After making history as the first presidential candidate to be upstaged by an old man rambling to an empty chair, you stumbled off your dismally mediocre convention into the great state of Virginia. Speaking to a crowd of supporters, you said,
“I will not take God out of our platform. I will not take God off our coins. And I will not take God out of my heart.”
So, you decided to imply that Obama is planning to take God off our money? How on earth would he do that? Even if in some Wile E. Coyote absurd world he did, how much difference would that make? I’ve still never seen a Montana quarter. What evidence do you have for this? No, I’ll wait. Yes, I have plenty of time.
“Fool me once, … shame on … shame on you … … … Fool me you can’t git fooled again.”
Up until now, there has been a tacit agreement to avoid the issue of religion. This reflects a certain charity on the left, because Obama proved resilient to attacks on his religion in 2008 and is well inoculated against them in 2012. That means he’d be playing from a position of strength if he decided to attack yours. Obama and the Democrats haven’t, because they don’t need to take the low road. I think this is right, because frankly, I don’t think a candidate’s religion (or lack thereof) matters. But if you insist on winking and nodding about stupid conspiracy theories and raising the question of “God,” those of us on the left unaffiliated with the President, sitting behind our rhetorical cannons, would be more than capable of firing a devastating salvo against your walls.
I remember drinking on the roof of my apartment in South Korea one evening shortly after North Korea tested a nuclear warhead. Suddenly a screeching roar tore open the sky above us. Two F-16s rocketed north toward the DMZ, whipping into the distance, banked sharply, dropped flares and then strafed the treetops. I had just seen South Korea do a mock bombing run on North Korea. This was as much a rehearsal as a “you really don’t want to do this” message to Pyongyang. So here’s a “you don’t want this” mock bombing run on what “God” means to you.
As a Mormon, you believe that God is three people. Well that sounds familiar, right? But hold on. I mean people, as in folks, dudes, ladies. Three people who lived, breathed and would have died, except they reached a sort of enlightenment and transcended the material world, but remained material.
In the Mormonism represented by most of Mormon communities (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), “God” means Elohim (the Father), whereas “Godhead” means a council of three distinct gods; Elohim, Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit is a spirit and does not have a body.
While Joseph Smith was obviously borrowing from the concept of the Trinity here, it’s different enough to leave those all-important evangelist voters scratching their heads. But it gets better. The top God, Elohim, who is sort of a father of the other gods, is an alien. Relax Republicans, I’m not talking about a “show me your papers” alien, just a creature from another planet (who is also a man).
The LDS believe that God was once an imperfect man who attained godhood, was given his own planet to rule over, earth, and now resides near the star KOLOB.
Since the prime God and the lower gods were mostly humans at one time, Mormons believe that they can become gods. There is some confusion about what happens after they die and become gods. Some believe they get their own planet, and populate it with their children and run it, like the top God Elohim. Others go further. According to one Mormon blogger, Mormons believe that each good Mormon gets their own universe after death.
Mormons also believe that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer. And that Jesus was conceived when god, as a physical man, had sex with Mary. They also believe that the Bible is unreliable. They teach that the Book of Mormon is an update to the Old and New Testaments. Incidentally, this is also what Muslims believe about the Koran. I wonder how Fox News would spin that to the Bible Belt for you.
Mormonism raises a bevy of theological questions that no other modern religion raises. Such as: ‘what is the point of having a God at all if everyone eventually gets to be a god?’ Is that the debate you want to have for the American people, Mr. Romney? I’m having trouble imagining how it could possibly go well for you if Wolf Blitzer asked you that question during a debate because you raised the issue of God and religion. I’m also wondering how it would go over with blue collar Catholics in Ohio if you had to explain whether or not you believe the Virgin Mary was raped because you wanted to discuss religion. Or how you would answer a question like, ‘do you worry that if you had to give the order to kill an enemy in, say, a drone strike, that you wouldn’t be able to get your own universe or even your own planet after you die?’
Ultimately, I understand that all religions have a mythology. Frankly, though, Mormonism’s mythology is really out there. And we’ve mostly been nice about it. But we’re not going to bring a knife to a gun fight, so if you want to raise these questions we have a few of our own we could raise. And there are legitimate questions to be raised about what sort of influence these beliefs would have over your presidency, because you weren’t just a believer nodding in the pews, you were a Bishop in the Mormon hierarchy, for Brigham’s sake. So are you sure this is the debate you want to have?
An empty chair