According to the belief, exaltation is available only to those who have earned the highest "degree" of the Celestial Kingdom. As prerequisites for this "greatest gift of God", adherents believe that either in this life or the afterlife, they must become "perfect", they must participate in all the required ceremonies, and their exaltation must be "sealed upon them" by the Holy Ghost via the Second Anointing. One of the key qualifications for exaltation is being united in a celestial marriage to an opposite-sex partner via the ordinance of sealing, either in person or by proxy after they have died. In the 19th century, some leaders of the LDS Church taught that participation in plural marriage was also a requirement of exaltation. The LDS Church abandoned the practice over a century ago and teaches that only a single celestial marriage is required for exaltation. However, this practice is still taught by Mormon fundamentalists.
Once American voters are cognizant of Mitt Romney's belief that his earthly perfection and Mormon tithes are necessary for his "exaltation" to godhood, they may see his life of abstinence and good works through a different lens. And believing those lenses will be rose-colored seems quite gullible or ignorant, or both.
Of course, the worst attacks on Mormonism will be based not on cosmology or theology, but upon the more earthly concerns about the Latter-Day Saints' history.
Until 1979, the Mormons were an unapologetic racist organization, which denied any level of priesthood to any man of African descent, regardless of his skin color. Again, citing Wikipedia, from the Book of Mormon, referring to descendents of "Laminites" (African tribes):
And [God] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities." (2 Nephi 5:21)
Citing new "revelation," the Mormon hierarchy removed the African ban to its priesthood in 1979. Just as the Mormons had abandoned polygamy to gain statehood for Utah, they abandoned the belief in the "curse" of dark skin and African lineage.
Unfortunately, when Mitt Romney attempts to gain the mantle of first Mormon president by unseating the first black president, this racist history will become a centerpiece of the electoral battle.
Polygamy may be old and outdated Mormon doctrine, but how many average female voters will be willing to ignore it altogether? On the night of the Iowa caucuses, the Lifetime Movie Network played its Brigham Young polygamy extravaganza movie, The Nineteenth Wife. The movie features a modern woman battling polygamy still within a fundamentalist Mormon sect. Republicans should expect this issue to be repeated ad nauseam during the general election if Romney is the nominee.
While social conservatives make common cause with Mormons on a score of issues, social liberals (even fiscal conservatives allied with Republicans) will have a heyday with the Mormons' history of homophobia. Lest anyone has forgotten the vitriol of California's Proposition 8 fight, the liberals' anti-Mormon slime machine will no doubt provide ample reminders. Members of the LDS church put millions into the passage of Proposition 8, while its leaders invoked on-the-ground volunteer assistance. As reported by the LA Times in 2008:
Proposition 8 opponents estimate that members of the Mormon Church gave more than $20 million to the effort to pass the measure, though that is difficult to confirm because records of campaign donations do not include religious affiliation.
On the issues related to racism, feminism, and homophobia, Obama will have no worries about voter turnout if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee. The liberal shock troops will come out in droves perhaps even surpassing those of 2008 to stop the first Mormon president from unseating the first black president.
While Mitt Romney is trying to explain the particulars of high finance and private equity firms, he will also be required to deal with the liberals' anti-Mormon slime machine. And Republicans can only hope that he is better-prepared on this front than he has been on others.
Kyle-Anne Shiver is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and PJ Media. She welcomes your comments at www.kyleanneshiver.com.