If voting against Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon is bigotry, then isn’t it also bigotry to vote for him because he is a Mormon? This article explores what faithful Mormons should take into consideration before they cast their vote for Romney.
There has never been a time in the 17 years of our ministry where Mormonism has received as much attention in the media. There have been many articles addressing everything from asking if America is ready for a Mormon President to whether or not Christians can vote for a Mormon. One thing I have yet to see addressed to my satisfaction is this. Just how loyal is Mitt Romney to Mormonism? I think it is safe to say that Mormon voters would rather vote for a faithful Mormon than one who does not take his faith seriously.
The Mormon Church provides 14 fundamentals in following the current prophet, which every Latter-day Saint is expected to obey. Ten of these fundamentals have direct bearing on answering the question if Mormons should vote for Romney. (If you are interested in reading the other fundamentals, go to www.LDS.org and search for, “14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.”)
If I was a faithful Mormon, I would want to know how loyal Mitt Romney is to the prophet and the 14 fundamentals in following him. It does not make sense to claim to believe that the President and Prophet of the LDS Church hears and speaks with God, and then disregard that prophetic voice, especially in these hard economic times.
The first fundamental in following the prophet is, “The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” hereafter notated as 14 F’s). Doctrine and Covenants 21:5 states, “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”
Mormons are taught that when the prophet speaks in the semiannual General Conference, it is as if the Lord God Himself is speaking. Would Mitt Romney seek council from “God’s spokesman” in running the most powerful country on earth? Before I could vote for Romney, I would have to know.
The fourth fundamental is, “The prophet will never lead the Church astray” (14 F’s). Marion G. Romney, once an Apostle in the Mormon Church and first cousin to Mitt Romney’s father, spoke of a conversation he once had with Heber J. Grant, the last Mormon prophet to practice polygamy. In a 1960 General Conference Marion Romney stated, “You always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray’”(14 F’s).
Mormons take comfort in this promise to not be led astray. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the advice you receive will not lead you astray? Does Mitt Romney believe in this principle? If I was a Mormon, I would have to know before I could vote for him.
The fifth fundamental is, “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or diplomas to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time” (14 F’s).
Would Mitt Romney be willing to listen to the council of the LDS prophet on any matter at any time? Who would not want to hear what God has to say about any subject at any time? If God cares for America, and Mormons believe He does, then shouldn’t Romney want to know what God thinks is best for our country and be open to listening to the man who can tell him? Faithful Mormons believe this. Does Mitt Romney?
The sixth fundamental is, “The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. Sometimes there are those who argue about words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obliged to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you” (D&C 21:4.) (14 F’s).
In the online version of this conference talk, there is emphasis to make a distinction between “words” and “commandments” as if to say “opinions and commandments.” Will Mitt Romney obey the Prophet’s opinions? Before I could vote for him, I would have to know.
The seventh fundamental is, “The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.” (14 F’s) Many Americans want a clear distinction between Church and State. If I was a Mormon and believed my Prophets, I would have to disagree with that notion. Former Mormon Prophet Harold B. Lee stated, “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may conflict with your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life … Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow … Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church” (14 F’s).
Is Mitt Romney willing to submit himself to this dictate? Is he willing to set aside his political and social views? If a Mormon’s safety depends upon following their prophet, and the prophet has a view concerning the direction of our country, then doesn’t it follow that the safety of our country depends upon how closely it follows the Mormon prophet? Before American’s should vote for Romney, they had better know his view on this fundamental.
The eighth fundamental is, “The Prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning… Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, ‘Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire.’ (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173)” (14 F’s). Keep in mind that Mormons believe that the prophet is the only person on earth who has the right to tell us what God requires. Is Mitt Romney willing to abide by this principle and obey his prophet even if what the prophet says doesn’t make sense to him?
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself that the Mormon Prophet would never interfere in politics so we need not worry about any of the above scenarios. The ninth and tenth fundamentals address this issue and since they are so closely related, we will look at them together.
The ninth fundamental is, “The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual” (14F’s). The tenth is, “The prophet may well advise on civic matters” (14F’s).
By “temporal” and “civic” matters, certainly political affairs are not off limits. Brigham Young once spoke concerning Mormons who were upset with Joseph Smith for, “meddling with temporal affairs, they did not believe that he was capable, of dictating to the people upon temporal matters, thinking that his duty embraced spiritual things alone, and that the people should be felt to attend to their temporal affairs, without any interference whatever from Prophets or Apostles”(Journal of Discourses,10: 363).
In response to them Young said, “I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. (Journal of Discourses, 10:363–64.)” (14 F’s). In the 14 Fundamentals discourse, Mormons are reminded that the Book of Mormon character, “Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon; Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters” (14 F’s). The examples of the aforementioned characters are obviously meant to convince Mormons that the man they consider their prophet has a place in politics.
Is Mitt Romney willing to accept Brigham Young’s advice concerning the current LDS Prophet and allow him to “meddle in temporal affairs” or should the people be able to attend to their own affairs without interference from Mormon Prophets? Before I could vote for Mitt Romney, I’d have to know just how loyal Romney is to his Prophet.
The twelfth fundamental is, “The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly. As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him” (14 F’s).
It doesn’t look like Mitt Romney has a choice. He is either honest in heart and will heed the words of his prophet or Romney proves to be unrighteous by ignoring or fighting against his prophet. Which path will he choose? Before you vote…
The last of the 14 fundamentals is downright frightening, unless you are a faithful Mormon. “The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer” (14 F’s).
What does it mean to reject the prophet? Referring to following the 14 fundamentals, Mormons are told, “Our salvation depends on them” (14 F’s). For Mormons the very measuring stick on how acceptable they are to the Lord is based upon how closely they follow their prophet. “If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain—how close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointed—the living Prophet—President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency” (14 F’s).
That leads right back to the original question. Should a Mormon vote for Mitt Romney? Should any American? Should I? If I was a Mormon, I would do so only if Mitt Romney is faithful to these 14 fundamentals in following the Prophet. I would view it as God placing a fellow Mormon into a position to save our Country. I, as a Mormon, would not want to place another Mormon in office unless he is willing to subject himself to God’s direction, which comes from the Prophet. Anything less than that could put our Country in worse shape than it is already.
On a personal note, I do not envy Mitt Romney. If he is elected to the most powerful position on earth, he will still find himself in the position where he will have to subject himself to his prophet. When you take into consideration that Romney’s salvation is dependent upon how closely he follows his prophet, my concern is not so much about the possible future President in the Whitehouse, but with his President in Salt Lake City.