Romney – Missionary Position

During the second debate with President Obama, Republican candidate Mitt Romney held forth on his faith in god:

My — my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I — I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.

Leave aside any altruistic notion of sleeping under mosquito nets, working on an irrigation project in the morning and teaching hungry children in the afternoon. Mitt did his missionary work in France. And he did it as a means to dodge service in Vietnam. ALL Mormons are required to spend two years in the missionary field – it was not really volunteerism at all. AND Mormon missionaries have but one goal: recruit people to join the patently ridiculous scam and cult that is the LDS. These are all true, and all very revealing about the character and mind of Mitt Romney, which in turn, says some very shallow and ugly things about America.

I take as a premise that those who make god claims are wrong. If there is to be such a word as god, then it is the god of Einstein and Spinoza. The Prime Mover, if there is one, has no preference for beef over lobster, and takes no notice if you don’t either. Those who claim that “god demands” anything have no way of knowing such things, and no evidence upon which any thinking person ought to take them seriously.
Anyone who relies on the bible, the torah, the koran, or Chicken Soup for the Soul as a basis for secular government (or in support of bigotry, oppression, misogyny, homophobia, child abuse…or to reject science) ought to be disqualified from running for office.
Sadly, almost the reverse is true. No one could hope to win the office of President of the United States without an avowed faith in Jesus. It is at least conceivable that a Jew might be able to pull it off (same Pater, but the lawyers are demanding DNA tests); a Mormon is making a run at it (again same Pater, but Filios does an encore show in Missouri), but you can forget about anyone who wears a turban or bows to Mecca five times a day. Religious faith is rampant in America, it is deeply felt, Jesus rides the big float, and no one gets to be POTUS by blatantly rejecting the sincerely held beliefs of the majority of voters. That these beliefs are rooted in a pastiche of obviously false myths full of morally repugnant and inherently contradictory foolishness is beside the political point.

Mormonism, in terms of its faith claims, is a special case. As utterly unlikely as it is that any set of religious claims might be true, Mormonism is yet even less likely.
Compare it to the beliefs of any garden variety evangelical Christian. There is a set of things that must be true if the Christian faith is to be objectively demonstrated as fact: The world and everything in it was created in six days, talking snake, virgin birth, resurrection, all the animals on the ark…there are plenty of other things, but that will do. It would seem long odds.
Mormonism also requires that all of these things be true, but there is long list of other things that must also be true. It may seem odd and pointless to graph a scale of how silly these additional god claims are – I mean, they’re being graphed against a talking snake! – but even so, the tenets of the Mormon faith are objectively weirder than chatty reptiles. That doesn’t matter, though…it is enough that there are additional claims – equally unlikely to be true – that form part of the LDS belief system. As a simple matter of logic, Mormonism is less likely to represent a set of true claims.

Mitt Romney spent two years in France, dodging the draft, and trying to persuade Parisians to tithe to the LDS.
I have some experience with the faithful, and with Mormons. Watching Mitt making his political pitch is exactly like listening to one of Salt Lake City’s intensely sincere young Elders try to sell you on the angel Moroni. That’s what’s so goddamn discomforting about it. You not only don’t believe a single word that’s coming out of their mouth, you wonder how in the name of buckyballs they can.
But they seem so sincere! And asking them a question – any question – only makes it worse. The circular logic, the avoidance, the insistent and incessant platitudes – nothing like a real answer. And it always comes back to, “Trust me. I KNOW how this works. What I say is true. I know how to make it all better. You just have to believe.”
If you ask them any sort of foundational question – about the golden plates, Joseph Smith, the posthumous baptism of Jews killed in the Holocaust, or the Mormon church’s funding of Prop 8, they get very impatient, with much repressed sarcasm invite you to attend a meeting, and move on the next potential voter.

There’s a goal. For the missionary, it’s converts. Mitt Romney is very used to selling things that are obviously untrue to people. He does so by insisting that they are true in the face of all reasonable evidence to the contrary. Everyone around him believes in these things…or they say they do…and being rich is proof of god’s blessing. Whether he actually believes those things, who can say? Perhaps not even Mitt. It doesn’t matter. If he does believe those things, he is a dangerous lunatic. If he doesn’t believe those things, he is a dangerous con artist.
But that desperate sales pitch…of a sort that makes one wonder just whom he’s trying to convert. He gets the approval of his masters in the church by pumping up the numbers, the group gains the confirmation of an increase in believers; more members, more money, more power…who cares if any of it is TRUE? This is the Romney campaign from stem to stern.

If you wonder if Mitt Romney is capable of separating his faith from his manner of governing, there’s your answer. His entire campaign is constructed in the same way he pitches membership in his cult. It doesn’t matter if what he says is factually accurate; if any of the underlying structure is congruent with reality. It’s the pitch. It’s TRUE damnit! I KNOW how things work. TRUST ME!
The tone, the impatience, the revealing words spoken behind closed doors – 47% of the people just aren’t going to accept the truth of Mormonism. Romney’s goal is to find those who can be converted. Asking him questions about his tax cuts, his health care plan, the loopholes – heaven forfend anyone should simply point out any of his many outright lies – results only in more boilerplate platitudes and pitch-line talking points. Salvation is yours if only you believe.

There are other ways contemporary American Conservatism behaves like a cult – from its cartoonish reliance on demonstrable falsehood to the vetting and shunning of anyone who doesn’t toe doctrinal lines, but it’s the sales pitch that has drawn my attention here – that deeply uncomfortable manner that emanates from Mitt Romney is understood in terms of his religious training. There’s something in it that reeks of Romney trying to convince himself of the platform on which he stands. Were he to take a critical look at the policies advocated by his cult, the entire substrate of his worldview would disappear like Moroni’s golden plates. It is necessary for Mitt to convert others – to chant Hare Krisha-like the trickle-down mantras – because, without their confirmation, the questions he can’t answer would be too loud to ignore.

14 Responses

  1. Of course, it is also the case that Barack Obama is a professed Christian. Sadly, this is true. But President Obama is not on record saying the separation of church and state has gone too far. He has demonstrated a degree of inclusiveness and understanding of the 1st Amendment that makes his politically necessary expression of faith tolerable if not palatable.

  2. Great point. Romney is running his campaign on faith, or rather relying on the faith of voters. He refuses to provide details on any of his plans because they’re not important. What IS important is that you, the voter, fly in the face of reason, his vast inconsistencies and lack of details and just have faith and believe! Your faith will be rewarded. Form follows function.

  3. Being a married, white male (at least 50% white content) who believes in God is an absolute prerequisite for office.

    There is this ridiculous mould American politicos must pretend to fit. To the best of my knowledge, this doesn’t happen anywhere else. In Canada, Trudeau got elected single, got married AND divorced in office and was re-elected after. France invites mistresses to state funerals. I don’t even know if Germany’s Angela Merkel is married..and she leads the Christian Democrats.

    Living up to that silly, inaccurate &,irrelevant self-image Americans have created for themselves and projected onto the job of leader is difficult and excludes a lot of potentially good leaders.

    • There is something deeply and profoundly broken in the United States of America – something foundational. Dead heart center core fucked up.
      That anything like a Mitt Romney; any platform constructed of the base Republican planks, hollow platitudes, revisionist history and unrepentant prevarication, might be running EVEN with the man who saved the global economy, killed Osama bin Laden, rescued the auto industry, took Mother May I Giant Leaps for LGBT rights…
      WHO the fuck is voting for Mitt Romney?
      If half of the people are voting for that, you’re fuckin’ doomed.

      • I am truly astounded by that myself, and am continually shocked at who comes out on my facebook feed as a…um, I’m not sure what to call them…”dyed-in-the-wool Republicans”????? And many of these are “real world friends” and relatives. Were it not for that, I wouldn’t believe the media hype that they are tied. It very seriously creeps me out and spooks the hell out of me that that smug, venal, mendacious, religious extremist, plutocratic douche (and all the fetid drek attached to him) could actually win, or worse still, that there really are that many “low-information voters/low-effort thinkers” that such a thing could be possible :/

        And you put it very well, that “if half of the people are voting for that, we’re fucking doomed.”

        • And who was it that said something to the effect that “it’s easy to get half the poor people to kill off the other half…”?

        • While I’m at it, I might as well go on record with something I’ve been thinking for awhile: that since the US was originally settled by a bunch of exiled religious extremists and criminals, how could we expect any different?

        • Brenda K, you have to realize that the devoutly religious have been taught from childhood to NOT question, anything! They take pride in being uneducated, unsophisticated, and in taking anything they are told by other devoutly religious people as absolute truth! They are like sheep. If the lead sheep walks off a cliff, the rest of the flock will blindly follow it .

        • Nice to meet you, Viviann! Wow, thanks for reminding me to never take for granted that I was fortunate enough to have been raised Athiest and taught how to think. It always blows my circuits whenever I encounter the types you describe since I cannot even begin to imagine how they manage to operate like that.

  4. viviann… Please don’t insult sheep. They are far to intelligent to serve as a comparison to those who subscribe to vapid religiosity.

    We ARE doomed. If there was not so much racially motivated hatred for Obama, Romney wouldn’t have a chance in hell, as a Mormon. But the Right is able to overlook this pesky unpleasant detail in order to mobilize against the scary Black man with a big brain.

  5. Brenda, I came to my atheism late in life. I was loosely brought up in Christian Science, but have studied many of the worlds religions. For many years I was afraid to actually say that I was an atheist, saying instead that I didn’t believe in the christian definition of god. Eventually I realized that I didn’t believe in god at all, and that it was alright! It was like taking a very tight girdle off! I finally felt free! I was never one of those bible thumping, no questions asked people, because I was never comfortable in giving my power of choice away to something other than myself! I think that is what finally made me realize that religion was not a choice for me.

    As far as sheep go… My grandfather raised sheep for their wool, and believe me, they are stupid!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 408 other followers

%d bloggers like this: