Now that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered his much-anticipated speech on religion, new questions and accusations are surfacing about his Mormon beliefs.
Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that another Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, asks in an article that will appear in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"
And on last week's "The McLaughlin Group," a nationally syndicated talk show broadcast locally on KUED Channel 7, panelist Lawrence O'Donnell called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "racist" and "ridiculous" and said the faith is "based on the work of a lying, fraudulent, criminal named Joseph Smith ... ."
The comments follow Romney's speech on "Faith in America" last Thursday at the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum in College Station, Texas. The speech was widely seen as Romney's response to critics of Mormonism, although he offered few details about his faith.
Romney's press secretary, Kevin Madden, said late Tuesday, "Gov. Romney will not debate candidates on their faith or question their faith. For those who want to know how Gov. Romney's faith informs his values, they can look at how he lives his life and how he has raised his family."
Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister and a former Arkansas governor, raised the question about Jesus and the devil after saying that he believes Mormonism is a religion but one about which he doesn't know much.
The LDS Church responded to Huckabee's question. "We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the Father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are His spirit children," the church's statement reads.
It continued, "Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship Him as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for."
O'Donnell, who is also a senior political analyst on MSNBC, criticized Mormons during a discussion of Romney's speech. He started off by calling it "the worst political speech of my lifetime" because Romney talked about the faith of his fathers.
"He believes, if he believes the faith of his fathers, that black people are black because in heaven they turned away from God, in this demented, Scientology-like notion of what was going on in heaven before the creation of the earth," O'Donnell said.
The former Democratic adviser said that in 1978, Mormonism "was an officially racist faith, and for political convenience in 1978 it switched," an apparent reference to the LDS revelation that allowed blacks to hold the priesthood.
O'Donnell, who pointed out he appears on "Big Love," the HBO series about polygamy in modern-day Utah, specifically criticized LDS founder Smith as "a racist who was pro-slavery," referring to him as "the inventor of this ridiculous religion."Romney, O'Donnell said, "was given an opportunity to distance himself from the evils of his religion and he didn't." O'Donnell's credits also include producing NBC's "The West Wing," which featured a Democratic president.
Contributing: Associated Press E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org