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Another Mormon who knew Romney as a bishop and stake president in Boston has been heard from -- Dr. Brian Moench writes in Common Dreams that Romney's serial dishonesty should disqualify Romney from the temple recommends he once controlled for thousands of Boston-area Mormons.

Moench, now a former Mormon, notes that every Mormon undergoes a bishop's interview once a year, and one of the 14 required questions is "“Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man?”.

Temple recommends are a big deal for Mormons, because they cannot get into a Mormon temple, where sacred endowment, marriage and baptism of the dead ceremonies are performed, without one.

Of course, serial liars will lie about the above question, and others, to secure a temple recommend.

Which Romney has surely done, as there is no evidence that he has ever been denied a temple recommend.

More from Moench, below.

Moench attended the same ward as Romney for several years, and got to know both him and his wife:

Ann and my wife shared positions of responsibility in our local "ward" and in that capacity Ann was in our home several times.

My wife and I both thought highly of Ann and liked her as a friend and a fellow church member. We liked Mitt as well, in that he was married to Ann. Mitt would offer a firm, robotic handshake on Sunday mornings, but he managed to make his "Good morning, it's great to see you," feel condescending and superficial.

Mitt was distinctly impersonal and it seemed his interest in me was only to the degree that I could further his career, which I couldn't -- I had no pedigree to enhance the value of my Harvard appointment. He was nakedly ambitious and it was widely assumed he would eventually run for President.

Moench argues that Romney's record of church leadership is unique:
Mitt's interaction with his religion is indeed a legitimate issue for voters, but not for the reasons that have been raised by evangelicals. It is not because Mormonism is a non-Christian cult.

Mitt's significant leadership positions in the Mormon Church evokes a much deeper connection to his religion than any other presidential candidate in modern history has had to their religion. Reaching this rather exhalted state within the Church hierarchy is supposed to manifest not just one's extraordinary commitment to the Church, but also to behavior and a value system beyond reproach.

A Mormon Stake President is expected to live an exemplary, Christ-like life. Therefore it is not only fair, but important to ask: does Mitt's behavior and value system meet those lofty expectations?

Moench then deals with Romney's lying:
Even mainstream journalists have written about Mitt taking political lying and disdain for the facts to a new art form on campaign issues ranging from his tenure at Bain to blatantly dishonest ads about his opponents, first in the Republican primaries, and now about President Obama.

Michael Cohen of the Guardian typified many of these observations with the statement, "Romney is doing something very different and far more pernicious. Quite simply, the United States has never been witness to a presidential candidate, in modern American history, who lies as frequently, as flagrantly and as brazenly as Mitt Romney." Jonathan Chait, columnist for New York magazine says Romney is, "Just making stuff up now."

Even worse, Romney repeats the same lies over and over, even after they've been debunked. He appears completely unconcerned about being caught. That's a new level of mendacity.

MSNBC's Steve Benen observed, "Romney gets away with it because he and his team realize contemporary political journalism isn't equipped to deal with a candidate who lies this much, about so many topics, so often."

Moench notes that Romney's claim to not remember his brutal hazing of a gay fellow prep school student is almost certainly another lie, as is his disavowal of this little-known incident at the Salt Lake City Olympics:

During a traffic jam going to one of the Olympic events, Mitt was outraged at what he viewed as an incompetent volunteer directing traffic.

As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, during several articles that became a hot topic of conversation in Utah, the volunteer and several witnesses, including a captain in the Sheriff's department, said he let out a profanity-laced tirade directed at that volunteer that included dropping the "f-bomb."

Use of that kind of language may not seem like much of an offense now, but for a high-ranking Mormon official to use that kind of language anywhere, let alone in a public venue, would be as shocking and disillusioning to the Mormon faithful as if it had been uttered by the prophet Joseph Smith himself.

Never apologetic, Mitt vehemently denied that it ever happened.

There's much more in the article and the 100-plus comments under it, so go read the whole thing for a perspective on Romney you won't find anywhere else.

But the bottom line is that a serial liar like Romney cannot be a good Mormon.

And would certainly be an awful President.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Duh (6+ / 0-)
    Mitt Romney is not a good Mormon
    In other news:

    •  The Sun is Hot

    •  Water is Wet

    •  The Universe is a Frecking Big Place

  •  Mitt Romney is not a good Mormon, person, or (10+ / 0-)

    Presidential candidate.

    "they are bathing in blood to sell soap." ~ CherryTheTart

    by heartobama on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 09:20:16 PM PDT

    •  So far, he's only the presumptuous (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      presumptive nominee.  Republicans still have an opportunity to reconsider and settle on someone whose probity is such that he can prepare to refurbish the Republican brand.

      Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

      by hannah on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 03:54:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mormons are not just the parts of a religion, they (5+ / 0-)

    are a unique culture. That is something--at least for those without experience--most do not understand.

    And yes, it sort of comes with a manual... but not really.

    For those of us with a background in the church, the relationship between Mitt and his church is telling. And if anyone thinks for a moment that he will not stand his church's ground if asked to--and he will be asked to--they would be wrong.

    Remember that Mitt upheld the church's racist tenets--just as he today upholds its homophobic tenets--as a Bishop. He didn't have to do that as a human being, but his church (and his salvation) was more important to him than the wrongness of those tenets. That's how it is with him.

    Helluva choice, Mitt.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 10:10:06 PM PDT

    •  I am not sure what you are saying. Is constant (0+ / 0-)

      Lying a Mormon Church principle?  It would appear so.

      •  I think he means... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that the mormon culture and the mormon religion are not one and the same.

        From what I've read of the mormon culture they seem to be awfully avaricious.

        •  Avarice is, I think, a desire for wealth/money. (6+ / 0-)

          Avarice is acquisitive, an impulse to get.  What comes after is love of money and we don't seem to have a particular word for that.
          So, I'm suggesting lucrephile

          I'm not usually into name-calling.  But Willard needs to be correctly identified because, if my read of him is correct, what he's after is the wealth of the United States. I don't think he understands that money is to be spent and souls are to be saved.
          Perhaps he even thinks that money saved is a symbol of virtue. If he does not love money, it's because he does not know what love is.

          Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

          by hannah on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 03:50:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  They have no fun except making money (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          devtob, Tinfoil Hat

          and gaining power, that is the Mormon problem

          and a little coffee is actually good for you, as is a glass of red wine

    •  and he didn't "give" 10%, Ann, he was forced (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, Cassandra Waites

      to give 10% by the church, different thing.

    •  There is a manual for every calling (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      A calling being a volunteer "job" every active Mormon takes to keep the local churches running.

      I live in Utah.  Most Mormons are wonderful people.  They just don't question authority.  Those that do usually leave.  

      Mormon culture?  Most members socialize within their own large families and, a few times a year, join members of their local church for activities.

      The kids have lots of activities provided by the volunteers doing the "jobs" they are called to do.

      Culture?  Mormons for the most part don't drink or smoke.  Although Utah has one of the largest % of population on prescription drugs.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 08:05:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, a manual for everything, but that is not the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        only things used.

        202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

        by cany on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 08:21:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  To my mind, an even bigger issue (5+ / 0-)

    and one which nobody seems to be talking about yet, is that a BISHOP is running for president.  It's not just that he's a Mormon, he's a Bishop.

    If a Catholic Bishop ran for president, wouldn't that be worthy of some discussion?

    Being a Bishop of any religion is much different than just being a church-going member of a religion.  I can't imagine why nobody is asking if anyone sees an issue with a church leader running the country.

    •  Lets call him Bishop Romney. nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, Tinfoil Hat
    •  Mormon Bishops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Simply put, Mormon Bishops aren't the same as other Bishops.

      A Mormon Bishop is a lay administrator / clergy that oversees the smallest local congregation in the church (the "ward").  More akin to an unpaid parish priest or local pastor.

      A Mormon Bishop serves for a limited time.  He is "called", serves his time (usually limited to 5 years), and is "released" to serve in other capacities (Sunday school teacher or boy scout leader, for example).

      A Mormon Bishop is NOT a high ranking official.

      From, we find the church claims a membership of nearly 14.5 million.  Of those, about 28,000 are currently serving as Bishops.  If a Bishop lives an average of 30 years after being released and each serves an average of 5 years, there are currently about 168,000 former Bishops (like Romney) out there currently serving in other positions in the church.

      •  The Mormon 1% (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        So, with 168,000 former bishops out there and a membership of 14.5 million, former bishops make up a bit over 1% of the Mormon population.

      •  Compare That to Catholics (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        To compare that to the Catholic church.  

        If the same percentage of Catholics were Bishops as are in the Mormon church, there would be approximately 13.2 million Catholic bishops running around.

      •  And? He still deserves the same scrutiny (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        as JFK did as a Catholic Running for POTUS and Obama as a Christian with a Muslim Name running for POTUS.

        When the operation of the machine becomes so odious that you can't take part,you've got to put your bodies upon the gears;you got to make it stop.Indicate to the people who run it that unless you're free the machine will be prevented from working at all

        by YoungArizonaLiberal on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 11:15:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My Point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I guess my point is that there are SO MANY policy reasons to hate Romney as a candidate that a volunteer position he held in his church 20 or 25 years ago is WAY down on my list of concerns.

          Whoops, it actually fell off my list of concerns and landed in the trash.

      •  A stake president is more like a Catholic bishop, (0+ / 0-)

        though it is still a lay, unpaid, temporary position.

        Also, somewhat like Catholic bishops and Rome, stake presidents are responsible for ensuring a constant flow of money to Salt Lake City.

        Unlike the Catholic Church, where the vast majority of parishioner contributions is spent on local clergy and lay salaries, schools, social programs, etc., the vast majority of Mormon tithes are sent to Salt Lake City.

        Where they are spent on billion-dollar shopping malls, BYU, the Deseret News, and various for-profit church subsidiaries -- AgReserves (1 million acres of farms, hunting preserves, orchards and ranches), real estate development and management companies, insurance companies, etc.  

        A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

        by devtob on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 01:41:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Influence? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Actually, Mormon congregations are organized on a strictly by geography and are, from the smallest up:

          Ward -- local congregation
          Stake -- group of 5 to 10 wards
          Region -- large groups of stakes
          Church -- all the regions

          The leadership of these organizations are:

          Ward -- lay, part time bishop
          Stake -- lay, part time stake president
          Region -- lay, full time regional representative
               -- the "Seventy" is over the regional reps, lay, full time, may receive a stipend
               -- the "Apostles" are over the Seventy, lay, full time, for life, receive stipends
               -- the "Presidency" are over all, lay, full time, for life, receive stipends

          So the closest I would equate Catholic to Mormon would be:

          Catholic Bishop ≈ Mormon Regional Rep.
          Catholic Cardinal ≈ Mormon Seventy
          Pope's Inner Circle ≈ Mormon Apostles
          Pope ≈ Mormon Prophet (President, head of the First Presidency)

          But even then, Mormon Regional Reps and Seventy both serve for a number of years and are released.  They lack the appointed for life authority of Catholic Bishops and Cardinals.

          Here my point is that Romney was a local leader, not a church-wide leader who probably never came to the church's attention until he got involved with the Olympics.  And who still has little to no relationship with the church "Authorities".  

          Yes he will have wide support among Mormons high and low because he is one of them.  But I don't see any undo influence from the church.  If you are looking for influences on Romney, look to Wall Street, his PAQs and his party long before you look to his church.

          •  As stake president, Romney was (0+ / 0-)

            the top Mormon in a major metropolitan area.

            Which is like a Catholic bishop, IMHO.

            Your point that Romney "probably never came to the church's attention until he got involved with the Olympics.  And who still has little to no relationship with the church Authorities." is belied by at least one Romney biographer.

            R.B. Scott relates that Romney made a trip to Salt Lake City to meet with church leaders in 1993, as he was preparing a pro-choice, pro-gay run against Ted Kennedy.

            And in 2005, as Romney was planning his first presidential campaign:

            he visited Salt Lake so often that one senior church official said he “basically camped out” at church headquarters, according to Scott.

            Gordon Hinckley, the president and prophet with decades of ties to the Romney family (he and Mitt’s father, George, went to high school together), reportedly found the frequency and “dithering,” as Scott put it, “a little tiresome.”

            Romney is a kind of Mormon prince -- son of the first serious Mormon presidential candidate, major force behind the Boston temple, a long Mormon pedigree, seven-figure tither -- who church leaders were well aware of before 1993.

            And know quite well today.  


            A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

            by devtob on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 04:04:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  My ex-Mormon friend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    mentioned that it is okay to lie if you are doing it in to protect/promote the LDS. I don't know if that is in the Book of Mormon or not.

  •  lying and greed (4+ / 0-)

    I just attended the Hill Comorah Pageant in Palmyra, NY. Mormons from all over the country attend and participate in the elaborate drama in which the central story of the book of Mormon is reenacted (that is the place where Joseph Smith supposedly found the tablets). I was there in connection with a film I'm making about the 2012 election. I was struck by 3 things in particular. First, the Mormon story as told referred repeatedly to greed as a source of evil. Second, it was a decidely non-political event--I saw just one Romney bumper sticker among literally thousands of cars. Third, I was struck by the large number of hispanics present.

    The communitarian spirit that has always marked the Mormon faith was much in evidence there. Those in attendance were diverse and focused wholly on their faith. All evidence there points to a great divide between the monster that is Willard Romney and the rank and file members of the Mormon flock.

  •  Wouldn't that be a heck of a debate question? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man?”
    Just that...and let both men respond to it.

    Intended to be a factual statement.

    by ipsos on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 05:40:49 AM PDT

  •  Have you noticed it's never Willard's fault? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, sydneyluv

    There was Seamus. There was the park ranger who arrested Romney after Romney ignored a lawful order to not put his boat in the water (it lacked registration). There was of course the haircutting incident. There was the incident coming back from the Olympics in Vancouver w/ the rapper (I'm not familiar w/ whom). My point is that a guy old enough to collect Social Security always seems to get into fights w/ the little people and deny responsibility when things don't go according to script.

  •  How about we just cut to the chase here... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The whole Mormon religion is based up lies concocted by a known con artist.   So I find it amusing that honesty is taught by the church as one of ITS values. In my opinion and in my experience, the recognition of the importance of this moral view certainly is not religion-based, but based on our natural humanism.  The concept of an ideal called "good Mormon" is an illusion just as much as the concept of a "good Christian". There is nothing in either religion that guarantees any particular brand of behavior.  All religions are based upon mythologies presented as truths, so where is the honesty in all that?

  •  I would have liked to see (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fighting Bill, gulfgal98, devtob

    someone other than Dr Moench take on Mitt. His disaffected status means that his story will be discounted by a lot of people — more than would be the case if an "active" (temple-going) mormon were to step forward. (I don't qualify in that regard either, even though I was in Mitt's congregation for a while and even sat next to him once in Sunday School.)

    I certainly agree with Moench's main point: Mitt is a liar and such mendacity would be grounds for not being able to qualify to participate in mormon temple ceremonies — at least that would be the case for ordinary mormons. Personally, I'm betting he probably has been given Salt Lake's highest approval (a secret ceremony called the Second Anointing), meaning that he and Ann can commit any sin except for murder and blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and still be guaranteed a spot in the highest heaven. (It's as grotesque a doctrine as evangelicals' "once saved, always saved" misreading of the Bible — but I digress.)

    The mormon church has always been overawed by and in search of wealth and power. Always.

    •  Any active Mormon who publicly (0+ / 0-)

      criticized Romney would probably have trouble in his/her next temple recommend meeting with the bishop.

      Few are willing to risk their place in the Celestial Kingdom by criticizing a politician obviously favored, for decades, by the Mormon hierarchy.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 01:51:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. Just No. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Actually, no.

        I used to have a list of temple recommend questions.  (I'm sure you could google them.)  They are standardized church-wide and there's not single political oriented one on there.

        I know a few liberal, democrat Mormons and they are held in good standing.

        The Mormon church as a culture leans right politically, but it's not a requirement.  But like Christianity (which also leans right politically) when you look at their teachings, these are solidly on the left.

        Which shows that most Mormons, like most Christians, have no idea how to apply the ideals of their religion into their real lives.

        •  This TR question -- (0+ / 0-)

          "Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" -- could lead to a conservative Republican bishop asking if you support politicians who favor marriage equality.

          Like President Obama.

          A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

          by devtob on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 04:20:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The problem re: the standard questions is… (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          if a rogue bishop or member of the stake presidency deviates from those questions and arbitrarily decides that a member isn't worthy to go to the temple — based on the person's lack of enthusiasm for Mitt or perhaps lack of belief in the literalness of the Bible — there's no real recourse, no appeal, especially above the stake level.

          The potential for abuse is real. I know people who were denied recommends for very specious reasons, not because they were actually "unworthy" to go to the temple.

          It is true that the mormon flavor of christianity leans left. Mosiah 4:16-19 is a scripture that is rarely mentioned — because it runs so counter to the mindset that poor people are justing trying to get a free ride, etc. The rationalization is discouraging.

          (I just realized that I will actually end up going to mormon churches 4 times during my upcoming US trip as well as going once to an ultra-conservative white baptist church … thus sacrificing my peace of mind to see family and old friend. Sigh.)

          •  Just Make a Call (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I have lots of friends and family who are Mormon.  (I'm not.  Atheist and recovering fundamental christian, here.)

            One had their teenage son told by his bishop that their son couldn't bless the sacrament because he didn't wear white shirts on Sunday.  (In the Mormon church boys aged 16-18 are ordained as "priests" and one of their functions is to officiate over communion.  Also, all males are encouraged, but not required, to wear white shirts and ties to church.)  Basically, the local bishop was taking a hard line based on culture, not doctrine.

            My cousin made a call to Salt Lake to explain the situation.  Salt Lake called the bishop and set him straight.

            If a Mormon's bishop is an ass and refuses a temple recommend because you drink Coke or vote Democrat, correction is just a phone call away.  (I don't know what the appeal process is exactly.  I don't know what department was called, etc.  I just know it can be done.)

            •  The McDonald's of Religion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              A couple of things I've learned about the Mormon church:

              1 - Every local position is held by a lay member -- teachers, priests, bishops, janitors, everything is done and taught by regular people who accept "callings" for a limited time to do a particular task.

              2 - The lay nature leads to weird.  Anything can and will be taught in Sunday School, etc.  Aliens, conspiracies, young earth, old earth, whatever.  I never doubt outlandish things people say they heard Mormons believe (even when I know it's not official doctrine) because some Mormon, somewhere, no doubt believes it and teaches it.

              3 - That has lead the "authorities" to micromanage things.  There is a manual for everything.  Guidelines for everything.  Reports about everything.  All in an effort to offer a consistent product.

              This is why I said above that the questions for the temple recommend are set.  They are what they are.  The bishop who deviates from them can get a stern talking to.  If he persists he will be released.  

              The problem of course is that many people sit back and take what a rogue bishop dishes out.  Like I said, there is a manual somewhere that tells you who to call when your bishop is being a dick.  Most people just don't.

    •  Religion = Politics (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The mormon church has always been overawed by and in search of wealth and power. Always.
      And this differs from other religions how?

      Religion is the original and ultimate politics.

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