Since Mitt Romney may become president, I’ve started boning up on the religion espoused by the Church of Latter Day Saints, AKA “Mormonism.” I was surprised by the similarities between Mormonism and Islam, until I read that Joseph Smith admitted to borrowing freely from Islam. For example:
· Both religions were founded by men claiming to be prophets (Mohammed and Joseph Smith).
· Both men claimed to have had apparitions (by the Archangel Gabriel for Mohamed, and by the angel Moroni for Smith) during which they were handed down divine revelations.
· Although illiterate, both men managed to dictate those revelations from memory.
· Both men claimed that the reigning religions (idolatry in Arabia and mainline Protestantism in America) were corrupt and needed to be changed.
· Both religions are very secretive. Non-Mormons are normally not allowed in temples, and are not privy to church rituals. With very few exceptions, non-Muslims are also not allowed in mosques, or in the cities of Mecca and Medina.
· Both religions are patriarchal to the extreme. Men rule and women are expected to hew to their “divinely ordered” role, i.e. staying home taking care of children.
· Although one strain of Mormonism has disavowed polygamy, fundamentalist Mormons still practice it. The same is true of Islam: “secular” Muslims no longer practice polygamy, while their fundamentalist brethren do.
· Under Islamic law, “lying,” as most of us understand it, is not considered wrong if it is done in furtherance of Islam’s goals. Former Mormons vouch that the same is true of LDS adherents. Needless to say, Mitt Romney performance during the debates (31 documented lies or myths during the second debate alone) and his myriad positions on one and all issues, give credence to the interpretation that he’ll say anything, do anything, to get elected.
· Finally, there is the question of loyalty. Traditional Islam, from which Joseph Smith admitted drawing inspiration and lessons, does not allow for the separation of church and state. Similarly, former Mormons say that the faithful owe allegiance first to the church, then to the state.
When Catholic John F. Kennedy was running for President, many Protestants questioned his loyalty, claiming that he would take his instructions from the Pope. JFK addressed the issue in a memorable address to the nation.
Where does the loyalty of a President, who also doubles as a high-ranking Mormon bishop, lie? How does he separate his Presidential obligations from his Episcopal ones? It would serve the country well if Romney were to address the nation on the very same issue Kennedy had to face.
JOHN C. GARON