A lot of people are asking if Mitt Romney’s faith is a hindrance to his bid for the presidency.
For this discussion, I will define faith as:
2. belief that is not based on proof
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion
Let me saying now that I don’t care at all what Romney believes about God. I care very little about his superstitions or supernatural doctrines.
The problem is that the Mormon faith goes far beyond more mainstream Christianity in its denial of the facts of history. While many Christians will argue about the age of the world, or a presumed global flood some 4000 years ago, Romney’s faith requires him to disbelieve things that we know about the later part of the last millennium.
The Book of Mormon has its own, completely unsubstantiated version of the history of North America. They believe that Humanity originated here, in fact, but this would qualify as “Antediluvian” and no more silly than many other Young Earth theories. The thing is, the Book of Mormon, as written by Joseph Smith, taught that the Native Americans were descended from Jewish refugees who arrived on a reed raft. Newer versions (and they do “update” the scriptures, even though the source materials vanished, not so mysteriously) now list the Jews as being “among” the descendants, rather than the primary source. The Jews arrived here to find a land already teaming with herds of horses, and put them to work pulling chariots full of men clad in gold and silks.
This is where I take umbrage: We can prove that none of these things are true. We knew that most of this was fiction in Smith’s day. Horses arrived from Spain after Columbus, and no precolumbian civilization ever made use of the wheel, in part, due to a lack of appropriate animals to pull a wagon. There was no silk, and no Golden City anywhere in the Americas.
If they want to believe that we are the product of some extraterrestrial intelligence, even the direct offspring (spiritually, you understand), then that is fine. I cannot offer them any proof that this is not so. But they found their belief on lies about the real world. When the scriptures that introduce this Divine ET also claim that God spoke directly to Joseph Smith, even though He was never recorded as speaking to Jesus himself, that is questionable, but no one can disprove the encounter. But when the same book claims that there was a large Jewish settlement in North America, one that looked a lot like Egypt from my reading, then we have a problem. There is no section of North America left to search. We’ve disproved this fairytale.
I don’t have problems with Mitt Romney’s faith. I have problems with his anti-intellectualism and his Church’s disdain for equality; they didn’t accept black people as full members of the church until 1978, and have led campaigns for the suppression of LGBT rights.
I have no problem with what Mitt Romney believes, despite a lack of evidence. I have a very big problem with what his church teaches in defiance of scientific knowledge and human decency.