Fred Karger, the gay, 61-year-old contender for the GOP’s nomination for the 2012 election, is harrying Mormon front-runner Mitt Romney with a newly launched Website: “Top 10 Craziest Mormon Beliefs.”
Karger, an independently wealthy California Republican, is probably one the most unusual contenders for the 2012 election—even as a long shot. His experience ranges from co-directing the group Californians Against Hate, which fought against the Proposition 8 campaign that repealed same-sex marriage in California, to working top positions in both of Ronald Reagan’s election campaigns. Now Karger is running for president, largely to challenge Mitt Romney on whether he -- if elected -- will represent his church or his constituents first.
Karger is taking his guerilla campaign to a new level by launching a site that gathers information about the “craziest” beliefs held by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a letter on the Website, Karger says the goal of the site is to provide understanding of the LDS Church to nonmembers.
Karger quotes an Oct. 14, 2011, statement by LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson that “one problem is that half the U.S. population knows very little about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Otterson said. Karger goes on to write that education is why this Website was launched. “This Web site is by no means meant to harm anyone or any faith,” Karger writes on the site. “It is simply, as Mr. Otterson said, to help the U.S. population understand the Mormon Faith.”
In an interview, Karger admits that it is “tongue-in-cheek,” especially since the site actively solicits users to post outlandish LDS beliefs. Since it's user-submitted, technically anyone could submit posts no matter how inaccurate about the LDS Church. Still Karger says it’s not that different from other forums on the church, and argues that voters need to ask more questions of the LDS Church and the extent to which obedience in the faith might conflict with a president elected to represent all citizens. “I think it’s absolutely up for discussion,” Karger says.
As for his campaign, Karger has focused all of his efforts on the Jan. 10, 2012, New Hampshire primary, saying his organization will be doing direct-mail campaigning, running TV commercials throughout the state and that he's set up a large volunteer call center in the state to push his message of calling out Romney.
“Romney is the front-runner, definitely, and this race is his to lose,” Karger says. “That’s why I’ve been dogging him a bit and this, of course, takes it up a notch.”