Friday, July 25, 2014
# 46: Mitt Romney
I had my faith crisis in 2012, the year of the most recent Presidential election. When I was going through the dark night of the soul, and considering resigning from the LDS church, there were two people right there by my side who kept me going to church: my wife and Mitt Romney.
OK, OK, Mitt Romney wasn't technically "by my side," during my faith crisis. He was traveling around the country, on the campaign trail. But Mitt Romney was with me in spirit! In those dark times when I was crying a lot, and losing a lot of sleep and losing my religion, Mitt Romney was my role model of decency and righteousness. He was the personification of righteous governance, and truth and justice and Americanism! In my mind, he was the pattern of a good priesthood holder.
And I still feel that way about Mitt Romney, even though I now have a different perspective on the origins of our shared religion.
I shook Mitt Romney's hand once. It was in 2010 when he was in Arizona campaigning for Senator John McCain's reelection. Let me tell you, he's just as impressive in real life as he is on TV. There's just something about him that makes him stand out in a crowd. Maybe it's his height. He's really tall.
And Mitt Romney's good-looking, and he's smart, and talented, and nice, and he's just wonderful.
And he's got a bunch of sons who are all Eagle Scouts and return missionaries and wonderful fathers and husbands and doctors and businessmen and just... just... you know... wonderful! The Romney family is the type of family that makes this nation great! How could you be mad at the Romney family? And how could you be mad at the church that helped form the culture of the Romney family?
Mitt Romney was always an active, faithful Mormon. I mean, he went to BYU! And he was a stake president! So, obviously, the LDS Church had an enormous amount of influence in Mitt's life.
But Mitt Romney is not a blind follower of the Brethren. In fact, there's a cool story in the Romney family that illustrates the Romney family's relationship with the leaders of the Church.
In 1964, an Apostle named Delbert Stapley sent a letter to George Romney, Mitt Romney's father, who was the governor of Michigan at the time. In the letter, Stapley requested that George Romney stop advocating for the rights of African Americans. Here's a copy of the letter.
If you don't feel like reading it yourself, that's cool. I'll just tell you that it's kind of racist, and it basically says that black people got their black skin from a curse because they were less righteous in the pre-mortal realm, and so... they shouldn't be allowed to drink out of the same drinking fountain as the white folks. Well, that's not exactly what the letter says, but it says something close to that.
And what did George Romney do when he got the letter? He ignored it. He ignored the counsel from an Apostle, and he kept on marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And I think that was the right thing to do.
So, this Romney family story illustrates the proper relationship that we ought to have with church leaders. We should respect them, and most of the time we should take their advice, but sometimes, the church leaders are wrong. And when the church leaders are wrong, we shouldn't feel like we should do what they tell us to do anyway.
I remember when I was a kid, in some church class, one of the teachers told us kids that if the Bishop tells us to do something that we think is wrong, we should do it anyway. The Bishop was inspired, the teacher said. The Bishop held sacred priesthood keys and had stewardship over us, the teacher said. So, even if the bishop did turn out to be wrong, and got us to do something wrong, God wouldn't hold us accountable for the sin that we committed, because we were just following what the bishop said.
Well... I'm sure that my Sunday School teacher, or my Primary teacher, or whoever it was, had a really sweet spirit.
But listen, most of the time, following the bishop, just like following the Prophet, is the right thing to do. What do the Bishop and the Prophet tell you to do? Most of the time they tell you to have faith in Christ, to pray, to read the scriptures, to be nice to people, be self-reliant, serve in the nursery, pick vegetables at the church farm, help people move, volunteer at Deseret Industries, and other great stuff like that. So, most of the time, following the bishop and following the Prophet is the right thing to do.
But every now and then, just like George Romney, we should respectfully ignore the counsel of church leaders. Sometimes church leaders are wrong.
Except for Mitt Romney. I can't think of a time when he was wrong.
Ha ha ha. Just kidding. He recently said he thought the minimum wage should be raised, and I disagree with that, and I disagree with Romneycare, the health care plan that he helped develop in Massachusetts when he was the Governor there. But 97% of the time, I think Romney's right. Boy oh boy, how I wish he was the President now.
But I digress. My point is, you should stay LDS because the Church produces great people like Mitt Romney. If you stay LDS, maybe you'll be great like Mitt.