When the news of Mitt Romney’s Florida video broke on Monday evening, I was incensed — but not for its political implications. His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share — the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is “to take care of the poor and needy throughout the world.”
My first impulse was to rent an airplane towing a banner: “Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism!”
I was a supporter of Romney 1.0. That was in late 2007, when we had far more in common. We are both Mormons and we both served foreign missions for our church at the same time, he in France and I in Brazil. Some of my best friends had been some of his best friends for decades. Although I am a registered Democrat, his accomplishments as Governor of Massachusetts appealed to me. I contributed the maximum amount to his early presidential primary bid…
Early in 2008, to my dismay, Romney 1.0 became Romney 2.0 by moving far enough to the right to lose my support. He has kept moving ever farther to the right. He has made this move in a successful attempt to gain the nomination, and in an ongoing attempt to persuade no more than 53 percent of the country that he should be the next President.
…That he is the only Mormon ever to be the nominee for the Presidency of a major political party makes it inevitable that even if people do not judge him because of his religion, they will judge his religion because of him. Given the unfolding news of this week, I regret to say that Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism.
…The face of Mormonism is the one that calls on some of its members, particularly bishops and stake presidents, to devote as many hours gratis to their church jobs as they do to their professional jobs. It is the one that summons up extraordinary acts of love, compassion and generosity, often in response to the deepest tragedies of life — and death.
But it is not the one that dismisses out-of-hand half the population of the United States by saying, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives…”
The very basis of Mormon community, stretching back to the earliest years of Mormonism nearly two centuries ago, is that the more able have a sacred obligation to assist the less able…
Judge Mitt Romney as you will, and vote for or against him as you will; but do not judge Mormonism on the basis of the Mitt Romney that was unveiled to the public this week. He is not the face of Mormonism.
Well said, Gregory Prince. A leading Mormon scholar, a historian who puts a generational persona on the dialectic stream that becomes the present – Prince stands up for the values that formed this religion like many other Christian religions. Love, kindness and aid for your fellow human beings.
Romney behaves like the princes of today’s Catholic Church or the Bible Belt hustlers who sell religious cred through their universities, pre-recorded prayers and genuine virgin acrylic bubba hats. He demeans the reasons believers want to believe. He’d rather they were True Believers. Unquestioning. Bigoted. Stuck in the past that never was.
He is the face of Mammon – not Mormon.