Deist Among The Mormons
I live in a beautiful rural valley of 700 people in eastern Idaho and after I came to live here I found out that Utah isn't the only place that is fifty percent Mormon. As a compulsively inquisitive geo-political junkie I decided to look through the Book of Mormon so I could learn a little about the belief of my neighbors. As with any outsider looking into another's faith, I found many outlandish passages that would require faith to swallow, however, this is a characteristic that all religions share. What I have learned of my Mormon neighbors in the years since my voyeuristic venture into the sacred book of the LDS Church is more telling. My anecdotal experiences have revealed to me that I couldn't have better neighbors or live in a finer community.
Although I can't achieve faith, I admire, and may be envious of those who do. One of the problems I find in my on going analysis of life and faith is the paradoxical dichotomy of religion that fosters the Achilles Heel of human nature, "tribalism." The tribalism of religion pits one religion against another; hence 99% of the worlds problems. The tribalism of Evangelicals is undermining the ability of their conservative brethren, the Mormons, to carry forward the flag of conservatism and I find this as an affront to common sense.
The foundation of conservatism is Family Values and I have found the Mormons certainly measure up. The Mormon faithful don't drink anything fun including, soft drinks, coffee or alcohol; they don't smoke cigarettes or use recreational drugs. They diligently tithe to their church and the church diligently reciprocates to the community providing community services and activities that welcome all, and in all my years of participating they have never pushed their beliefs on me.
My two boys are in the scouting programs; their Boy Scout and Cub Scout meetings are held in the Mormon Church. The scouting leaders apparently are assigned/requested to the position by the local bishop and they, happily, do so even if they don't have children in the scouting program. Evidently, these scouting leaders are obliged by faith to do their part to build a strong moral foundation for these children of the scouting programs to preserve continuity of an ethical and moral community. I am privileged to have my boys welcomed into such a scouting program. The Mormon Church accounts for almost fifteen percent of Boy Scout troops across the nation? Considering the liberal assault upon this wonderful, character building organization, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the LDS Church for its efforts to perpetuate the Boy Scouts of America.
The small elementary school where my boys attend is the model of what any conservative, Southern Baptist would be lucky to have in their own community. The LDS administrators have fostered an environment where liberal teachers do not feel at ease to advance the agenda of the National Educators Association (NEA), my children aren't taught that "Heather Has Two Mommies" and they haven't been forced to endure "Fahrenheit 911" or "An Inconvenient Truth." This conservatism in education has borne fruit as a disproportionate number of children of the community catapult to success in college and life. Nation wide, conservatives who can, pay extra money for private schools or home school their children so they can acquire an education like my public school provides right down the road.
As a seeker of knowledge that is too analytical to achieve faith, of any religion, I am befuddled by the apparent vitriolic animosity evangelical Christians have towards the followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons have been the equivalent of at least a couple of vertebra of the back bone of the Christian conservative movement who has brought to fruition the Reagan Revolution and all subsequent gains in the growth of the conservative movement. They are our friends not our enemies! We don't have to join their church but we can stand with them against a common foe.
During the Presidential election of 1988, as Peter Jennings was tallying up the electoral votes for George Herbert Walker Bush, Jennings commented: "Utah, with its three electoral votes, has voted Republican for as long as anyone can remember." The assumption in Jennings statement begged the question, is it really a given that Mormons vote Republican? History has borne out Jennings' remark and for good reason. There is a synonymic symbiosis between Republicans and Mormons but Mormons, as a voting block are more conservative than Republicans, this is because of the conservatism of their faith. Both groups tout solid traditional family values, limited government intervention, and foster entrepreneurial thinking.
Mormon representation in American politics has grown far beyond their numbers. Five million Mormons live in the United States, Mormons account for 1.6% of the U.S. population, yet more than 5% of elected representatives in Washington are Mormon. This statistical fact evidentially concludes LDS legislators are valued by our society, not for their religion but for their, wider, appeal to the "family values" voter. Mormons Senators like Mike Crapo (ID), Orrin Hatch (UT), Chris Cannon (UT), Gordon Smith (OR), with the help of a few of our staunchest conservative congressmen in the House of Representatives including Jeff Flake (AZ), John Doolittle (CA), Wally Herger (CA), Howard McKeon (CA), Ernest Istook (OK), Mike Simpson (ID), Rob Bishop (UT) have all been valuable cogs in the wheel in the Republican Revolution. Without these conservative voices, we wouldn't have made the conservative advances that we have. Regrettably, Jack Mormon Senator Harry Reid, is an anomaly of the faith and luckily the LDS faith isn't judged by actions of despicable Senator Harry Reid. I suspect all religions have their Judas.
Ronald Reagan truly admired the many from the LDS faith. His administration included more LDS members than any other American president. David Fischer, Gregory Newell and Stephen M. Studdert, served on Reagan's personal White House staff. Richard Wirthlin was his chief strategist. Ted Bell served as Secretary of Education, Bay Buchanan was Treasurer, Rex Lee was Solicitor General. His White House included Roger Porter, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Beal, Blake Parish, Jon Huntsman Jr., Dodie Borup and Rocky Kuonen, and there were many other Latter-day Saints throughout his Administration. President Thomas S. Monson served on a Presidential Commission on Volunteerism. Is it possible that Mormon council was part of the Regan success story?
Just how conservative are Mormon members of Congress? Pretty darn conservative. Mormon legislators are most conservative according to Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz and John McTague in a study broke down the votes of every Senator by faith since 1976 along ideological lines. They then plotted those votes along the ideological spectrum. Among Republicans only, Mormons outflank their colleagues, voting conservatively, on average, 94 percent of the time, compared with 73 percent for all other Republicans of the milk toast variety.
The LDS Church for a century and a half established conservative programs that any welfare-loathing fiscal conservative would appreciate. The tithing of the Mormons goes to an LDS welfare program that supports needy families of their church. This welfare support is limited to one year and every ward has an "employment specialist" to expedite the recipient back into the workplace. It is a model of welfare efficiency. Mormons largely supported George Walker Bush in 2000, but they turned down the administration's "faith-based" funds that were made available to them, as the church is wholly self-sustaining, independence we all can respect.
The Mormon religion has been vilified by its detractors as being a cult, maybe it is, maybe it isn't, the truth is, I don't care! if LDS founder, Joseph Smith made it all up or not, because the proof is in the pudding. What the LDS Church teaches is morality, clean living, loving your family, being nice, and helping people. I can't find much wrong with that. Maybe the Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense to those of another faith; however this should be irrelevant because their teachings produce good and productive citizens. Even if those who believe it is a cult are correct, the LDS Church stands head and shoulders above the secular progressive cult, the environmentalist cult, or for crying out loud, "the Obama Cult!" A cogent argument has been made that Christianity is a cult as well but that doesn't make it so! I have come to feel the religion of my neighbors is at the core of what make them good and moral people. I don't care how they became the wonderful friends and neighbors that they are; I am just happy with the results. My children are being raised among them, and I couldn't be happier.
I, as a secular conservative value my Evangelical and Mormon allies in the fight against liberalism and I wish that Evangelicals could focus beyond their dogma and embrace their ideological twin, the Mormon faith. Mormons have long recognized that to achieve a conservative nirvana, success hinges on allying with the Christian Coalition to achieve a common goal.
Having lived among the Mormons, I have trouble believing that Mitt Romney ever believed in a woman's right to choose. I do believe that as someone running for governor of, ultra liberal, Massachusetts, Romney succumbed to, the temptation of, political expediency by telling the majority of the Massachusetts voters something that was palatable to them.
Was Mitt Romney my first choice? No! My favorite candidate was Rick Santorum but in the early stages of the primary campaign I didn't think he could get the traction needed because of his devout beliefs he so proudly espoused. I first supported Newt Gingrich until his understandable frustration and desperation drove him to unjustly disparage venture capitalism. This transgression provided Democrats with sound bites that Obama will use against us in the general election. I was intrigued by Rick Perry until he coined the term vulture capitalism which will become another hammer the Democrats will use on us also repeatedly between now and November second. Michele Bachmann then got my support although I had reservations because of her limited administrative experience. Upon Michele Bachmann's demise I enthusiastically threw my support to Herman Cain who I had immense respect for ever since his days as guest host on Bill Bennett's "Morning In America" radio show. Rick Santorum's final stretch of his turtle race excited me in the end, but it was not to be, damn it!
Yes I was slow to support Mitt Romney. Romney was my favorite candidate in 2008 but 2012 has a different dynamic. In 2008 all we needed was a financial turnaround genius and in 2008 Mitt fit the bill. In 2012 we need a conservative movement turnaround miracle worker and Mitt wasn't it. Mitt Romney is too much of an equivocator at a time when conservatives need a bold messenger devoid of equivocation. I detested how Mitt's deep pockets bulldozed over his hapless underfunded rivals who were better candidates than him.
Well folks, Mitt Romney made it to the top of the mountain and I support Romney with my heart and my wallet. I still talk to many that won't vote for the Mormon because they don't like the religion. Just like in 1960 when Kennedy ran in 1960 many questioned the electability of a Catholic candidate, particularly in the Bible Belt South. Questions were raised about Kennedy's ability to place national interests above the wishes of his Pope. I hear the same paranoia coming from Christian conservatives again, and it makes me question their sanity!
For three and a half years Barack Obama has thrown everything conservative Christians value under the bus yet many dogmatic Christians fear a Mormon more than the President whose indecipherable beliefs are at odds with the Judeo Christian American way as is demonstrated with every stroke of his poison pen. Christian Dogma is risking my freedom as well as the freedom of those with whose dogma is crippling their reason. Yes trying to reason with the unreasonable is a fool's errand but my children's future is too important for me not to try!
Now is the time for conservative Christians to reciprocate the support Mormons have given to the Christian Coalition whose support has been instrumental to the success of the coalition for decades at the voting booth. This is not the time to alienate an arm of the conservative movement, as it is likely they will again be indispensable allies of the Christian Coalition again in the future. Interfaith support from values voters couldn't be more important than it us right now. If we don't coalesce into a cohesive, conservative, voting unit we may soon pay a price with the loss of our conservative Supreme Court, solvency of our treasury, the control of our borders and the integrity of our culture.
It is my hope that the Evangelicals will very soon realize that to further their conservative objectives, and more importantly save the country from financial collapse their best hope is to support Mitt Romney for President because those who stay home on November are destroying their progenies future just the same as the guy in the oval office with the poison pen.