Who’s Tough On Sin?

Angie C. aka Hawkgrrl returns with a very a propos series of questions.

Many Mormons watched in morbid fascination during the South Carolina primary as Evangelicals ultimately rallied around the nearly forgotten corpse of Newt Gingrich’s campaign. The ensuing days, leading into the Florida primary, saw a flurry of anti-Newt Facebook updates from my LDS friends. If Evangelicals are embracing anyone but a Mormon, there is one candidate Mormons do not like one bit: Newt Gingrich. Is it just a case of his politics? He does pander a lot to the tea party despite being a well established Washington insider, albeit with a Nero-like sense of self-importance. Is it that he went on the offensive against “our guy”? I don’t think so, as pretty much all the candidates did so, although he was briefly the most successful of them.

Maybe Mormons are just tougher on sin.

From what I have consistently heard, the biggest Mormon objection to Newt is his serial adultery, especially because the wives he cheated on and eventually left were gravely ill at the time he left them for younger women. One article even theorized that Newt’s serial adultery made him more relatable than Mitt’s “one-woman for life” approach. In Newt’s words:

“it may make me more normal than somebody who wanders around seeming perfect and maybe not understanding the human condition, and the challenges of life for normal people.”

Which frankly doesn’t sound all that repentant to me.

Dennis Miller once riffed on the fact that so many prison inmates were being born again while on death row. He said it’s easy to turn to Jesus when no one down here will talk to you any more. As he pointed out, this kind of conversion is pretty easy. You just say you believe, and you are saved.

For Mormons, the repentance process is very rigorous for adulterers. In the case of all sins, Mormons believe repentance requires confessing your sins to God, asking for forgiveness, but also making restitution to any wronged person, and forsaking the sin entirely. Books like Miracle of Forgiveness imply that returning to a sin after repentance undoes the original repentance, making the sin even more serious. A penitent adulterer must also confess the sin to the bishop. Depending on the bishop’s assessment, the person may also undergo a church disciplinary court in which s/he may be disfellowshipped or excommunicated, requiring eventual rebaptism after at least a year waiting period. In the interim period, the person is considered to be without benefit of saving ordinances, so should that person die during that time, s/he is left out in the cold from a salvation perspective.

By contrast, Evangelicals do not require baptism, accepting “transfer” baptism from other Protestant sects. Being saved means accepting Christ’s atonement and your role as a sinner. Being forgiven of any sin simply requires asking God for forgiveness.

Mormons have a particular hatred for philandering husbands. While divorce is not uncommon, ward members often assume the wife is in the right, and we even assess worthiness for temple worship based on one’s familial relationships and for those obligated to pay child support, whether they honor those obligations. While Evangelicals and Mormons both talk family-centric, Mormons add teeth to it.

Do these differences mean that Evangelicals are lighter on (spiritual) crime than Mormons? Perhaps. Or does this mean that Newt’s explanation of his repentance process is culturally familiar to them, whereas to Mormons it is evidence that he did not truly repent (in that he didn’t forsake his adultery or make restitution). Is our repentance process evidence of Mormons being more focused on “works” whereas to Evangelicals, grace is sufficient? Do we reject repentance that we consider insufficiently stringent?

Who am I to judge? I’m a person who hasn’t committed adultery twice when my spouse was gravely ill. And I’m a Mormon. (Maybe that should be my mormon.org tagline.) Thanks to the JST, Mormons do in fact feel entitled to judge, so long as it isn’t “unrighteous” judgment. Since Evangelicals believe the Bible to be inerrant and unalterable, they’re just left with: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” So perhaps we do feel we are entitled to judge others if we believe our judgments are just. And in this case, c’mon! However, based on my personal relationships, I have a hard time believing Evangelicals are in practice and culture any less judgmental than Mormons.

Familiar Personas

When polled, Iowa Republicans (sporting a strong Evangelical base) were asked how they viewed Newt and Mitt:

A leading Democratic pollster, Peter Hart, recently conducted focus groups with Republican voters and made an astonishing discovery: voters, when asked which family member Newt most reminded them of, said their “good uncle” or their “kindly grandfather.” However, when asked who Mitt Romney most reminded them of, it was their “Dad who was never home”

While Mitt as a dad who was never home probably resonates for many Mormons familiar with the number of hours high profile careers coupled with demanding church callings require, the idea of Newt as a kindly grandfather seemed completely out of left field to me as a Mormon. Do Evangelicals have a lot of philandering grandfathers and uncles? Does the fact that Mormons are more educated on average than Evangelicals make us more likely to identify hypocrisy? Does it make us less likely to have creepy uncles? Despite our own reputation as gullible, Evangelicals are certainly not immune to Ned Flanders Disease. Perhaps it’s just a matter of degree.

Mormons have higher expectations for leaders.

Is it Newt’s relentless hypocrisy that disgusts Mormons? Newt, when asked how he could be unfaithful and give a speech on family values:

“It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.” Source: John H. Richardson. “Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican.” Esquire.com. 8/10/2010.

In 1994, Gingrich responded to reports he’d had extramarital affairs while running a family-values campaign in 1978 by saying:

“In the 1970s, things happened.” Source: AP. “Wife’s lawyer to question woman in Gingrich divorce case.” Marysville Journal-Tribune. Marysville, Ohio. 8/13/1999. pg. 2.

Bear in mind that he was in year two of another six-year affair at the time. Apparently “things happened” in the 90s as well as in the 70s. Are Mormons culturally more critical of serious flaws in leaders than of others? Maybe so. One of our most oft quoted scriptures states:

D&C 82: 3 For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.

And in the JST version of the Bible, we re-examine this verse from Luke:

Luke 12:57 But he that knew not his Lord’s will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom the Lord has committed much, of him will men ask the more.

What if Newt were one of us?

As I examined my own Newt revulsion, I asked myself how I would feel if Newt were LDS. My first thought was that he probably would not be LDS any more, having been excommunicated, and it is unlikely he would have undergone the rigors of the process to become rebaptized. This thought lessened my respect for him even further. He can do the crime, but not the time.

I immediately thought of a prominent LDS figure, Hyrum Smith who founded the Franklin company and was excommunicated for adultery. Reading his process back to church membership filled me with empathy and admiration, knowing how difficult and humbling it must have been. I can’t help but think Newt was never taken (by others or himself) off his lofty perch, and humility is requisite to repentance. At least it is in Mormon culture.

Yet, if I compare our cultural views of repentance to a more stringent process such as corporeal mortification, practiced by only the most devout Catholics, I don’t necessarily find that more empathetic or more admirable. If it came out that Newt was wearing a hair shirt or twisting a cilice into his thigh between sessions of congress, I would be more impressed with his sincerity but a little grossed out, too (just the thought “Newt’s thigh” creates a wave of nausea). My unfamiliarity with these practices makes them seem extreme and even psychotic. Perhaps that is how our repentance process seems to an Evangelical who believes a friendly chat with God in private is copascetic. While it probably makes more sense to hold a person accountable for the repentance process of their own faith, our judgment is inextricably tied to our own faith’s culture.

  • Do you think Mormons are tougher on adultery than other sects?
  • Do you think Mormons feel more justified in judging others or about the same?
  • In your opinion, why do Mormons dislike Newt?

Discuss.

Comments

  1. StillConfused says:

    My reasoning for not liking Newt has nothing at all to do with his sex life. I find him to be a loose cannon in the political realm. I don’t know how he would handle terrorism and other sensitive issues. But if you didn’t want to have to actually get into political things to dislike him, adultery would be as good a reason as any.

    I know a number of Mormons who are extremely judgmental. If you don’t do something exactly the way they want, they are extremely judgmental. Somehow the irony of their behavior is lost on them. But I also know good Christian Mormons (not as many of the latter as of the former) so I am hesitant to make a blanket statement.

  2. Sidenote- Regarding your Mormon/JST-based vs Protestant/Bible-based, the “judge righteous judgement phrase” is also found in KJV John 7:24. “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” This is a tension found among the Gospels, with Joseph Smith doing some harmonizing work.

  3. Angie/Hawk (I’m so confused!), great post. And great questions.

    Are we tougher on adultery — I think so; you make a good case.

    Do we feel justiied? Yes, I think we do (though we probably shouldn’t — even the “righteous judgement” clause is for those in a position to judge). That said, each of us must judge how we will vote, and if adultery (or the lack thereof) is important to us in a president, then there you go. I think our toughness on adultery leads to that kind of conclusion for many LDS.

    I can’t speak for all Mormons, but certainly Newt’s marital infidelities color my thinking, especially when he hypocritically publicly talks family values while privately destroying them. In the most recent circuit, when he lit into Romney about his pious baloney, I was stunned at the pot’s calling the kettle black.

    Of course, Mitt’s inconsistencies over time are troubling to me, too, for other reasons. One wonders when political expediency goes to situational ethics. (I’m not making a charge, nor am I wishing to create a threadjack, but it seems we’re much more likely to rate adultery as a “worse” sin than political expediency. Of course that’s til November, when, if it ends up being a Romney – Obama battle, then loss of agency is likely to be the sin du jour.)

  4. Clark Goble says:

    I know plenty of Mormons who liked Newt – although most of them came of age after Newt’s meltdown in the 90′s. Those of us who remember the 90′s feel betrayed by him. I won’t lie and say his infidelities don’t bother me. They do. But the bigger issue for me is his narcissism and the inability to focus on the big pictures and act on his good ideas. Newt was responsible for the brilliance of the Contract with America and nationalizing congressional races. He’s also responsible for much of the failure of the Contract with America as well as a lot more.

  5. “What if Newt were one of us?” – Worst. Joan Osborne . Song. Ever.

  6. Good post, and a lot of interesting questions. I do believe we tend to be more judgmental of marital infidelity, but my own views have softened somewhat over the years. I’ve known men, both in and out of the church, who have cheated on their wives. The difference seems to be one of humility and repentance. Of the non-Mormon cheats, the thought seemed to be that if their wife didn’t find out, and they were one-night stands on a business trip, then there was no problem. Amongst the Mormon men, the sense of shame and self loathing for the same kinds of behavior, ie one night stands on a business trip, led them to admit the issue first to their wives and then to their bishops. And I have seen them return to full faith and fellowship, with marriages that seem stronger than they were before the infidelities.

    Anecdotal evidence at best, but Newt’s serial infidelity does seem troubling to most Mormons I have discussed politics with. It ranks up there with his self-destructive open mike behavior. The quoted line you use is telling in its total lack of irony and self awareness:

    There’s no one else who can say what I can say.

    Perhaps that is because no one else in the political arena seems to employ so little self control on their utterances, except Sarah Palin, who certainly can’t match Newt’s otherwise formidable intellect. I also believe that Newt gets a free pass from many social conservatives, both because of the concept of the “persistence of grace” and the convenient fact that Newt is not a member of a “cult” like Romney..

  7. Those of us who remember the 90′s feel betrayed by him.

    That. I remember. His infidelity was not limited to his wives, and I’ll not give him the chance to do it again. (Remember the old adage: If a man is cheating on his wife WITH you, he will cheat ON you.)

  8. No comments on the post, but that picture of Obama laughing directly under the headline “Gingrich Wins S.C. Primary” is priceless. Apparently it’s not just members of the church who think Gingrich is a joke.

  9. Christian J says:

    Maybe another dimension to this: Mormon forgiveness of Mitt’s past liberal-ness (on abortion, gay rights)

  10. MikeInWeHo says:

    Maybe it’s as much Newt’s style as his past that repulses Mormons. He is a grandiose narcissist of the highest order. That’s just not the way Mormons roll, and certainly not the leadership. In much of the Evangelical world, however, that kind of pomposity is actually expected among leaders (Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell, et. al.).

  11. I do think we are harder on adultery, but I think in Newt’s case it’s more the hypocrisy on top of repeat offenses. And he’s smug. So I reserve the right to be smug about him;)

    I’m not sure Mormons are more judgmental, I think we are about the same as other sects. Probably it depends more on where we live too, small towns are more judgmental and know each others’ business.

    Nice post.

  12. “The South Carolina primaries closed at 9:00 – but Newt’s marraige will be open all night.”

    You nailed it for me. It’s not as much Newt’s serial adultery when his wives were seriously ill (which is almost rock bottom sick in and of themselves) and the political opportunism described by his second wife (Callista will help me become President.”), but his utter lack of remorse and repentance – coupled with his dome-sized ego and his (I believe intentional and calculated) focus on manipulating the angry (Tea Party) and scared (evangelicals).

    Mitt might be a political opportunist to some degree, but at least I believe he sincerely wants to help and represent those he governs. I think he really does run according to what he perceives to be the will of the people (which, in the case of MA and [I believe] the US people as a whole, meant running [and ultimately governing] on a moderate platform). I can’t say that about Newt – and I end up laughing hysterically just at the thought.

    His latest rant of extreme importance is about how government under Pres. Obama has oppressed Christians so horribly. WTH doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction to that one. He’s complaining that he understands religious persecution (compared to Romney, no less) and is tired of having to support tolerance of other religions while Christianity is being attacked so badly in the USA?!?! Romney has annihilated him in every non-evangelical-dominated state thus far, and he knows the only shot he has is to rile up the bigotry and fear of enough people to cause the Santorum voters to switch to him – and that, all by itself, is a truly frightening scenario.

    That’s why I won’t vote for the ego-maniacal troll. It’s not that I’m harder on sin (although I am, compared to mot evangelicals); it’s that I’m harder on pure, unadulterated, rank, boundless hypocrisy, manipulation and ego.

  13. Having been formerly married to a philanderer like Newt “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him” if he will lie and cheat on his multiple wives, I’m sure he will lie and cheat on me as President of the U.S.

  14. Anontoday says:

    Hyrum Smith is as big a dirtbag as Newt. How many people make a profit off their adultery by writing a book about it? How many people that he excommunicated when he was stake president (and he having his long-term affair while Stake President) have come back to the church?
    How can an adulterer be called of God? Sickening.

  15. #14 Anontoday, whatever else Smith is, he’s not receiving royalties for his book. At least that’s what the linked newsstory says.

  16. I got into a similar discussion with some Evangelical aquaintances shortly after the Casey Anthony verdict. It was clear to me in a way I hadn’t fully realized before that as a Mormon, I have definite expectations when it comes to repentance, but it’s much more vague with my Evangelical friends.

  17. Clark Goble says:

    Seems to me that it’s standard practice that leaders engaged in such sins are help to be doing something far more serious than were a regular lay member to be doing it. I’m sure if Br. Smith returned to the fold that he had to make some real changes in his life. Hopefully they will be permanent changes.

    I’ve no complaints when people come back. That’s the whole point of repentance. I think were I in a leadership position I’d have to have a much higher threshold from the spirit to call him to a new leadership position though.

  18. Why should anyone be that surprised? If you can be saved simply by saying “God, I am a sinner” then why can’t you be forgiven simply by saying “God, I’m sorry.”

  19. As others in the comments have alluded, what bother me about Newt is his saying stuff like this:

    It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live

    Narcissism? Open acceptance of his own hypocrisy? Delusions of grandeur? All of these are checks.

  20. Newt is running against one of us. I don’t much like much of Romney’s current political discourse, but I do recognize him as one of us. I don’t want Romney to win the general election, but I feel proud when he does well. If Newt were not running against one of us, and following directly if he didn’t occasion a need to compare once again Evangelical mental states to our own (a cultural addiction), I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t think more than twice about Newt.

  21. I agree with the first part of your comment, Thomas, but I don’t agree with the last part.

    I would think more than twice about Newt in pretty much any election, simply because I loathe his candidacy so much. If the GOP race were down to the three candidates who are not Romney (if Romney was out of it), Gingrich would be a real possibility as the GOP nominee, and that’s frightening enough to me to give me regular nightmares. I’d wish I could think about him only twice, but I’m pretty sure he would haunt my dreams.

  22. a random John says:

    I find the suggestion that Mormon divorce is harder socially on husbands to be a real generalization.

    I have seen it go both ways and I am not convinced that one is more prevalent than the other. I know that in the case of one family member’s divorce two decades ago the wife was basically chased from the ward while her husband married a younger woman in the temple weeks after the divorce. A year later he was in a bishopric. This was very painful for the ex wife who had been wronged.

  23. whizzbang says:

    In my experience I don’t think we are hard on adultery. I have heard of stuff that has gone on that makes me doubt entirely the whole process of repentance. One example. A member fellow here cheats on his wife, emotionally abuses her, molests his daughter. the daughter turns 18 and sleeps with her boyfriend and she gets exed. The wife goes to the bishop of the ward and says that her husband did all this stuff and the bishop doesn’t believe her and says he couldn’t have done all that because, “he’s a good man” well. So the Church does NOTHING, the wife keeps her mouth shut, because why bother telling anyone in “leadership” about it? The dad becomes my YSA branch president, does that for a few years, was well meaning but not a nice guy and there were a lot of problems and later becomes a member of the Temple Pres. and is now a sealer in a Canadian Temple. Apparently he is now dying so good riddance. So, from that one example and there was another similar situation that he was involved in that make me wonder about things

  24. I think we are more tough on adultery, yes, and more judgmental in general. I’m not sure we’re particularly anti-Gingrich–probably related to the fact that he is (or, was) a threat to Romney. I think the adultery issue is often mishandled–I don’t agree that disclosure to a husband or wife is a good idea if it was a non-emotional one-off type of affair. Too much psychological harm without any real payoff. It would be better to just work things out privately with the Bishop.

  25. Aaron the Ogre says:

    Yesterday during the Superbowl, my dad and I discussed this. He was quite upset by Newt’s behavior during his marriages. My dad is very tough on those who have committed adultery and have not sought forgiveness. He further thinks Newt’s hypocrisy goes deeper, because he cheated and divorced two then ill wives and then converted to Catholicism, a faith that is historically quite harsh on divorce.

    I do not think Latter-day Saints are more judgmental than other groups, but I do think we are easily as judgmental.

    My issues with Newt have nothing to do with his sins. His sins are not my signs and thus not my business, but what makes me very unhappy about Newt is his blinding rage during a political campaign. His anger is visible in his language, actions and demeanor. I can not vote for someone who is incapable of controlling his addiction to anger.

  26. “says that her husband did all this stuff and the bishop doesn’t believe her” … well, if there is no evidence except for one witness who backs off, that is not enough to do anything under the two or three witnesses rule.

  27. “That’s one of the reasons he consented to write about his experience — sans any royalties — when he was approached by LDS Church-owned Deseret Book”

  28. Ray,

    Maybe. But for me that has to do with the fact that one of our two parties is approaching some kind of cliff of madness. Newt represents that. I suppose you are right from that perspective. But that wouldn’t bring out the collective Mormon hand-wringing we’ve seen, since most Mormons would be in danger of going over the cliff with the GOP.

    As to other people’s adulteries and subsequent painful scenarios … what happens in the labyrinth of bad relationships is often hidden from the participants themselves, let alone outside parties. I think being on the side of all parties is right, whenever possible, since that is clearly the route God takes. That is probably not distinguishable from taking no sides and keeping one’s nose totally clean in most cases.

  29. In other words, sans Romney, may Mormons would be excusing Newt on the same kind of Christian grounds that many Evangelicals have.. Because the alternative would be a moderate liberal, aka Beelzebub.

  30. whizzbang says:

    @26-I would hope the bishop would investigate!, how I have no idea but still. It’s situations like this that lead me to believe that when a crime is commited like molesting your daughter, go to the police first then the Bishop. The police have more experience in dealing with creeps like this and I would hope the Bishop takes his cue from them.

  31. StillConfused says:

    Can someone explain comment #14 to me? Is this the Hyrum from the old days or recent? Did he do something bad?

  32. #29 – Yeah, Thomas, I can see that, unfortunately.

  33. Newt is safely “other” and makes a reasonable scapegoat for a member’s frustration with lying, cheating, and hypocrisy. I wish I knew how to understand and deal with Joseph Smith’s actions and my own father’s multiple infidelities and adventures in sex crime. As a Mormon, the reason Joseph Smith is so important is because how I interpret his actions sets the tone for my fundamental understanding of morality, so it ties in to how I understand and deal with my father. I think Newt is a convenient sideshow. These questions have been discussed to death elsewhere on the Bloggernacle, and I don’t want to derail the conversation, but I think the Sunday School judgmental attitude towards adultery, church history, and my family history make this all very complicated. Do I judge Newt by the same standards that I use to judge Joseph and my father?

  34. I do think that regardless of his personal morality or lack thereof, his narcissism is a bigger issue in the race to POTUS. If he were totally faithful to his wife or had only committed just one little bitty adultery, the electorate could probably get past that. Nonetheless, I stand by my statement that Mormons have a big problem with adultery, and I do think we are dismissive of what we consider incomplete repentance, including other faiths’ repentance steps.

    As to the link with polygamy, 80% of Mormons on the latest Pew survey considered polygamy a very serious sin, the worst one of those listed in the survey. Underground polygamists 0, manifesto FTW.

  35. I don’t like newt politically. I was alive and well during the 90s and apparently some people have incredibly short memories, or are desperate or both.

    It is hard that more than a few religious people find a serial adulterer of ill wives, more normal and acceptable than a Mormon. It kinda puts in perspective just how weird some people think we are.

    I wouldn’t vote for Romney either, but I do want people to like him. or at least to not like him for political reasons instead of his religion.

  36. My antipathy to Newt can best be described as a “mosaic of dishonesty”. It isn’t just that he committed adultery multiple times in despicable circumstances, but add to that his ethic violations (it is rather hard to get censured by congress) and his obvious prevarication around his lobbying compounded with his clear pattern of narcissism it is amazing to me he could be voted dog catcher much less President of the US. The flat out hypocrisy with which he did all these things speaks to an unstable and compartmentalized mind I would want nothing to do with personally or professionally. I will admit his adultery and its details do weight heavily in my consideration. I am not going to vote for Romney, but our country is in a better place if people like Romney or Huntsman are the GOP nominees.

  37. Clark Goble says:

    I don’t think the Newt vote is just about Mormonism. I think Obamacare was made the litmus test. After four years of pretty harsh (and often over the top) rhetoric against Obama it’s hardly surprising that the candidate who once claimed to be pro-choice, who created the insurance program Obamacare is modeled on, and who has anything but a deft touch with the regular masses is distrusted. Let’s be honest. The best we can say about Romney is that he’s better than the rest in a pretty horrible year for candidates. But even if he weren’t Mormon he’s not exactly the person who excites the base of the Republican party. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a good President. Honestly I think a pragmatic technocrat might be what we need right now. But I think Republicans really want someone charismatic who can get their message out. Romney ain’t it.

    While Newt has tons of negatives it’s also true he at least comes across as a fighter with big ideas. I think people who support him are projecting upon him capabilities and strengths he doesn’t have. (Much as was done with Obama four years ago) Say what you will about Romney but at least people aren’t projecting (yet) unrealistic things on him.

  38. So, why don’t people here want to vote for Romney? Its almost like a must state after talking about Newt. I am thinking that most who say that are Democrats, but if not then why the antipathy toward the man as voting material? Look, he isn’t my first choice either. Mine left the running or didn’t join to start with. As a Republican, however, I will vote for him in the primaries as it stands now and in the general for sure. Newt is evil and unhinged, and Ron Paul has policies that I see as dangerous or unreasonable. Santorum would be my pick if he wasn’t so far behind in both primary and national polls, therefore a vote for him is a vote for a losing strategy. Yet, if Ron Paul wins I wouldn’t complain too much. If Santorum wins I could get excited in the general. If Newt wins, I am a vote for Obama by either staying home or putting in a write in (the more likely action). He is everything that critics say of Romney making Newt’s declarations of conservatism hypocritical. Then he is an immoral loud-mouthed egotist on top of that.

    I too remember him from the 90s during the Clinton impeachment. He started out a hero by forcing the government shut down for a short time. Then he fought against Clinton for lying against congress and the American people (its not about the dress people). Finally, he secured a balanced budget and other Republican proposals by forcing Clinton’s hands. Sure, he wasn’t alone in this, but he was the leader. Over time it was discovered that he was no better than Clinton with his lying (its not just the affairs themselves, but the complete hypocrisy) and then double that. He opens both sides of his mouth equal to or more than Romney is supposed to have. He cavorts with top Democrats while declaring political war against them as if it never happened. I would mention his own getting kicked out of the chairmanship by the Republican Party, but staunch supporters say the charges were later proven false and consider it proof of a “Republican elitist” conspiracy. I do consider that too in my own evaluation. I could go on, but this is enough for now that its more than his sexual history that is problematic.

  39. I don’t consider the reaction to Newt being so much about Mormons, so much as it proves just how full of shit Evangelicals are it comes to their “pro-family” rhetoric.

  40. Clark Goble says:

    Santorum has some huge negatives due to his pretty extreme social conservativism. Also if one critiques Romney for not being an economic conservative that goes in spades for Santorum. I don’t quite get the recent surge in Santorum other than people recognize the problems of Gingrich and simply don’t like Romney.

    Here’s the thing though, there aren’t going to be any new candidates. At this stage the best hope for conservatives to get what they want is to get conservatives in the Senate and Congress who will direct Romney as President. Honestly Romney’s the best of an uninspired set of candidates. Further I think a lot of the base is actually pretty confused as to what they want and sometimes more than a little disconnected from reality. (i.e. on where spending cuts ought go)

  41. Hi ‘still confused’, the comment is about the recent Hyrum. Hyrum Smith the patriarch was never charged with or found guilty of adultery. I do believe the recent one was, but I admit I haven’t seen any source documents myself clarifying that.

    I also wanted to say I’m with ‘still confused’ on comment #1- in that my personal distaste for Newt Gingrich is unrelated to his extramarital affairs. If I were to have to choose between a moral candidate who was a moral but in no way prepared to lead a nation, I would vote for an immoral person who was.

    Yes yes, there’s the doctrine&covenants section where we’re told to vote for honest and wise leaders, but we’re not living in a theocracy where morality is the ultimate reason for choosing a president. We’re in a republic where finding anyone who can actually solve problems and not be a divisive ideologue is a godsend.

  42. Clark Goble says:

    Still Confused (31). The Hyrum Smith in question started a company that did scheduling books and then various tapes on leadership and sales and the like. They then merged with Stephen Covey back in the 90′s. I think their primary revenue stream comes from training forums – especially now that schedule books have been usurped by smart phones. It was in the 90′s that it came out Hyrum Smith was having an affair with a secretary. It was a big shock in the Provo area due to the respect people had for Smith as well as his being in leadership positions. He was excommunicated but after several years got his membership back. (I’m not sure when) I didn’t realize he’d written a book about it. However it seems to me there’s a big difference between writing a book on ones sins and attempting to overcome them and being put back in leadership positions.

  43. #38 Jetboy – Yes I would say almost all Mormons who aren’t voting for Romney probably tend to vote on the other side of the aisle. Recent polls of Mormons shows almost unanimous support for Romney if individuals are registered Republicans or lean Republican. I imagine there are a few Ron Paul Mormon die hards. I would be VERY interested to hear from a Mormon who prefers Newt over Romney. Anyone?

    I think most Mormon Democrats (and I imagine that there are many who will cross party lines to vote for Romney) think Romney is definitely competent. Personally, if he wins I really hope moderate, pragmatic Guvn’ Romney shows up rather than right-wing pandering Romney. I admit I really want to believe it is mostly a show on his part and he will betray the right of the Republicans if he wins, but these days I have no idea what to think of him. I have lots of sympathy for the moral difficulties involved in keeping ones integrity through these brutal election processes. Its a tough road.

    Finally, I think the inability of Huntsman to get any traction among Mormons probably says more about how our religion leads us to view candidates. It seems most reacted very strongly against Huntsman’s lax Mormon practice and identity. They see him as inauthentic and definitely NOT one of “us” especially when put up against very orthodox Romney.

  44. StillConfused – there’s a link in the OP about the story of Hyrum Smith, founder of Franklin Planners, and his adultery & trip back to the church.

  45. One more thing on Romney, I may vote for him. I’m one of those independents who voted for Obama in 2008, and I’m not thrilled with how that turned out. He was president in the wrong time for his set of skills, IMO. Is Romney the right president for this time? Maybe. We’ll see when fall rolls around. Lots in the bloggernacle are Dems, so clearly they are less keen to vote for Romney. What surprised me is how many of my non-LDS corporate colleagues are big Romney fans. Bain experience is understood and valued, not reviled, in the financial services sector.

  46. As I examined my own Romney revulsion, I asked myself how I would feel if Romney were LDS? Turns out he is … My first thought was that he probably would not be LDS any more, having been excommunicated for condoning torture, immoral wars, warmongering, all sorts of violence, and threats of nuclear wars on imagined enemies, and it is unlikely he would have undergone the rigors of the process to become rebaptized. This thought lessened my respect for him even further. He can do the crime, but not the time.

    Myself, as an European LDS, am appalled by the mosaic of dishonesty I see in Romney’s campaign, the dirt slinging, hate mongering type of non political discourse that destroys this world by the hour. Just the fact that Romney’s campaign in Florida was, statistically, the most negative in the history of US elections is mind-boggling.

    The flat out hypocrisy with which Romney spews out his paranoia of fear and violence speaks to an unstable and compartmentalized mind.

    I feel very judgemental criticizing another person like this, I wish not to do it, and I’m sorry for throwing some of the comments back at you, but this post made me sink into despair. Gingrich is one thing, I’m sure he deserves your wholehearted negativity, but to see Romney, a fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ, embrace this type of vitriolic and utter decadent politics as Romney do is excruciating. And we, on the other side of the pond, can’t bear it much longer.

    Who’s tuff on sin? We’ll certainly not us Mormons, that’s for sure.

    I’ll forego you comments and ad: I’d better to keep out of US politics right? I better worry about my own …

  47. Don’t worry about your politics, Marcus, Europe is (non)-breeding itself into utter irrelevance, so who cares?

  48. Marcus,
    Judging by the negativity of your post, I think it’s clear what kind of campaign you’d run if you had $20million to spend to get yourself elected as the judgingist negativity detecting commenter evar. Romney had to spend millions to get people not to trust a multiple adulterer who’s sole campaign is best around his rhetorical barbs. In a single blog post aimed at lamenting how negative Romney is, you made it clear Romney:
    -Should be excommunicated
    -Is not worthy of respect
    -Avoids just punishments
    -Is dishonest
    -Hateful
    -The Destroyer of Worlds
    -Hypocritical
    -Despair Inducing
    -Vitrolic
    -Decadent
    -Sinful
    Maybe you should contact Gingrich’s PAC and see if you can help them spend their $10million they got from the Casino guy…

  49. @48–Hey, good points, but don’t be too hard on the “casino guy”–Mittens offered an explicit bet with Perry in one of the debates. ;-)

  50. There are so many reasons Gingrich is revolting. But the skank factor is way up at the top of my list. He calls Romney the Massachusetts Moderate. I think Romney should call Gingrich the Georgia Gigolo.

  51. I think Mormons strive to raise the bar, which leads to expecting more of leaders, less tolerance for sin, and then when there is humility and contrition, more tolerance to forgive and sympathize similar to your reaction of Hyrum Smith’s story.

    When there is Newt-like boldness and lack of humility (and repeated transgression)…it really rubs Mormons the wrong way. We all know we all sin, but not feeling remorse, trying to cover it up, or not owning up to the consequences makes us think the sinners should have to pay…or it is not fair to the rest of us. Mercy can’t rob justice. But mercy is waiting at the door knocking for those who will make the effort to receive that gift, it is not free.

    That just seems to be the knee-jerk reaction based on our culture. It doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the country sees it that way.

    Having an uncle or grandfather make me feel more comfortable because I relate to him is one thing, but if you are going to ask me who can help my family get out of a crisis, and who can help lead me into better economic situations and be safer for tomorrow…I will vote my Dad who wasn’t always around because he’s responsible and hard working and has a track record of getting things done. I hope we’re not all voting for who is more realistically flawed to represent us, I hope we are voting for the best leader to lead us. And who has the best hair.

  52. The evangelical does not need to be harder on ones sin as a Mormon. When a person who is truly repentant of what they did, they would not need any governing authority over them telling them that they need to repent or to then go reconcile their wrong doings. The person would do it out of their own free will, because their relationship with Jesus it that important to them. They really believe that what they believe is really real and that is Jesus is real. It is about this relationship with God that drives a real believer of Jesus to do the things that most churches will try to impose on their practitioners such as the excommunication from the church and then some process of prescribed accomplishments to get back into a good standing. It really does not matter how traumatic these prescribed accomplishments get, people are very capable of enduring quite a lot of pain and suffering in order to maintain the appearance of something, hoodwinking the establishment in thinking they are ready. Grace is enough to the true evangelical because they will try to make things right regardless, on their own.

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