The recent news that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had distanced itself from Mit Romney took everyone by surprise. “Mit is giving Mormons a bad name,” said spokeselder H. LeGrand Smoot, who declined to elaborate on the church’s order that Brother Romney cease and desist from identifying himself as a Mormon.
After several days of stonewalling the mainstream media, the church finally agreed to sit down with City Weekly, on the condition that the interview be conducted by the Deep End. Brother H. LeGrand Smoot, a large, friendly fellow with silver hair and an impressive double chin, greeted us warmly in his spacious office high above Temple Square.
Deep End: Why the sudden move? The general consensus seemed to be that Mit was good for the church.
Smoot: Initially, and for quite a while, the Brethren were exceedingly pleased with the candidacy of Brother Romney. Even when the media started nosing around in our sacred ceremonies, we weighed the pros and cons and decided that on the whole, Mit’s candidacy was a big plus for us. He was a fine figure of a man and a fine exemplar of the gospel.
DE: So, what changed?
Smoot: This was not an all-of-a-sudden flip-flop on our part. Many of the Brethren were not happy with those TV commercials when Brother Romney ran for governor in Massachusetts—you know, the ones on the beach where he appeared without his shirt. Then, of course, there was great consternation among the Brethren when that unfortunate story came out about Brother Romney strapping his Irish setter, poor Seamus, on top of the family car for that 12-hour trip across the windy plains of Canada.
DE: We didn’t realize the Brethren were dog lovers.
Smoot: You have no idea, Brother End. From the beginning of the church, our canine companions have played a central part. The Prophet Joseph Smith was actually taking his dog—a golden retriever named Nephi, coincidentally—for a walk when God and Jesus got his attention in a pillar of light. And Brigham Young is said to have had at least 27 schnauzers living with him in the Beehive House. For Pioneer Days, he used to dress them up in the cutest little bonnets.
DE: We can well understand the consternation of the Brethren when they read about Seamus getting sick in the rushing wind.
Smoot: Brother Romney was summoned to a Bishop’s Court and would have been excommunicated had it not been for the testimony of the ever-loyal Seamus.
DE: Amazing what they will forgive.
Smoot: That’s why among all of God’s critters, dogs go straight to the Celestial Kingdom, as revealed in section 129 of the Doctrine & Covenants. Anyway, Brother Romney was in our good graces until the flip-flopping got out of hand. He was, as Brother Huntsman so aptly put it, behaving like a well-lubricated weather vane.
DE: Mit is not here to defend himself, but in his defense, he says his unprincipled flip-floppery—on gay rights, on abortion, on gun rights, etc.—is simply a matter of adjusting to reality. When facts change, you have to change. When your audience changes, you change. Isn’t playing to the audience in keeping with the church’s own history of self-serving expediency? For instance, changing its doctrine on polygamy so Utah could become a state, and changing its doctrine on the fitness of African-American males for the priesthood so the Black Panthers wouldn’t storm Temple Square?
Smoot: You call it expediency, we call it revelation. In any event, we have instructed Brother Romney to cease and desist from calling himself a Mormon not from any sense of moral consistency on our part, but simply because of all the bad publicity he is bringing our way.
DE: How about Mit’s denial of knowingly employing illegal aliens to cut his lawn: “I can’t have illegal aliens working for me. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake.” Isn’t that a perfect example of applying the doctrine of avoiding bad publicity? Isn’t that a fine example of Mormon expediency?
Smoot: When the Brethren speak, the thinking has been done. As far as the practice of flip-floppery goes, I call your attention to the 13th Article of Faith: “We believe in being honest, true, benevolent, chaste and avoiding flip-floppery, except when it is our advantage to do so.”
DE: We appreciate you taking time to talk with us.
Smoot: And I appreciate your appreciation.
D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.