One of the best articles I have ever read debunking the supposed Mormon conspiracy

Take a gander at this great, concise article by Nate Oman.

Here are the key graphs:

In 1902, Utah elected Reed Smoot to be its U.S. senator. Unlike Romney, who temporarily occupied positions of local church leadership in Boston, Smoot was a Mormon apostle, a life-long member of the church’s second-highest governing council. Activists and journalists insisted that Mormon theocracy was again rearing its head and that Smoot would take political orders from church leaders.

The result was a four-year congressional investigation of Mormonism. Ultimately, church President Joseph F. Smith appeared before the Senate. He disclaimed any theocratic agenda; he insisted that Mormons were loyal citizens of the U.S., and he pledged that the church would not direct or seek to dominate Mormons elected to political office.

We now have more than a century of experience with that pledge. While the church occasionally acts politically — as do all American denominations — it has abided by Smith’s promise. Robert Bennett, for example, a former three-term Republican senator from Utah and a practicing Mormon, insists that in 18 years in office, church leaders never instructed him on how to vote on a single issue. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate and a Mormon, says the same thing.

Prior to the Vatican II council of the 1960s, the Catholic Church was formally opposed to many of the core features of liberal democracy, such as religious freedom. Given historical experience, however, it’s ridiculous to imagine a believing Catholic like Joe Biden as part of a subversive Roman agenda.

Seeing Romney’s candidacy as a Mormon plot is equally outlandish. We now have twice as much experience with post-Smoot Mormonism as we have with post-Vatican II Catholicism

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “One of the best articles I have ever read debunking the supposed Mormon conspiracy

  1. My impression is that over the weekend leading up to the Florida primary, the newspapers decided Gingrich was done, and so it was time to start going after Romney on their own terms—pretty much the same as the Obama campaign’s—instead of reporting what some evangelicals don’t like about Romney. They were getting tired of reporting “So-and-so says Romney isn’t reliable on abortion,” and worried that potential voters won’t be scared of him come fall.

  2. How anyone could imagine that an obvious political opportunist and flip-flopper like Romney would be taking consistent orders from some powerful church is beyond me.

    Is it true that Smoot was actually asked by the prophet not to repeal prohibition? I think I read that somewhere. And then Smoot cast a deciding vote to repeal prohibition, which had a majority of just one vote, and therefore he can be blamed for the repeal, because he apparently didn’t listen to the prophet. Has anyone else heard that story or is it apocryphal?

  3. One other thought….

    I think a lot of members assume that the church doesn’t get involved actively in politics only because it doesn’t want to distract from a greater mission: to proclaim the gospel. But apart from this, a lot of Mormons assume that actually God and the church DO have very specific political priorities, which are only left unsaid for the greater good.

    But what if that is wrong? What if God is actually a political agnostic, and the reason His church doesn’t get involved in politics, is that God doesn’t care about outcomes one way or another? Maybe He looks upon the political races between Republicans and Democrats the same way he looks down at the Superbowl: the virtue is in the fight, not the outcome. He blesses both sides according to their strengths, and the faith they may happen to actively exercise in Him.

  4. Nate, it is interesting to think about what God thinks about politics. I tend to think he looks at things from the big picture. Will people choose liberty rather than allow themselves to be oppressed by secret combinations (which can come from all political parties)? Things like that. The church encourages us to be anxiously involved in good causes, and politics, certainly on a local level, is part of that.

    As for Romney, if he is taking direction from the Church that direction appears to be changing all the time, which is not very consistent with Church policy on other issues. 🙂

    Also, it is interesting that nobody seems to care about the Majority Leader taking direction from the Church, and he has had quite a bit of power for some time now.

  5. “Also, it is interesting that nobody seems to care about the Majority Leader taking direction from the Church, and he has had quite a bit of power for some time now.”

    My cynical observation is few believe Democrats are actually religious, including Democrats. They don’t focus much on faith and therefore no one worries that they will be inclined to form opinions based on religion. Its also sad that Harry Reid doesn’t at least write opinion pieces in these papers defending Mormonism against the most absurd charges by the left. When he has spoken out its usually against the Church. This is more proof that when you join the Democratic Party you have to leave any faith you have at the door and put it in the cone of silence. I want to think differently, but the evidence of these things seems to me overwhelming.

  6. “My cynical observation is few believe Democrats are actually religious, including Democrats.”

    That’s more than a cynical observation. It’s statistically true. But the reason that the few religious Democrats like myself put our faith “in a cone of silence” with regard to political matters, is that we believe in general that matters of faith are personal, and should not be imposed upon a diverse populace. We value secularism and pluralism, because we believe it better protects and levels the playing field for people of all persuasions, and allows us all to live together in peace with our sometimes violently differing beliefs.

    And secularism and pluralism are as much religions as anything else. They worship a particular “god,” which portrays a certain very strong morality. It might not be as physically defined as a typical religion. But passionate, secular Democrats feel as morally compelled to defend the points of their faith as believing Republicans, and I think that makes their faith valid as well. As believing Mormons who only embrace the authority of our own prophets, why should we feel inclined to show favoritism to any other particular prophet, whether it be a secular prophet, or a Religious-right prophet?

  7. I am a Democrat, and a membet in good standing. Yes, I do have a current Temple Recommend, and I teach Sunday School. I have no problem reconciling being a member and a Democraat. I disagree with the comment from Jettboy who thinks otherwise.

  8. John W,

    and yet Nate seems to agree with me. I take it you disagree with him, although an alternative interpretation is that you are simply arguing that Democrats can be religious. My problem with Nate’s answer is that to someone who takes religion seriously, keeping it out of Politics and putting it under a “cone of silence” is a betrayal of conscience. this is done under the fear of stepping on the “devil’s toes” without challenge out of some vague notion of pluralism.

  9. Actually, Jettboy, I’m not sure you understood my point exactly. It’s true that Democrats are less “religious” in the traditional sense of the word. But speaking more broadly, secularism and pluralism can also be defined as a kind of religion, with it’s own very strong values and morals, even though those values are a bit different that conservative ones. Many Mormons superficially assume the right-wing conservative religions are closer to our faith than the left-wing secular religions. But is is a highly subjective opinion.

    Harry Reid said, “I’m not a Democrat in spite of being a Mormon, I’m a Democrat BECAUSE I’m a Mormon.” The LDS values Harry Reid is channeling to make this claim are the same values the majority of Mormons made in the early 20th century, when most LDS were Democrat, as well as the values espoused by early 19th century Saints, who politically sought protection from conservative religious persecution by appealing to the pluralism and tolerance they saw championed in the constitution and the pluralistic intent of the founding fathers.

  10. “values espoused by early 19th century Saints, who politically sought protection from conservative religious persecution”

    The protection they sought was of a physical nature, and not a political one other than in the power of politics to enforce freedom. Getting religion put under a “cone of silence” was the last thing Mormons or Joseph Smith sought. To be more true to that spirit, it would be to let everyone be able to speak loud and hard on what they believe without harassment for bringing faith to the table openly. To this day early Mormons are called “theocrats” for a reason, and its not because of living private faith.

  11. Jettboy, I think you’re heading down a dangerous road generalizing about all Democrats and faith. There are just too many exceptions for your statements to be true. If you want to say that “the evidence shows Democrats tend to be less religious than Republicans” that is an empirically provable statement. But there are plenty of Democrats who are good religious people, including Harry Reid and most recently President Faust.

    I think you make a better point asking why Harry Reid never seems to defend the Church much. I would love to see him do that, and I don’t know why he doesn’t.

  12. Yes, Jettboy. I am simply arguing that Democrats can be, and many are religious. I am one of them, and know I am not alone.

    Just as an aside, I find it extremely ironic that so many Mormons are Republicians. I say that given the fact the origins of that party were based upon the elimination of the “twin relics of barbarism”. Those being slavery and polygamy. Obviously, the Mormon church had no problem with the elimination of slavery. Remember the biggest part of the hated against them in Missouri was because they were abolishinists. It is he polygamy side, which was practiced for another 50 or so years, that puzzles me. Why support a political party who wanted to take away your religious freedoms and convictions. And yes, I realize it may well be a moot point given the LDS Church has not practiced polygamy in well over a century. Afer the Civil War, Lincoln was pressured to use the military to go after the Mormons over their practice of polygamy. Lincon said: “If they will leave me alone, then I will leave them alone”. Eventually the military, under a Republican president, did go to the Utah territory and “fought” the so called Mormon War. It is hard to say they fought anything given that no shots were fired. I don’t expect any of you Mormon Republicans to switch parties, but you should at least remember the roots of the party you support.

  13. We do well remember it as Republicans. We just don’t believe that the Republican Party of the 19th C is the Republican Party of the 21st C, just the same as Democratic Party is not that same as it was on any given period.

  14. John Wilson, the Democratic party was the party of the gold standard, small government, against a central bank and pro-business until 1896. Remember, Jefferson and Jackson (small government, pro-business leaders) were the founders of the Democrats. So, comparing the modern-day parties to their past is not really very productive.

    I will agree with you that the Republican party needs to change: it needs to return to its roots as a small-government, anti-war, pro-civil liberties party, which is what Ron Paul, Rand Paul and to a certain extent Mike Lee are trying to do.

  15. Whoa, wait a minute. Obviously political parties change over time. Some have formed and later disbanded, others have evolved. That point was not lost on me. I simply wanted to point out what I find to be an amusing irony. Please don’t bite my head off for pointing out a bit of history that the readers of this thread may or may not be aware of. I am not advocating any party or candidate. I am sorry if something I wrote to be mildly amusing turned out to be offensive to some. That was not my purpose.

  16. I never again wish to encounter the phrase “cone of silence” outside of a Get Smart episode. Overuse your metaphors much?

  17. Good stuff. One Slight Quibble: Smoot was elected in 1903, not 1902. Smoot campaigned in 1902, and some Utah State Legislature elections were held in November of 1902. But Smoot was not formally elected to the US Senate by the Utah State Legislature until January of 1903, and was later sworn in March of 1903. Not a big deal, but just a pet peeve. 🙂 🙂 😀

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