Predictably, our elderly senior senator, Orrin Hatch, has played the Mormon card in the presidential poker game. Uncle Orrin used his prophetic skills to reveal to the true believers in Farmington the coming dirty tricks the Obama campaign will inflict on fellow High Priest and former bishop Mit Romney: “You watch, they’re going to throw the Mormon church at him like you can’t believe.”
Forget the fact that it’s been Mit’s own Republican Brethren who have been throwing the Mormon church at him, despite Mit’s best efforts to run away from what he evasively calls his “faith.” (“I’m not running as a Mormon,” Mit told an Iowa City radio interviewer. “I’m running as a weasel.”)
Someone named Tom Korologos, a self-described “belligerent ally of the Mormon faith” and “Republican strategist,” has come to the defense of the increasingly crabby and paranoid Uncle Orrin: “Of course the Obama campaign machine and it’s [sic] acolytes throughout the political punditry, media, social network, Hollywood etc., etc., etc., [sic] world will inject Romney’s religion into the campaign.” (Some nefarious Obama acolyte must have sneaked into the Politico website, on which the belligerent gasbag and ally of the Mormon faith was invited to bloviate, and injected numerous grammatical errors into the Mormon ally’s gassy fantasizing.)
The strategic Korologos “totally agrees with Sen. Hatch’s prediction,” and goes on to give us a list of the Obama campaign’s smears against Elder Romney, which include “The Book of Mormon on Broadway … articles on how different Mormons are … TV stories about Mormon religious rituals … blacks in the Priesthood, polygamy marriages [and] contraception questions.”
In the Obama situation room, at this very moment, the sneaky acolytes are no doubt smacking their foreheads and wondering how an obscure and belligerent ally of the Mormon Faith found out about how they strong-armed those musical-comedy Nancy-boys into smearing Romney by staging The Book of Mormon on Broadway.
Uncle Orrin and belligerent Korologos’ prophetic paranoia is typical Mormon overkill. The Brethren ought to be grateful that the usual suspects—media, Hollywood, etc.—have restrained themselves from “injecting” Elder Romney’s religion into his presidential campaign. Mit has provided ample material for everyone to mull over—his continuous gaffes, his prickly demeanor, his dorky attempts to be a regular guy, his rich-guy obliviousness, his lies, his flip-flops, his breathtaking everyday mendacity.
Elder Romney—or more accurately, Bishop Romney, for as we Mormons like to say, “Once a bishop, always a bishop”—has benefited enormously from the American taboo on examining and/or questioning religious beliefs. For the most part, people in both the public and private sphere shy away from challenging anyone’s religion. Which is rather odd, given that one’s religion should be so central to one’s life that discussion of belief should be welcome and even encouraged.
Ironies of ironies—Mormons send out missionaries to preach the Gospel to every nation, kindred and tongue. They want to bring the glorious news of the Restoration of the True Church to every benighted corner of the world. But when it comes to looking closely at their beliefs, the Brethren are quick to draw the veil over their “sacred” practices. Any questioning or honest examination is swiftly dismissed as “Mormon bashing.”
Instead of shouting “smear” any time gentiles express puzzlement about Mormonism, people like Uncle Orrin should step forward and gladly satisfy their curiosity. Engage, debate or even bear their testimonies.
It may be that Bishop Romney is such a strange guy that those seeking to understand his strangeness wonder if his religion perhaps accounts for his strangeness. No other Mormon political figure—well, except for Reed Smoot a hundred years ago—has inspired such interest. Mit doesn’t help things by being so defensive and evasive, refusing to entertain even the most innocent inquiry. A case in point: When asked recently about whether America or Israel is the biblical “Promised Land,” Bishop Romney got all prickly and brought forth his tinny stage laugh, feigning ignorance in the best Gordon B. Hinckley fashion: “Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t know that we teach that. I don’t know that we emphasize that.”
Unfortunately, Bishop Romney lacks the late Prophet’s triumphant charm. I knew Gordon Hinckley. Gordon Hinckley was a friend of mine. Bishop Romney, you’re no Gordon Hinckley.
When it comes down to it, what will finally do in our favorite son of the faith is not baptizing dead people, but strapping his dog Seamus onto the top of the family station wagon.
D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.