TO A MORMON SEEKING THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES
Dear Governor Romney
As a candidate for the presidency of the United States, the highest office in this land, you should be willing to explain your beliefs and the faith that will ultimately guide your leadership in the destiny of 300+ million Americans.
I proudly proclaim myself to be a Christian and use Biblical teachings as a guide in my daily life. You also seem to be a spiritual person but I would like to determine where our spiritual directions differ.
The truthful claims of Christianity are easy to establish through the divinely inspired words of the Holy Bible. Your church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, currently claims to be a Christian institution. It has not always made that claim. LDS teachings have long proclaimed the Church to be separate and distinct from the Christian faith. And, indeed, there are some striking differences between traditional Christianity and LDS teachings, some of which I would like to examine with you. I am also providing what LDS church fathers have said about the traditional Christian church in a separate article.
The history and teachings of the LDS church are very well documented. Therefore, as an adherent and a member of the LDS church and its beliefs, the basis of the decisions you might make as president of the United States might necessarily be influenced by your religious beliefs.
With that in mind, I have ten questions I respectfully pose to you. Based upon your desire to become the next President of the United States of America, you have announced to the American public that your spiritual beliefs will guide you in making decisions critical to our nation. Therefore, the American voter has a right to investigate that spiritual guidance and compare it with the Biblical teachings which the majority of our citizens espouse.
1. Some folks have questioned your belief in the legitimacy of polygamous marriage. Since 1890, the LDS church has disavowed the practice of polygamy. However, Article 132 of the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants has never been repealed or amended by the church. This "divine revelation" proclaims polygamous marriage to be an "everlasting covenant." The meaning seems quite clear and is not ambiguous. Do you disavow the current teaching of Doctrines and Covenents, Article 132 and the related revelations of LDS Prophets or do you believe that the word "everlasting" no longer means "forever?"
2. Joseph Smith stated that God told him: "...they [other churches] were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt" [Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:19). Joseph Smith further wrote "What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270). Do you believe, as did Joseph Smith, that my Christian beliefs are "corrupt," "wrong," a product of the devil and an abomination in the sight of God?
3. I agree that you and I both believe in a particular Jesus Christ. You have stated as much in your campaign messages. However, I can not reconcile my Jesus Christ with the Mormon Jesus Christ, designated in the name of your church. According to the introduction of the Book of Mormon, the LDS Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, alongside God, indicating that they were separate and distinct personalities. [Book of Mormon, Introduction, Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith]. This belief seriously contradicts with Biblical Christianity and separates the LDS church from all Christian churches. Do you believe that Jesus Christ was a created being and that this teaching is inspired revelation as claimed by the founder of the LDS church?
4. A highly influential leader of the LDS church once stated, that "If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (Bruce McConkie: Mormon Doctrine, p.670). This statement very clearly proclaims that eternal life is not available for those outside the LDS church. Do you subscribe to that claim and do you believe that I, and my fellow Christians, have no chance of entering heaven, outside of LDS membership?
5. Brigham Young, LDS prophet, when questioned about life in the cosmos, stated: "So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized." As a prophet (and according to LDS teachings), "no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences for he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p.190). Do you believe in the infallible nature of this LDS "prophet, seer and revelator" and that his revelations and declarations were inspired by God?
6. George Q. Cannon, President of the LDS church, prophet, seer and revelator , taught that "...If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him [Joseph Smith]; if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him [Joseph Smith]?" [quoted in 1988 edition of Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, p. 142, by President Cannon]. As a member, former bishop and current holder of the priesthood in the LDS church, do you believe that Joseph Smith holds the keys to salvation, according to Biblical teachings?
7. The Doctrines and Covenants, in its introduction, claims to be a "collection of divine revelations..." One revelation states that the LDS church is "... the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually --" (D&C 1:30; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.164-165) [former Sec. of Agriculture and President [Prophet] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints]. Is it your opinion that the LDS church is the ONLY true church and that Joseph Smith's "divine revelation" was an expression of what God had communicated to him?
8. Expanding on that premise, Orson Pratt, LDS Apostle, wrote "Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon' whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. Any person who shall be so corrupt as to receive a holy ordinance of the Gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent" (The Seer, p. 255). As a candidate for the office of president of the United States of America, do you believe that the "Protestants and Catholics" in America represent the "Whore of Babylon?"
9. Joseph Smith claimed The Book of Mormon to be "the most correct book on the whole earth, and man can get closer to God by it over any other book." (Book of Mormon, Introduction; Gospel Principles p. 53; History of the Church, Volume 4, p.461). The foundational teachings of the Book of Mormon claim that a mass migration brought a tribe of Jews to America, ca. 600 B.C. Every attempt has been made to verify this claim through DNA, explorations and historical studies. There is absolutely no proof of the existence of any Jewish peoples populating the Western hemisphere or any discoveries relating to their culture as stated by the "most correct book." Do you believe these claims of the Book of Mormon, "the most correct book on the whole earth," to be 100% true?
10. Mormon teaching claims that: "god" was born as a baby on another world and lives on a planet (or star) nearest the planet "Kolob." He grew up, was baptized by one holding the proper authority, was married in the temple for time and all eternity [probably to more than one wife], had many children, was obedient to all of the laws and ordinances of the gospel and eventually died. Because of his obedience and faithfulness and by the "Law of Eternal Progression" he was "Exalted" and became god, through the same process that faithful LDS members. If you know anything about Mormon doctrine you know that this is the god of Mormonism. His name is Eloheim (or Ahman) and he lives on a planet He is a glorified, resurrected, exalted man having a tangible body of flesh and bones." [Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pg. 250]. Mr. Romney, do you believe these claims and are you able to reconcile them with Biblical Christianity and do you believe that you may one day progress to godhood?
There are many more questions I would like to discuss with you and others within your church. My purpose in writing this letter is to make an honest distinction between Biblical Christianity and the claims of those who profess to be Christians. I have no intention to demean you or your fellow Mormons for being outside the Biblical confines of Christianity. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and others have never made any claim to being Christian. Regardless, my beliefs and those of the United States Constitution fully support the rights of non-Christians to practice their faith. The LDS church should enjoy no less protection than that offered by the Constitution, regardless of their beliefs. But to claim to belong to a Christian belief system, in spite of evidence against that claim, is truly disingenuous.
Should anyone in your campaign, or those in your ward, stake or belief system, choose to respond to the questions I have posed, I would be delighted to enter a civil dialogue with them.
Derick S. Hartshorn