Firstly, Romney has furthered his position in the race for the nomination; according to NPR, after the Wisconsin primary, he is no longer being referred to as the "likely" nominee, but the "almost certain" Republican nominee. He is taking on Obama now, and Santorum appears to be an April Fool's joke after all.
And in other news, some guy named Brett Hatch read from the Book of Mormon at a Mitt Romney campaign rally yesterday, and he followed up his reading with a doctrinal question (about racism in the Church) that Romney refused to answer. I will let you read the link below in case you didn't already see it all over the web.
Nothing new here; more of people trying to understand and define Mormons in a way that gets America to vote for someone else - (Ron Paul in this case). But I would like to add this: Mr Hatch, if you want to question Romney about racism, you might want to first look at your own candidate, dear old Mr. Paul. He had a little racist newsletter problem a few years back that you might not have heard about. Besides, there are a lot more logical reasons for Romney to lose your vote than anything written in the Book of Mormon; feel free to search this site (or the whole world wide web) to discover what some of those might be. But alas, you support Ron Paul; logic may not be your strong suit.
One interesting thing did occur after Romney refused to get into the specifics of Hatch's question: he spoke about his time serving as a bishop or stake president, (he used the term "pastor" so I can't say for sure which calling he referenced.) He used his church service to explain that he has counseled with many who were struggling in his congregation, and that therefore he is in touch with real people and real Americans.
See this article from the Huffington Post about Romney's experience as bishop.
I appreciate that serving as bishop and stake president affords one the opportunity to rub shoulders with the common man, despite someone's wealth. However, given what he is saying now, I don't know that Romney really understands everyday Americans. I acknowledge that Romney-care showed a nice mix of sensitivity for those lacking insurance and business-sense in that an individual mandate was put in place to support it. But isn't that a thing of the past? Now we have Romney saying things like, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there." Maybe we have a whole new Romney like everyone is saying, and just as his days of health care reform are over, so are his days of being bishop. He is a shaken Etch-a-Sketch; he needs to do a little more than talk about being bishop to prove he understands everyday Americans.
Romney won Michigan and Arizona, and Washington's Republican caucuses liked him too; now he has to make it through Super Tuesday - the real test of sorts.
And seriously, I'd be somewhat offended if Mitt Romney lost the Republican Presidential nomination to the likes of Rick Santorum. I realize this is a strange thing to voice on a website entitled "Mormons for Obama," or when I have no plans to vote for Romney, or when I really don't even like that Romney is in the presidential contest altogether. However, as a Latter-day Saint, I can't help but wonder if much of the dislike of Romney can be attributed to his Mormonism more than to his flip-flopping. Clearly all the fervor in the news media over Mormonism this past week (the baptism for the dead letter read in church, racist remarks by my former mission president, Randy Bott,) would be much quieted or even nonexistent if Romney wasn't in the race.
And according to polls, many potential voters reported an unwillingness to vote for a Mormon for president (and this was before all the recent media scrutiny). Admittedly, many of these are liberals, but a large number of these folks are also from the far right. See one poll here. And a more recent article reported much of the same thing:
This is when I get offended, although that might be too strong of a word. As a Mormon Democrat, I consider Rick Santorum to be pretty "out there." His comments on everything from contraceptives to African-Americans does not move us forward, and I am half a key stroke away from calling him crazy, (but that is against our own submission rules for this website.) I am frustrated with "the us vs. them" mentality that exists in Congress currently, and I feel inclined to put a larger portion of the blame on the far right of the Republican Party. So when someone like Santorum starts getting votes, and he appears to be extremely partisan and divisive, I have to sit back and wonder: why isn't Romney good enough for the Republicans? Is he really so bad that they want a Santorum to represent them in the 2012 election?
Republicans have demanded an "anybody-but-Mitt" alternative since the beginning - before the creation of the world. They flirted with everyone from Herman Cain (!?!) to Rick Perry (!?!) to Michelle Bachman (!?!) The list is reminiscent of a casting call for a Christopher Guest film. (Imagine Rick Santorum holding a Shih Tzu, and you'll get the idea.) And so Santorum gets their votes because he is the last man standing, and a Mormon in the White House is not an acceptable proposition. (Click on the picture to the right to purchase Hugh Hewitt's book.)
I guess I'm revealing my victim-mentality here. These potentially imagined slights and the real historical persecutions such as Carthage, Haun's Mill, and the forced exodus west, are indeed "stamped into the Latter-day Saints' collective memory," as Jon Krakauer pointed out in his not-so-unbiased account of Mormonism, Under the Banner of Heaven, A Story of Violent Faith. But for me personally, after living in the South during my formative years, I experienced a certain amount of discrimination from other Christians. (Additionally, a Big Gulp flying at me from a car window while pedaling a missionary bicycle down the streets of Modesto CA also comes to mind.)
Unfortunately, discrimination based on religious affiliation is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice. I've seen it from both sides in regard to Mormonism, (meaning that conservatives and liberals discriminate against Mormons for very different reasons.) In the end, I am more comfortable with the dislike of my faith that I feel from the Christian Right than what I experience from the Progressive Left.
Let me explain: In the Southern Bible belt, Mormons are perceived as weird, cultish and believing in "another Jesus." While I was in Sunday School learning about the Army of Helaman or watching LDS films like "I'll Build You a Rainbow," the Baptists and Methodists were showing their children "The God Makers," a film that informs young minds that Mormons believe in a very badly animated Jesus. And the following Monday, these same little children would go to school and inform me that I was brainwashed and that I worship Joseph Smith. However, the accusation that Mormons aren't Christian is easy for me to deal with. ("Blessed are they which are persecuted for my righteousness' sake...") In fact, this is what Mormons have experienced all along. But now that I live in the Pacific Northwest, I find opposition to my faith based on completely different reasons: the dislike of Mormons is due to the perceived intolerance of blacks, women, and sexual minorities. Ultimately, I find it easier to be portrayed as a religion that believes in another Jesus than a religion that oppresses others.
But back to my point, (because I'm not planning on moving back home just so I can be discriminated against differently): I don't believe that the far right of the Republican party should cast too many stones at us Mormons or our faith; one or two small pebbles might suffice. For indeed, we do proselytize to other Christian denominations, and we do believe that God has a body. But in the end, we are believers. And for every God Makers movie about us, there is a Jesus Camp about you. So give us Romney this time, and maybe next time you can have your Michelle Bachman.
But just so I'm perfectly clear: in the end it really doesn't matter. I am voting for Obama, and you might consider doing the same.
The purpose of this post is to get our readers updated on birth control – what Obama has done and what his opponents are saying. Clashes about birth control coverage for women seem to have everyone talking, including Foster Friess, a primary contributor to Santorum’s Super PAC. He said, "Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly." [i]
Per the Affordable Care Act, starting July 2012 most new health care policies, and eventually all insurance policies, will offer a list of preventive services for women WITHOUT COPAY OR DEDUCTIBLE [ii]. This includes all forms of FDA-approved contraceptives. (Bayer Aspirin is not on that list, Friess, you disgusting man.) This list of women’s services is based on recommendations from a July 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine, “Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps," which identified key components of women’s health services that have been shown to “improve well-being." [iii]
Yet some religious institutions, who offer insurance plans as employers, are upset that this interferes with their beliefs. It should be noted, that many of the insurance plans that do not cover contraceptives do cover medications like Viagra. [iv]
So in response, Obama put a caveat in the policy that would allow institutions to opt out, but women will be guaranteed no-cost access to contraception by a requirement that the insurance company offer the coverage instead.
"The result will be that religious organizations won't have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they'll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries," says President Obama. [v]
In Wednesday’s Arizona Republican debate during discussions on this issue, Romney dogged (ahem) Obama and said, "I don't think we've seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we've seen under Barack Obama." [vi]
In this same debate, Santorum lamented about the birth control issue, stating that 40% of children are born outside of wedlock and that birth control is bad for women and society. Wait. Doesn’t birth control reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies?
Really, I could go on and on, but I think it is worth just taking a step back: Why are we fighting about this?
Several months ago, I had a group lunch with a prominent physician from the World Health Organization who oversaw research studies in Cuba. I was very impressed with his descriptions of the quality health care and research in Cuba. He said, “Well, the Cuban government prioritizes two things: education and health. So that is where they most of their money goes, and it shows. The United States prioritizes (pause) other things.”
I support President Barack Obama because he is prioritizing women’s health, particularly preventive services that save lives. Birth control is a beautiful thing.
And so it continues...
As if it wasn't bad enough that Rick Santorum decided to criticize Obama's faith, Mitt Romney decided he needed to do the same thing yesterday. My guess is that Romney saw Santorum's tactics as the straight and narrow path toward better poll numbers, and he demonstrated this today when he parroted Santorum at a campaign rally, claiming that Obama has "fought against religion" and has a "secular" agenda. See the article here:
The Christian Right is at the heart of Romney's free-fall in the polls. They don't like him because he's a flip-flopper; they don't like him because he's Mormon. And Santorum seems at least smart enough to capitalize on this weakness. He is the last standing alternative to Mitt Romney, and so he says what the Evangelicals want to hear; his comments about Obama's "phony theology" and his stand against prenatal screenings are just empty rhetoric meant to woo the Christian Right of the Republican party. He knows that Arizona and Michigan are week away, next is Washington, and Super Tuesday is afterwards, (we so excited) and he has a chance to win big.
I thought Romney wouldn't go this route considering that Mormons are told that they aren't Christian all the time. But this isn't the first time Santorum has done this. He claims that if you are a liberal, you can't be 'religious' and you certainly aren't Christian. (See link below where in 2008 Santorum claimed that there is no such thing as a liberal Christian). So Sorry Eric, you do not exist.
Both Romney and Santorum are on a roll (holy rollers). They've found a cadence for the religious campaign stumping, and they can only go down from here. The Crusades 2.0 are just beginning.
Here are Santorum's latest comments on Monday as reported on MSNBC's The Last Word:
"I don't know if you've been listening to the president, the secretary of state, and other members of the cabinet, when they talk about freedom of religion... They don't say that anymore. They talk about freedom of worship; well, you folks all know there's a big difference between freedom of worship and freedom of religion. Think about what I just said. We have leaders of this country who are now narrowing the view of what religious liberty is in the first amendment."
What does this even mean? Never mind that President Obama just talked about the importance of protecting "religious liberty" on February 10th at a news conference. Regardless, it seems that using the term "freedom of worship" broadens the view of religious liberty. Many people lead spiritual lives but are not connected to a specific religious institution. Many people follow a moral or value-system but are not believers in a God. So what of them? Shouldn't their right to worship be valued, protected, and recognized?
I think Joseph Smith said it best, and Romney and Santorum might learn something here:
Articles of Faith 1:11 - We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
Amen to that.
I realize that a posting on class warfare may seem about 6 months behind the times. Accusations of “Class Warfare” reached a fever pitch some months back amidst calls for a “millionaires tax,” the headline-grabbing “we are the 99%!” cry of the Occupy movement and Warren Buffet’s disclosure that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. The best synthesis of the discourse that I saw was provided, of course, by Jon Stewart .
The topic was brought to mind again recently when I read a NY Times article on the increasing number of conservative, middle-class Americans who receive some sort of government assistance .
In the article I learned that not only does the lowest income quintile receive 36% of all forms of government aid (down from 54% in 1980), but also that the top quintile actually took home about 12% of all aid. Additionally, a survey referenced in the article found that a plurality of respondents incorrectly named “programs for the poor” as the fastest-growing benefits program in the U.S.
I bring up these two points specifically because they are important in the larger context of the national debate surrounding topics like income inequality, budgets for social programs and class. The article illustrates what all poor people already know, which is that the answers to questions like who gets what from the government, and where should we be looking to make cuts, are seriously obscured by misinformation.
When imagery of animals digging through garbage, and terms like “welfare queen” and “parasite” are used on national television to describe those receiving government assistance (watch the Stewart clip!), it is clear that there is actually a concerted effort by some on the right to frame the debate in falsehoods.
While the right would have you believe that those receiving government assistance are lazy, greedy, black single mothers of 6, the numbers tell a different story. First, the large majority of all recipients of social programs are either children or the elderly. In FY 2011 nearly 75% of those receiving federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits were children . Medicare and Social Security, which together make up the government’s largest expenditure, are both only available to the elderly.
Okay, so most aid money goes to children and the poor (not counting the billions in tax breaks for big companies), but I bet the rest of them are just lazy, right? As mentioned above, almost 65% of all government aid goes to those above the lowest income quintile. Believe it or not rich folks, you can work hard and still have trouble making ends meet.
The TANF program, for example, contains employment requirements . And there are millions of working Americans who have seen their real wages decrease for decades, making government assistance necessary for things like health care, education, energy and housing. The price tags for these necessities have all skyrocketed, especially compared to most consumer goods, making the Heritage Foundation’s attacks on the poor for having televisions and microwaves seem particularly disgusting .
From 1970 to 2010 real wages for American workers declined by 28%, while national GDP nearly doubled . So who saw the gains from the growth in GDP? Over the same time period the top 0.1% of earners saw their share of national income rise by 385% !
The dishonest discourse fomented by the right has very serious consequences for all of us, and particularly the most vulnerable in our society. When the millionaires in Washington DC decide to ignore our woefully underfunded schools, choose to prioritize prisons over housing, and do nothing to fix healthcare, there are serious consequences. Over 46 million Americans live below the poverty line, the highest rate in the 52 years that the Census Bureau has published statistics on it , the U.S., with over 2.3 million people in prison, has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world , and an estimated 45,000 premature deaths occur each year because of lack of access to health care .
But despite reality, the right continues to ignore these problems and dismiss those who raise issue of equality as 'divisive'. Rick Santorum (a millionaire) even criticized Mitt Romney (a multi-millionaire) for using the term “middle class,” because he believes it is a Democratic term used to divide society . Which society is he is living in that he doesn’t see how very much divided we already are?
Yes, there is certainly a Class War raging, and I’ll give you one guess as to who is winning it.
The 28% figure takes into account the (non)wages received from the unemployed as well. Real wages over this period for only employed individuals dropped by a smaller, but still alarming, amount.
I was at the National Hispanic Medical Society conference in Washington DC when the House agreed to the Senate's amendment of the Affordable Care Act, on March 23, 2010. The energy and excitement was electrifying! My feelings that day are the same today--the Affordable Care Act is monumental and critical for our country. Indeed, it is one of the primary reasons why I support Obama wholeheartedly.
My favorite facts about the Affordable Care Act:
- Expands health care to 32 MILLION Americans
- Insurance companies are prevented from dropping sick people
- Insurance companies cannot deny children coverage if they have a pre-existing condition
- No lifetime caps on coverage
- Cost: $940bn over 10 years; but it would reduce deficit by $143bn by tackling fraud, abuse, and waste
- Expands women's health preventative coverage, including services such as well-woman visits, mammograms, domestic violence screening, screening for STIs, and access to birth control without charge
Of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama said "A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, 'Huh. It works. It makes sense.'"
One of the most controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act is this concept of the "individual mandate" or requiring people to have insurance. The individual mandate is really important because it reduces the overall costs of health care for everyone. But don't take my word for it. Heck, (not h-e-ll, we are mormons after all) don't take Barack Obama's word for it!
"If you don't want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn't have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility. Either get the insurance or help pay for your care."
Mitt Romney, defending the 2006 Massachusetts Health Reform in a debate with Rick Santorum, Jacksonville, Florida, 1/26/12
YES! More cowbell. At a time when partisan politics have harshly criticized the 2010 US health care reform, I long to hear Mitt Romney defend the Massachusetts Health Reform! I believe there are far more important reasons for health reform (like, uhh, helping people), but it is soooo refreshing to hear it defended in 'Republican speak'.
I'm not the only one who feels good about this. Of Romney's words, Prof. John McDonough from Harvard School of Public Health said, "Romney has given in this entire presidential campaign last evening what I believe is the most effective and persuasive rationale and defense of the individual mandate."
A recent study reports that Taxachusetts (as my in-laws so lovingly call it) is doing very well after the 2006 health initiative. Access to health care remains high, emergency room visits are down, and there has been some improvements in health outcomes.
"I gotta fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"
President Barack Obama, you gained my (second) vote on March 23, 2010. And I personally thank you for on behalf of all 32 million Americans who will now have access to health care!
Post by Doctor LauraClubFancy, your health care correspondent-
As a proud member of the Religious Left – and a Mormon – I understand that membership in the Church does not require a specific, pre-defined stance on important social issues. That said, I am regularly baffled by the vastly different interpretations that some members of my church arrive at on social issues, when ostensibly working with the same set of religious texts and modern-day revelations that serve to guide my own morals and beliefs.
Many social issues, from capital punishment to war, funding for the social safety net to environmental stewardship, are clearly related to Church doctrines and teachings. Yet the second greatest commandment that we have ever been given, to love our neighbors as ourselves, seems to often be absent from the analysis of social issues by the Religious Right, Church members included.
Add to this list the issue of immigration. The NY Times recently ran a story about how the immigration stance of America’s most well-known Mormon, Mitt Romney, is at odds with the official position of the Church.
The Church recently supported the Utah Compact, a declaration calling for humane treatment of immigrants and condemning deportation policies that separate families. They have also taken the rare step of publically getting involved in the immigration debate, “issu[ing] a series of increasingly explicit statements in favor of allowing some illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work”, and acting as a “…defining factor in passing…immigration legislation” in Utah (which, while far from perfect, was opposed by anti-immigrant groups in the state).
And Romney? Well, lets just say that on this issue he has chosen another tack. He supports the Dream Act, or at least the part that would give citizenship to immigrants who put their lives on the line fighting wars to protect American economic interests, which neither he nor his own sons felt any compulsion to become personally involved with. He slammed Newt Gingrich (and I feel a little nauseous defending the Newt) for suggesting that breaking up families that have been longstanding contributing members of our communities is bad for everyone involved. And he made Rick Perry look reasonable (Perry!) when Perry suggested that undocumented residents who were brought to this country as children should not be punished for their parent’s actions, which Romney pounced on as “amnesty”.
Now I know that I probably shouldn’t read too much into Romney’s stance on immigration, as it is subject to change depending on what crowd he is speaking to, but it makes me wonder how he defines “loving” and “neighbor”. I am not suggesting a free-for-all at the southern border, but I do believe that if Romney, and the rest of the Religious Right, really thought of the brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking foreigners they call “illegals” as their literal brothers and sisters (which our doctrine teaches us they are), they might treat them a little differently than they do now.
Post by Joseph M -
I used to be rather surprised whenever I would see Mormons referenced in the media or popular culture (remember the last line of Raising Arizona?) This is not the case anymore. Here are several links about Romney and his Mormonism. Thanks to all of you that sent us links (my liberal sister for one,) and if you find more, please send them our way!
From Fox News, Jan 12th: Mormons confident US ready to elect first LDS president, survey shows
From CBS News, Jan 14th: Is America Ready for a Mormon President?
From Yahoo! News, Jan 16th: Will America Get Its First Mormon President? Five Facts About Mormons
From Huffington Post, Jan 25th: Why Mitt Romney Can't Be the Mormon JFK
From CNN Belief Blog, Jan 26th: On Call with Conservatives, Romney Speaks to Mormon Beliefs
Let me state the obvious, just because I am Mormon, I don't feel the need to vote for a Mormon. Although I might say that I am voting for Obama because I'm a Mormon. In that same vein, I suppose that every Jew was not lining up behind Joe Lieberman for his 2004 presidential bid just because he is Jewish. (Although I admit that Lieberman is probably more of a Jon Huntsman of Jewish religious practice, so it is not a perfect analogy. But again, if Huntsman was in Romney's position, then my very liberal sister just might throw her support his way because she finds him rather attractive.)
At church a few weeks back, a discussion came up about how one should interact with the numerous homeless people on the streets. The opinions were varied and numerous and stretched across the spectrum of possibilities. We heard everything from a Mr. Wendal-styled approach (this is where I tend to fall) to a response that seemed to be directly pulled from Mosiah 4:17. The point is this: I don't see that Mormons agree on everything, so why would Mormons necessarily all agree on the same candidate for president, regardless of religious affiliation? And I realize that most Mormons know this. So possibly I am writing for those of us that may not understand the diversity of opinion within the LDS church.
But back to my first paragraph: is it possible that a Jew might not vote for Romney because he is Mormon? According to an article posted today on the Huffington Post website, some Florida Jews may take issue with Romney because of the past practice of baptisms for the dead of Jewish Holocaust victims. Or maybe this may be used against him by his rival(s)? Either way, I have to agree with Gary Mokotoff, the Jewish genealogist quoted in the article: "Romney should be judged on his political views and political past and not on the views of the president of his church." True. That is why I am not voting for him.