Poll: Mitt Romney & “The highest promise to God”

By December 6, 2007

Admin. Note: Comments have been closed on this thread, as the nature of the comments degenerated into irrelevant (or, at best, tangentially relevant) discussion. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and comments.


Comments

  1. For those who disagree, I’m curious: what would be a higher promise to a president?

    Comment by stan — December 6, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  2. Temple covenants maybe?

    Comment by Christopher — December 6, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

  3. Is there some conflict between temple covenants and the presidential oath of office? To claim that there is, or that there might be, given some wildly unlikely hypothetical situation, is exactly the claim Mormon opponents have been making since at least the 1870 elections (probably earlier, but I’m not all that familiar with pre-Utah church history) — and despite having heard this claim over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, I have yet to hear either a convincing argument or a specific instance where the two promises did in fact conflict.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — December 6, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

  4. Ardis. I understand your point. I don’t think most of those who have a problem with Romney’s statement do so because they see some conflict between temple covenants and the Presidential oath of office. Rather, the issue seems to be with Romney granting the oath of office the title of his “highest promise to God.” To me, temple covenants made during the endowment, promises made to God at his temple marriage and sealing, and even the oath and covenant of the Priesthood seem more deserving (for a Mormon) of the “highest promise to God.”

    Comment by Christopher — December 6, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  5. For those who would like to know here is the oath that each president recites when being sworn into office:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    I was surprised to see how many disagreed. For someone who believes in and worships God, making and keeping promises or covenants would be a very serious thing and not be taken lightly. It would therefore make sense that anyone who fits this category and takes the oath of office would consider it a covenant between the American People, God and himself. I don’t see any conflict between this oath and temple covenants.

    Comment by Catherine — December 6, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  6. Anything is possible to construct in an over-reaching mind. The Church itself has published a similar statement about Mormon politicians that is very direct and essentially says the exact same thing.

    We believe the Constitution is inspired by God for the government of the body politic. By swearing to uphold it in his public duties, Romney is swearing to honor what he believes God has established for those duties. Anyone who believes that there truly is a conflict and is concerned about it should not vote for Romney is the clear implication. Then he has no chance whatsoever to be elected – and no faithful Mormon member should try.

    That, to me, is the height of absurdity.

    Comment by Ray — December 6, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  7. Catherine and Ray. Please read my comment #4. I, as one who disagrees, am not arguing there is a conflict. I do not believe there is a conflict.

    Comment by Christopher — December 6, 2007 @ 2:04 pm

  8. Look, if he’d said “… becomes my highest secular promise,” then people would respond, “So, the oath of office is just a *secular* promise that can be trumped by a religious promise.” Maybe the context here is the Old Testament context of inspired prophet and anointed king, each of which had a claim to divine authority and approval and each of which operated out of that authority.

    Americans don’t anoint presidents, but the oath of office is taken on a Bible; our founding documents do invoke the Almighty; and voters seem to care an awful lot about religion, which means they do recognize some religious component to the office in a general sense. So there’s nothing wrong with Romney’s statement.

    There also seems to be a lot of confusion between personal morality and the ethical context of national affairs. Two different animals. Jimmy Carter tried to apply Boy Scout morality to foreign policy and look where it got us. People need to get a little more sophisticated in their thinking on this topic. Of course a public official’s oath of office trumps private commitments — anyone who thinks otherwise should not be in public office!

    Comment by Dave — December 6, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

  9. Of course a public official’s oath of office trumps private commitments — anyone who thinks otherwise should not be in public office!

    Why Dave? Are you saying just because someone holds public office that his or her oath of office becomes more important than temple covenants? Yikes. That you belittle temple covenants as being less significant “private commitments” reveals a lot.

    Comment by Patrick — December 6, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

  10. What higher oath to God could he make when placing his hand on the Bible to become the POTUS?

    Comment by mondo cool — December 6, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

  11. Mondo Cool: See #2 and #4.

    Comment by David Grua — December 6, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  12. Dave, I agree with you that there’s nothing wrong with Romney characterizing the oath of office as a religious commitment. I don’t have a problem with the “to God” part of Romney’s statement.

    The reason I chose disagree is that I don’t think “highest” is technically correct. I don’t believe that there is any conflict between the oath of office and the covenants of baptism. They operate in separate sphere’s so to me there’s no issue of one trumping the other. I think the oath of office is as high a committment as the others, but not higher.

    But I think Romney was smart to make the statement, especially given the audience. The fact that I quibble with a word does not mean that I think he shouldn’t have said it.

    Comment by JKC — December 6, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  13. Christopher, I’m glad you don’t see a conflict. I see even less than a lack of conflict, though — ranking of covenants is a game without meaning, an “a difference that makes no difference is no difference” kind of thing. Both temple covenant and oath of office are solemn covenants and could not be made more binding by anything Romney could say or do. So to me, the only way they could be ranked — the only way a difference could be determined — is to have the two oaths come into conflict. Since they do not, under any realistic scheme I could imagine, it makes no sense to say that one outranks the other. IMO.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — December 6, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

  14. Ardis – exactly. Which is why, I think, some found Romney’s statement confusing.

    Comment by matt b — December 6, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

  15. David G: (# 11)
    Are you saying that if Romney gets elected he should place his hand on the Bible and recite the covenants he made in the temple or those relating to the MP?

    If elected, when he places his hand on the Bible, the highest -AND ONLY- oath he can make as POTUS is “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    There may be higher oaths he has taken, but there is no higher promise he can take as POTUS.

    Comment by mondo cool — December 6, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

  16. Mondo:

    Are you saying that if Romney gets elected he should place his hand on the Bible and recite the covenants he made in the temple or those relating to the MP?

    Of course not. And that’s not what I read Romney saying either.

    When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God.

    You admit that he’s taken higher oaths, but here he says that his oath of office becomes his highest promise to God. I see Ardis’ point about not wanting rank oaths, but Matt’s right, Romney did it himself.

    Comment by David Grua — December 6, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

  17. I took it to mean that it was his highest oath in that position.

    It made me think of an experience I had. I was at a terribly emotional court hearing, where the fate of a young child was at stake. It was clear what the judge wanted to have happen, and given what I suspect about his religious background, I think he felt there was something that should happen from a point of view of faith. But before he left the courtroom, and after stating what a nightmare this was for a judge, he made it abundantly clear that his duty as a judge was to uphold the law (not to make a decision based on his religion or personal emotion, for example). This is what I see Romney saying. He is saying that, as POTUS, he would be bound by that oath to defend the Constitution. For those who think Mormons are wacky, I would hope that they would find comfort in knowing that he would be making decisions as someone who is striving to uphold the Constitution, not specifically trying to uphold the principles of Mormonism per se. We all know that there is no conflict, because a duty we have as members is to uphold the Constitution. But for those who are afraid of what Mormon covenants really entail, I think this may help them understand that while he won’t dismiss his faith as part of who he is, he won’t be a Mormon leader making Mormon decisions. He will be a leader who happens to be Mormon, making decisions to try his best to uphold the Constitution.

    I think he could have added that this would be his highest covenant in that office, and I think that is where he rubbed some members of the Church in the wrong way. But I personally think we should take it as if he said that and trust that he understands his priorities.

    Comment by m&m — December 6, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

  18. Patrick (#9), it is a personal and private set of commitments — why is describing it that way a problem? The mismatch comes in confusing the proper context for applying private versus public morality: Don’t lie (private) versus the necessity of leaders to dissimulate and even lie sometimes when dealing with foreign leaders, negotiations, etc. (public morality). Do not kill (private morality) versus the necessity of leaders to order troops into combat (with guns that kill people) or bombs to be dropped (public morality). You can’t apply private morality to the actions of a goverment or a nation, and the office of the President personifies the nation.

    Comment by Dave — December 6, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

  19. Perhaps the question should be not which is “highest” but which is “most relevant” to a particular sphere.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — December 6, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  20. Ardis, thanks for the thoughtful response in #13. I think your #19 is right on, too. The only problem is that Governor Romney did say “highest” and not “most relevant.”

    Comment by Christopher — December 6, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

  21. I think that as a US Citizen, I would be more comfortable for any person (as President), no matter what religion, to have for his highest commitment or oath (to God or whatever) as upholding the Constitution. If Romney were a lapsed Mormon, would we be too worried about it? Are we losing anything if Romney actually valued his temple covenants less than the presidential oath? Heck, at least he made them, and that’s better than we’ve had. Or is it a matter of personal integrity? Etc…I personally don’t see this as a big deal, sorry bros. : )

    Comment by Jared — December 6, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

  22. I voted no, but mostly because I don’t like covenants made outside of the temple, period. This is why.

    That said, Romney wasn’t talking to Mormons. He was talking to everybody else, and the last thing he needs to do in this campaign is bring up the temple covenants.

    Comment by Jacob M — December 6, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  23. Everyone, do you want a faithful, endowed Mormon to have any shot whatsoever at becoming President? If so, you simply must accept the way that Romney phrased this statement – since anything else that has been proposed would have killed that chance.

    In case there are some who are unaware of this (which I doubt), a perceived conflict between his temple covenants and the Presidential Oath of Office has been a major point of emphasis by many anti-Mormon and evangelical opponents. The statement we are discussing was in direct response to that effort to paint endowed Mormons as unworthy of a position like President. I interpret the separate oaths as without conflict (as his highest oath to God in his role as President) specifically because that’s how I MUST interpret it in order to allow ANY faithful, endowed member to have a chance at leading the country – and I can’t think of any valid reason that such a person shouldn’t have that chance. If he even had hinted at a supremacy of any other oaths and covenants, he would be as dead in the water as his father was after making the misquoted “brainwashed” comment in his campaign.

    Intellectual discussion is wonderful, and I love it, but sometimes divorcing it from reality and practicality is not desirable.

    Comment by Ray — December 6, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

  24. Everyone, do you want a faithful, endowed Mormon to have any shot whatsoever at becoming President?

    Not this faithful, endowed Mormon, no. His religion is irrelevant to my vote.

    Are you proposing that we vote for Romney because he’s LDS? Ray, you continue to miss the point. I will repeat that I see no conflict between the two oaths. And I have yet to hear anyone argue that he should have brought up temple covenants in his speech this morning. The point remains that he did not choose a more careful wording of the statement (like the one Ardis proposes in #19), and he did not qualify his statement with something like “in my role as President” or “speaking as an American”).

    Comment by Christopher — December 6, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

  25. Chris, what I have yet to hear is why this is such a big deal. Why should he qualify the statement? What’s the problem if he really feels that the oath of office is truly his highest oath to God? Please explain further why this is troubling to you, I’m just not understanding. Maybe there’s something I’m missing and I should be more worked up about it.

    Comment by Jared — December 6, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  26. Hypothetical: Say the church comes out in favor of national prohibition of alcohol. The Mormon president’s personal judgement is that this is a bad idea.

    Are you guys claiming that he has no obligation to follow the church on this issue? President Hinckley said in General Conference:

    On this occasion I am not going to talk about the good or bad of Prohibition but rather of uncompromising loyalty to the Church.

    How grateful, my brethren, I feel, how profoundly grateful for the tremendous faith of so many Latter-day Saints who, when facing a major decision on which the Church has taken a stand, align themselves with that position.

    In other words, Mormons are obligated to set aside their personal judgement and follow the church leaders. Are Mormon politicians exempt from this obligation? Why?

    Comment by ed johnson — December 6, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  27. I didn’t say he should qualify his statement, Jared. The significance to me isn’t so much personal significance, but rather historical. While I stand by what I said in #4, and think that temple covenants trump all others in terms of importance (though not in terms of relevance, as Ardis points out in #19), the real significance, I think, lies in how modern Mormons negotiate their identities as Mormons and as citizens of various countries. Certainly you’re aware that Romney’s comments are a radical departure from what a Mormon would likely have said 150 years ago (as are the attempts to reconcile his statements by suggesting that those who disagree with the content of his statement are arguing that there is some sort of conflict between the two oaths). The whole thing is fascinating to me, not upsetting.

    Comment by Christopher — December 6, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  28. I listened to his speech this morning, and that one phrase caught me off guard, so I voted no. After reading Ardis’ argument, I would have to agree, that there is no conflict between the two. Perhaps temple covenants are more sacred, thus evoking in me a perception as higher, but I’ll agree that I don’t see the two in conflict.

    While I am not particularly inclined towards Romney, I have to say that the speech exceeded my expectations. I think he said all the right things, and I believe he meant them. I am not sure that this makes him that much more attractive to the evangelicals, but it does make him more acceptable to moderate republicans, independents, and the Blue Dog Democrats.

    Interesting to note that CNN quoted a poll, showing that more people are now willing to vote for a Mormon, and more people also think Mormon’s are Christian (51%) over a similar poll in June. However, the percentage of folks who say Mormon’s are not Christians grew from about 30% to 40% over the same time frame. Undecideds dropped from 30% to about 10%. It appears that two messages are making headway. One is that we are not a weird, brainwashing cult, spread by the church, and the other is that we are a weird, brainwashing cult, spread by the evangelicals.

    Comment by kevinf — December 6, 2007 @ 4:30 pm

  29. #28, All right, we’re getting somewhere, now I at least know what the issue is 🙂 Now, elaborate if you would, for the benefit of all. Explain how the way Romney has negotiated his Mormon identity and his citizenship represents a change from the past.

    Comment by Jared — December 6, 2007 @ 4:32 pm

  30. But there are some in the bloggernacle who are upset by his choice of words, Christopher. I’m not particularly, but I’ve read this problem on just about every blog I’ve looked at (at least, I’ve only really looked at the Mormon blogs). I think he’s just trying to reassure everybody else that he is placing his own barrier between his church and his political position. As I mentioned earlier, he’s not talking to us in this speech. He’s talking to those who either don’t know about the temple covenants, or who are afraid of them. I can’t imagine the damage done to his campaign if he had said that he would still hold his temple covenants as more important than his oath as President.

    Comment by Jacob M — December 6, 2007 @ 4:36 pm

  31. Jacob M, do you know of anyone who has suggested that he mention his temple covenants?

    Comment by Christopher — December 6, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  32. Jared,

    # 29, I’m not sure how your question is addressed to me. I did not suggest that Romney has changed how he identifies himself, either as a Mormon, or a presidential candidate. I really would have to say that I liked his speech. I only pointed out that I would not be likely to vote for him, but for some political reasons, mostly having to do with Iraq and the war on terror. My first choice is Chris Dodd, who last I heard is a good Catholic, married to a Mormon girl from Orem.

    I just thought when he talked about the oath of office, I did think of Temple covenants, but I don’t believe that he should have brought those up, nor do I find conflict between the two.

    If I am missing something here, let me know. Or was it the CNN poll? After all, I may be a brainwashed member of a dangerous cult. 🙂

    Comment by kevinf — December 6, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  33. Sorry, Jared, it appears that your question actually refers to #27, not my number 28.

    Comment by kevinf — December 6, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  34. #34 Ah, sorry, you are correct, and I withdraw the question. 🙂

    J

    Comment by Jared — December 6, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

  35. #24 – Christopher, I’m not missing the point at all.

    “Are you proposing that we vote for Romney because he’s LDS?”

    Never. Not once on any blog. I honestly have no idea where that question came from.

    My point is that I just can’t see any way that he could have said it any better. I have lived among evangelicals in the Deep South, and I have read many of the statements regarding this issue. I simply think any disclaimer would have opened up the floodgates and killed his candidacy, even Ardis’ very well worded alternative. That’s my point. From a very practical standpoint, any requirement of a disclaimer automatically ruins any endowed Mormon’s chances – in the environment of the Republican Party at this time.

    Comment by Ray — December 6, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

  36. Trying to parse “highest” is like deciding which child matters the most to you, or whether it’s your spouse or your child to whom you owe the greatest responsibility. The answer to either of those questions is some version of “whichever needs me the most at the moment,” isn’t it?

    Unless someone can propose a credible hypothetical (sorry, 26, that isn’t credible at this moment, because there isn’t the slightest hint of a shred of suggestion that such a national debate is or could be on the horizon) where a Mormon president would find his two oaths in conflict, why are people bothered by “highest”? What reason is there to suspect that a Mormon president would have any trouble giving his loyalty to the oath of office in the public sphere, and honoring his temple covenant in his personal life?

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — December 6, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

  37. Here’s the problem Romney will face, if he happens (shudder) to get himself elected:

    Any time that he makes a decision or urges an action which happens to coincide with an expressed LDS position, the man’s going to be blamed by some non-LDS for supposedly using his religion as the determining factor for policy decisions.

    Any time that he makes a decision or urges an action which happens to conflict with an expressed LDS position, the man’s going to be castigated by some LDS for supposedly violating his obligations to the church or the LDS gospel (think of the comments on Marriott and porn, for example). A few extremist LDS will even suggest (just as a few do regarding Harry Reid at times) that he is violating his temple covenants.

    I don’t know about you folks, but I’d hate to be stuck between those two reactions. The first one could be a huge political challenge. The second one, I suspect, could be immensely hurtful on a personal level.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 6, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

  38. Christopher – no I haven’t, but I think if he said anything differently than he did, more focus would be made on his temple covenants.

    But bear in mind that I voted to disagree with the statement, as it is something that I could never say myself, due to my theological problems with oaths/vows made outside the temple, which I mentioned earlier.

    Comment by Jacob M — December 6, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  39. Christopher,

    I am sorry but I am going to have to criticize your poll simply because it is taken out of context and has an extremely high potential to be biased when read by people with an LDS background.

    While it is not going to be I who promotes Mr. Romney as I feel he intends to perpetuate the current administration’s mistakes, impulsive violent foreign policies and lack of diplomacy and compromise; I have to say you are not being fair with the way you posted the poll.

    Romney very clearly sets the foundation for his statement as he spoke the following:

    …I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.
    Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

    As governor… I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution — and of course, I would not do so as president. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.

    He is definitely separating his religion from his duty as a potential president, and in that light he states the following:

    When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.

    Considering the correct context of the statement, and considering the target audience for his speech, I find very appropriate to say that as the President of the United States, his highest promise to God is the oath of office. Therefore, to those who are comparing this to his temple covenants, lets have some common sense. His target audience is not aware of what covenants he made in the temple (and possibly don’t even care). Please Mormons, you know better than this. Make a minimum effort to think outside your little Mormon box for one second, will you?

    I recommend you all that before you vote you read the whole text of the speech and consider carefully the context and the target audience.

    What is regrettable is his warmonger attitude at the opening of his speech, which focuses on glorifying historic war tensions and how “America” (should read the USA) “vanquishes” other nations.

    Once again, this poll is poorly posted. If true feedback is expected, the poll should have at least given a link to the text of the speech and encouraged the blog readers to consider the context and the target audience.

    Comment by Manuel — December 6, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

  40. First of all, Manuel, I know for a fact that almost everybody else here has at least read the text of the speech, at least at T&S. So most of us knew what the context was when we took the poll.

    Second, the reason there was a poll in the first place was due to the reaction that several LDS folk had to this specific line of the text. John Dehlin and Nick Literski were two of the more vocal about this line, if I remember correctly.

    Third, he was paying homage to a man that fought in World War II. I can’t think of a better way to pay respect to a man who was willing to sacrifice his all for our country than to acknowledge what he did. In connection with this, Romney says that America vanquished the Soviet Union, which was trying it’s best to vanquish us, and also facism, by which he surely meant Germany, Italy, and Japan, countries that also were trying their best to conquer the world. “Glorifying” their defeat is not such a bad idea, particularly when you think of those countries’ terrible record on human rights.

    Comment by Jacob M — December 6, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

  41. First of all, Manuel, I know for a fact that almost everybody else here has at least read the text of the speech, at least at T&S. So most of us knew what the context was when we took the poll.

    Sorry. Looking at the lack of context in the posts it didn’t seem like it to me.

    Second, the reason there was a poll in the first place was due to the reaction that several LDS folk had to this specific line of the text. John Dehlin and Nick Literski were two of the more vocal about this line, if I remember correctly.

    So? That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t provide context.

    Romney says that America vanquished the Soviet Union, which was trying it’s best to vanquish us, and also facism, by which he surely meant Germany, Italy, and Japan, countries that also were trying their best to conquer the world. “Glorifying” their defeat is not such a bad idea, particularly when you think of those countries’ terrible record on human rights.

    Well, if you think that at this very moment in USA history it is appropriate to glorify the vanquishing of other nations, so be it. It is your opinion and I am free to have mine.

    What I find extremely absurd is your reflection on other nation’s human rights (not extactly something the USA excells at this very moment). But once again, I guess it is your opinion.

    Comment by Manuel — December 6, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

  42. Manuel, I’m going to answer this once, since I don’t want it to be a threadjack, but while the USA is definitely not doing a great job in the human rights stuff, Nazi-Germany and Communist-USSR were renowned for their deplorable treatment of prisoners. This is an established fact, not my opinion.

    Comment by Jacob M — December 6, 2007 @ 7:35 pm

  43. Jacob,

    Well, I don’t want to contribute to the threadjack you started either. It was my opinion and I wanted it to contrast it to the rest of my post.

    Your opinion and your knowledge are yours. Apparently, USA citizens will never stop focusing on regretful dehumanizing historic events of great magnitude to minimize their very own and very long history of human rights abuses and cover-ups (to say the least). So I will drop this here, since it is not really part of this subject.

    That particular paragraph on my post was my opinion and I wanted to share with readers that I do find it regretful that at this particular moment in USA history. This particular moment when the events that encircle the current administration, such as false premises to go to war against Iraq, the events in Guantanamo, Abu Gharib, and many other events that have occured as a result of the endless chain of mistakes by the, in my opinion, highly corrupt, Bush adrministration began.

    That it is regretable that Mormons seem much more concerned on such semantics as “highest promise,” than on a candidate supporting the views of a President that has less than 30% acceptance among “Americans,” (as you call USA citizens). Being the war in Iraq a much more serious issue than religion in the upcoming elections.

    You don’t have to like my opinion, it’s ok. I never expected anyone to like it.

    As for the rest of my post, I think it is very well within the subject and I still think the poll is poorly posted at best.

    Comment by Manuel — December 6, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

  44. That it is regretable that Mormons seem much more concerned on such semantics as “highest promise

    The concern is that one of our own is placing more importance on a secular, temporary oath than our eternal one. It speaks of having priorities in the wrong place. That said, I do think that this is partially a semantic issue, in that I think the problem is in the words, not Romney’s heart (since I wouldn’t dream to say that I know what’s in his heart).

    To the rest of your post, I will remain silent, as I’ve mentioned earlier.

    Comment by Jacob M — December 6, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  45. The issue of the supposed incompatibility of the two oaths (which I realize you are not arguing Chris, but it inevitably is triggered by the question) was raised a few months ago in the “Fray” over at at Slate (http://www.slate.com/id/2175786/entry/2175787/):

    “The question that needs to be asked of Mitt Romney or any other Mormon who wants to hold public office is this: “Suppose someone had taken the following oath and had sworn on pain of death to keep the oath secret: ‘I promise that I will sacrifice my time, talents, and all I may now or hereafter possess of to the upbuilding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints.'” Does such a secret oath disqualify one from the oath of office of the Presidency? Would the Presidency of the United States be included in something “possessed” by a Mormon and covered by this oath?

    “Like every other adult male Mormon, Mitt Romney secretly swore this oath. But he cannot admit that he did so on pain of death. Most Mormons of Mitt Romney’s generation also secretly swore to pray for god to take vengeance on this nation (the United States) for the death of Joseph Smith and to teach his children and children’s children to do the same. But this latter “oath of vengeance” is no longer required of newly initiated Mormons, so I assume it is no longer in force.

    “So, the problem with a Mormon President is not his system of beliefs, which are his own business as far as I am concerned. It is that he has secretly sworn to put the Mormon Church above everything else, including the country.

    “The is not analogous to a Catholic’s holding office. Catholic lay people like John F. Kennedy do not take a personal oath of loyalty to the Catholic Church or to any priest, bishop or the Pope. Furthermore, if they did, it would be a public, not secret matter. Cardinals publicly take an oath of personal loyalty to the Pope. Bishops and Priests publicly take oaths of obedience as well. It is because of this that Catholic clergy are forbidden by the Pope to hold elected offices.

    “I could not support a Mormon for President unless the Mormon Church itself were to reveal and publicly relieve the candidate of the secret oaths he has taken and the candidate were to agree that the oaths were of no effect.

    “–fryde67”

    To a Mormon there are obvious historical errors here. But correcting those is a minor matter and doesn’t really get at the heart of the matter. And squabbling amongst ourselves over which is higher seems rather irrelevant to me as well (sorry Chris) but points to a much more relevant issue. The bigger question to me is (here come a thread jack), how does a Latter-day Saint respond to this concern when it is raised by non-Mormons?

    Comment by stan — December 6, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  46. ‘I promise that I will sacrifice my time, talents, and all I may now or hereafter possess of to the upbuilding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints.’

    You bring up a good point. The fact that members of the church are made to covenatnt to live the Law of Consecration, yet not really required to live it in the present time.

    Comment by Manuel — December 6, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  47. I dont quite agree with you on that one Manuel. When I make that covenant in the temple, I am not thinking that it does not apply to the present time. True, we do not live the economic version of it, but I am personally striving to live it in almost all other aspects of my life right now, as are many other members of the Church.

    Comment by Ben — December 6, 2007 @ 8:53 pm

  48. Well Ben, maybe we need another poll. Because saying we do live it, and saying that we don’t live the economics of it, and saying that you are strivign to live almost all other aspects of it, doesn’t seem like living it in its entirety to me. Therefore, why would we apply this to a presidential candidate?

    Comment by Manuel — December 6, 2007 @ 9:03 pm

  49. Sorry Manuel, I just stumbled over the words. I attempt (I am, far, far from perfect, hence the “almost all other aspects” in my original comment) to live the Law of Consecration in all aspects in my life, and hope that I will be able to do it economically at some point. I only say this because this is how a lot of people might think Mitt feels on the subject.

    Comment by Ben — December 6, 2007 @ 9:11 pm

  50. Oh Ben, I didn’t intend to say you specifically are not living that law. In fact, I think most if not all members are in the same situation, including myself. I just thought it was interesting someone would expect a presidential candidate to live it “fully and literally” while serving as a president.

    Comment by Manuel — December 6, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

  51. There’s an article in the Tribune here about the matter and Reed Smoot. It features Mike Paulos, the editor of the soon forthcoming book on the Smoot Hearings through Signature.

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_7651552

    Comment by Jared — December 6, 2007 @ 9:22 pm


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