It's been a while since I've done one of these, mostly because I tend to spend my weekends trying to relax given that I normally put in 14-hour work days during the week.
Chances are you've seen this by now. It was shot in 2007, during Mitt Romney's first presidential campaign, and features an agitated Romney going at it with a conservative radio host in Des Moines over the subject of Mormonism. The video inexplicably popped back into the public eye over the past few days, more than likely as an attempt to embarrass Romney, who really does look quite a bit like Tom Cruise raving about Scientology throughout a good portion of the clip. Yeah, it's amusing to hear a grown man -- one who otherwise seems to be in possession of all his faculties -- actually arguing that when Jesus Christ returns to Earth during the apocalypse, he's going to govern from Jerusalem and, well, Missouri. But the reality is that the every faith-based religion's epistemology is pretty much nuts; you can't laugh at the outlandish notion of Jesus setting up camp in Missouri while seeing nothing crazy about believing in Jesus as the son of God who's going to come back to rule the planet in the first place.
I've said this before many times but it's one of those things that seems necessary to bring up each time questions of religion become a prevailing factor in our nation's politics: Under no circumstances should we be voting for someone based on which ancient superstition he or she adheres to or what magic entity he or she worships. I get that this is a tall order, but given the issues that face this country right now, I couldn't care less how a leader's "faith" guides him, given that faith is a ridiculous conceit somehow made less ridiculous only when it's applied to questions of who supposedly created the universe and what he expects from us. Faith won't get us out of the mess we're currently in. It's not a plan.
Romney truly believes that there's going to be Armageddon and that Jesus will eventually ride in from the sky on a winged horse and rule us all from Jerusalem and Missouri. Barack Obama, as reasonable and rational as he is, claims to believe almost the same thing or something at least equally crazy. Every four years we watch the people who want to be the leader of the free world effusively pander to those in the thrall of a mass delusion -- men and women whose childish beliefs are lent credence simply by virtue of the fact that we've decided that there's sanity in numbers and that reality is subject to consensus -- and just accept it as the way things go in America.
Romney's religious views are thoroughly insane. But they're no more insane than just about anyone else's religious views. It would be nice if we finally got to the point where our leaders could say that out loud.
Adding: Putting aside discussions about Romney's faith being so weird that it's not at all weird, the guy he and the radio host fall all over themselves to praise -- Cleon Skousen -- really was a fundamentalist far-right nutjob. Read on.
Now, from the DXM archive and for your Sunday reading enjoyment...
"The Sectarian Candidate" (Originally Published, 12.6.07)
***FROM THE CAMPAIGN TO ELECT MITT ROMNEY: NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE***
What follows is the initial draft of today's (12/6/07) scheduled speech by Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for President of the United States. The purpose of the address will be to allow Mr. Romney the opportunity to explain his Mormon faith to America, in the hope of creating a better understanding and acceptance of the faith's spiritual tenets and practices. The corrections, as well as the notes and instructions in boldface, have been written by Mr. Romney himself except where noted.
My fellow Americans,
You now have two earth minutes to surrender or be destroyed.
I come to you today, not simply as a proud citizen of this country, nor merely as a candidate for President of the United States, but as a man of faith.
There's been some concern over the past few months about my religious beliefs, specifically, questions in regard to the Mormon faith itself. Many Americans want to know what it is, what it stands for, who is behind it,
is it just as warm and cuddly as that "Big Love" show, what is its relation to Christianity?
I'm here to tell you that you have nothing to fear -- that the Church of Latter Day Saints has a plan for your life,
and that it involves tax evasion and three wives in every home. The church and its storied belief system were founded by the great Prophet Joseph Smith, who, when he wasn't searching for buried treasure, trying to con local hillbillies, or sitting in a jail cell, dedicated his life to pulling a "religion" out of his ass in an effort to rip off his arch-nemesis, the U.S. Government spreading the word of the one true God. (Remember to pause dramatically in between one, true and God)
Prophet, Seer and Revelator Smith was the sole vessel for the most recent Testament of Jesus Christ, as told to him by several "angelic beings," including the resurrected prophet known as "Moroni."
(The "C" is silent.) These were called hallucinations "Revelations." To make a very long and unbelievably convoluted story short, after transcribing the word of God on a set of mysterious, invisible golden plates, Prophet Smith built a brand new ponzi scheme church from the ground up and took himself and his followers west due mostly to the fact that they were run out of almost every town they tried to settle in, to Utah.
The faith the Prophet founded was special, like no other
(insofar as it was, in fact, like every other faith simply because Prophet Smith created it by unimaginatively swiping tenets and concepts from already established religions like Christianity and Judaism). As such, it developed many dupes followers during its formative period -- the lengthy era between the church's inception and its final settlement in Utah.
Along the way, the Prophet was visited by many more visions -- even Jesus stopped by the see him, at one point presenting him with the "New Covenant" (what became known as "The Principle"). This dictated that polygamy was not only condoned, but demanded by God. (Look stern)
David Koresh Joseph Smith of course passed this commandment on to his people -- particularly the women, whose subservience was now nothing less than a holy mandate under pain of eternal torment -- and thus, plural marriage became a staple of this new religion , one that would only be truly abandoned when the entire state of Utah found itself ostracized and excluded from the union, and eventually the government began confiscating everything polygamist families owned.
As it grew, Mormonism became the church of inclusion and equality,
unless you were black, gay or a woman which helped to make it the fast-growing faith that it is today.
It also is and always has been a religion of peace
(not counting the Mountain Meadows massacre of 1857, in which Mormon militiamen executed hundreds of unarmed men, women and children, then tried to pin it on the local Indians) .
(***Note from Campaign "Technician": Please be aware that Romney-VI will need to be plugged into the charger for at least an extra 20 minutes to remain animated for this length of time.***)
As I stand before you to ask you to elect me to the highest office in the land, I want to reassure you about the warm relationship the Church of Latter Day Saints has always shared with the United States government -- which I hope to be the leader of in the near future. Mormons have always had the utmost respect for the United States
when they weren't trying to secede from the union or were arrogantly refusing to recognize the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. And while none of Joseph Smith's insane pronouncements or prophecies ever came true, that's no reason not to believe that Scientology Mormonism is not a legitimate faith -- one that can and should be accepted by both the American people and the government we all hold so dear.
And about faith in general, I must say this...
"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adam's words: 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people."** (I like this. Gotta keep it. It'll piss off the bloggers.)
"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong."** (This is great. It'll show those God-haters who believe in all that science. Remember to keep this in.)
To sum up today ladies and gentlemen, let me make one final point about my particular faith -- and it is one which simply cannot be argued with.
The beliefs of Mormons are no more curious...
No more outlandish...
And no more preposterous...
Than than the beliefs of any other faith.
Thank you, and God Bless America.
(**Actual excerpts from Romney's prepared address. By the way, to learn every dirty little secret about the real history of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and its extremist spinter cell, the FLDS, I highly recommend reading Jon Krakauer's excellent 2003 bestseller Under the Banner of Heaven.)