“My Candidate Is Jesus Christ,” Said Billy Graham

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot

—”Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott

y mom and dad would never, and I mean never, miss the broadcast of a Billy Graham Crusade—yes, that’s what he called his travelling evangelical show, despite the historical shame attached to that term—and many times, as a kid and as an adult, I listened to his warnings that Jesus was coming soon and folks had better get saved or else hell awaited.

The strains of “Just As I Am,” that beautifully written old hymn, still bounce around in my head, as does the sight of all those scared sinners ambling down to meet Jesus, or, more realistically, to meet the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Of course, my Democratic parents probably didn’t know much, if anything, about Billy Graham’s politics. He is said to have admitted to being a “lifelong Democrat,” but I have found exactly no evidence to back that up and much to contradict it.

But he did say in 1980:

The clergy ought to stay out of politics and let the laymen handle it…My candidate is Jesus Christ.

Well, by the time 2000 rolled around, Graham was flirting around with another candidate, George W. Bush, who didn’t much resemble Jesus in any way I could see, but nevertheless had Graham’s sly endorsement.

Now we hear that the old evangelical preacher has embraced another Republican candidate, one who apparently does resemble Jesus, at least GOP Jesus, the savior of Holy Vulture Capitalism, the kind who feasts on working-class carcasses.

It appears that Billy Graham has had a come-to-Mitt moment.

And his endorsement of Romney—his open-mouthed evangelical kiss—comes despite the fact that Billy Graham used to want us to believe that Mormons, just like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists, are not Christians:

Scrubbed away. Gone. Forgettaboutit. Nothing to see here.

Without any hesitation or ambiguity, when I was a conservative evangelical Christian, and studying to be a minister of that brand of gospel, I was taught that Mormonism was most definitely a cult, just as Billy Graham claimed. There simply wasn’t any question about it, and given the doctrines that conservative evangelicals hold, including those related to the nature of God, Jesus, and man, and the central role the Bible plays in defining Christianity for them, it is impossible to believe that one can be a practicing, true-believing Mormon and also be a Christian in the evangelical sense.

And if Mitt Romney is anything, we definitely know he is a practicing, true-believing Mormon.

But politics, particularly in the age of Obama, makes people do strange things, like betraying the rudiments of their rudimentary faith in order to make sure the White’s House is safe and secure once again, even if it means putting a cultist in charge. Strange things like scrubbing away a doctrinal dispute that was once so important that eternal salvation depended on knowing that Mormonism would lead you straight to hell because it was a cult.

All of this strange and disgusting stuff leaves me with one positive benefit. Should an enterprising evangelical ever come to my door again, offering me a chance to meet Jesus, or confront me on the street with a pamphlet or a Bible, telling me I will suffer eternal damnation unless I repent, I will ask one simple question:

Did you vote for Mitt Romney?

Yes? Then go straight to hell you pious fraud.

Is Mitt Romney The White Horse?

Since I am almost as fair and balanced as Fox “News,” I will give some free pub to, uh, Jesus:

I have wondered out loud whether “Evangelicals Hate Obama More Than They Love Jesus.” As a former evangelical Christian, my curiosity is the result of knowing that most, if not all, conservative evangelicals have been taught that Mormonism, the religion of Mitt Romney, is a cult.

And some folks take such things seriously:

The author of this funny-but-serious stuff is a televangelist named Bill Keller, a man who got a degree from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University while cooling his heels in prison, the result of getting caught doing a little insider trading.

Keller says:

This election is NOT about politics, but a choice between two son’s of Satan, and the fact that this choice is nothing but a furtherance of God’s judgment on this nation for our sin.

A “news” distributor, Christian Newswire, featured this article in August:

Republicans Pray to Satan at the GOP Convention as Romney and His Surrogates Lie to Make Mainstream the Mormon Cult

The article begins:

Bill Keller, the world’s leading Internet Evangelist and the founder of LivePrayer.com, with over 2.4 million subscribers worldwide…was horrified as he watched a Mormon cult member lead mostly Biblical Christians at the Republican Convention last night in a prayer to Satan, since Mormons do not pray to the God of the Bible, but to a mythical “god” they believe who was once a man!

No one knows just how many evangelicals out there take Keller seriously (there’s no way to verify the claim on the Vote for Jesus website that over a million folks pledge to, well, vote for Jesus) and feel so disgusted by Mormonism that they will stay at home rather than vote for Romney-Satan (a recent Pew Forum poll found that 19% were “uncomfortable” with Romney’s faith), but I did find something interesting on the site, something I admit I was not familiar with in detail:

If Mitt Romney is elected, he will be the fulfillment of his cult’s polygamist, pedophile, racist, con artist, murdering founder Joseph Smith’s “White Horse” prophecy that Romney and all Mormon’s believe. That prophecy says that the United States will facing great economic and social unrest, a Mormon will be elected President, declare a national emergency and set aside the US Constitution and enact a Mormon theocracy. That may sound impossible, but ever since he was at BYU, Romney was called by his inner circle “the chosen one” to fulfill their cult’s prophecy.

Mitt Romney is known as “the chosen one”? And what the hell is the “White Horse” prophecy”?

It turns out that Brigham Young’s great-great granddaughter, Sue Emmett, has addressed this weird stuff about that weird prophecy. Emmett, who left the Mormon church because she considered it harmful to women (another issue that needs exploration), did an extensive interview with The Daily Beast, which revealed:

Regarding Romney and the presidency, Emmett cites a bit of Mormon lore called the White Horse Prophecy that has floated around since the time of Mormon founder Joseph Smith. It suggests that Mormons believe a time will come when the U.S. Constitution is eroding and Mormon leaders will save it and usher in a new theocracy with Mormons in charge. Emmett’s great-great-grandfather talked about it. In a discourse from 1855, Young wrote that “when the Constitution hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the ‘Mormon’ Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it.”

Romney has said that he considers the White Horse Prophecy just a matter of speculation by church members. “I haven’t heard my name associated with it or anything of that nature,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune in 2007. “That’s not official church doctrine…I don’t put that at the heart of my religious belief.”

But Emmett begs to differ. “I can guarantee you that there are millions of Mormons who believe this prophecy and see Romney as potential fulfillment of it,” she says. “As a Mormon, you grow up hearing about this prophecy. I think Mitt believes he has a mandate from God to become president so he can help move this along. I don’t know if it’s a conscious thought, but it’s in his subconscious.”

So, there are “millions of Mormons” who believe the White Horse Prophecy about an eroding Constitution and who believe Romney is its fulfillment. Well, the so-called erosion of the Constitution has been, of course, a constant theme of the Republican attack on Barack Obama. Rush Limbaugh summarized this attack:

The Constitution doesn’t matter to the [Obama] regime. The regime is simply saying, ‘To hell with the Constitution. We’re gonna implement this regardless what the Constitution says!’

Is it possible that the reason Romney is so willing to lie (“lying for the Lord” is justified in much Mormon thinking), to obfuscate, to abandon his principles and then embrace them again only to abandon them once more, is because he has a view of our Constitution that sees him, a Mormon, as its rescuer? And anything said or done in service to saving the Constitution is legitimate?

It so happens that the Mormon church, through its scriptures, explicitly states that our Constitution was not just a document created by men, but “a sacred document,” one that was, according to James Rogers, “established by God by men whom God raised for that purpose.

Is it so far-fetched that a man so dedicated to his church, so loyal to its principles (if you doubt this see the video posted below and watch the fierceness with which he defends his church), would, along with millions of Mormons, see himself as The One who could save America and its Constitution?

I won’t pretend to know or won’t claim that Romney sees himself that way. I don’t know, and judging by his multiple positions perhaps he doesn’t know, what is in his mind at any given moment. But Mitt Romney said in February of this year:

I happen to believe that the principles and the values of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are not just foundational and defining but they’re powerful. And they’re either inspired by God or they were written by brilliant people or perhaps a combination of both those things. But we have in those documents the way forward for America.

And then a few minutes later:

This is really a battle for the soul of America. It’s essential, it’s essential that we win this election and we get Barack Obama out of the White House and we get America back on course. I think the President is slowly but surely changing us into a European-style welfare state. That is not the kind of America we’ve known; that’s not the kind of America that my grandfather came…here for and that’s not the kind of America my dad was able to build his success in. And it’s not the kind of America that will allow your children and their children to have prosperity and freedom. We need America to remain as a merit society, an opportunity society. We need the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution to continue to be strong and guide America.

What does “a battle for the soul of America” mean to a committed Mormon, whose church believes that the Constitution is a sacred document given to us by God? Whose church continues entertaining a “White Horse Prophecy” the core of which is: “a time will come when the U.S. Constitution is eroding and Mormon leaders will save it and usher in a new theocracy with Mormons in charge“? What does that mean to Mr. Romney, who said the prophecy was not “at the heart” of his “religious belief.” If not the heart, then where is it? Perhaps someone should ask him.

James Rogers’ article I cited above is fascinating and includes this appeal to reporters reluctant to ask Romney about his religion:

The upshot to this credo is that LDS politicians serious about their beliefs have a significantly different understanding of the relationship of their religion to the U.S. government than almost any other religious politician in the U.S. I do not at all suggest that this disqualifies LDS members from holding political office. But it does raise honest and legitimate questions about unique implications of LDS scriptures for the U.S. Constitution, the American project, and the vocations of LDS politicians. What’s more, because of the highly political nature of these beliefs, these questions cannot be waved aside as unrelated to public life. Campaign reporters need to ask Romney to expand on LDS political theory and its implications when he suggests his belief in the LDS doctrine that the Constitution is divinely inspired.

Yes, reporters should do that. Now, who among us believes any of them ever will?

_________________________

Watch Mittens battle with WHO radio’s Jan Mickelson of Des Moines about his Mormon faith:

Mormonism, Mitt, and Medicine

Mormonism, let’s be honest, is a strange faith.

Now, I don’t think it is substantially weirder than most of the religions we are used to, what with their talking animals, virgin births, and dead folks popping up here and there and eventually everywhere. But because it is a relatively modern faith, born in the 19th century, one would have expected it to be, well, a little more sophisticated.

And because a devout—is there any other kind?—Mormon has a good chance of becoming president this year, it is fair to note just how odd are some of the beliefs of Mormons, especially since there are only about 14 million of them in the world (there were only about 1 million when Mitt Romney was born) and they constitute a rather unique group of believers.

It is also fair to examine Mormonism because Romney has been a Mormon missionary, was partly educated in Mormon schools, has served as a Mormon bishop in Massachusetts, and gives a great deal of money to the Mormon Church.

While there are plenty of places on the web where one can check out the various bizarre beliefs tied to Mormonism—like Jesus making a pit stop in the Americas after his resurrection—I want to focus on one that I think reveals not only how creative Mormons can be, but how useful one of their doctrines can be for we liberals. It is called “baptism of the dead.”

Yep, that’s right. They do it. It is a religious ritual of the church, even though some non-Mormon folks want them to stop:

The point, I gather, of proxy baptism is to cut some long-distance slack to those unfortunate souls who passed away without the benefit of a real-time dip in the drink. You see, without that brief immersion in water, one cannot visit the Kingdom of God, or in the case of Mormonism, the Kingdoms of Gods. Apparently, our Higher Power(s) is (are) fond of folks who have taken the plunge, whether they actually took the plunge or conveniently had a descendant do it.

In any case, there is available a handy list of “Prominent People Mormons Have Baptized by Proxy,” should you want to know if your favorite hero of history got his or her belated bath. I am happy to report that Albert Einstein is on the list, although Elvis Presley is not, an oversight that perhaps Mitt Romney can help with, since he has actually done him some post-death baptizin’:

When asked by NEWSWEEK if he has done baptisms for the dead—in which Mormons find the names of dead people of all faiths and baptize them, as an LDS spokesperson says, to “open the door” to the highest heaven—he looked slightly startled and answered, “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.”

I just want to say that I think there is a kind of charm associated with baptizing people long dead, in hopes that they can get out of the nosebleed section in the hereafter. It is at least thoughtful of others, a kind of baptismal salute to socialism. As we discover in the Journal of Discourses:

The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.

Or how about the following socialistic spirituality, as expressed by founder Joseph Smith:

And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.

You see how nice that is? It’s like saying, “If everyone can’t be saved, then none of us can be,” or “All for one and one for all.” Charming, caring, civilized.

And this is where this sentiment can prove useful to liberals: All we have to do is get Mitt Romney—who has baptized people on behalf of the dead—to take that same idea—”their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation“—and apply it to universal health care: if all can’t get coverage, then none of us gets it!

That ought to go over well in the GOP primary, don’t you think?

The Hatch Act

Rush Limbaugh call your office.  Orrin Hatch is stealing your shtick. 

Today on Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan, the senior Republican senator from Utah said the following:

One of the big goals of the whole Democratic Party is to move people into that category—the bottom 50% that basically don’t pay taxes—and a high percentage of them get money from the federal government, who think everything they are or ever hope to be comes from the almighty Democratic Party.

Such disgusting rhetoric usually flows from the mouths of the right-wing talkers, as they perform daily for the 5% of Americans who gather under the circus tent of extremism.

But since the Republican Party has almost totally succumbed to the extremist performance artists, it shouldn’t be surprising that “respected” figures within the party have joined their act, like circus elephants, and dutifully make such offensive—and false—statements about not only Democrats, but about exactly one half of the American people.

Just for the record, everyone pays taxes.  Even if one is part of the 43% who don’t have any federal income tax liability, there are still state income taxes and fees, county taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes (like on gasoline), and the taxes that are hidden in the price of goods and services.

Orrin HatchSo, not only has Senator Hatch insulted the Democratic Party and the American people by accusing half of them of freeloading and placing “everything they are or ever hope to be” in the hands of the Democrats, he has done so by bearing false witness—which used to be against Mormon sensibilities.

But then, again, so did monogamy.  

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