Mormons are a highly disciplined group, known to follow the dictates of the Church hierarchy with little question. Mormons believe that the President of their Church is a prophet that receives direct revelations from God. Direct revelations lead to some startling reversals in Mormon doctrines and practice such as polygamy, though some, including Romney’s paternal grandparents continued to practice it. Another reversal came in 1978 when the “Prophet” allowed “dark-skinned people” full membership. Mormons, still believe that dark skin is a sign of a curse from “Heavenly Father” and believe that dark skinned converts who do the required works with acquire a lighter complexion.
Mormons look to the Church hierarchy for guidance in religious and temporal matters. At the top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy is the President and a body known as the Quorum of Twelve who are all white males with “pioneer” ancestors. Mormons with pioneer ancestors, descendants of the 12 original apostles of the LDS, like the Romney’s, are at the top of the social hierarchy.
Mormons are expected to follow the dictates of the church and its leaders with a nearly blind devotion, another feature some find cultic. While giving lip service to individual conscience, Mormons who do not follow Church law are subject to discipline, including excommunication.
“Elder Marion G. Romney recalled an experience he had with President Heber J. Grant:
“I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting, I drove him home. … When we got to his home I got out of the car and went up on the porch with him. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, 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’”[i]
The question that Kennedy addressed in 1960 is entirely appropriate today. Romney has always provided a weak response, stating essentially that he will serve everyone but falls far short of the assurances of JFK. So, the question remains, will Romney follow the law, impartially or will he make policy as his Church would have him do? He must be clear and honest about that.
The White Horse Prophecy
The Mormon mythos includes a startling prediction about America. Called the White Horse Prophecy. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith, predicted that the constitution would be “hanging by a thread” when an Elder from Zion, (referring to the LDS Church) would ride in on a metaphorical “white horse” to establish a Mormon theocracy. This is part of the of the “faith of my fathers” Romney constantly refers to.
Mormon literature is replete with a theocratic vision for America.
“The Almighty has established this kingdom with order and laws and every thing pertaining there to, that we might understand his will and operate in his kingdom, that we might be taught of God and understand correct principles, that when the nations shall be convulsed, we may stand forth as saviours, and do that which will be best calculated to produce the well-being of the human family and finally redeem a ruined world, not only in a religious but in a political point of view.”[ii]
While he talks about the faith of his fathers in vagaries he never refers to the actions of his fathers in 1844, when Joseph Smith, aided by Parley Pratt, a Romney ancestor, undertook what has to be the most bizarre political campaigns ever attempted. Instead of joining a political party, Smith raised an “Army of God”, Smith threatened a literal violent takeover of the government, telling congress that if his demands were not met, “they shall be broken up as a government and God shall damn them.” Smith’s vision extended to the future where he predicted a Mormon dynasty with a long line of Mormon presidents. Does Romney think he is the one to bring on the Mormon Millennium? If he is as serious about the faith of his fathers as he says he is, he just might.
[i] (in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78). Cited in the Aronic Priesthood Manual, Lesson 24: Follow the Prophet. http://www.lds.org/manual/aaronic-priesthood-manual-3/lesson-24-fol...
[ii] John Taylor,LDS Prophet #3, (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 342, April 13, 1862) http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Journal_of_Discourses/Volume_9/Knowle...