Romney’s Mormon problem

Saddling itself with some pro-slavery views at the time of the Civil War, and also with a “bible” of its own that referred to black people as a special but inferior creation, the Mormon Church did not admit black Americans to the priesthood until 1978, which is late enough—in point of the sincerity of the “revelation” they had to undergo—to cast serious doubt on the sincerity of their change of heart.

More recently, and very weirdly, the Mormons have been caught amassing great archives of the dead, and regularly “praying them in” as adherents of the LDS, so as to retrospectively “baptize” everybody as a convert. (Here the relevant book is Alex Shoumatoff’s The Mountain of Names.) In a hollowed-out mountain in the Mormons’ stronghold state of Utah is a colossal database assembled for this purpose. Now I have no objection if Mormons desire to put their own ancestors down for posthumous salvation. But they also got hold of a list of those put to death by the Nazis’ Final Solution and fairly recently began making these massacred Jews into honorary LDS members as well. Indeed, when the practice was discovered, the church at first resisted efforts to make them stop. Whether this was cultish or sectarian it was certainly extremely tactless: a crass attempt at mass identity theft from the deceased.

The first time I visited Salt Lake City, in 1970, the John Birch Society bookshop was almost a part of the Tabernacle. Ezra Taft Benson, later to be the president of the church, was a member of its board of 12 Apostles—and sought their approval—when he served in Eisenhower’s Cabinet for eight years. He was, if not a member of the Birch Society, a strong endorser. His pamphlet, “Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception” is well-remembered. This was the soil that nurtured Glenn Skousen and the other paranoid elements who in the end incubated Glenn Beck.