David Jones on Why Mitt Romney's Mormonism Does Matter
The Republican establishment must stop endorsing and supporting weak (or nominal) Pro-Life Presidential candidates.
Ultimately, politics is about winning. If Republicans continue to lose Presidential elections, elections which they should have won, maybe, just maybe, they will finally wake up. Let us pray this occurs. It is time for the Republican establishment to stop giving lip-service to the dignity of the unborn. They must stop endorsing and supporting weak (or nominal) Pro-Life Presidential candidates.
ST. JOSEPH,MO (Catholic Online) - Fr. Dwight Longenecker is a hero of mine. I own nearly every book that he has ever written. I have followed his writings for years. I am deeply grateful for his many years of public witness of his love of Christ and His Church. I write this article not so much as a fraternal correction to the errors of Fr. Longenecker's article about Mitt's Mormonism but as a way to lead a dialog about how Catholics should respond to Mitt's candidacy for President.
First, please allow me to give some personal background. I have studied Mormonism for the last 15 years. I have met with three different teams of Mormon missionaries over the years. This included dozens of meetings with them spanning over several months. I developed such a close friendship with one team that I actually visited them in their own apartment!
I also held other intense discussions, many times lasting several hours, with a fellow Mormon co-worker. That dialog with him went on for over a year. I have two entire book shelves of Mormon scriptures, non-fiction and fiction books and movies on or about Mormonism, official Mormon missionary training material, etc. From both sociological and historical perspectives Mormons are a fascinating group to study.
Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions in both the U.S. and in the world. Unfortunately many of the new Mormon converts are former Catholics. Their strongest growth tends to be in Catholic countries. It is not just a global problem for Catholics though, it is a local one as well for those of us here in the Kansas City region. A new Mormon Temple is being dedicated here on May 6. A major Mormon public affairs campaign has been underway here for months.
To combat their aggressive evangelization, the Kansas City - St. Joseph Diocesan catechetical institute (the Bishop Helmsing Institute) under the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn recently hosted a conference on Mormonism. Many folks are just unaware about what they believe. Education about what Mormons actually believe is important for us as Catholics to know.
I am not a former Mormon though nor do I claim to be an expert on Mormonism. If, as a Catholic you desire to learn more about Mormonism I would refer you to the talks and writings of Thomas Smith, Isaiah Bennett, Brian Paul, and Steve Clifford. I would also recommend getting the booklet Beginning Apologetics II - How to Answer Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons by Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham with the Foreword by Patrick Madrid.
In this article I am only sharing some things that I have learned over the years about what Mormons believe and some personal thoughts regarding how we as Catholics should respond to Mitt's candidacy for President. Mormons believe and teach that the soul pre-exists prior to entering the human body. The soul enters at birth.
That is why Mormon politicians can be either Pro-Choice or Pro-Life. That is why Mormons support embryonic stem research. That is why Mormons are typically weak on the Life issues. That is why Mitt Romney was Pro-Choice but now claims to be Pro-Life. It was politically expedient to be Pro-Choice in Massachusetts but now it is fine to be Pro-Life for his national campaign. More on this fact later.
Mitt Romney not only served as a Mormon missionary in France but was also considered a high priest, the equivalent of bishop to Catholics. He actually led his own local Mormon congregation at one time. It is impossible to reach that level without being a very serious, a very devout Mormon. To claim that Mitt Romney is not a real Mormon is simply not a credible argument if you know anything about Mormon culture and religious practices.
Tax returns show that Mitt Romney has donated a significant portion of his income to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. No one doubts Mitt Romney was and is serious about money. To believe that he has donated literally millions of dollars to Mormons over the years but doesn't actually believe in Mormonism itself is not a credible claim in my opinion.
Do you know Mitt's own Mormon family history in Mexico? Why did his family leave the United States? To escape not religious persecution but legal prosecution because they were polygamists after it had already been outlawed in Utah. Mitt Romney's own father was born in Mexico. For Mitt to not practice Mormonism would mean abandoning his entire family lineage and history.
In the few speeches that Mitt has ever given directly about his Mormon faith, he emphatically claims that he would never abandon it. I take him at his word about Mormonism, his own personal faith. It is one of the honest-to-goodness real convictions that he holds, unfortunately it appears as if the rest of his beliefs are like a bowl of Jell-O.
Here are several facts which Catholics must face regarding Mitt Romney:
1. A vote for Mitt is a vote for a non-Christian. What we know as a hard fact about Mitt Romney is that he is not a Christian from the official standpoint of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church does not recognize the baptism of Mormons as valid.
2. A vote for Mitt is a vote for someone who does not believe that creation begins at conception. There is no wonder why Mitt is so weak on the Life issues. It is rooted in a bad theology, a non-Christian anthropology.
3. A vote for Mitt is a vote for someone who appointed liberal Pro-Choice judges to the bench while he was Governor of Massachusetts. Can you trust him now to appoint conservative Pro-Life judges to the U.S. Supreme Court or will likely appoint moderates? Do you trust his record or rhetoric?
4. A vote for Mitt is a vote for someone who discriminated against the Catholic Church, specifically Catholic hospitals, while he was Governor in Massachusetts. If he had no problems violating the consciences of Catholics then, what will stop him from doing so against Catholics now? After all government mandated health care is his own model which has now been adopted nationally.
One could argue that not voting at all in the Presidential election this cycle is really a vote for Life. Not voting would be a vote against Mitt Romney but not a cooperation with evil by supporting a Pro-Choice candidate like our current President. The Republican establishment must stop endorsing and supporting weak (or nominal) Pro-Life Presidential candidates.
Ultimately, politics is about winning. If Republicans continue to lose Presidential elections, elections which they should have won, maybe, just maybe, they will finally wake up. Let us pray this occurs. It is about time for the Republican establishment to stop giving lip-service to the dignity of the unborn. Saving the lives of thousands of innocent and defenseless unborn children depend on us and how we vote, or not vote, this election cycle.
Disclaimer - The opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author and not those of the U.S. Army.
David Jones holds a Masters in Theological Studies from the Institute of Religious and Pastoral Studies, University of Dallas. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Pontifically recognized and approved ecclesial movement. He also runs a popular blog entitled La Nouvelle Theologie. His conversion story is published in the Italian book entitled Sotto Il Cielo D'America (Under the American Sky) written by Marco Bardazzi. The introduction of this book has been translated into English and is available on-line here. He also runs a popular blog entitled La Nouvelle Theologie http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/ and contributes to Journaling for Faith, Family, and Freedom.http://fffblog.posterous.com/
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