Tag Archives: politics

Mitt, Mormons, and “the Moment”

As you have read elsewhere on this blog, Mormons have a peculiar brand of patriotism when it comes to the United States of America. While they are not the only Christian sect to believe that God favors America above all other nations, they take that belief literally. God brought about the founding of the United States specifically for the purpose of founding His church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So says Mormon doctrine.

But it doesn’t end there. Mormons believe the future of their church and the future of the nation are inextricably intertwined in the Divine Plan; that one cannot succeed without the other. This belief is based largely on the so-called White Horse Prophecy attributed to Mormonism’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith, which says:

“…the time [will] come when the Constitution [will] hang as by a thread and at that time when it [is] thus in jeopardy, the elders of this Church [will] step forth and save it from destruction.”

(This prophecy is the basis for the political thriller By A Thread, in which a young Mormon missionary is convinced by this and other Mormon scriptures to embark upon a CIA mission that leads him into a conspiratorial underworld that does indeed threaten the Constitution.)

As the 2012 presidential election nears, Mormons who believe that the prophesied moment has come in the person of Mitt Romney, are urging each other to help fulfill the prophecy. The following is just one example of the messages, posts, and emails that are circulating among the LDS faithful:

We were contacted today and asked to participate in a fast on Sunday for Mitt Romney and asked to enlist others to do the same.  That’s what this email is about. It is specifically to pray for him to have the Spirit with him during all the debates, but especially this first one.

Some suggestions of what to pray for are that he may have clarity of mind, recall of information, strength of convictions and present himself as strong and confident.  You’ve no doubt heard it said that this is the most important election in many years.  We are not only electing a President, but defining the future of the United States of America by the choices that we make.  If we live righteously, the Lord will continue to bless this covenant land as He has promised.

If you feel that this is something that you would like to be a part of, wonderful.  If you feel comfortable enlisting others to join in, even better!  As the Primary children will tell us on Sunday, we need to “Choose the Right.”

Update: The Huffington Post has since picked up this story. Read it here.

Will the prayers of the faithful be the key to Mitt Romney’s success? If he wins, will it be the fulfillment of prophesy long awaited by Mormons? Will he indeed “save” the Constitution? How might he do that? And from what would he be saving it?

More importantly, what will faithful Latter-day Saints think if Romney loses? Will they believe that they are at fault because they didn’t pray fervently enough? Will God’s plan be frustrated? Or will they attribute Romney’s loss to the candidate himself?

More than likely they will just conclude that the Moment is not yet, that they were mistaken in their belief that Mitt was the prophesied savior of the Constitution. And they will settle in and wait for the next White Horse candidate.

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PolyRomnogamy: Mitt’s many great-grandmothers

Mormons and politics in the news…

Senseless Confidential:

Polygamy provides one of several tongue-in-cheek themes for the humor in the comedic romp that is Senseless Confidential. But in real life it is a serious business, practiced in the United States predominantly by offshoots of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons), which no longer condones the practice and has no affiliation with the “apostate” churches the religion has spawned over the last 182 years.

Occasionally polygamy pops into the consciousness of the mainstream media, as with the case of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs, jailed a few years back for his role in the “taking” of underage girls to wife (a fact that is mentioned in the novel). But, more recently, polygamy has been in the spotlight because of the ascendance of Willard Mitt Romney as a contender for the U.S. presidency. It’s no secret that GOP Presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney comes from a line…

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Mitt Romney and Misunderstood Mormons

The future can’t be proven. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. The world is brimming with philosophies and religions that declare with absolute certainty what no one can possibly know. Religions in particular specialize in describing for us what we cannot see, as well as what the future holds for us once we leave this mortal existence. That in itself is a pretty strange concept. It should not surprise us then that religious speculation about the world beyond this one sometimes sounds like science fiction.

Are Mormon beliefs strange? Though their religious doctrines originated with the Bible, as did those of other Christian churches, Mormons are often accused of being stranger than most. But is that a fair assessment? Sure, they believe God the Father has a body of flesh and bones, and that he resides on a distant planet named Kolob. But compare that to, say, Catholic doctrine: that God is three persons in one, and that he fills the Universe, without form. The latter might be more familiar to most Americans, but which one is actually stranger?

Are Mormons Christians? Are they a cult? Are they neither, or both? As Willard Mitt Romney plods toward clinching the GOP nomination for President of the United States, these questions—and the deeper discussions that hinge on them—are being asked more and more frequently about Latter-day Saints. Just recently I listened to a liberal talk radio show where neither the callers nor the host seemed to have many facts at their disposal (though there was plenty of urban legend) about Mormons. Let’s consider a few of the topics they explored.

Is Mitt Romney a Christian? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” The official name of his church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Are Mormons Fundamentalist Christians? No. So most fundamentalist Christians maintain that Mormons are therefore not Christian at all. But Christians come in many flavors. Mormons, like most Christians, believe that Jesus of Nazareth is divine, the son of God the Father, and that eternal salvation is possible through his sacrifice for those who repent and are baptized as he was, by immersion in water. That’s pretty Christian.

Is Mormonism a cult? Yes and no, depending on your definition. There’s a fine line between indoctrination and brainwashing. When anyone raises a child with the belief that there is only one true way, one true organization, and that straying from either leads to eternal punishment and estrangement from those you love, that’s pretty darn close to brainwashing. But Mormons don’t really differ from devout Catholics in this from a doctrinal standpoint (although Catholics are much more lax in practice than Mormons). And Orthodox Jews can be said to be equally rigorous in hewing to strict doctrinal and social behaviors, the violation of which would result in ostracization from the religious body. Heck, some Christian  Fundamentalist sects will expel you for dancing. Footloose, anybody? (And the original was filmed in Utah Valley!) So Mormons aren’t so different from other religious bodies in requiring compliance to rigid social standards.

Does Mitt Romney wear “magic” underwear and participate in secret rituals behind closed doors? Yes, presumably. As does any Mormon “in good standing.” But temple garments with tiny commemorative symbols are employed only as reminders of “sacred” covenants one has made, and Mormonism is not alone in such practices. Jews wear clothing that they believe God has commanded them to wear: yarmulkes and prayer shawls. And Masons, though not a religion, participate in temple ceremonies very similar to those of Mormons, which are likewise restricted to members. So what if people put on funny clothes when they perform rituals? Priests and pastors have been doing this for millennia.

Does Mitt Romney pledge allegiance to the president of his church? Kind of. All good Mormons are required to regularly reaffirm their belief that the current president is a “prophet, seer, and revelator,” as was the church’s 1830 founder, Joseph Smith, and that they will “sustain” him in word and deed. And while the church has no doctrine of infallibility regarding this individual (as do Catholics regarding the pope), there is a de facto belief throughout the LDS church that the prophet can never lead church members astray. What “astray” means is open to debate. What Romney believes is anybody’s guess, but he doesn’t “take orders” from the prophet any more than Catholics take orders from the pope. In fact, it seems much more likely that Rick Santorum would do the pope’s bidding, than Romney would that of his own church’s prophet.

Where things really get interesting however, is in the matter of the Mormon Church’s belief in its own divine role in America’s history and future. I treat this topic in previous posts regarding belief in a prophecy by Joseph Smith that “the time will come when the Constitution and the Government will hang by a thread and will be ready to fall…but this people, the Latter-Day Saints, will step forth and save it.” This prophecy, coupled with the church’s teaching that the U.S. Constitution was inspired by God for the divine purpose of establishing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a free land, forms the basis of my political thriller “By A Thread: A tale of truth, trust, and betrayal.”

I purposely blurred the lines between reality and fiction for best effect, prompting one reviewer to remark, “As Beaudet adds layer on layer to the story, it’s like a punch in the gut. I kept thinking, this could really happen.” Many other readers have had a s similar reaction.

But fiction aside, it is interesting to contemplate the effect that belief in this prophecy will have on not only Mitt Romney’s perspective on his possible presidency, but on the Mormons who believe he represents, in part at least, the fulfillment of it. Mormons aren’t as crazy or different as Fundamentalist Christians and Rick Santorum would have us believe, but the Mormons’ rigid tenacity to the belief that they are chosen by God to perform a “marvelous work and a wonder” in the last days will make them worth watching as this election year proceeds.

—Marty Beaudet, author of the political thriller By A Thread and the psychological thriller Losing Addison, is a one-time practitioner of both Catholicism and Mormonism, and is at present a disinterested party when it comes to matters of religion.

Mormon US President a fulfillment of prophecy?

As momentum builds toward an assumed Mitt Romney GOP presidential nomination, many Mormons see him as the fulfillment of a prophecy attributed to the faith’s founder, Joseph Smith. Just as Kevin “Red” Davis, the LDS protagonist of the political thriller “By A Thread” is persuaded to work undercover for the government by the prophecy, so too are real-life BYU students being drafted to serve.

According to this article on BuzzFeed, BYU students are being bussed across the country to provide cheers and supportive audiences for Mitt Romney, whom many of them, no doubt, believe “will save the Constitution [as] it hangs by a thread” in the last days.

Truth and fiction coincide in this aspect of the storyline of “By A Thread,” itself named for this very prophecy. For Mormons, Romney’s election would be both a vindication of their founding prophet, and a sign that the end is indeed near. They are, after all, the Saints of the Latter Days.

 

Will Mormons save the Constitution?

According to LDSResources.net, 2010 Idaho GOP gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell, a Mormon, said, “To think that we can save the Constitution without God’s help when the government of the United States is corrupt is absurdity. We are in America’s second Revolutionary War to save our freedom, which we paid for with blood. We need God’s help and I’m not ashamed to ask for it. I do not believe this responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of the LDS elders, but I do believe the LDS elders will play a significant role in it, and I believe I am one of those elders. I am tired of people telling me that I can’t bring God and the Constitution into my campaign speeches.”

Rammel’s position appears to be based on the apocryphal LDS “White Horse Prophecy” attributed to Joseph Smith, Jr., Mormonism’s founding prophet. It is paraphrased here by a former president (also purported “prophet, seer, and revelator) of the LDS Church, Harold B. Lee in the early 1970’s:

Joseph Smith said that the time would come when the Constitution would hang as by a thread and at that time when it was thus in jeopardy, the elders of this Church would step forth and save it from destruction.

This prophecy figures prominently in the political thriller By A Thread, in which a young Mormon missionary is convinced by this and other prophetic statements to embark upon a CIA mission that leads him into a conspiratorial underworld that does indeed threaten the Constitution. In fiction, the Mormon belief in this prophecy motivates both good and evil forces to act to fulfill it. Will it have similar power in the real world of politics now that there are two Mormon “elders” running for President?

One wonders if the current LDS candidates for the GOP nomination to President of the United States, Ambassador Jon R. Huntsman and Governor Mitt Romney, the presumed front-runner, harbor feelings similar to Rammel’s regarding the significance of their candidacies. Does either of them expect to be one of “the elders of this Church would step forth and save” the Constitution?

 

President Romney—A fulfillment of prophecy?

With a Mormon now anointed for the Republican U.S. Presidential nomination, it’s worth reflecting on just what orthodox Mormons believe with regard to the faith’s role in the politics “of the last days.”

In my political thriller By A Thread, the young protagonist, a Mormon missionary, gets caught up in intense political intrigue, during which he is schooled in the convergence of Mormon doctrine, its attendant folklore, and the US Constitution. Recruited as a CIA operative, Elder Kevin “Red” Davis is reminded by a church leader of a Mormon scriptural passage that reads:

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.

This, ostensibly, is God speaking. Mormons believe God “established the Constitution” of the United States. This, one might surmise, could imbue candidate Mitt Romney with a sense of “divine right” or “providential inevitability” in his quest for the Presidency. Yes, he’s lost before. But that doesn’t preclude a belief that such a destiny is at some point inevitable. Such speculation is further underscored by an apocryphal pronouncement by the LDS Church’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith.

In order to persuade the hesitant Elder Davis that his CIA mission is divinely inspired, the Mormon leader in By A Thread has the young missionary read aloud the founding prophet’s purported declaration, as stated by Harold B. Lee, a later prophet in the LDS line of succession:

Joseph Smith said that the time would come when the Constitution would hang as by a thread and at that time when it was thus in jeopardy, the elders of this Church would step forth and save it from destruction.

Does Romney also believe this? Who knows. We do know that fellow Mormon Glenn Beck certainly believes it. Beck was very vocal on his recently canceled TV show about his belief that the time referred to in this quote is now. That this is the day of which Joseph Smith spoke, when the Constitution “hang[s] as by a thread.” It is no leap at all for other, similarly inclined Mormons to conclude that Mitt Romney is one of the “elders” (an office to which Romney has been ordained) destined to “save it from destruction.” Romney himself might even believe this.

Now, it depends on your political and religious inclinations to determine whether you see this as a good thing or a bad thing. Fearmongers at both ends of the political spectrum have been declaring the Constitution in jeopardy for at least a decade now. Those on the left cite the Patriot Act and George Bush’s disregard for habeus corpus (enshrined in the Magna Carta centuries before the US Consitution) as evidence; on the right it’s the supposed Muslim and Communist training of Barack Obama that has them convinced. In both cases, the present political campaign is seen as a life and death effort to save the Consititution.

If you’re on the left, Romney is most certainly not your savior. Yet even if you’re on the right, unless you’re a devout Mormon, you might still have trouble seeing a Mormon as divinely inspired to save anything, let alone something as important as your country. For most Mormons however, there will be little doubt who they should vote for. Even those who may have heretofore viewed the “by a thread” prophecy with some skepticism must be asking themselves now whether there might not be a thread of truth in it.

Spies—Reality vs Fiction

Hollywood loves its shootouts, car chases, and explosions. And to some extent these have a basis in real life: who hasn’t watched one or more “breaking news” high-speed chases live on TV? (Not to mention the OJ Simpson “low-speed” chase seared into everyone’s memory.) And escalating gang violence has inured us to the shock and outrage we should feel when gunshots ring out on our city streets.

Yet when it comes to espionage in books or on the silver screen, writers often get it wrong. Either from a desire to sate the audience’s lust for violence, or out of sheer ignorance of the subject, writers often depict gun-wielding spies stalking one another in dark alleys, engaging in at least one shootout or car chase at regular intervals. This is far from reality.

The very nature of intelligence gathering—the primary activity of a spy—means operating below the radar. That’s what “clandestine” means: “hidden, or sub-rosa.” A shootout in broad daylight or a high-speed car chase is almost unheard of. The rare exception might have been extractions (assisted escapes) from Berlin in the days of the Wall, when an operation was blown or exposed at a checkpoint. But by and large, a good spy novel has none of these cheap Hollywood devices.

In my political thriller By A Thread, the young Mormon missionary Kevin “Red” Davis is recruited by the CIA for a “one-off” intelligence-gathering assignment. While it doesn’t go as planned—and therein lies the excitement—our protagonist never even owns a gun. And although there are men in cars hurrying to catch opponents fleeing on foot, there are no dramatic crashes, explosions, or shootouts. They aren’t realistic and they aren’t necessary to sustain the drama. The stakes of the action, coupled with the character arc that occurs throughout the story, are sufficient to do that. (Just ask the numerous reviewers who were riveted by the story!)

Look at Jason Bourne: he lives by his wits, not by weapons. Sure, he blows someone up in Munich, he kills some people in unusual ways, and he engages in far too many extended vehicle chases to be realistic, but gunfights are not a part of daily life for the clandestine operative.  The last thing you want to do when you’re seeking secrets in a foreign country is to draw attention to yourself. Brandishing a weapon is the quickest way to do that!

And while there seems to be a morbid fascination with death in all facets of our popular culture, it isn’t always necessary in a good spy novel. Sure, a few people die in By A Thread. But the audience is not present for those deaths. Knowledge of them is sufficient to drive the well-crafted plot. Check it out for yourself, if you don’t believe me!

Click here for more info on By A Thread, the political thriller with a heart.