Sunday 3 January 2010

Romney, Mormons, and blacks

They just announced that Mitt Romney is launching a book tour. Guess where he’s going to flack the book and speak out? Iowa.

So, to the shock of nobody, he’s running again in 2012.

Romney is no mere dabbler in Mormonism. He used a ministerial deferment to dodge the draft, spent two and a half years as a Mormon missionary, and got his bachelor’s at Brigham Young.

So, Mormonism.

Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, came from quite humble beginnings, born to farmers in a New York community that dabbled in mysticism, visions, and folk magic. The folk magic included a semi-mystical New England practice known as “treasure-digging”, sometimes using magic stones to hunt for treasure and lost items. One of these adventures, an alleged gold expedition, led to Smith’s conviction for fraud. At the ripe old age of 18 he was allegedly visited by an angel named, swear to God, Moroni. The angel allegedly led Smith to a site where ancient Egyptians, who had somehow wandered into upstate New York (wrong turn at Albuquerque?), had buried the Book of Mormon conveniently near Smith’s house.

The “sacred” texts were carved on metal plates in “reformed Egyptian”, a language unknown outside the world of the Mormons, but known somehow to Smith, despite the fact that he was a young farmer with no education, who of course had never been on the same side of the planet as Egypt. Smith convinced someone to write down the “Books of Mormon” as Smith dictated them from the “magic plates” hidden on the other side a blanket, like Clark Gable in “It Happened One Night”; the scribe was warned that if he tried to see the magic plates he would be struck dead. At other times Smith claimed he was reading the texts using magic glasses, or by looking at magic stones inside his hat. Then the plates were “magically” assumed into heaven. Thus, the “holy” book of Mormon was given to the world.

On the strength of this book, the Mormons insist that the church established by Jesus, Christianity, has fallen into spiritual chaos, changing Jesus’ laws and teachings, and following doctrines that are wrong, as Paul had allegedly foretold; as a result, God considers the modern Christian churches to be an abomination. The Mormons claim they are the ones who have restored Christianity to its proper form. Thus, the Mormon view of Christians.

Smith claimed that blacks, African-Americans, were descended from creatures who had refused to take a side in the battle between god and Lucifer; Smith referred to blacks as cursed and inferior. Brigham Young believed that blacks were lacking in intelligence, and that anyone who had sex with an African-American would die on the spot. Until 1978 the Mormons banned black men from the clergy.

Mormons also believe that native Americans are actually part of the lost tribes of Israel (I’m thinking BYU is a little shaky on anthropology and geography). They oppose gay marriage and equal rights for women.