I grit my teeth whenever the debate begins over Mitt Romney and the LDS church. I grit those teeth because I have studied the beliefs of our LDS citizens and, like anyone who knows anything about Christianity, recognize that LDS is not a Christian sect.
I understand they believe they are Christians. I also understand how, in today's culture of relativism, this would be considered enough of a reason for the rest of us to believe they are Christians. However, anyone who accepts their word for it has an odd idea of what constitutes Christianity. They also have an odd idea of what constitutes valid grounds for any kind of argument of assertion - my believing that something is something does not make it anything at all, really - I can believe my watch is a pepperoni pizza but I am going to be sorely disappointed once I take a bite.
The beliefs of the LDS church are a weird mixture of Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and paganism - with a dash of early Scientology and outright goofiness thrown in just to make it cool. There is an acknowledgment that the Church is a visible body with a hierarchy. There is an assertion that Rome is too corrupt to be the True Church. Their is a belief in a bunch of gods, that Joseph Smith is the new and true prophet, that men can work really, really hard and become gods themselves (with their own planet, no less) and an underlying love of Blood Atonement that some of the wilder sects of the LDS still practice.
There is also an embracing of a philosophy that, simply stated, translates into the ends always justifies the means - if it is for the glory of the Lord, then go for it - and that is the part that bothers me the most. It is this philosophy that encourages their church leaders to lie, cheat and steal for the glory of God and the advancement of the LDS church and if people who hate the Roman Catholic Church think WE are the hotbed of conspiracies they need to look into the short but colorful history of the LDS.
It is this practice of lying and changing their minds and doctrine to suit their political ambitions that makes me think the LDS will, eventually, embrace the idea of gay marriage and abortion - if doing so means it will get one of their members into the White House. This makes the LDS fundamentally different from the Catholic Church. Oh, a Catholic may get themselves elected by defending a woman's 'right to choose' (to kill their baby) or stating that religion should play no part in whether or not same-sex couples marry - but the Catholic that does that is a Catholic in opposition to Church Teaching, and you will be able to take that to the bank.
What we Catholics believe has not changed for 2000 years. It has developed and it has deepened and our understanding of it has grown stronger but it has not changed. It is easy to spot a 'bad' Catholic - it is not so easy to spot a bad member of a group that okays lying in order to get ahead in the secular world.
The question then becomes, does this debate belong in American politics? Do I reject Mitt Romney as a viable candidate for President because he belongs to an interesting, unique American cult? Do I reject Rick Perry because, in my opinion, he is a heretic? Does that make me as icky as those who refused to vote for Harry Smith because he was a Catholic?
I believe that a person's belief system is important to know, but it has to be evaluated within the content of the whole person. There could be a very good Catholic running for office who is not suited for the position, and an atheist who respects the scientific biology of life beginning at the moment of conception or a Baptist who thinks it is OK for 13 year old girls to have access to artificial birth control without their parents' consent....making religion the sole reason for voting for a man or woman running for office can be dangerous.
So I withhold my judgement at this time - but I do not know who I am going to support as yet though I have given Rick some money because I like him the best so far. What I am going to do is pray and fast, meditate and ask for guidance.
And I am not going to accept Mitt's word for it that he is a Christian.
I know Christians - he ain't one.