Romney's remarks in Israel claiming that Israel's higher per capita GDP was the result of cultural superiority has roots in Mormon doctrine. It also goes a long way to explain a lot of his assumptions about wealth distribution in the United States and globally. The narrative of the Book of Mormon essentially tracks the story of a people, the Nephites and Lamanites, that fall in and out of favor with God due to their righteous and unrighteous actions. When they are righteous they become wealthy. However, after they gain wealth they generally forget God and then bad things happen. Unrighteous behavior is typically indicated by dressing inappropriately, focusing on material items, having sex, boozing it up, etc. So wealth to Mormons is a reward for acting righteously, wealth that is used for self adoration, however, is a marker of the unrighteous. This narrative repeats itself multiple times throughout the book.

How Mormons interpret this has a lot to do with their own socioeconomic standing. A poorer Mormon assumes he or she is on the starting edge of the cycle and that their reward will come soon as long as they are obedient. This is one reason why poor Mormons still hold very conservative views, because they assume that wealth will eventually come their way. Wealthy Mormons believe that their wealth was gained because of their righteousness and that God rewarded them justly. They don't consider them to have been corrupted by their wealth (although they will be quick to point out those that have).

Because they see wealth as something that came from God due to their righteousness it is very hard for them to see business transactions that they were engaged in as ethically questionable. This is one of the reasons why the Bain attacks work well on Romney. His wealth is so wrapped up in his own belief of personal worthiness that questioning whether his wealth was gained through unseemly means hurts. It is a narrative that goes directly against his core belief about himself.

Mormons also believe that they are one of the branches of Israel and so when he says that the Israelis are culturally superior he is tying them back into his own religion, which he also sees as culturally superior. Mormons essentially believe that at the second coming, Jews will recognize Jesus as the Messiah and that they will collectively convert to Mormonism since that will be the religion that Jesus says is the correct one. Jerusalem would then become one world capital and Zion, located in Missouri, would be the other. The Dome of the Rock would then be converted into a Mormon temple. I wonder what Sheldon Adelson thinks about that.

Romney's Israel trip was sure to bring out a lot of his theocratic beliefs, however veiled, and it didn't disappoint. This is a quick diary and I'm not providing links as I am in a bit of a rush to move on to some other things today, but I thought some people might find it interesting.

The short of it is: you can only truly understand Romney if you understand him within the context of being a wealthy Mormon, which is different from being just a Mormon.

Originally posted to Dave the pro on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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