Republican presidential candidate and airbrushed gazillionaire Mitt Romney has only now began to answer some questions around his faith and membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints—but this is only in general terms because his recent so-called "big" speech on his faith only once mentioned the word "Mormon."
In January, you will recall Rod 2.0 asked when Romney would publicly address the historic bias against black people and exclusion of blacks in church leadership that officially ended in 1978 when Romney was 31years-old. Tim Russert—who we've previously criticized for softball questions to Republican candidates and his transparent hit job on the Democratic front runner—deserves credit for raising the question over the weekend when Romney appeared on Meet the Press. Was the church wrong to bar blacks from the priesthood and teach the theory that blacks were "cursed"? Romney refuses to say. Transcript and video.
GOV. ROMNEY: I'm very proud of my faith, and it's the faith of my fathers, and I certainly believe that it is a, a faith--well, it's true and I love my faith. And I'm not going to distance myself in any way from my faith. But you can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at, at our lives. My dad marched with Martin Luther King. My mom was a tireless crusader for civil rights. You may recall that my dad walked out of the Republican convention in 1964 in San Francisco in part because Barry Goldwater, in his speech, gave my dad the impression that he was someone who was going to be weak on civil rights. So my dad's reputation, my mom's and my own has always been one of reaching out to people and not discriminating based upon race or anything else. And so those are my fundamental core beliefs, and I was anxious to see a change in, in my church.
I can remember when, when I heard about the change being made. I was driving home from, I think, it was law school, but I was driving home, going through the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I heard it on the radio, and I pulled over and, and literally wept. Even at this day it's emotional, and so it's very deep and fundamental in my, in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God. My faith has always told me that. My faith has also always told me that, in the eyes of God, every individual was, was merited the, the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter, and I, and I had no question in my mind that African-Americans and, and blacks generally, would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons.
The Republican candidate evaded the question on the morality of the church's historic exclusionary doctrine against blacks and instead discusses their full membership in the hypothetical "hereafter." Interesting that the governor invoked the spirit of his father, George Romney, who went out of his way to rebuke the anti-civil rights and racists of the Goldwater era. Mitt, of course, has shown no such courage in opposing the far-right, anti-gay and quasi-racist base within the Republican Party.
Mitt Romney has not answered that question with a clear and unambiguous answer—and probably never will. "He'll alienate a lot more Americans if he says that, prior to 1978, dark skinned people were cursed by God and were unfit to enter Mormon temples or to serve on the mission field," notes Frank Lockwwod at Bible Belt Blogger. "But he'll also alienate a large number of supporters if he says that his church's pre-1978 bar on blacks in the priesthood was immoral."
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