Running for president is hard enough, but in between the usual questions about the economy, the quagmire in Iraq and why your opponent isn't as worthy as you are, Mitt "A Mormon for President" Romney gets comments like the one ABC's George Stephanopoulos threw at him the other day:
"In your faith, if I understand it correctly, it teaches that Jesus will return probably to the United States and reign on earth for 1,000 years."
With verbal acuity equivalent to Lebron James doing his best to avoid a double-team, Romney quickly responded: "That doesn't happen to be a doctrine of my church. Our belief is just as it says in the Bible, that the messiah will come to Jerusalem, stand on the Mount of Olives and that the Mount of Olives will be the place for the great gathering and so forth. It's the same as the other Christian traditions."
The answer succeeded in doing two things at once: (1) It salvaged several million evangelical Christian votes from going down the drain then and there, and (2) It caused more than a few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the kind who did not fall asleep in seminary class to scratch their heads as if to say, "What the flip?"
This is because the 10th Article of Faith, recognized as scripture by the LDS Church, states specifically " ... that Zion (the new Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth ... "
On close inspection, it appears Romney was just employing a good bit of double speak and what could be more presidential? when he answered that LDS Second Coming doctrine corresponds with other Christian tradition.
Because it is LDS doctrine that not only will the Savior appear and build the new Jerusalem in Jackson County, Mo., he will also return and appear in old Jerusalem, as prophesied in the Bible.
"We believe in multiple appearances of the savior," a church official told me. "And of course Brother Romney is playing a little bit of a political game with his answer. He doesn't want to get into any kind of theological trouble with the evangelicals they're always harping that 'you're not Christian,' so he's being temperate. Christ will come to Jerusalem and the new Jerusalem. Beyond that the doctrine gets kind of involved. It isn't something you can say in three sentences."
So the evangelicals are right, the Mormons are right, and can't we all just get along?
Something else that irked a few fellow Mormons was Romney's recent personal editorial about polygamy during a "60 Minutes" appearance.
"I can't imagine anything more awful," said Romney, despite the fact his own ancestry involves plural wives.
Historian Audrey M. Godfrey said, "If I were one of his relatives, I would be upset with him."
Yeah, but at least his wife isn't.
You can't please all the people all the time. As Mitt Romney's incredibly entertaining campaign is revealing, sooner or later, survival becomes a simple case of deciding which votes are the most important.
Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and faxes to 801-237-2527.
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