After three presidential debates and countless opportunities since the primary season, there has not been substantive examination by the press corps, of Governor Mitt Romney's deep affiliation with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). More pointedly, a drilling of his stance on the Mormon Church's belief system.
Governor Romney is a faithful, longstanding Mormon, who rose to Bishop -- the highest Priesthood office. His worldview is informed and shaped by the church's controversial dogma. That doctrine, and its influence in Romney's life, requires much greater questioning and examination from journalists who report for major news media outlets -- not a mention or a quick read, but a full examination.
The Mormon Church was -- arguably, still is -- a purveyor of discrimination; it viewed black people as unholy, as servants and "cursed by the the mark of Cain."
The New York Times wrote:
It was Smith's successor, Brigham Young, who adopted the policies that now haunt the church. He described black people as cursed with dark skin as punishment for Cain's murder of his brother. "Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him cannot hold the priesthood," he declared in 1852. Young deemed black-white intermarriage so sinful that he suggested that a man could atone for it only by having "his head cut off" and spilling "his blood upon the ground." Other Mormon leaders convinced themselves that the pre-existent spirits of black people had sinned in heaven by supporting Lucifer in his rebellion against God.
Governor Romney's defense: "My father supported the civil rights movement and marched with Dr. King," does not shield him from having to answer for his church's historical and recent belief system. Even though Mormon Church president Dr. Spencer Kimball declared, in 1978 (Romney was in his 30's), that God changed his mind about black people, Mormons still carry on the belief that blacks are not equal. (Please. Keep reading).
Why the press has gone lightweight on Governor Romney escapes me. Religious affiliation mattered to the press corps in 2008. I don't understand why it does not matter in 2012.
In the 2008 campaign season, the Press Corps relentlessly drilled down, pounded on then-candidate Obama's affiliation with the Reverend Jeremiah White of Trinity United Church of Christ. And only weeks ago, a 1997 video surfaced of a younger Barack Obama speaking before Reverend Wright's congregation.
In September, BBN contributor David McGruder wrote a commentary calling out the press corps' double standard in its coverage of Obama and Romney's religious affiliations:
I recall the media firestorm created by then candidate Barack Obama's Pastor Jeremiah Wright, when the media got hold of an inflammatory sermon. Candidate Obama's whole candidacy, which up until that time had been a feel good racial story for America, was in serious jeopardy. Obama was forced to interrupt his campaign to give a speech on race.
Romney was a LDS member long before 1978 when many of the Church's official racial discriminatory practices ended. As a man who wants to be your leader and mine, where was his voice on these issues? As a leader in the Church, and as a wannabe leader of this Country, which does include people of color, did Mitt Romney help to end the discriminatory practices or perpetuate them?
The media must hold Romney to the same standard. Just as the media made Obama "own" Reverend Wright the media should make Romney "own" the Mormon LDS's terrible race record.
This week, on The Daily Beast, writer Andrew Sullivan also called out the press on its double standard in covering and challenging Mitt Romney, on his chosen faith:
If Obama was subjected to news cycle after news cycle of clips of Obama's actual former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, can you imagine the outrage if Obama had actually been a part of a black supremacist church -- that denied whites equal access to the sacraments -- for over a decade in his adult life?
I raise this because it is a fact that Mitt Romney belonged to a white supremacist church for 31 years of his life, went on a mission to convert Christians and Jews and others to this church, which retained white supremacy as a doctrine until 1978 - decades after Brown vs Board of Education, and a decade after the end of the anti-miscegenation laws.
Latinos are not spared. In Utah, home base for the Mormon Church, Latinos, despite being the fastest growing group in the LDS, are alienated because of Romney's immigration policies. TheWorld.org reports:
In Utah, some Latino Mormons are splitting from the state's deep Republican grain and moving away from fellow Mormon Mitt Romney. Immigration policies are driving the wedge, Packard said. "If he's a saint like us," she said, "why doesn't he take a more charitable approach?"
Brigham Young University -- The Legacy of Mormon Racism and Discrimination Lives on Today
The Mormon "system of belief" that discrimination is "God ordained" extends to its prized higher learning institution, Brigham Young University. In March of this year, Randy Bott, a professor of religion at BYU, said in a Washington Post article, "God has always been discriminatory."
According to The Washington Post and via Slate.com:
The Mormon Church's own longstanding priesthood ban was, according to Bott, not racist. Rather, it was a "blessing." Prior to 1978, blacks weren't spiritually mature enough to be ordained with such authority. Bott compared blacks to "a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father's car," and told Horowitz that misusing priesthood authority -- like crashing dad's Oldsmobile -- could have put blacks "in the lowest rungs of hell," reserved for serial killers, child rapists, world-class tyrants, and "people who abuse their priesthood powers."
This creed at BYU doesn't end in the classroom. The school was profiled in a Deadspin.com report about its differential treatment (discrimination) of black athletes when meting out punishment for "honor code" violations.
Clearly, though, something is amiss at BYU, where around 23 percent of the athletes are minorities, according to the university. Only .6 percent of the student body is black (176 out of the 32,947 students enrolled in 2010). Yet a majority of the honor code violations involve black athletes. Do these numbers mean these athletes "sin" more than everyone else? Hardly. Several former BYU football players told us that their white teammates routinely broke the honor code and got away with it, either because they didn't get caught or because their violations were covered up. (To a lesser extent, this holds true for Polynesian athletes, 14 of whom are included in our honor code tally. More on that later.) Mormon athletes can turn to bishops and church leaders from their own homogeneous communities -- people who look like them and might even be related to them -- to "repent" and avoid official punishment. Black athletes, who are typically non-Mormon, rarely have this option.
If the Mormon Church gives the impression it is a pious, hyper-sanctified organization, read what BYU athletes, in the Deadspin report have to say:
Leave aside the impossibility of requiring over 30,000 hormonal young adults to abstain from sex or alcohol in college. The dreary truth about the honor code is that athletes of color -- particularly black athletes -- are rarely afforded the same treatment as their white peers. This double standard exists because of the honor code, not in spite of it. Several black BYU athletes, including one who is still in school, say that little mention was made of the honor code during their recruitment. BYU was like any other college, they were led to believe.
One former athlete recalls going to a party at a football players' house during a recruiting visit -- an "orgy," in his words -- and coming away thinking that "everything was kept on the hush." Only later, after the athletes had arrived on campus, did they realize the implications of the compact they had signed: that they had entered an environment where official morality is unevenly applied, where snitches and spies abound, and where, above all, an interplay of race and religion affects every decision and allows the school, at least publicly, to take a righteous stand that only advances the missionary aims of the church that owns it. In short, BYU creates the conditions for certain athletes to fail and, when they do, expresses only dismay.
In 1998, Brigham Young University named its Public Institute of Management school in honor of Governor George W. Romney, Mitt's father. The school was officially renamed, "The Romney Institute of Public Management." Mitt Romney donated $1 million to the school and other Romney family members donated a total of $500,000, according to Desert News.com.
Mormons and Their "Purification" of Jews
If the subject of race, in relation to blacks and whites, is too hot and uncomfortable for major news media (It is not an issue for Fox, Limbaugh, et al), then the press could back door the race angle, and go with religion, by first asking Governor Romney about the insane ritual of the Mormon Church baptizing dead Jews. Yes, that is true. Read about it here.
Mitt Romney is a man seeking the office of the U.S. Presidency. His religious affiliation with the controversial Mormon Church matters, and a thorough press examination is required. The same level of pounding the press reserved for candidate Barack Obama in 2008.
A timid press corps is of no use to an increasingly multicultural, multi-religious, multi-racial American public. It is time -- long overdue -- for journalists to challenge and drill down on Mitt Romney and his longstanding affiliation with the Mormon Church -- before Nov. 6, 2012. It is not too late.
For the life of me, I do not know why Governor Mitt Romney has been given a pass on this. I imagine conservatives who complain about "liberal media" quietly wonder the same.
Sharon Toomer is the Publisher of BlackandBrownNews.com.