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Utah Flags Fly at Half Mast as a Prophet is Lost

Mormons around the world are in mourning today as news spreads that LDS church president Gordon B. Hinckley passed away.

As for me, I have to admit that at first I didn’t like President Hinckley. But over time, I grew to love him as one of my church’s most prolific, energetic, and lively prophets in recent times.

For many people, Hinckley was perhaps the most influential prophet in their lifetime. Now, prophets tend to stick around for awhile (Hinckley for 12 years) so younger folks such as myself haven’t been through that many, but each prophet in my time has certainly left their mark. One of the legacies Hinckley leaves behind is a massive temple-building program that more than doubled the number of operating temples to over 100.

Spencer W. Kimball is the prophet I have the earliest memory of. He is, of course, most well known for having the revelation that allowed all worthy men to hold the priesthood, something that he had wanted since before becoming prophet and something he spent a lot of time on his knees praying for.

Ezra Taft Benson was probably most well known for his ultra-conservative views. Unfortunately, some people decided to leave the church when he became prophet. They didn’t bother sticking around long enough to see his dramatic change. Some people (myself included) contribute his change to the fact that he was directly humbled by “the man upstairs.”

Howard W. Hunter is the shortest serving prophet in modern times. Prophet for just 9 months, his very short term of service left some to wonder why the Lord would let a man be His mouthpiece for so short a period of time. But Hunter is perhaps my favorite. When he spoke, it seemed the world stopped to listen. Maybe it was because his health was so bad, everybody knew he wasn’t going to be around for long. Nonetheless, when he did speak, it was a powerful treat to hear him.

As to Hinckley, I was beginning to think he would live forever. He was born the same year as my grandfather, but managed to outlive him by just over 11 years. Hinckley became prophet at the ripe ol’ age of 84, and many wondered how long he would stick around at that age. If anybody bet on it, I’m sure they lost.

Hinckley was also one of the most qualified persons to take the post. As a 2nd counselor to an increasingly unhealthy Kimball in the 80′s (and due to 1st counselor Romney’s failing health as well) Hinckley essentially lead the church during that time. The same happened when he was 1st counselor to Benson as Benson’s health began to fail.

If things go as planned, Thomas S. Monson will become our next prophet. With a very different personality than Hinckley, it will be interesting to see what direction he takes the church.

But for now, here’s to you Brother Hinckley!

Stu Approves Mitt Romney’s Faith in America Speech

In the past, I’ve criticized Romney for is perceived embarrassment at being Mormon. I later apologized. And now, I am glad to have read the transcript of Romney’s Faith in America speech made earlier today.

And I have just this to say: “Yes, Governor Romney, that is good enough for me.” Because, you know, Mitt reads my blog all the time don’t you know? And, uh, you know… he seeks my advice all the time and stuff. Yeah, I’m that important.

My greatest fear, though I felt sure he wouldn’t dream of doing it, was that he would attempt to distance himself from his Mormon faith in order to better secure the next step in his bid for the presidency, which is to gain the Republican nomination.

Rather he, as I hoped he would, reaffirmed his Mormon faith, and iterated its importance to him by saying:

[Some people] would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs.

He cemented that fact by following up the above statement with:

Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.

Good on you Mr. Romney! Mitt went on to iterate that, as president, he would serve the people of America – all the people, not the Mormon Church leadership:

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion.

[As governor of Massachusetts] I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.

So far, the response from the press and media has been positive. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the next few weeks.

For the full speech, checkout the transcript.

The Absurdity of Mitt Romney’s Mormon “Problem”

So Huckabee has seen a surge in the Iowa polls, nearly catching Romney who had a sizable lead previously. This comes shortly after Huckabee started running ads that basically say, “Hey, look at me… I’m a Christian!”

Okay, I usually do very unserious posts, so let me apologize in advance for this serious (well, as serious as I’ll ever get) post.

Now, before I start my rant, let me just say that I am a Mormon, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from. But I also didn’t support Romney early on. I was a “hard line” backer of John McCain (oh yeah, I’ve been a republican since I was about three years old, much to the chagrin of my moderately liberal parents).

Over time, I began to waiver between Romney and McCain. Now, I used to have a rather strong dislike for Romney. Then I did a really crazy thing. I started looking at his stance on the issues, checking his record as Massachusetts governor, and listening to his (extremely slick) talks. I found out he’s a lot like me on the issues! Good thing I’m not a politician. I’d be torn apart for being a flip-flopper.

Senator Robert Byrd is a former member of the KKK. Then he changed his mind about racism. FLIP FLOPPER! Can’t trust a thing that guy does. He just might change his mind when he realizes he’s wrong about something!

Anyway, moving on…

So Huckabee runs a bunch of ads that promote his Christianity and then experiences a sudden surge in the polls. While Huckabee is proud of the fact that he is stealing away votes from more qualified candidates that have a far better chance of winning than him, I have to wonder what this says about the people of Iowa.

Far be it from me to judge Iowans, but is Huckabee’s Christianity that big of a qualifier for the office of president? Huckabee seems to think so. He went so far as to say that his poll surge is the result of “Divine providence.”

Huckabee's Divine providence

Okay, I think I’m not wanting a president who says stuff like that. While Christian (and Mormon — yep, we actually believe a few “normal” things too!) theology teaches that all things are of God… I mean, do we want a president that openly says stuff like that? If he royally screws up and launches a missile at a seceding California, who is seceding because they’ve had just about enough of the ultra right-wing religious BS (my view as well — look, I consider myself a religious guy, but leave religion for church and the home… it does not belong in politics! (or science for that matter… yeah, I said it)), and causes the state to fall into the ocean, is he just gonna blame it on Satan or the super-evil people of California who brought upon the wrath of God? I mean, it’s Divine providence that he became president. Why not blame somebody else for your screw ups too?Just look at all the finger pointing and “That dude’s crazy!” talk that happens every time bin Laden or some psychotic Muslim cleric rants about how much Allah hates America. By the way, Muslims are talking about the same god Christians (and Mormons… yeah, contrary to popular belief, we pray to the god of the Bible) pray to, the God of Abraham, when they say “Allah.”

One Iowa woman was quoted as saying she questioned whether God even heard Romney’s prayers and whether we wanted a president whose prayers “don’t get through.” Seriously… people of Iowa, I’m embarrassed on your behalf!

Romney casting his Mormon spellsI mean, HOLY LIVING CRAP, ROMNEY IS A CRAZY MORMON!!! Yeah, so? What’s the problem? Are you afraid he’s gonna cast some evil spell on you? Are you afraid he’s gonna turn America into a Mormonocracy? Are you afraid his Mormon horns are gonna sprout out of his head and impale some innocent world leader, thus causing WWIII? What?

I’ve read some of the anti-Mormon comments from anti-Romney-ites. The ignorance regarding my faith is astonishing… absolutely astonishing. Worse than the ignorance of my faith is that many people are against Romney based SOLELY on their ignorant beliefs about Mormonism.

Look, if you know nothing about my faith and don’t care to know, fine. I really don’t care. Yeah, the scriptures say I should spread the gospel, but I’m just too damn lazy. Interested in knowing? I’ll tell you. Otherwise, forget about it. Sorry.

But, when you know nothing about my faith, don’t go ranting and raving in a pile of ignorance that’s over your head about how Mormons do this and Mormons believe that. You really want to know what Mormons believe? Ask a Mormon. And not just any Mormon. Ask a Mormon that knows what the heck he is talking about (believe it or not, there is a large amount of ignorance about Mormon doctrines and teachings within our own church!)

It will be interesting to see if Romney’s upcoming speech will do any good.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah.

Look people, like the Evangelicals for Mitt website states, “The 2008 election is for president, not pastor.” If you’re voting for Huckabee based on an alignment of political issues, then great. But if you honestly think that he’s going to do a better job as president just because his theological beliefs are more similar to yours, then please, turn in your voter registration card now.

I also wonder if Huckabee, the super-duper Christian, would ever do something like this without a horde of camera crews present. Maybe he would. Who am I to say?

Mitt, Stop Being Embarrassed That You’re Mormon!

Mitt Romney for PresidentOkay, I’m not much into politics. I have no idea what’s being said about Mitt Romney, nor do I know much about what Mitt has been saying. However, every once in a while I read something about Mitt and his Mormonism.

Usually it has to do with some crazy stat that says recent polls show that only three people in the world would vote for a Mormon for President (and, well, you know how I feel about polls).

But then sometimes I read something on MSNBC or some other news site about our pal Mitt trying to distance himself from his faith, or seeming very hesitant about answering some questions.

polls are stupid

This Newsweek story states that Romney was very hesitant to answer the question about doing baptisms for the dead, and almost sounding like he was trying to leave the impression that he doesn’t do it anymore.

Dude, Mitt, stop being embarrassed about being a Mormon! Yeah, so the world thinks us Mormons are a bunch of crazy psychos. In Jesus’ time, a whole lot of people thought that Jesus was a crazy psycho. But that didn’t make him ashamed of who he was, did it?

Here’s a tip for you Mr. Romney. Next time somebody says, “So, you do baptisms for the dead?” You say, “Hell yeah I do them! It’s part of my freaking faith! I’m a faithful Mormon. Read Mormons for Dummies and get a grip on the fact that I’m a Mormon, because I am a Mormon and I’m freakin’ proud to be a member of God’s one true church!”

And when they say, “Uhh… okay. So why do you do baptisms for the dead. That’s kind of weird dude.”

You say, “Because I believe God asked me to do it. If God asked you to do something, wouldn’t you freakin’ do it? I do it even though the world thinks I’m a weirdo because of it. And just like Job never turned his back on God, neither will I, even if it costs me the freakin’ Presidency.”

And yeah, say “freakin’” as often as you can. That freakin’ stand up comic and pretend Mormon Johnny B makes fun of Mormons for saying “freak” so much in his “Hey Mormons are freaks” bit, so we gotta help our poor misguided brother out by giving him more material.

I know you wouldn’t still be a Mormon if what happened to me when I was 23 didn’t also happen to you.

Look, I understand that you’re tired about people asking you about your faith when you’d rather be talking about how you’re going to run the country and make it a better place for us all. And I have a great deal of respect for you for respecting others that are “not the same” as us (my mother’s entire family, including herself, are Catholic and I was one of probably three Utah Republicans that that voted AGAINST the amendment to the Utah Constitution banning gay marriage).

However, I simply cannot give you my vote unless you deal with the fact that you’re a prominent Mormon in the public eye, and can settle the “Mormon problem” by seeing that it’s not a problem at all and that there is nothing to be ashamed about being a member of God’s church.

So… the poll that asks if your Mormonism will affect my vote? It sure will. If you keep acting like you’re ashamed of being a Mormon, you certainly won’t get mine. Stand up and be proud. You’re one of God’s children, as are we all, regardless of faith. But considering that thing that happened to you that happened to me when I was 23, you will be held to a different standard. Please remember that.

10/3/2007 Edit: I was wrong, I take it all back. I explain why here.