In most civilized countries, a leader’s religion is not germane to their fitness or ability to serve in government and it is a testament to true separation of church and state. In America’s Constitution, it clearly states in Article Six that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office,” and yet Republicans have questioned and challenged President Obama’s religious affiliation in their perpetual attempt to demean him as not American since 2008. Last week, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claimed that President Obama’s campaign team would “throw the Mormon church at him (Romney) like you can’t believe” and it informs that Hatch expects Democrats to stoop to the same despicable and unconstitutional level as Republicans. Hatch, like Willard Romney, is a Mormon.
It is unclear exactly why Hatch would state categorically that President Obama would bring Romney’s Mormonism into the campaign, but either he was attempting to conceal the church’s influence with politicians, head the Mormon issue off early, or inhibit the possibility of exposing valid concerns many Americans have that a Romney presidency would do the Mormon church’s bidding. Whatever Hatch’s reasoning is, it is painfully obvious that he is worried about what an examination of Mormonism can and will do to Romney’s campaign. In recent history, there are precedents of politicians obeying religious leaders in the execution of their duties, and besides being unconstitutional, it is troubling that an alleged secular government’s politicians would use their political offices to further a particular agenda that has as its basis religious dogmata.
The recent attacks on contraception coverage in health plans was instigated by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and pursued by Catholic legislators with assistance from conservative Christians and Republican presidential hopefuls, and there are signs that the USCCB is not yet finished using Republicans to influence American government with Vatican dogma. There is, however, a fairly recent incident involving Hatch and twelve other Mormon legislators using their offices to exert pressure on government at the request of the Mormon organization.
In Switzerland, new employment rules banned religions from sending missionaries (paid or unpaid) to their country to proselytize. The new law did not set well with LDS senior leaders and thirteen Mormon members of Congress sent a letter to the Swiss ambassador objecting to the ban and demanding an exception for Mormon missionaries. The letter, sent in late 2010 read, “We respectfully request that senior leaders of the LDS Church be given the opportunity to discuss this matter at the highest levels of the Swiss government,” and it precipitated a response from the Swiss ambassador that was polite, but rejected the notion that a foreign government acting on behalf of a religious organization had the right to interfere with a sovereign nation’s laws. Orrin Hatch commented that, “To me that was very disappointing, and that battle may not be over yet,” and it portends a serious problem if the thirteen Mormon lawmakers are representative of how a Mormon president would handle directives from the LDS faith’s top officials.
The Swiss incident does nothing to allay fears of some Americans that if church leaders can influence members of Congress who are Mormon with a simple request; what influence would the First Presidency have on a Mormon in the White House? In 2008 Willard said “I don’t try and distance myself in any way shape or form from my faith, but my church doesn’t dictate to me or anyone what political policies we should pursue.” It is typical for Romney to lie, but his remark is fallacious in light of the letter from the Mormon legislators to the Swiss government. Romney also said that during his four years as governor of Massachusetts, no-one from his church ever called or contacted him to take a position on any issue. It is hardly believable that the church hierarchy would contact thirteen lawmakers to object to a foreign government’s laws and yet never called on Romney to take a position favorable to the church or its moral beliefs, but that is Romney’s assertion and if he never lied, one could take him at his word.
According to Mormon scriptures, it is unjust “to mingle religious influence with civil government,” and yet the church had no compunction to use legislators to attempt to influence the Swiss civil government. LDS scriptures also say that governments should “secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience,” but Romney is on record opposing a woman’s right to choose and same-sex couples’ right to marry the person they love. But that is the problem with many religions; their scriptures appear to say the right things, but their leadership pursues contrary policies that restrict freedom and impose church doctrine on the entire population. Mormons also teach that god created governments to benefit mankind, but Republican Mormons in Congress have been relentless in using the government to assault the poor, children and senior citizens with cuts to safety nets while they work tirelessly to benefit the wealthy; and themselves.
It is possible that Orrin Hatch is frightened of a thorough investigation into the Mormon religion and how it influences Romney’s decision-making, and at what level his allegiance to the church supersedes secular government. It is difficult enough to comprehend, on any given day, what Romney’s position is on myriad issues, but with a little insight into his faith-driven beliefs, it may be possible to understand his hypocrisy, love of wealth, and penchant for lying. President Obama’s campaign team does not need to attack Romney for his religious beliefs because he has given Democrats a wealth of issues to challenge him on with everything from more tax cuts for the wealthy to pre-emptive war with Iran to concealing his finances to avoid paying taxes. The President will not “throw the Mormon church at Romney,” but there are advocates for truth who will.
Any American who has met a Mormon family will agree that they are kind and friendly people who give no outward appearance of untoward behavior; kind of like Willard Romney. However, outward appearances can be deceptive and based on Romney’s tendency to lie and diligence in promoting the wealthy over the rest of the country, it is prudent to discover how a lifetime of indoctrination in the Mormon cult shaped his wealthy elitism. Based on financial and business practices of the extremely wealthy LDS church, someone needs to throw it at Willard Romney to see what sticks. That Hatch is attempting to squelch the Mormon issue so early with no indication that the Obama campaign team intended to bring religion into the race leads one to believe that Americans may have one more reason to dislike Romney and his policies when they learn where they originated.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.