Romney's Mormon Question
Romney supporters are offering Mormonism 101, emphasizing hard work, clean living and shared family values, to address the concerns of the 29% of Americans who say they would not vote for an LDS member for President.
[The founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) taught] that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Mo. . . .
Mormons reject the unified Trinity and teach that God has a body of flesh and blood. Though Mormons revere Christ as Saviour and certainly call themselves Christians, the church is rooted in a rebuke to traditional Christianity. Joseph Smith presented himself as a prophet whom God had instructed to restore his true church, since "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight." He described how an angel named Moroni provided him with golden tablets that told the story (written in what Smith called "reformed Egyptian" hieroglyphics, never seen before) of an ancient civilization of Israelites sent by God to America. The tablets included lessons Jesus taught during a visit to America after his Resurrection. Smith was able to read and translate the tablets with the help of special transparent stones he used as spectacles. He published them as the Book of Mormon in 1830.
Twelve years later, Smith explained to a Chicago newspaper that "ignorant translators, careless transcribers or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" in the Bible, which he revised according to God's revelations. Mormons were subject to persecutions, and in 1844, as he was running for President, Smith was murdered by an angry mob. His successor, Brigham Young, led followers to Utah, the church proceeded to grow rapidly, and Mormon leaders were identified by the church as God's prophets on earth.
At all but the top level, the church is sustained by Mormon men volunteering as lay leaders. . . . Women cannot serve in priestly roles, nor could African Americans until a new revelation brought a change of policy in 1978. . . . When [Romney] married Ann, a Mormon convert, in 1969 in the temple in Salt Lake City, her family could not attend the ceremony since only Mormons are allowed inside. A separate ceremony was held for "gentiles," as non-Mormons are called.
[In] 2001 the Vatican ruled Mormon baptisms invalid, and even the more liberal Presbyterians and United Methodists require that Mormons looking to convert be rebaptized. Southern Baptists have called Utah "a stronghold of Satan," and there are many bookshelves' worth of anti-Mormon literature in circulation. The church's aggressive missionary work is a particular challenge to other professing churches, which believe that converts to Mormonism are not truly saved.