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A Mormon in the White House

With 2 Mormons now in the race to take up residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the beliefs (and perceived oddity) of the LDS church are again brought into political conversations throughout the nation. As with any political discussion, polar extremes are common. This is certainly true when looking at the differing opinions about the prospect of having a Mormon as President. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure where I stand on the issue but I can see merit in both sides of the argument.

Why are some so opposed to the idea? They look at historical tendencies and wonder if Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman would follow the example of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. When Nauvoo, Illinois was the primary city for the Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith established a functional theocracy. Not only was Smith the Prophet and leader of the LDS church, he was also Mayor and General of the Nauvoo Legion (militia). With the population being overwhelmingly Mormon, the church also controlled the local economy. At the same time, Joseph Smith also announced that he was running for the office of President of the United Sates. Because of his power in the region, he ordered a printing press being used to make the Nauvoo Expositor destroyed because the paper brought to light information about Smith’s hidden practice of polygamy among other damaging information. This was viewed as an act of treason by surrounding leaders and Smith was arrested and taken to Carthage Jail. It was there that a mob would attack the Mormon leader and kill him in a gun battle in which both sides would participate and inflict casualties.

Brigham Young became the next leader of the LDS church and began to seek a place of isolation where he could take his followers. His only choice was to go West to Utah. At this time, Utah was part of Mexico territory. When the Mormons began to settle there, Young followed the example of his predecessor. He became Governor to Utah, the commander of their militia and established complete control of the surrounding area. He established another Mormon theocracy.

Is it likely that a Mormon in the office of President could establish something like this again? I highly doubt it. A theocracy in a city or an area outside of US control during the 1800s is one thing, but to take the most powerful nation in the world today and do the same would be next to impossible.

One of the other things that causes hesitation is something called the “White Horse Prophecy”. This was a prophecy originally given by Smith but later reiterated by other LDS leaders. In this prophecy, Smith claimed that one day the US Constitution would one day hang by a thread and that the Elders of the LDS church would help rescue it. If you listen to Glenn Beck (a Mormon) he uses the “hanging by a thread” portion of the prophecy on a regular basis. It is thought that electing Romney, Huntsman or another Mormon to the highest office in the land would give the LDS church justification for saying Smith was a true prophet. While one true prophecy in the context of many other false ones does not make someone a prophet, Mormons will not hesitate to use it to bolster the reputation of Smith.

This brings us to the next reason which I agree with. It is that having a Mormon as President would lend credibility to the LDS church and aid its exposure and evangelistic efforts around the world. I don’t really see this as helping them in the United Sates because the exposure here will take people to Google where there is an endless reservoir of truthful information available with a simple click. In other countries, where information is not as easily accessible or not available in the correct language, the only information many will see if what they get from the Mormon missionaries and what they know of the President. This information will be misleading or incomplete and many will join without a proper understanding of what Latter-day Saints believe.

The last cause for concern that I have heard is that the Mormon’s allegiance lies with the church above all else. This is true. When a Mormon goes through their temple and performs the ordinances required for salvation (exaltation), one of the covenants they make is with the church, to consecrate all their time, talents and resources to it. They also promise to never go speak evil of church leaders and to obey their teachings. To what extent will this come into play? I honestly have no idea. It is however something to think about and could shape their policy.

Where do I stand on the issue? I lean more towards the idea of not voting for a Mormon (due to the last 3 points) but I am not fully convinced of that stance. I would prefer to have a President who shares my religious beliefs. Who my other options are would probably have more to do with it than anything.

It should also be noted that there are many members of Congress that are Mormons. Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch being the most well known.

Where do you stand? Would you vote for a Mormon President?

UPDATE: 9/1/2012
It has been over a year since I wrote the original post and many of my thoughts remain the same. However I have had some time to think more on this issue. I still would prefer a solid Christian candidate but one is not available.
I have been able to discuss with other people the idea of having a Mormon President and if it would lend credibility to the LDS church. Through those conversations I have come to the conclusion that having Romney (or any Mormon) as President may actually be a very bad thing for Mormonism. If Romney does make it to the white house, it will keep Mormonism under a microscope for the next 4-8 years which will only expose it more. Rather than legitimizing it, it may actually do just the opposite if we can take advantage of the added exposure.

The real question that is constantly running through my mind is are we ready for that? Is the Christian church equipped to handle those disaffected LDS that choose to leave? Can we answer their questions? When their faith in “church” has been ruined, can we lift them up and show them what the church should be? Can we help them not only see the differences between the two religions but also demonstrate the merits of Christianity and help lead them into a true relationship with Jesus?

So if the election happened today would I vote for Romney? YES, and I will use my experience as a Mormon to teach every Christian willing to listen, how to be the hands, feet and lips of Jesus to the Mormons they come into contact with. If you are interested in something like that, check out this link to a class I will be teaching this October. http://bit.ly/TJcvKj

  1. Justin
    June 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

    If Mitt were to win the nomination (and I find that unlikely regardless of what the early polls show) he would be the next President. His religious views do cause people to take a harder look at him, but as a nation we would take a deep breath and realize that mormon or not he’s better than what we have now. It would be the same if he were any other religion, we would get past it. It took a long time before they let a Catholic into the white house. As far as the prophecy that a mormon would rescue the Constitution, if it were to happen it wouldn’t be Mitt’s doing. He may be a Republican but a Conservative he is not. He would be just as willing to side step our founding documents as well as the founding fathers intentions as any other “typical” politician if it meant re-election. So the LDS church would have to first find an actual Conservative to put in the race if they wanted the Constitution brought back from the brink. I agree with you also about the unlikelyhood of a theocracy, not in this day in age. Good post.

    • June 27, 2011 at 11:20 am

      I see your points and I think we agree on most. Thanks for reading!

  1. June 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

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