The Progressive Review

Latter day saints . . . present day politician

Mitt Romney still at large

Why Mormonism is at home with corporatism

Mitt Romney and the media would have us believe that it is improper to discuss the doctrines of his church. This makes no more sense than saying it is improper to discuss the doctrines of the economists that he admires, but in the faux broadmindedness that the media projects - which covers Mormons but not atheists and other secularists - the result is a silence about some important matters. Below we fill in some of the gaps.

Romney is not your average run-of-the-mill three hour a week Christian. When he was young he was a Mormon missionary. He went to a Mormon university, Brigham Young. He was a ward bishop, a home teacher, a church counselor, and later president over the Boston Stake, a collection of congregations with over four thousand members. He always tithed to the church, and by 2011 his family’s annual contribution was around $2 million.

Here are some more details:

Wikipedia - During his years in business, Romney also served in the local lay clergy. Around 1977 he became a counselor to an area leader, an unusual post for someone of his age. He then served as ward bishop for Belmont, Massachusetts from 1981 to 1986, acting as the ecclesiastical and administrative head of his congregation. As such, he formulated Sunday services and classes, using the Bible and the Book of Mormon to guide the congregation, and also did home teaching….

From 1986 to 1994, Romney presided over the Boston Stake, which included more than a dozen congregations in eastern Massachusetts with a total of about 4,000 church members. He organized a team to handle financial and management issues, sought to counter anti-Mormon sentiments, and tried to solve social problems among poor Southeast Asian converts. An unpaid position, Romney's local church leadership often took 30 or more hours a week of his time…

He agreed with some modest requests from the liberal women's group Exponent II for changes in the way the church dealt with women, but clashed with women who he felt were departing too much from doctrine. In particular, he counseled women not to have abortions except in the rare cases allowed by LDS doctrine, and also in accordance with doctrine encouraged prospective mothers to give up children for adoption when a successful marriage was not present.

From lying for the Lord to lying for the presidency
Sam Smith

All my life I’ve covered politicians who lie. In different ways. Richard Nixon looked like he was lying when he said “Good morning.” Joe McCarthy lied to destroy people. George Bush lied to invade Iraq. Bill Clinton lied when his back was against the wall. Barack Obama lies like a Harvard lawyer.

In recent years, I have thought of Bill Clinton as the best presidential liar. The step son of an auto salesman, Clinton’s fictions began early. For example, most Americans don’t know his family actually moved from the politically well named Hope to the mob resort of Hot Springs when he was only seven. As a Hot Spring prosecutor put it, “In Hot Springs, growing up here, you were living a lie. You lived a lie because you knew that all of these activities were illegal. I mean, as soon as you got old enough to be able to read a newspaper, you knew that gambling in Arkansas was illegal, prostitution was illegal. And so you lived this lie.” Better just to say you came from Hope. But Clinton’s lies, right up to the Lewinsky incident, were largely to protect or promote himself.

And it is true that lying by the prominent has moved from being an offense to being a cultural norm. Still, I have to confess that I have been taken aback by Mitt Romney’s ability, consistency and frequency in lying. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in an American political figure.

Romney lies about the past, he lies about his opponents, he aggressively hides every truth that might be embarrassing, he conceals some things and refuses to talk about others, he changes his position on issues like they were a pair of yesterday’s socks. And through it all he maintains a plastic smile and a voice without dynamics as though it were elevator music.

The first person he reminded me of was Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman:

LINDA: How’d the Chevy run?

WILLY: Chevrolet, Linda, is the greatest car ever built.


LINDA: No, they did a wonderful job. Then you owe Frank for the carburetor.

WILLY: I’m not going to pay that man! That goddamn Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car!

And as Charlie said of Willy: "For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine."

Others have noted Romney’s love of dissembling. Michael Cohen in the Guardian wrote:

Romney persists in repeating the same lies over and over, even after they've been debunked. This is perhaps the most interesting and disturbing element of Romney's tireless obfuscation: that even when corrected, it has little impact on the presumptive GOP nominee's behavior. This is happening at a time when fact-checking operations in major media outlets have increased significantly, yet that appears to have no effect on the Romney campaign.

Richard Cohen in the Washington Post sees it this way:

I admire a smooth liar, and Romney is among the best. His technique is to explain and then counterattack. He maintains the bulletproof demeanor of a man who is barely suffering fools… His message is not so much what he says, but what he is: You cannot touch me. I have the organization and the money. Especially the money. (Even the hair.) You’re a loser.

There are those who maintain that President Obama, too, is a liar. . . But where Romney is different is that he is not honest about himself. He could, as he did just recently, stand before the National Rifle Association as if he were, in spirit as well as membership, one of them. In body language, in the blinking of the eyes, in the nonexistent pounding pulse, there was not the tiniest suggestion that here was a man who just as confidently once embodied the anti-gun ethic of Massachusetts, the distant land he once governed. Instead, he tore into Obama for the (nonexistent) threat the president posed to Second Amendment rights — a false accusation from a false champion.

But for me, there is something else: the lies of a religious missionary. There is no place outside of a salesroom where the recitation of the unproven or untrue as undeniable truth is more acceptable than in religious huckstering and there are few religions that do it better than the Mormons.

The media is afraid to talk about this because it will seen as not having proper respect for religion. But when religion enters politics, it must be judged like any other lobby. That’s as much respect as it should get.

Besides, as we’ve noted in the past, Romney is not your average run-of-the-mill three hour a week Christian. When he was young he was a Mormon missionary. He went to a Mormon university, Brigham Young. He was a ward bishop, a home teacher, a church counselor, and later president over the Boston Stake, a collection of congregations with over four thousand members. He always tithed to the church, and by 2011 his family’s annual contribution was around $2 million.

What does this have to do with telling the truth? Start by checking out this remarkable video clip of a Mormon professor on how Mormons should answer questions about their faith. It should be required viewing for every campaign reporter.

Or read this by Ken Clark on “lying for the Lord:”

I worked as a Seminary Principal/teacher, Institute teacher/Director, and Stake CES Coordinator from 1975 - 2002. My last assignment was brief. I signed a Letter of Agreement with CES to serve as the Director of the Pullman, Washington LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to Washington State University in July 2002. I resigned from CES a month later. I carry fond memories of the students, ward leaders and others I grew to respect in the LDS Church. I started this list in an effort to defend the church from its detractors. I was insulted that critics accused LDS church leaders of dishonesty. I "knew" the criticisms could not be true. . . .

I believed a list of prevarications presented in the proper context would prove that lying wasn't actually lying. Instead the list would prove that a perceived lie was probably a misunderstanding, a remark out of context or a deliberate misinterpretation of historical events. My belief was that those who accused church leaders with deception were deceivers themselves; they twisted words and took remarks out of context. But as I read more church history my list grew, and at some point it occurred to me that a pattern of institutionalized deception had been established by Joseph Smith. Subsequent church leaders, including those who serve currently, followed Smith's example of lying to protect the church. The growing evidence pointed to a standard practice.
Evidence presented in this essay establishes that when the church image or its leaders needed protection it was and is, okay to fib, deceive, distort, inflate, minimize, exaggerate, prevaricate or lie. You will read quotations by church leaders who admitted that deception is a useful tool to protect the church and its leaders "when they are in tight spot," or "to beat the devil at his own game." They admit engaging in moral gymnastics; that God approves of deception - if it's done to protect the "Lord's Church" or "the brethren" as the leaders are called….

D. Michael Quinn called the use of deception by LDS church leaders, "theocratic ethics." Smith lied to protect himself or the church; which was an extension of himself. Dan Vogel in his excellent work, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, described Smith's viewpoint; he was a pious deceiver. Smith used deception if in his mind; it resulted in a good outcome. Smith had Moroni, an ancient American prophet and custodian of the gold plates declare, "And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. Translation: if deception was necessary to do good, or bring a soul to Christ, then it was worth it, as long as God approves. Smith believed he knew when God approved of lying.

Smith believed God also approved of murder if it was for a good cause. He wrote in the Book of Mormon that Nephi was inspired by God to deceive and capture a servant; and then murder another man in order to secure an ancient historical record on brass plates. And in Missouri, Smith and his counselor Sidney Rigdon threatened to kill Mormon's who disagreed with Smith's policies and initiatives . . . .

And this from Mormon Wiki:

One Mormon blogger writes, "When I was a missionary, the church’s official Missionary Guide instructed missionaries to avoid providing direct answers or solutions to investigators' questions or concerns.” On his mission, he "fell back on rhetorical tricks or even outright denials."….

Lying for the Lord refers to the practice of lying to protect the image of and belief in the Mormon religion, a practice which Mormonism itself fosters in various ways. From Joseph Smith's denial of having more than one wife, to polygamous Mormon missionaries telling European investigators that reports about polygamy in Utah were lies put out by "anti-Mormons" and disgruntled ex-members, …. Mormonism's history seems replete with examples of lying. Common members see such examples as situations where lying is justified. For the Mormon, loyalty and the welfare of the church are more important than the principle of honesty, and plausible denials and deception by omission are warranted by an opportunity to have the Mormon organization seen in the best possible light. This is part of the larger package of things that lead many to describe Mormonism as a cult. "Lying for the lord" is part of Mormonism's larger deceptive mainstreaming tactics, and conversion numbers would drastically lower if important Mormon beliefs were fully disclosed to investigators.

Former Mormon missionary Loren Franck has listed lies he told in his work:

As a full-time Mormon missionary from 1975 to 1977, I lied for the church countless times. Like my colleagues in the South Dakota-Rapid City Mission, which served the Dakotas and adjacent areas, I spoke truthfully about my background, but touted many Mormon teachings that contradict the Bible. After my mission ended, however, I examined these doctrines more closely. The harder I tried to reconcile the contradictions, the more evident they became. So, after extensive prayer and study, I resigned my church membership in 1984…

I can't remember all of my missionary lies. Some were small, others grandiose, but all were false and misleading. Here are ten I'll never forget.

1. We're Not Trying to Convert You
2. The Bible is Insufficient
3. We're the Only True Christians
4. We're the Only True Church
5. We Have a Living Prophet
6. The Book of Mormon is Scripture
7. You're Saved By Works
8. People Can Become Gods
9. You're Born Again By Becoming a Mormon
10. Temple Marriage is Required for Eternal Life

It’s not hard to understand why people come to lie for the Lord given the training given young Mormon missionaries. Writes Josh Kron of the NY Times:

An army of 52,000 young Mormons proselytize around the world, from Boise, Idaho, to Mozambique, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In modern-day Mormon culture, men are expected to take up evangelism on their 19th birthday and serve for two years; less commonly, women enlist when they turn 21. Missionary work is not mandatory, but it is popular.

It is certainly a time of sacrifice. Missionaries are slingshot into an intensive, airtight and sometimes lonely schedule of prayer, Scripture study and door-to-door proselytizing six days a week, 52 weeks a year. They are to abstain from virtually every earthly pleasure - not just the usual temptations prohibited under Mormonism, like premarital sex, alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, but also magazines, television and music not sanctioned by the church. They can call home two days a year, on Christmas and Mother's Day. (When suicide bombings ripped through Kampala during the 2010 World Cup, killing more than 70 people, including an American citizen, the missionaries still were not allowed a call.) E-mailing, through a secure Internet server, is for Mondays.

When you read about the Orwellian world of Mormon training and acceptance of untruths, it becomes less surprising that the religion has spawned so many break away sects that have engaged in often appalling and criminal behavior from the Mountain Meadows massacre to Warren Jeffs. So much so that the the attorneys general of Utah and Arizona last year even published a booklet entitled The Primer: A Guidebook for Law Enforcement and Human Services Agencies Who Offer Assistance to Fundamentalist Mormon Families. It noted that “a recent, informal survey indicated there are approximately 38,000 people (residing primarily in the Rocky Mountain region) who consider themselves to be Fundamentalist Mormons.”

Romney learned how to “lie for the Lord.” Now he’s he’s lying for the presidency. And no sane description of religious tolerance says that the media or the public should put up with it.

Notes on polygomy

Mitt Romney's father, George, was lucky that the birther movement hadn't started when he ran for president. He had been born in Mexico, albeit of American parents,

Although the media treats Obama's birth certificate problem as unique, in fact a number of presidential hopefuls had similar problems. George Romney, Chester Arthur, Charles Evans Hughes, Christian Herter, Barry Goldwater, Lowell Weicker and John McCain. The definition of a "natural born citizen" has been a topic of a heated debate throughout our history. It wasn't well defined at the time of the Constitution was drafted and it hasn't been since. It is worth noting, however, that all the above mentioned were Republicans.

Montana governor Brian Schweitzer has raised another family problem. George had been been born in a polygamous Mormon community, albeit of monogramous parents.

Robert M. Bowman Jr of the Institute for Religious Research has expanded on the topic:

"Mitt Romney's great-great-grandfather was Parley Pratt, a Mormon apostle who had twelve wives. His great-grandparents were polygamous Mormons who moved to Mexico because of U.S. anti-polygamy laws. Miles Park Romney had five wives-including one taken in 1897, more than six years after the "Manifesto" supposedly announcing a ban on plural marriage in the LDS Church. The historical evidence shows clearly that Miles was not an anomaly. LDS Church founder Joseph Smith had himself secretly practiced polygamy, and his successor Brigham Young led the way in making it a common practice in territorial Utah."

The Mormon's official switch from polygamy to single marriages is one of the few examples of religious revelation being inspired by congressional legislation and a Supreme Court decision:

Wikipedia - The general opinion of the rest of the United States was that the practice of plural marriage was offensive. On July 8, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act into law, which forbade the practice in US territories. President Lincoln told the church that he had no intentions of enforcing it if they would not interfere with him, and so the matter was laid to rest for a time. Nevertheless, the rhetoric continued, and polygamy became an impediment to Utah being admitted to the United States. This was not a concern to Brigham Young, however, who preached in 1866 that if Utah will not be admitted to the Union until it abandons polygamy, "we shall never be admitted." …

In February 1882, George Q. Cannon, a prominent leader in the church, was denied a non-voting seat in the House of Representatives due to his polygamous relations. This revived the issue in national politics. One month later, the Edmunds Act was passed by Congress, amending the Morrill Act and made polygamy a felony punishable by a $500 fine and five years in prison.

Portrait of polygamists in prison, at the Utah Penitentiary in 1889

In 1887, the Edmunds-Tucker Act allowed the seizure of the church and its property and further extended the punishments of the Edmunds Act of 1882. In July of the same year, the U.S. Attorney General filed suit to seize the church and all of its assets. . .

Following the aforementioned passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887, the church found it difficult to operate as a viable institution. Among other things, this legislation disincorporated the church, confiscated its properties, and even threatened seizure of its temples.

After visiting priesthood leaders in many settlements, President Wilford Woodruff left for San Francisco on September 3, 1890, to meet with prominent businessmen and politicians. He returned to Salt Lake City on September 21, determined to obtain divine confirmation to pursue a course that seemed to be agonizingly more and more clear. As he explained to church members a year later, the choice was between, on the one hand, continuing to practice plural marriage and thereby losing the temples, "stopping all the ordinances therein," and, on the other, ceasing plural marriage in order to continue performing the essential ordinances for the living and the dead. President Woodruff hastened to add that he had acted only as the Lord directed.

The final element in President Woodruff's revelatory experience came on the evening of September 23, 1890. The following morning, he reported to some of the General Authorities that he had struggled throughout the night with the Lord regarding the path that should be pursued. The result was a 510-word handwritten manuscript which stated his intentions to comply with the law and denied that the church continued to solemnize or condone plural marriages.

Missionaries like Mitt

While Mitt Romney's time as a Mormon missionary may seem of minor importance today, in fact it was the beginning of lifetime of trying to convince people of mythical stories and of selling them something that wasn't quite as he described it - from the streets of Paris, to Bain Capital to his most recent "pivots" from unfulfilled promises in the primaries to different unfulfillable promises in the general election. As Charlie said of Willy Loman: "For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine."

The other interesting thing about Romney's missionary experience is that he was subjected to an extraordinary level of mind control and overbearing discipline that may help to explain why today he has such a hard time today dealing with real people. . .and real facts.

Josh Kron, NY Times - As one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States, with 14 million followers … Mormonism is basking in the mainstream spotlight. The church gained nearly 400,000 members in 2010, about 70 percent of them converted by college-age missionaries like Elder Dangerfield.

An army of 52,000 young Mormons proselytize around the world, from Boise, Idaho, to Mozambique, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In modern-day Mormon culture, men are expected to take up evangelism on their 19th birthday and serve for two years; less commonly, women enlist when they turn 21. Missionary work is not mandatory, but it is popular.

It is certainly a time of sacrifice. Missionaries are slingshot into an intensive, airtight and sometimes lonely schedule of prayer, Scripture study and door-to-door proselytizing six days a week, 52 weeks a year. They are to abstain from virtually every earthly pleasure - not just the usual temptations prohibited under Mormonism, like premarital sex, alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, but also magazines, television and music not sanctioned by the church. They can call home two days a year, on Christmas and Mother's Day. (When suicide bombings ripped through Kampala during the 2010 World Cup, killing more than 70 people, including an American citizen, the missionaries still were not allowed a call.) E-mailing, through a secure Internet server, is for Mondays.

…At Brigham Young University, the Missionary Training Center welcomes hundreds of new missionaries every week from around the world. For up to 12 weeks, they study doctrine, learn how to teach the gospel and hone their communication skills. Some 50 languages are taught at the center, in Provo, Utah, which can accommodate 4,000 learners and has a gymnasium, medical clinic and bookstore. Training centers in other countries also prepare students to serve in one of the church's roughly 350 missions. They can be sent anywhere. Mitt Romney, for example, served in France.

Some missionary rules that helped make Mitt the man he is today

LDS4U - What follows are [some of] the rules from The Missionary Handbook (commonly known as the "White Bible"). It is a little booklet that the Mormon missionaries wear in their shirt pocket. . . .

· Read only books, magazines, and other material authorized by the Church.
· Don't debate or argue.
· Center your mind on your mission.
· Dress conservatively. Elders: white shirts, conservative ties, and business suits. Sisters: conservative colors and skirts that cover your knees. No floor-length skirts or dresses.
· Keep your hair clean and neatly combed at all times in the approved style.
· Use deodorant.
· Polish your shoes.
· Iron your shirt and business suit.
· Proselytize for 10 hours between 9:30 A.M. and 9:30 P.M.
· Turn off your lights at 10:30 P.M.
· Follow the "Missionary Gospel Study Program" for your personal study.
· Regularly study the Missionary Guide and the Discussions.
· Attend Sunday priesthood or Relief Society meetings, Sunday School, and sacrament meeting.
· Attend the general session of Stake Conference.
· Attend general conference broadcasts if available.
· Avoid all other church meetings unless you have a special assignment or are bringing an investigator.
· Proselytize as much as possible on weekends and holidays because this is when you'll find people home.
· Take care of your physical preparation for the week on preparation day: wash your clothes, clean your apartment, wash your car, get your haircut, and shop for groceries.
· Write to your parents every week on preparation day.
· Write less frequently to your siblings, friends, and acquaintances.
· Don't communicate with any friends or acquaintances that are within or close to your mission boundaries, except as a part of official mission business.
· Plan safe, wholesome, and uplifting activities for preparation day.
· Do not leave your assigned area without permission ("District leaders must approve travel outside your area within the district; zone leaders must approve travel outside your district within the zone; and the mission president must approve travel outside the zone.")
- Do not watch television.
· Do not view unauthorized videocassettes.
· Do not listen to the radio.
· Do not listen to unauthorized audiocassettes or CD's.
· Do not participate in musical groups.
· Do not participate in athletic teams.
· Do not sponsor athletic teams.
· Do not engage in contact sports.
· Do not engage in water sports.
· Do not engage in winter sports.
· Do not engage in motorcycling.
· Do not engage in horseback riding.
· Do not engage in mountain climbing.
· Do not embark on a private boat.
· Do not embark in a private airplane.
· Do not handle firearms.
· Do not handle explosives.
· Do not swim.
· Do not play full court basketball.
- Do not play basketball in leagues.
· Do not play basketball in tournaments.
· You may play half-court basketball.
· Ask your mission president for help if your companion doesn't obey the rules.
· Always address your companion as Elder or Sister.
· Do not arise before your companion.
· Do not retire after your companion.
· Never be alone with anyone of the opposite sex.
· Do not flirt.
· Do not date.
· Do not provide community service that isn't approved by your mission president.
· Do not provide more than 4 hours a week of community service.
· Do not provide community service during the evening, weekend or holidays-those are peek proselytizing times.
· Use extreme caution on your bicycle.
· Do not ride your bicycle after dark.
· Do not ride your bicycle in heavy traffic.
· Do not ride your bicycle in adverse weather conditions.
· Go directly to your new area when transferred.
· Find your new companion without delay when transferred.
· Have a maximum of two suitcases and a briefcase

Wikipedia - In 2007, approximately 30% of all 19-year-old LDS men became Mormon missionaries; from LDS families that are active in the church, approximately 80-90% of 19-year-old men serve a mission.

In cases where an immediate family member dies, the missionary is strongly encouraged to stay on the mission. Missionaries can be sent home for violating mission rules, and occasionally missionaries choose to go home because of unhappiness or because they "lost their testimony" (meaning they no longer believe in the church or have serious doubts about it). However, the vast majority of missionaries serve the whole two-year (men) or eighteen-month (women) terms.

All missionaries must meet certain minimum standards of worthiness. Among the standards that a prospective missionary must demonstrate adherence to are: regular attendance at church meetings, regular personal prayer, regular study of the scriptures, adherence to the law of chastity (sexual purity), adherence to the Word of Wisdom (code of health and nutrition), payment of tithing, spiritual diligence and testimony of God….

Newly called missionaries attend a short training period at one of 17 church Missionary Training Centers worldwide. The largest MTC is located in Provo, Utah, adjacent to Brigham Young University. Missionaries who will not be learning a language in order to serve their missions spend three weeks at an MTC where they practice using proselytizing materials, learn expected conduct, and study the scriptures. Missionaries bound for foreign-language missions spend eight to thirteen weeks at an MTC, depending on the language to be learned. During this period, they are encouraged not to speak in their native tongue but rather to immerse themselves in the new language.

Missionaries are encouraged to write a letter to their parents weekly. Since almost all of their time is otherwise occupied, other communication is limited. However, a missionary may use preparation day to correspond with any person that is resident outside of the boundaries of the mission. Missionaries do not go on vacation and are generally permitted to telephone their parents only on Christmas Day, and one other day of the year, usually Mother's Day. …

As of December 31, 2010, there were 52,225 LDS missionaries serving in 340 church missions throughout the world. Their work, often in cooperation with local members, resulted in 272,814 convert baptisms in 2010. Author David Stewart points out that the number of convert baptisms per missionary per year has fallen from a high of 8.03 in 1989 to just 4.67 in 2005. He argues that the number of converts would increase if Mormon missionaries made greater efforts in meeting new people; he points out that the average pair of missionaries spends only four or five hours per week attempting to meet new people.

Henry Samuel & Jon Swaine, Telegraph, UK - A day after being labelled "out of touch" for casually offering a $10,000 bet to a rival candidate, Mr Romney told supporters he had experienced austerity as a missionary in France, using a bucket for a lavatory and a hose for a shower. "You're not living high on the hog at that kind of level," he said.

But the Republican presidential hopeful spent a significant portion of his 30-month mission in a Paris mansion described by fellow American missionaries to The Daily Telegraph as "palace". It featured stained glass windows, chandeliers, and an extensive art collection. It was staffed by two servants - a Spanish chef and a houseboy.

Although he spent time in other French cities, for most of 1968, Mr Romney lived in the Mission Home, a 19th century neoclassical building in the French capital's chic 16th arrondissement. "It was a house built by and for rich people," said Richard Anderson, the son of the mission president at the time of Mr Romney's stay. "I would describe it as a palace".

Tearful as he described the house, Mr Anderson, 70, of Kaysville, Utah, said Romney aides had asked him not to speak publicly about their time together there.

Mr Romney moved into the building following a stay in Bordeaux, after being promoted to assistant to the president, Duane Anderson. He arrived in the spring of 1968, weeks before Paris erupted into riots, and returned to the US that December. He was given a room on the third floor.

Mr Romney and his fellow missionaries worked ten-hour days from 6.30am trying to spread the word of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Several said that the future Governor of Massachusetts was a gifted doorstep salesman.

… Mr Romney added in his comments that "most of the apartments I lived in had no shower or bathtub". He said: "If we were lucky, we actually bought a hose and we stuck it on the sink." He said he was forced to use a hole in the ground and a bucket for a lavatory.

Jean Caussé, a 72-year-old Mormon who met Mr Romney in Bordeaux, said he "would be astonished" if that had been the case. "I never knew missionaries who had to do that," he said. "I don't see why he would have lived in conditions like that for two years when it was far from the general case".

The mission home in Paris was fully plumbed and central heated. "All of the missionary rooms had something like a bath or a shower attached to it," said Mr Anderson. "The home had several".

This was in stark contrast to lodgings in working class areas given to other missionaries in Paris at the same time. "It was much better than the other places," said one, Alan Eastman. "Most of us stayed in rented apartments quite a way from luxurious".

What Mormonism has spawned

Death on behalf of religious beliefs has killed millions around the globe, and on a statistical basis the Mormon Church doesn’t deserve much blame, Nor can one expect Mitt Romney to take responsibility for things like the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre or other historic violent excesses of his church.

But presidents are elected, not acquitted, and one would hope to find in their beliefs something that inspires or at least calms the spirit more than it raises questions. Romney has been a missionary, leader and donor of millions for a church that has, even in recent years, spawned groups and individuals who, though parting ways with their parent congregation, came originally out of it and subsequently practiced sexual abuse and various other criminal activities including murder.

To be sure, members of other religions commit crimes but it is rare to find a dissident Presbyterian extremist creating a cult in some mountain village or an out of control Unitarian murdering people in the name of purer non-conformity. Aside from Catholic priests abusing young boys, the LDS Church has probably been the birthplace of more strange and unpleasant religious practices than any major American religion – even though many of these practices are offensive to conventional Mormons as well.

Which raises the reasonable question: why has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints spawned such an odd, and disturbing collection of violent and strange cults?

While the explanation for this is not easy to come by, examples are worth keeping in mind. Here are a few.

Wikipedia - The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is one of the largest Mormon fundamentalist denominations and one of the largest organizations in the United States whose members practice polygamy. The FLDS Church emerged in the early twentieth century when its founding members left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The split occurred largely because of the LDS Church's suspension of the practice of polygamy and its decision to excommunicate its members who would continue the practice.

The FLDS Church is estimated to have 10,000 members …Prior to November 20, 2007, the church was being led by Warren Jeffs, who succeeded his father, Rulon Jeffs, in 2002. For nearly two years, Warren Jeffs had been wanted on sex-crimes charges. From May 2006 until his arrest in August 2006, he was on the FBI's Ten Most-Wanted List. On September 25, 2007, Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape and was sentenced to ten years to life in prison. This conviction was later overturned. On January 28, 2011, Jeffs again asserted his leadership of the denomination. Warren Jeffs has since been sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years along with a $10,000 fine after his conviction on aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault charges

Wikipedia – Jeffrey Lundgren was a self-proclaimed prophet, former leader of a cult group, and convicted mass murderer of five people. He was married to Alice Keeler who was also convicted of conspiracy to commit mass murder. Lundgren was born in Missouri and grew up as a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. According to his allegations (supported by some of his former neighbors) he was severely abused as a child, particularly by his father. While Lundgren was living in a church-owned home, located next to the Kirtland Temple, on Chillicothe Road, in Kirtland, Ohio, he volunteered as a tour guide of the historic Kirtland Temple, for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (since 2001, the Community of Christ). He began to teach the concept of "dividing the word," known as "chiastic interpretation" or "chiasmus," to interpret scriptures. Lundgren falsely claimed to have created chiastic interpretation. The foundation was that in everything created by God, the right side is a mirror image and, therefore, scripture had to be interpreted using that same method. …To apply this concept to scripture, one takes a sentence from scripture; if the sentences before and after are consistent, the center sentence is the "truth"; when the sentences before and after conflict, the center sentence is a lie. His teaching of scriptural interpretations attracted his followers. Lundgren claimed that he moved to Ohio from Missouri because the word, "OHIO" is "chiastic". About 1987, Lundgren was asked to leave the church-owned house and his job as tour guide was terminated due to suspicions of theft.

On April 23, 1988 a neighbor told Kirtland police officer Ron Andolsek that she suspected that a cult was living at the farm house and that Lundgren's son warned the neighbor's children that on May 15th the earth would open up and demons would emerge…

Lundgren began to offer Bible study services at his home. Lundgren would dominate the services himself and he would intimidate anyone who didn't agree with him. He would later encourage others to intimidate those who disagreed as well. He sought to convince his congregation that he was God's last prophet. He asked for money from his supporters, and some would give him their life's savings, which often were calculated to be thousands of dollars.

Lundgren then proclaimed he had received a call from God to move to Kirtland, Ohio, a Lake County suburb, located twenty miles east of Cleveland, Ohio. . .By this time, seven of Lundgren's 12 followers had moved into the family home. The remaining five were members of Dennis Avery's family. Lundgren felt that the Averys were committing a sin by not living in his house.

…On April 10, 1989 in Kirtland, Ohio, Lundgren ordered two of his followers to dig a pit in the barn, in anticipation of burying the Averys' bodies there…According to followers' admissions, Lundgren later went inside the barn, with a church member named Ron Luff luring Dennis Avery into a place where the other men awaited by asking him for help with equipment for the camping trip. Luff attempted to render Avery unconscious with a stun gun, but due to a malfunction a stun bullet struck Avery but did not knock him out.

Avery then was gagged and dragged to the place where Lundgren awaited. He was shot twice in the chest, dying almost instantly. To mask the sound of the gun, a chainsaw was left running. Luff then told Avery's wife, Cheryl, that her husband needed help. She was gagged, like her husband, but also had duct tape put over her eyes, and dragged to Lundgren. She was shot three times, twice in the breasts and once in the abdomen. Her body lay next to her husband's. The Averys' 15-year-old daughter, Trina, was shot twice in the head. The first shot missed, but the second killed her instantly. Thirteen year old Becky Avery was shot twice and left to die, while six-year-old Karen Avery was shot in the chest and head. Both died.

Wikipedia- Ervil Morrell LeBaron (1925 –1981) was the leader of a polygamous Mormon fundamentalist group who ordered the killings of many of his opponents, using the religious doctrine of blood atonement to justify the murders. He was sentenced to prison for orchestrating the murder of an opponent, and died in prison. He had at least 13 wives in a plural marriage, several of whom he married while they were still underage, and several of whom were involved in the murders.

Wikipedia- John W. Bryant (born 1946) was the founder and first leader of a Mormon fundamentalist sect that is today known as the Church of the New Covenant in Christ and is headquartered near Salem, Oregon…Beginning in 1974, Bryant began to state that he was receiving revelations from Jesus. He claimed that "John the Beloved" had visited him as an angel and instructed him to form an "Order of the Ancients". In 1975 he was taken in vision to the City of Enoch, where AUB founder Joseph White Musser and Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith, Jr. ordained him to the presidency of the church and the high priesthood. .. During his time as a leader of the group, Bryant had six wives and taught his sect about drug experimentation and heterosexual and homosexual group sex. According to sources, sect members had sexual relations during the group's temple ceremonies. In 1981, the group lost the Fair Haven Ranch when they were unable to keep up on mortgage payments. As a result, Bryant, five of his six wives, and some of the members of the group relocated to Marion County, Oregon, near Salem.

And not the least interesting aspect of all this is the fact that the attorneys general of Utah and Arizona last year published a booklet entitled The Primer: A Guidebook for Law Enforcement and Human Services Agencies Who Offer Assistance to Fundamentalist Mormon Families. It noted that “a recent, informal survey indicated there are approximately 38,000 people (residing primarily in the Rocky Mountain region) who consider themselves to be Fundamental­ist Mormons. This means they adhere to the religious doctrines of early Mormonism which include polygamy or “plural marriage”, sometimes called “The Principle”. Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS” or Mormon Church) excom­municates known practitioners and advocates of polygamy.”

The primer, which lists over a dozen different cults, also notes some of the problems that can be expected be found:

· Child Abuse

· Lack of safe housing

· Lack of income/pronounced poverty—no personal assets

· Lack of job training

· Distrust of government, including the criminal justice system

· Distrust of outsiders

· Strong belief that family issues are private matters

· A powerful “collective conscience” where community shares same values/beliefs

· Leaving the abuser may mean leaving the community and loss of support network

· Leaving the abuser could mean leaving children behind

· Belief that divorce/leaving is wrong

· Perpetrator’s violence and control

. Belief that leaving will mean eternal damnation

· Belief that it is her duty as a wife to remain or as a parent to protect children from abuse

The primer also notes various forms of abuse including spiritual, which includes “using the scriptures to justify, manipulate, or control; spiritual pressure to not access medical care; pressure to be perfect, obedient; unselfish or faithful to husband or leaders; not being allowed to have own spirituality.”

Mitt Romney’s church is not one of those cited, but every one of them that is had their roots in the religion that has meant so much to him yet that he is so reluctant to tell us about.

Praying with Mitt

Salon - Mormon leader Marlin Jensen has recently acknowledged that Latter-day Saints are leaving the fold in droves. The former church historian spoke frankly to a group of students at Utah State University, saying, "We've never had a period of - I'll call it apostasy - like we're having now."

Church leaders never anticipated the Internet generation would access their history online. Joseph Smith used magic stones to see into the past. Today, young Mormons use Google. When they discover that their founding prophet wedded several teenage girls, it is often a traumatic revelation. Mormons experience a crisis of trust, if not outright betrayal, from their leaders.

Though the actual numbers of defections have not been published, anecdotal stories abound throughout Utah. It's not just Joseph's sex life that causes many Mormons to mistrust their leaders, but also the church's persistent commitment to right-wing politics.

Mitt Romney, 2002 - My commitment to my Church and faith is all encompassing

Sally Denton, Salon - At the recent GOP presidential debate in Florida, Romney professed that the Declaration of Independence is a theological document, not specific to the rebellious 13 colonies, but establishing a covenant "between God and man." Which would suggest that Mitt Romney views the American presidency as a theological office.
Romney avoids mentioning it, but [Joseph] Smith ran for president in 1844 as an independent commander in chief of an "army of God" advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government in favor of a Mormon-ruled theocracy. Challenging Democrat James Polk and Whig Henry Clay, Smith prophesied that if the U.S. Congress did not accede to his demands that "they shall be broken up as a government and God shall damn them." Smith viewed capturing the presidency as part of the mission of the church. He had predicted the emergence of "the one Mighty and Strong" - a leader who would "set in order the house of God" - and became the first of many prominent Mormon men to claim the mantle.

….A multibillion-dollar business empire that includes agribusiness, mining, insurance, electronic and print media, manufacturing, movie production, commercial real estate, defense contracting, retail stores and banking, the Mormon church has unprecedented economic and political power. Despite a solemn stricture against any act or tolerance of gambling, Mormons have been heavily invested and exceptionally influential in the Nevada gaming industry since the great expansion of modern Las Vegas in the 1950s. Valued for their unquestioning loyalty to authority as well as general sobriety - they are prohibited from imbibing in alcohol, tobacco or coffee - Mormons have long been recruited into top positions in government agencies and multinational corporations. They are prominent in such institutions as the CIA, FBI and the national nuclear weapons laboratories, giving the church a sphere of influence unlike any other American religion in the top echelons of government.When Morman intellectuals question their faith

When Mormons defect

What Romney presumably believes about American history, as outlined by Robert M Bowman Jr of the Institute for Religious Research:

  • American Indians are direct descendants primarily of the Book of Mormon people known as the Lamanites, who were of Israelite stock.
  • The American continent is the "promised land" of the ten lost tribes of Israel, and the LDS Church's mission is to conduct the "gathering of Israel" by bringing them to America.
  • Zion is to be built in America, centered at a temple to be built in Independence, Missouri.

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection for his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose." -Thomas Jefferson

Furthermore . .

Mormons want to excommunicate Romney critic

An ex-Mormon woman looks back on the religion

Ann & Mitt Romney baptized her anti-religious father as a Mormon after he died

Mitt Romney and the white horse prophecy

Why Romney will go to a better part of heaven than you will

Mitt Romney's church will baptize you whether you want it or not

The scary role of religion in Mitt Romney's life and ambitions

Romney had atheist father-in-law converted to Mormonism after his death

Romney was mean Mormom bishop