I found myself discussing this situation with several colleagues and we agreed that Romney doesn’t lie. Let me repeat: Mitt Romney doesn’t lie. He is telling the truth as he sees it — and truth it is, facts notwithstanding. This is not simply a case of Hamlet arguing about point of view, saying, “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” This is about a conflict between evidence and faith. There is a long tradition in the Mormon belief system where evidence takes second place to faith. Examples abound, as when two Mormon Elders who were questioned about the inconsistency in passages from the Book of Mormon said “We know the Book of Mormon is true and that it contains the Word of God even in the face of evidence that appears contradictory,” according to The Mormon Missionaries by former Mormon Janice Hutchison. Thus there are no lies, only faith-based certainty that translates as truth for which no apology is needed, since what was said was not a lie.

Children learn to lie at different times in their development, but almost always by the age of 10. Their lies help establish them as separate from their parents, especially if the parents believe them. And one doesn’t have to be a Mormon to lie — just look at John Edwards or former Nevada Senator John Ensign. But in the Mormon Church, there was a decision to accept authority as true — whether or not evidence supported it. Hence Joseph Smith, the founder of the faith in 1820, claimed he was illiterate and received the “Book” directly from God. But he could read, and read very well.