More than one commentator has accused President Barack Obama of being a “kept” man. By that they mean he is beholden to certain money men and must do their bidding. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is considered rich enough to be his own man. Oh, the irony. Romney is arguably the most “kept” man to ever run for president of the United States. Nor will his position change should he win the upcoming election.
Let me explain. Mormonism’s 13th president Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) once gave a talk entitled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” His speech quickly became a classic, restated point by point at successive Latter Day Saints general conferences—as recently as 2010—and reprinted in full in the official Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual: Religion 333. What it says about the church’s authority over its members, including Mitt Romney, is significant and ominous. I will not mention all fourteen points, but will instead select those most important toward understanding how Mitt Romney will be forced to integrate his religion into his presidency.
Point 2: “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.” By that Benson means the Mormon church’s First President is a living link with God and his word trumps anything found in the church’s putative authoritative writings, including the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants. (The First Presidency consists of the President and two counsellors of his choosing, but it is the first president who speaks as the prophet.) To make his point as strong as possible Benson quoted Brigham Young, speaking with the express approval of Joseph Smith: “When compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of the Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writings in the books.”
Point 6: “The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ to give us scripture.” Again, Benson quotes Brigham Young to make his point. “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.” In his day Mohammed may have had such power over the minds of his followers, but none of his successors ever claimed anything like it. Nor has anyone else in modern times. Not even the Pope has arrogated such authority unto himself. Benson also quotes Mormon president Marion G. Romney (1897-1988): “It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets, but it is a greater thing to believe in the living prophets.”
Btw, that last quote tells us something about Mitt Romney’s place in the LDS church. Marion Romney was Mitt’s father’s first cousin. That mean the Republican Party’s presidential candidate is not just a Mormon, he is Mormon royalty and will be expected to behave that way. Incidentally, much has been said about Obama’s willingness to throw his church “under the bus” as soon as its controversial beliefs became public knowledge. Romney has been quieter about it, but apart from a few admissions that he is a loyal Mormon, he has sought to discount its influence on his life. He is as guilty as Obama of running from his religion for political purposes.
Point 9: “The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual.” Like Islam, Mormonism makes no difference between secular and sacred authority, assuming both are held, in the case of Mormonism, in the hands of the First President. Note also that Mormonism goes beyond all branches of Christianity in giving the church authority over every aspect of a member’s life, right down to decisions made in individual homes. Once again, here is Brigham Young, but remember he is being quoted at recent conferences and in modern teaching materials: “I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be.” Yes, and according to Brigham Young, they can be “dictated” to any particular Mormon.
Point 14: “The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.” Lest you think this was mere window dressing, consider the quote from Brigham Young Benson used to back it up: “You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God, and sink yourselves to hell.” Keep in mind that Mitt Romney was raised believing that to reject God’s earthly prophet would be to “sink himself to hell.” Do you think that teaching has had no effect on such an earnest man as he?
I can’t speak for other readers of this material, but I begin to see a logical argument forming that says even as president Mitt Romney will remain “kept” by the Mormon hierarchy, forced to do their bidding. Certainly that was how Benson saw it, for he went on to say, “Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government.” Nor is there anything to suggest that current Mormon president Thomas S. Monson sees it any differently.
Just in case none of this disturbs you, consider this, when Benson first gave this speech in 1980 very few Americans imagined there might ever be a major Mormon influence upon the American government. But according to his introductory remarks that is exactly what he was thinking. To the American military cadets sitting before him he said: “God has preserved you for the eleventh hour—the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It will be your responsibility not only to help ‘bare off’ the kingdom of God triumphantly but to save your own soul, to strive to save those of your own family and to honour the principles of our inspired (U.S.) constitution, which at this time seems to be almost hanging by a thread.”
Don’t ever doubt that the Mormon hierarchy is hungering for the day when it will gain authority over the U.S. government. From their point of view the moment has almost arrived. And when it does arrive, if it arrives, it will come through their “kept” man, Mitt Romney.