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Protocols of the Elders

Mitt Romney’s candidacy has revived the canard that Mormons are plotting to take over America. Jews have faced that charge for centuries.

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'The Real Objection to Smoot,' Puck, 1904

‘The Real Objection to Smoot,’ Puck, 1904. (Library of Congress)

In America today, there is a small group of privileged citizens who wield disproportionate power over the rest of the country and seek to bend national policies to suit their collective will. Bound together by clannish, somewhat secretive ritual practices, and disproportionately represented among the nation’s wealthy and its political class, this population uses its largess and extensive influence to mold America to its perfidious ends. Their ultimate aim is to take over the United States.

I am talking, of course, about Mormons.

This isn’t my argument. It’s one that has been appearing in reputable media outlets ranging from the New York Times to Salon over the past several months as the GOP primary season has heated up. Writing in the Times about the potential presidency of Mormon Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the renowned Yale literary critic Harold Bloom darkly mused that “we are condemned to remain a plutocracy and oligarchy. I can be forgiven for dreading a further strengthening of theocracy in that powerful brew.” At Salon, a lengthy essay by journalist Sally Denton argued that “the office of the American presidency is the ultimate ecclesiastical position to which a Mormon leader might aspire,” and that in running for president, Romney sought to fulfill an LDS prophecy and usher in a Mormon “theodemocracy.” The piece quickly went viral, racking up over 1,000 Facebook shares.

For Jews, the structure and form of these and other anti-Mormon broadsides are—or ought to be—all too familiar. Claims that a covert cabal of powerful Jewish interests seeks to suborn others to their sinister agenda have been commonplace for centuries, with today’s insinuations about the Israel Lobby being only the most recent manifestation. Like such conspiracy theories about Jews, allegations that Mormons have insidious designs on the American government are intended to discredit and demonize their targets in order to exclude them from political life. Having long been attacked by opportunistic demagogues, as well as had our loyalties questioned, we Jews know just how painful such slanders are—and what can happen if they go unchallenged.

***

Scores of Mormons have served faithfully in the United States Congress and other top governmental positions; currently, six senators and nine members of the House are Mormon. Mormons have also occupied numerous ambassadorships and Cabinet positions, from solicitor general to secretary of education. Under President Eisenhower, Ezra Taft Benson served as secretary of agriculture and as one of the 12 apostles of the LDS Church. (Afterward, he became the church’s 13th president and prophet.) And although few Americans are aware of it, the highest ranking and most influential Mormon in American politics today is not Mitt Romney—it’s Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Given the preponderance of prominent Mormon politicians, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that if there really is a clandestine Mormon blueprint for U.S. domination, Latter-day Saint lawmakers have done a remarkably poor job of executing it. Those pundits fretting about the advent of Mormon theocracy never get around to explaining why all of these officials have always seemed much more interested in advancing the interests of party and country rather than imposing church doctrine on the unsuspecting American masses. (I, for one, would love to hear how LDS Sen. Orrin Hatch’s penchant for composing Hanukkah songs fits into this nefarious scheme.)

“In many hundreds of hours of political discussion in my family, nobody has thought that we had a duty as Mormons beyond our civic duty to step up and try to make our country a better place,” Joseph Cannon, former chairman of Utah’s Republican party, told me in an interview. As a fifth-generation member of one of the most powerful Mormon political families, he would know. (Cannon ran for Senate in 1992, his brother is former Congressman Chris Cannon, and his great-grandfather, George Q. Cannon, served as Utah’s pre-state territorial delegate to Congress and was famously expelled from the body in 1882 when Utah refused to give up polygamy.) “I can say that the root of my own family’s interest, and I think that this is reflective of the church, is that we have a duty to help make things better wherever we are,” Cannon explained. “There are Mormons in Parliament in England, one Liberal and one Tory, and I’m guessing their motivation, like ours, is just public service and duty.”

So, what about those church prophecies that supposedly call for Mormons to take control of the U.S. government? Salon’s Sally Denton makes much of the so-called “White Horse Prophecy.” Allegedly uttered by Joseph Smith, the founder of the church and its first prophet, the prophecy predicts that at some moment of future national crisis, the Constitution will “hang by a thread” and a group of Mormons known collectively as “the White Horse” will save it and, possibly, run the government. As the 1902 diary entry of a practicing Mormon who recorded the prophecy states, “Power will be given to the White Horse to rebuke the nations afar off, and you obey it, for the laws go forth from Zion.” Present-day critics draw a straight line from Smith to an inevitable Mormon theocracy.

There’s only one problem with this theory: The White Horse prophecy is not accepted by the LDS Church, and most Mormons have never even heard of it. Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the church, called it “ridiculous” and “simply false.” A century later, the church has not changed its stance, releasing an official statement in January 2010 that “the so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy’ is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine.” Cannon, for his part, can’t remember even hearing the words “white horse prophecy” since he was a teenager.

Casting the prophecy as a cornerstone of Mormon identity or Romney’s worldview, then, is akin to the age-old anti-Semitic practice of lifting decontextualized statements about gentiles from the Talmud, framing them in the worst possible light, and then claiming that such sentiments represent what all modern Jews think, when the reality is that most are completely ignorant of the text at hand or lend it no credence. As Cannon put it, when outsiders criticize modern Mormons, they “tend to seize upon things that just don’t have a lot of resonance with current-day Latter-day Saints.”

'The Veiled Prophet of Polygamutah,' Vanity Fair, 1865

‘The Veiled Prophet of Polygamutah,’ Vanity Fair, 1865. (Courtesy of the author)

Indeed, contemporary Mormons echo their leadership’s dismissal. “The White Horse prophecy is pretty much bogus,” Orson Scott Card told me. While best-known for his novel Ender’s Game, Card is also a lifelong Latter-day Saint. He authors a regular column on faith for the church-owned Deseret News and is a great-great-grandson of Brigham Young. (He served his LDS mission in Brazil, where he picked up the Portuguese language and Catholic culture that feature in the Ender’s Game sequel, Speaker for the Dead.) On the White Horse prophecy, Card is unequivocal. “It’s not regarded as doctrinal by the church, it’s not treated as Scripture, it’s not regarded as an authentic statement of Joseph Smith, and church policy is not guided by it in any way, shape, or form. Most Mormons are unaware of its existence.”

To test this proposition, I spoke to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, professor of early American history at Harvard and a Pulitzer Prize winner. A committed Mormon, she serves as the faculty adviser to the Latter-day Saint Student Association on campus. She’s also edited a collection of essays about the lives of Mormon women and is currently writing a book on 19th-century Mormon diaries. “Every society has these little urban legends,” she said of the White Horse prophecy. “There may be people who take it seriously. I don’t know any.”

As a Massachusetts resident and a Mormon, Ulrich often gets questions from reporters about her impression of Romney, specifically how his faith and politics relate. She doesn’t offer citations from LDS scripture. “I point out that you’ve got to evaluate this person in terms of his own positions—and there’s a wide range of positions among Latter-day Saints,” she said. “He’s somewhat to the right of the mainstream church position on some issues and maybe not on others. So, you really have to look at what he says.”

Both Card and Ulrich find the charge of theocracy laughable. “The general stance of the church, and this would of course go way back into the 19th century, is ‘please leave us alone, protect our rights to practice our religion,’ ” Ulrich explained. “Yes, there was a unity of church and state for a time with Brigham Young as governor and head of the church. But they also helped fund the establishment of a Jewish synagogue in Salt Lake and welcomed Jews,” she added. She points to the LDS Articles of Faith—which originated with Joseph Smith in the 1840s—where Article 11 avers, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” As members of a long-persecuted minority religion, said Ulrich, “Mormons—of all people—are pretty protective of religious liberty.”

Card added that Mormonism, as an international missionary religion, would rather not be equated with the United States. “Can you imagine what the effect would be in Mexico, in Nicaragua, in Honduras, in China, if the Mormon Church was viewed as an instrument of the American government? It would be difficult for us to get our missionaries into countries that now accept them. This is actually quite perilous. Our primary mission as a church is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ,” not to elect an American president. “So, those that think that Mormons are all universally united behind the idea of a Mitt Romney candidacy and that we’re just chomping at the bit to get control of the government of the United States—that’s the opposite of the truth. The truth is, Mitt Romney’s candidacy, leading to his election as president, would be perilous to the Mormon Church and would make our work worldwide more difficult.”

***

So, if the LDS Church and its adherents have no interest in taking over the American government and imposing their beliefs on others, why are an increasing number of commentators claiming that they do? Underlying these attacks on the loyalties and religious beliefs of American Mormons is not so much an attitude of prejudice as one of partisanship. After all, no prominent columnist imputed theocratic motives to Harry Reid when he ascended to the post of Democratic Majority Leader. And no one dared to mock the “magic underwear” of Orthodox Jews—tzitzit—when Joe Lieberman ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket, as pundits like Bill Maher and Maureen Dowd have done when it comes to Romney’s Mormon undergarments. (And if one doubts that tzitzit can be just as disconcerting to the uninitiated, go read Philip Roth.) It is only when a conservative Republican Mormon emerged as a presidential frontrunner that these issues suddenly became pressing matters of national concern. The very real and unprecedented possibility of a Mormon presidency opened the door to very real and unprecedented political rancor.

Tellingly, the sort of specious argument that Salon’s Denton makes about the perils of Mormon theocracy is exactly the sort of conspiracy theory that the same publication rightly denounces when it comes from Robert Spencer about Muslims and the threat of creeping Sharia. The latter narrative is clearly seen as false, but the equally problematic nature of the anti-Mormon argument is obscured by partisan blinders.

But one need not agree with Romney’s policies to recognize that it is wrong to play Da Vinci Code with his faith’s traditions, picking and choosing questionable texts from LDS history and using them to demonize an entire diverse religious community. One need not agree with those policies to understand that Romney’s positions are his own, and not dictated secretly by his church, which sometimes openly advocates for diametrically opposed policies.

Ultimately, there’s only one way to understand Mormons. “Meet a Mormon. Talk to a Mormon. Not about the church—just find out who we are,” said Card. “You’ll find out we’re perfectly normal. We have the normal percentage of wackos, like any other group—you can find wacko Baptists, wacko agnostics, and wacko college professors—but most of us are ordinary people. We keep up our yard, we pay our bills, we buy our houses, pay our mortgage, do our job, work hard.

“We have no more ambition to rule the United States than any other religious group. Nobody’s trying to create a Baptist president, nobody’s trying to create an atheist president,” he said. “If we have a Mormon as president, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a Mormon presidency—it’s going to be an American presidency. Just like all the others.”

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Bill Pearlman says:

Mormons are the most pro-Israel group your going to find. Its interesting that the left wing, which finds Islamic phobia when they dream at night, are bigoted towards zmormons.

The American future actually belongs to the Hispanic population. They keep coming and they keep breeding and they don’t have a big interest in Israel. Look at the US census data for 2000 and 2010. Sorry Bill.

@UtahMormonDemoGuy says:

Thank you for this thoughtful and even-handed piece. It is exceptionally rare to find someone who really gets it right with respect to Mormon culture and belief. My one observation: I don’t think liberals can be exclusively blamed for spreading anti-Mormon misinformation or stirring up bigotry. I think the Christian Right contributes greatly to this problem as well, seizing upon every opportunity to present Mormon beliefs in the most sensational, out-of-context and inaccurate ways to frighten their followers. In reality, bigotry and “fear of the other” can be found most anywhere. Thank you for taking the time to combat it.

As a historian I find this mostly spot on. But the LDS church’s massive involvement in the campaigns against gay marriage and the right to choose, never mind their practice of baptizing dead Jews, doesn’t make me feel all warm and friendly towards the church. So we can drop the conspiracy traditions and then it is still fair game to ask Mormon politicians about their positions on these issues–and vote against them when we don’t like their answers.

Stan: I agree with you. But your points won’t stop socially conservative Jews from voting for Romney if he is the Republican nominee. In New York’s special election for the 9th Congressional district in 2011, a Catholic Republican won over a Jewish Democrat in a heavily Jewish district. Israel wasn’t the main issue. Gay marriage was.

Mr. Pearlman, it’s not just the left-wing that has these issues with the Latter Day Saints. I hear a lot of evangelicals who identify as republican saying they are voting against Romney because he’s not a real christian because he’s mormon. Anti-mormon bigorty is seen across political spectra

@Rocky, it’s kind of disgusting to refer to any race/ethnic group of humans as “breeding.”
Really unnecessary.

If there were a disproportionate number of Mormons who were connected to the World Trade Center, to mass media, Hollywood and had the connections, for example, of AIPAC along with occupying top positions in the FBI, CIA, Wall Street, SEC and Federal Reserve along with heading the White House staff and holding most seats on the President’s cabinet, I would be among the first to speak of a Mormon conspiracy to take over the United States.

If there were a Mormon Conspiracy, it certainly wouldn’t be for a foreign Govt., such as the “very” foreign govt. , called Israel, though Mormons in general seem to be on thier knees to the star of David. The author of this piece speaks of “de-con textualized” aspects to the Talmud which are anti-Gentile and used by so-called anti-semits. I would ask the author to find a sanitized context to some of the hate-filled garbage in that so-called holy book. He says that most jews never read it – so what? Whay not remove the filth. As for so called Jewish conspiracies – lets start with media ownership by this Tribe – is it fictional? I think not. The power of AIPAC? Our entire Congress is in their grasp. Interesting how “Lucky Larry Silverstein” – owner of the lease on the Twin Towers, and double insurer against it’s attack – came into posetiopn of it, and when.

K. M. McDonald says:

Excellent article, but the higher-level question is: What is the correlation between religious beliefs held by elected officials and the continued resistance to the Federal establishment of equal and fair rights for LGBT citizens and the rights of self-determination over one’s body (viz., abortion, contraception) in the United States? This question transcends sectarian beliefs and addresses the increasing salient issue of the encroachment and role of theocratic beliefs in forming federal polices, federal rights, and national social culture. It is about time we need to be vocal and public with this dialogue.

Rachel says:

I would find the central thesis more compelling if it had grappled with the fact that the Mormon Church uses its political and financial muscle to try to impose its own religious views upon other Americans, most powerfully as the main funder of Proposition 8 ballot, which overturned equal marriage aka “gay” marriage in CA. The 9th Circuit just found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional. Much as I respect Prof. Ulrich, that doesn’t constitute religious tolerance.
And Rocky, the 9th Congressional District race has many different meanings; the ultra-orthodox and Lubavitcher vote there represents a small fraction of the conservative Jewish vote, and cannot, I think, be seen as a litmus test of all, or even most, conservative Jews’ opinions about the secular matter of same-sex marriage. And in fact, many of those Jewish voters indicated that they voted for the Republican because they were so angry about Obama’s stance towards Israel; “gay” marriage was not their primary political motivator, but a convenient add-on.

Friedrich Lersch says:

Dear Yair, this was really a very well-done and very even-handed article I thoroughly enjoyed. Funny that Harold Bloom would be so preoccupied with a Mormon conspiracy, given his fascination with Joseph Smith in his book the “American prophet”. From my perspective as central-Europian the American preoccupation with religion in politics sometimes seems otherworldly. It is fair to say, that the LDS-church’s engagement against gay marriage represents a strong breech in the policy of separating state and religion, when it altogether was perceived in the church as an urgent cause to preserve marriage and families. Mormons in general feel a deep respect for Jews, which makes them pro-Israel; still one is wanton to ask if the motive for this are not eschatological scenarios that view Israel as the stage for final battles to take place in the last days. This is an overarching theme in all relations between pro-Israel organizations from the Christian right and their funding.

Craig L. Foster says:

This was an excellent essay and right on the mark.

The Mormon Quest for the Presidency: From Joseph Smith to Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman (2011), written by Newell G. Bringhurst and myself, discusses the so-called Mormon Question which is whether or not a Mormon can be trusted to be president.

We had hoped the country had moved beyond such things as anti-Semitism and anti-Mormonism. Unfortunately, not all have moved beyond those aspects of religious bigotry. Hopefully someday they will.

Bill Pearlman says:

Big Ed, if the Jewish conspiracy is so all powerful why are assholes like Phil Weiss and Max Blumenthal even alive.

I will haunt them for eternity if they put my name on their list to perform a posthumous proxy baptism on my soul. Oh yes, and they should stop sending those kids to my house to try and convert me.

George K says:

Having been Mormon as a part of my life, serving a two year mission for the Church, and coming out I saw only a couple of issues, with the organization. I eventually converted to Judaism. There was a home for me in Judaism. I came out of the closet which would lead the church to excommunicate on that issue. I was married in Iowa in 2009, to my partner of almost nine years. Another ex communicable offense. Orson Scott Card is on the board of the National Organiztion for Marriage. The Mormon church actively works against legislation in states with Marriage equality. They refuse to release the amounts of money they have invested. This issue of unaccountably is rampant with the Church. I do not want a Mormon leader without accountability as my President. There are very few places for liberals in Mormonism. I prefer Judaism with One G-d, then the council of gods in the Mormon scriptures. I respect their right to believe as they may but when it tramples on Civil Rights I must speak out.

    there is no”council of gods” as you mean for people to interpret in Lds scripture and you would know that if you had truly been a missionary as you claim

George K: There was a home for you in Reform Judaism. You and your husband would not be accepted in an Orthodox Congregation. Conservative Judaism is at best ambivalent on the subject of gay marriage. Welcome to the Tribe. When Romney became Governor of Massachusetts he was much more liberal than he is now. No wonder religious conservatives don’t trust him. There is no reason for independents to trust him either. I haven’t decided whether I will vote Libertarian or Democrat.

Christ was not even able to influence the little old country of israel to take it over. Im real worried about a cultist dreamer doing it.Why do folks use mormon and christian synonomously? Mormon is as christian as the satanic Musilim faith of Islam almost. Come on give us something interesting to read.

George K says:

@ Rocky, thank you for welcoming me to the tribe. I am generally accepted In Reform, Reconstruction, Renewal and in a growing number of Conservative congregations. I love the diversity of Judaism. Oh poor Mitt, if I see one more debate where he flip flops during the debate….ughhh. I personally wanted Jon Huntsman. It seems there is little room in the Republicans of a less conservative flavor these days. Now if we can make it to November.

willy, thank you for your illogical and mispelled little rant demonstrating your ignorance of not only Mormonism but the rest of Christianity.

Interesting how people voted for Obama who has the same position as the LDS church on same sex marriage–yet they refuse to accept Mitt because of gay marriage. Must believe that Obama is being dishonest about his position (a very distinct possibility) or maybe they are using it as an excuse to knock Mormons. I can understand angst about Prop 8, but Mormons get disproportionately blamed for it where others who played large roles–esp. the voters, get a pass. Blame the voters for imposing their will on society (isn’t that what all voters do anyway?). The LDS church is pro-traditional marriage and will do what it can to protect it–not out of hate, but out of love for the rights of children to be raised by a loving father and mother. That appears to be a greater good than redefining marriage for the sake of a much smaller group who can still love each other and live with one another and can even have legal recognition. While I can appreciate the desire of same sex couples who want the legal and social affirmation that comes from legal marriage, there are greater things at stake for future generations that aren’t worth gambling over. Hopefully we can continue to find more compromises over these tricky issues.

Bob Schwalbaum says:

I became passionately involved in the drive here in Hawaii to stop “Gay Marriage”

I found many of the people I worked with were Mormons.. and I formed a deep admiration for them and their religion.

Bob Schwalbaum: How does your opposition to gay marriage help you? Does it help you have better sex with your wife or your mistress? Does it help you keep your weight or your cholesterol down? Does it improve your golf score or the investment performance of your stock portfolio? Why would you care that George K is married to a man? Why would you care that a gay couple in Hawaii or California might want to get married? Why do you care that Bessie and Boris Thomashevsky’s grandson Michael might want to marry his long time partner? Boris and Bessie were stars of the Yiddish theater a century ago. Their grandson is the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

All I have to say is this: I’ve been a Mormon for years, still am on papers, but not practicing the religion anymore. I say that the fear of these people against Romney is legitimate. Personally, I wouldn’t want my country be ruled by a Mormon, no matter how ”liberal” they may say he is. Religion is overrated these days. A country should be lead by common-sense and respect of human rights, religion should have no place in politics or anywhere that has to do with leading a country. Religion is something personal that one should keep to itself and away from their work, especially when it comes to having people who don’t share the same beliefs are involved. I know firsthand how fanatic and brainwashed most Mormons are when it comes to imposing their beliefs, directly or not. They will deny the obvious, always, but still do what they believe they should do, religion wise. What Prof. Ulrich said is bull, even if Mormons officially claim freedom of worship, they are the last ones to respect that. They try to impose their beliefs on anyone they see that doesn’t share their belief, which that’s part of their greatest mission, which is called Missionary Work. The church thrives on Missionary Work. So yeah, I would be weary too, when it comes to Romney. Sorry if I mispelled, English isn’t my first language. And yes, they DO have many in high positions in the Government…CIA, FBI, I know many who work in those organizations and who are also working in the Military and Diplomacy and what not. Yeah, I don’t think Romney would try to openly mix his religious beliefs with his work, but you definitely will see the results of choosing a Mormon president, indirectly.

Hidi Glyn says:

Lovely article. I must point out, though, that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is not a native of Massachusetts. She was born in Sugar City, Idaho, and we still claim her! Hi, Sister Ulrich! Tran-tra!

Mildre Bilt says:

If you see a similarity, there’s a reason for it. The original Mormons claim to be descendants of the Jewish tribes and the House of Israel. Their tribal affiliation is kept within their families. The Salt Lake City Temple has a large Star of David inscribed on their Assembly Hall and it has a ” Holy of Holies”. The Star of David is one of the two pieces of jewelry Mormons are allowed to wear. Their sons ascend to the priesthood at the age of 12. So far they have baptized Rashi, Maimonides, Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin, Menachem Begin and millions of other dead Jews into the Mormon religion. For a quick hit, go to Wikipedia “Mormonism & Judaism”.
I think I know what constitutes their sacred undergarment. I’ll bet it has fringes.

The comments by readers have proven the author correct. There is an irrational fear of Mormons in our society as there was of the Jews for many centuries.

It’s amazing how Mormons have served in public offices for over a century with no problem. Then all of a sudden the thought of a Mormon president drives all the hate-filled people into a frenzy. Is there a glass ceiling for Mormons serving in public office?

Thank you.

The Mormon Cult can not wipe away the White Horse Prophesy so easily, given that there are some members of the All-White Cougar Club at BYU under Mitty’s leadership who have heard it mentioned in Mitty’s presence, and have heard Mitty assume the prophesy applied to him.

Some pretty big gonads on him – but look at his family history – Mitty was groomed to execute the White Horse Prophesy, one way or another.

Frank Messmann says:

The anti-gentile attitudes expressed in the Talmud were widely held by East European Jews perhaps up until the time of Napoleon [1800]. Did this possibly help fuel anti-Semitism? Today such views are still held by a minority in Israel.

olterigo says:

This article, while well-meaning, skirts around the issues that the liberals actually have with a religious President – whether Baptist or Mormon (I, being a liberal Jew, would be staunchly against an Orthodox President). The issue of Mormonism or any other fundamentalist creed is beyond the point. I believe the actual issue is how influential is a group of 12 conservative men over one who seems to have no staunchly-held positions? (What if these 12 men yield direct religious authority over him?)

Jeff Kiser says:

For those who fear some sort of Mormon conspiracy, one needs to remember that no Mormon which supported opposition to Prop 8 was in any way censured by the Mormon Church. The Church explained its position to the members and the members in turn made their own decisions regarding the issue. It was not unanimous by any means, and the dissension over a moral question put to US law did not in any way undermine a persons membership in the church. It is one reason why men of conscience from any party are freely welcomed to the LDS church. Be it Mitt Romney, Huntsman, or Harry Reid. In the church they are considered of equal status.

olterigo says:

What is important is that the Mormon Church has a substantial recent history of homophobic involvement. Does LDS think everyone will just forget the Boy Scouts of America case (where the church is the biggest sponsor of the organization and has stated that it would end its affiliation if same-sex conduct would be permitted)? Does anyone think this did not have anything to do with BSA’s homophobic position?

And LDS also gotten involved in marriage equality cases before California – all the way to the first such case in the 90’s – in Hawaii. And, lo and behold, Hawaii got its own marriage restriction amendment. Since then, LDS has been active whenever this question came up, the last big involvement being in California. How does this touch on Romney’s candidacy? Romney is a Mormon in good standing and he is against marriage equality. It’s not unlikely that he too believes that marriage equality does “violence to the institution of marriage.”

Despite what I view as the way out views of Mormonism, I have several Mormon friends who are no different on a day-to-day basis than anyone else.

Bit ohmigosh, they wear Temple underwear, that really goes over the top. OTOH, Orthodox Jewish men wear ear locks and dress a though this was Poland a few centuries ago. All religions have their odd ways as far as the world is concerned.

So they are going to to take over the world? Good, that means that we don’t have to try.

It tickles me that the Mormons, like the Jews, are poised to take over the world. People with the smallest numbers are going to take on the entire world. Where does that leave the Arabs? Where does that leave the Catholic church?

ALL of the above is ludicrous, no? People fear what they do not know and both Judaism and Mormonism are woefully misunderstood by the majority of the world.

My main objection to the LDS? NONE. I’ve zilch against them; this is a country that permits people do worship according to the dictates of their conscious. If you don’t like Mormonism, don’t BE one; my personal experiences with them have been cordial Ciao…

Sheryl Ginsberg says:

I live in Utah, I’m Jewish and a Democrat. I challenge anyone to come to this state and see what a Mormon led government can do. Pretty right wing, intrusive use of government into my lady parts and my LGBTQ friends lives, while claiming to dislike “big government”. Look, you can say that anti Mormon sentiment is similar to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, but you’d be wrong. Any resemblance to antisemitism (spell it right, some of you fools up there in your comments) and concerns of a Romney Presidency is purely superficial. And, yes, we do have LDS Democrats, although they fear coming out of the closet as much as our gay brothers and sisters do.

Osh Kosh says:

A very insightful and well thought out article. I liked the use of interviewees from across the gamut. I would agree with the underlying message of the article that we should vote for a presidential candidate based on his political views, and not based on what religion he might or might not practice on his own time. Many similar concerns were voiced about a Catholic conspiracy while JFK was campaigning. Kennedy’s short lived term has put these thoughts out of most peoples’ minds. While it is often convenient to place individuals into well-defined boxes based on our own preconceptions of a handful of stereotypical characters, it is important to remember that most individuals cannot, in actuality, neatly fit inside such boxes.

This is a quote from another Mormon. I don’t recall his name, but I thought it worth mentioning.

“We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” – Doctrine and Covenants 134 : 9

If the Book of Mormon were to be used to outline a true doctrinal Latter-day Saints position on how they would run a nation, because let’s face it, our personal beliefs will affect our jobs, even if we do want to keep them separate, there are ten points they would have to follow.
1. They would have to work for the people (not businesses, special interest groups or corporations) (Mosiah 2: 12).
2. They could not do anything to oppress any people, religion, races, gender, etc. (Mosiah 2: 13)
3. They could not over tax the people to overly support themselves. (Mosiah 2: 14)
4. They would be humble. (Mosiah 2: 15)
5. They would encourage people to work together (Mosiah 2: 18, 26)
6. They would ensure that children have food, shelter and are properly (not religiously) educated (Mosiah 4: 14-15)
7. They would encourage welfare programs to care for the poor without judgment or prejudice (Mosiah 4: 16-19)
8. They would lower or taxes for the poor, or not tax them at all (Mosiah 4: 24)
9. They would tax the middle class and up fairly to cover the cost of government, keeping the government out of debt without overburdening taxpayers (Mosiah 4: 27 & Mosiah 7: 15)
10. They would get us out of all the unnecessary wars and only declare war in defense of US soil (Alma 48: 15)

John Skookum says:

The Left ignores Mormon Democrats for the same reason they give Obama a pass for holding the exact same opinion on gay marriage as the Mormon Church: they know, as do the rest of us, that belonging to the Democratic Party means that at your core you have no God but Big Government, no principles except permanent and irreversible governmental aggrandizement, no sacraments except higher taxes. If Sarah Palin speaks against gay marriage, everyone knows she means what she says, and the Left hates her guts for it with a wild fury. If Barack Obama takes the exact same position– and he does– the assumption across the political spectrum is that he is an insincere mountebank who will tell the rubes any lie he thinks they want to hear in order to seize the reins of power.

There have been 1800 years of rancorous debate over every issue in the Christian faith, from matters large, like the nature of God, to matters small, like when we celebrated Easter.

Every time there was a disagreement, there was a schism, and every time each party condemned the other as invalid and totally outside the Christian faith.

Now I can’t think of a single Catholic who doesn’t think Protestants are Christian.

As a Mormon, I just can’t get too upset that people don’t think we’re Christian. We’re young yet. The Catholics only just apologized to the Orthodox Church for the fourth crusade in 1205 after all.

Erik J. Meyer-Curley says:

I grew up in MA. I recall hearing very similar conspiracy items retold regarding how Roman Catholics were going to do all these items when JFK was running for President. A lot of that seems to have gone by the wayside.

I also have an interest in fraternal organizations. The Anti-Masonic Party had these same conspiracies about Freemasons back in 1828. Along with their politicl innovations of conventions and party platforms.

I recall jokingly made comments about conspiracies when the current President was running for office as well.

I would hazard to guess that when strong female candidate for President (as in gets the major party endorsement) appears there will be even more of similar items with the slant being on gender.

People in the media seem to like to have something to cast aspersions about that have nothing to do with the individuals abilities to do their job effectively. Pretty sad commentary on them if that is all that they do.

Nice article by the way.

The Mormons will have to get in line behind the Catholics if they are trying to take over America. There are a lot more Catholics and they already hold 6 of the 9 Supreme Court seats. Instead of worrying about the Mormons, we should more concerned about the tax proposals of all of the Republican candidates. Three of the four candidates would slash taxes by the trillions over a ten year period but are very vague about where they would cut spending. The fourth is at least specific about massive spending cuts but doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of becoming president. Blessed are YOUR children, for they shall inherit the national debt.

Mormon history is very interesting. Orrin Hatch has family ties at least dating from Nauvoo. Kuhn-Loeb loaned the money for Brigham Young to make his trek to Salt Lake City. The Mormons believe they are Jews and they may be. Of course any person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord is a Jew so if there are committed Christians among the Mormons they are indeed Jews, children of Abraham’s promise from God.
Good article, but beware of calling the Mormons a cult as we Jews have our own cult and nobody is allowed in except the “insider Jews” who think they are Jews.

To the person who said Mormons can only wear two forms of jewelry, one of them being the star of David, you are seriously mistaken! Also the church has a very strict policy about not performing posthumous baptisms for Jews. It individuals going against church policy causing that problem. And why are people so obsessed about LDS undergarments? Who cares what kind of underwear you wear!

    I never got why the underwear was weirder than the kippah. At least you can hide the underwear.

I applaud you, Mr Rosenberg, for your astute and refreshing commentary! Well researched, well written, well done! I will be sharing.
Shalom, MoSop

Shayna says:

I actually would have had no problem with Jon Huntsman as president. Unfortunately it was not to be. I don’t feel the same way about Romeny who increasingly swings to the right rather than maintain a sensible middle of the road stance.
I don’t think the doctrines of a person’s religion should be a disqualifying factor for the presidency or another public office. I assume a Mormon, like any other politician will be able to discern where their decisions should be grounded in faith and where it is inappropriate to hve a faith-based philosophy in the crafting of public policy.
However I have been disturbed to read about the Mormon Church’s troubling relationship with race and ethnicity issues. I understand that Randy Bott, a professor of religion at Brigham Young University, has recently highlighted a doctrine of the Mormon church that apparently views people of African descent as “unworthy” of God’s love. Bott compared people of African descent to “a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car.” Pretty despicable and disgusting. Does this accurately reflect the doctrine of the Mormon Church?

David says:

A good question, and the answer is no. Here’s the official statement the LDS Church released in response to the very editorial you mention:

The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church. It is unfortunate that the Church was not given a chance to respond to what others said.

The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.

For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.

We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.

~

Whenever these important questions come up, it’s important not to rely on hearsay or op-eds, but to make an effort to find out the official church position. Much misunderstanding can be avoided if we all just take the time to listen.

Jeff Hooper says:

Mitt Romney is not just a Mormon, he is a high official of the church. If a Catholic cardinal were running for president, the Catholic religion would receive more scrutiny than a mere Catholic president does. Moreover, the Mormons have proved they obey orders, including Romney, whose shifting positions on abortion were approved for expediency’s sake in Salt Lake City. The millions they’ve spent creating front groups and breaking election laws in opposing gay marriage on the downlow are proof enough that the Mormon troops obey commands and that winning is more important to them than the American Constitution.

That doesn’t mean they are theologically identical. In fact, since the Mormon hierarchy outside Salt Lake is unpaid, few of the members could pass even a basic quiz about theology; and surveys show that large numbers believe in things like yoga as a spiritual exercise that go against Mormon theology. Mormon membership is based less on belief or community, than the power of the organization to help and punish its members. It has little in common with Judaism.

Are the Mormons power mad? More so, certainly, than other groups, although they’ve never been lacking in power. One could argue that Mormon Brent Scowcroft has had more influence on U.S. foreign policy these last fifty years than anyone except Kissinger.

In sum, the article exaggerates the correspondence between antisemitism and anti-Mormon ideas. It exaggerates the influence of liberalism among Mormons, where the McCarthy era never ended. It exaggerates parallels between Jews and Mormons: the Mormons have always killed more than been killed. And Mormons have no love for Israel or Jews, continuing to baptize dead Holocaust victims in defiance of their own agreements, which should indicate more to the author of this article than it seems to.

    Actually, the baptisms of the Holocaust victims *were* done out of love for Jews, though it’s certainly not a love most Jews appreciate.

    wlinden says:

    Romney is NOT “a high official of the church”. He was once a bishop of a ward…. that is not head of a “diocese”, but the elected head of a single congregation. Is a former Lutheran minister a “high official”? LDS bishops are a dime a dozen, and you simply do not know what you are talking about.

    (Cf./ BRIGHAM CITY, where Peg does not understand why Sheriff Clayton is known as “the Bishop”, when there are seventeen bishops in town and only one sheriff.)

Harvey Clark says:

While I have heard of many encouragements for members of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to be involved in civic affairs, including finding and supporting the best candidates for public office, I believe the context of this reference is that the constitution of the United States would become a blueprint as it were for other nations to establish democracies and democratic republics in this period of time. So it was for Canada as well, as we followed the example of the U.S. in establishing our country with some degree of autonomy from Great Britain without a revolutionary war. For Mitt Romney, I believe he will be very committed to pulling the United States away from bankruptcy and probably will come closer to balancing the books of the government than any other candidate, because he has the example of the church to follow. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not operate in the red, as it experienced the problems of debt in its early history. All members are encouraged to avoid excessive credit and excessive debt, and Mitt Romney has followed this diligently in his personal life. For this reason I respect what I think he will be able to do to help the U.S. out of its current economic crisis, and hope we will be better examples of financial responsibility in Canada as well.

phillipcsmith says:

Thank you for this fair treatment of my Church. We love Jewish people. What a wonderful contribution many Jews have made to this great nation.

Phillip C. Smith, Ph.D.

JustChuck57 says:

Even if such exists, I doubt that Romney will ever fulfill a Whitehorse Prophecy.  His candidacy has brought the bright lights of scrutiny on his faith, and it’s not fairing well under the harsh lighting.   One problem that will likely raise up again is the racism issue.  The church’s ongoing efforts to distance itself from its racist past have had some traction, but the issue is larger than they seem willing to acknowledge.  Mormon racism actually has two entirely different fronts, and the church has yet to retract or correct itself on one of them.  Mormon racism against black people has certainly been the most high profile and garnered the greatest response, but the church also has a body of doctrine that teaches the dark skin of Native Americans is the result of a curse on their ancestors.  And this teaching is alive and well in the Mormon community.  Take a look at this Book of Mormon children’s lesson found on the official Mormon website, LDS.org:  http://goo.gl/PLD8r If you scroll down on the page you’ll find a drawing of two dark-skinned Indians (Lamanites, in Mormon parlance).  The caption on the drawing says, “Laman and Lemuel’s followers called themselves Lamanites. They became a dark-skinned people. God cursed them because of their wickedness.” The caption references a passage from the Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 5:21  “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. ”  And about 600 years later, the Book of Mormon says the Lamanites became righteous, causing their skins to become light again: 3 Nephi 2:15″And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; “Mormon-owned toy company, Latter Day Designs, has integrated this color-changing doctrine into action figures of Laman and Lemuel.  They manufacture two figures of each, one with dark skin (cursed), and one with light skin (before the curse).  Here are photos of those toys: Laman: 
http://goo.gl/fCSgM 
http://goo.gl/nNVH8 
 
Lemuel:  
http://goo.gl/zmX1E 
http://goo.gl/9myfk 
  Mormon racism against Native Americans remains a sleeping giant, but with the election season heating up and Romney now destined for the Republican nomination, that is likely to change. One Native American news organization has already picked up on this slight to their community: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/04/06/mormon-action-figures-depict-indians-er-lamanites-106890 So, all Latter-day Saints should tighten their seat belts for the bumpy ride ahead.  And for more information about Mormonism from a couple of different perspectives, try these links: http://mormonthink.com (a website created by Mormons seeking to reform their church)http://utlm.org (a website created by former Mormons seeking to highlight problems with the claims of Mormonism)

I do not see why it is important what religion Mitt is.  There have been many religious presidents in the U.S. People need to focus on what he’s platform is and go from there not what his religion is. As for the White Horse Theory, I have been a Latter Day Saint my whole life and this is the first time I have ever heard of it. 

wlinden says:

I responded to a “magic underwear” hooraw on a blog by demanding why they were not upset about Jews’ “magic beanie”. The reply was an indignant “That’s DIFFERENT!”

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Protocols of the Elders

Mitt Romney’s candidacy has revived the canard that Mormons are plotting to take over America. Jews have faced that charge for centuries.