The exaltation of Mitt Romney

Mormon CHoirStephen A., I think you're missing a critical distinction. The Mormons are not Trinitarian, to put it mildly; their 19th century Scientology-like theology is in contradiction to every other Christian group, and certainly to doctrinally focused traditions such as fundamentalism. The fundamentalists think that the Catholics are wrong, to be sure, but the scope of error is entirely different. Listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing "Holy, Holy, Holy" sometime and notice how they've changed the words. Indeed, that is part of the discomfort about the Mormons. Externally, they are relentlessly normal; their theological innards are, well, weird. . . . Posted by C. Wingate at 9:30 am on September 8, 2005

I'd like to jump back to an earlier thread for a moment, for the simple reason that I think this is going to turn into a major news story sooner rather than later.

If you don't believe me, just Google "Mitt Romney" and "Mormon" and look at the common themes. Click here for a recent Boston Globe look at this issue. More and more journalists are starting to smell the smoke from this fire. It also helps that the existing pool of GOP White House wannabes is seriously challenged in the sizzle category.

So, from a journalism point of view, what is the story here?

If I may, let me flash back to the Rocky Mountain News in the mid-1980s, when I had a chance to interview two of the 12 members of the top rank of Latter-day Saints apostles. I brought lots of marked-up reading materials with me to Salt Lake City and asked some very specific questions with the audiotape running.

On the record, they confirmed that -- if taken to its logical conclusions (as man is, God once was) -- Mormon theology would, in essence, be polytheistic. Yes, there are many worlds with their own gods (and the gods have wives) who are humans who have evolved to divinity. In LDS. doctrine, this is called "exaltation." (Click here for a Protestant take on this doctrine.)

I went back to Denver to transcribe my interview tapes. Overnight, the Mormon press office rushed a transcript that included everything in the interview, except for the smoking-gun quote about polytheism. I wrote them back and let them know that my tape included that quotation and that I would be using it. Was there a problem with that? There was no word back from Utah. They knew that I knew that they knew what I knew.

So, yes, this is the ticking time bomb of a subject facing a Mormon political leader who wants to run in a GOP primary, especially below the Bible Belt. The irony, of course, is that many of these same conservative folks are very anxious, right now, to nail Democrats (and journalists) for using a "traditional Catholic" religious test to undercut conservative nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. What goes around comes around.

Anyway, I promise you that press-relations folks inside the GOP big tent are working on the Romney question right now.

P.S. I have searched and searched for the words to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's take on "Holy, Holy, Holy." It would, in fact, be very interesting to look them over. Is anyone out there better than me with a search engine or two?

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