News worthy: How Mitt Romney's Lying may be influenced by Mormonism

Voters take note, Mitt Romney's lying may have very much to do with some simple practices he picked up as a Mormon missionary, a pastor, and just plain being a Mormon.  In Mormonism, that practice is referred to as "milk before meat", meaning, only sharing limited, introductory doctrines to potential converts to carefully lead them down the path to accepting the more hard line, deep doctrines and covenants received in their temples.  In lay mans terms, "milk before meat" is basically "the end justifies the means".  In other words, deception is justified in the carefully crafted conversion pattern used by both LDS missionaries, and Mormons themselves.

Mormons don't see it as deception from their point of view however.  They see it as "faith building".  Missionaries are trained in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo Utah, as well as other training centers around the globe, to find common beliefs and ground with potential investigators and converts.  From their they begin to introduce limited and mostly benign beliefs about the foundation of Mormonism by Joseph Smith, tenets of faith, baptism and the holy ghost, and of course the Book of Mormon.  Any facts that destroy faith are deemed as "anti-Mormon" and are left out of the missionary discussions, Sunday services, and general church education.  Many such facts used to be openly taught and openly believed in up until the past three to four decades, when the LDS church began a shift to remove those facts, beliefs and teachings in an attempt to boost the growth of the church.  For the most part, the strategy has done wonders, and pulled the wool over the eyes of many unsuspecting converts numbering in the millions.

In 1979, the year I was born into a Mormon family in Utah, there were 11 LDS temples spanning the globe, and less than 5 million total members of record (table of LDS growth).  In other words, it took roughly 150 years for the LDS church to reach just under a dozen temples.  In my short lifetime of 33 years, those numbers have exploded to over 130 temples in production (dedicated and open to card carrying members) with more being built and announced every year, and more than 14 million members on record.  That's more than tripling their total members after implementing the MTC and 6 easy to swallow discussions approach.  Bottom line: deceptive soft selling works.

It is not hard to find evidence of this "milk before meat" practice as Mormons are notorious record keepers.  Couple that with today's internet information age and the truth, and facts, are just a few mouse clicks away.  One of the most notable discourses encouraging the ignoring of facts in favor of building faith comes straight from a long standing, and still living LDS apostle, Elder Boyd K Packer, in his address to LDS historians and educators titled, "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect" (1981).

Some of the shocking excerpts from this top LDS authority include the following:

"Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer."
“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."
"The writer or teacher who has an exaggerated loyalty to the theory that everything must be told is laying a foundation for his own judgment. The Lord made it clear that some things are to be taught selectively and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy or trust.”
"That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith - particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith - places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. Do not spread disease germs!" (Boyd K. Packer, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271. See also my essay for more on the LDS Church practicing "Do as I say, not as I do")

These are blatant examples of coverup and deception being justified from the top down hierarchy of the LDS church.  Mitt Romney was serving as a bishop (congregation/ward of ~300 members)  and later a stake president (2000-3000 members) during the 80's and 90's placing him directly responsible for the general welfare and education programs of all these members, and certainly familiar with the admonishments from Elder Packer above, along with ward missionary programs, seminary and institute classes provided in his region.

"Lying for the Lord" is certainly justifiable by LDS faithful when the ends (conversion, faith building) justifies the means (lies of omission, revision of facts, and embellished history).  We seem to see similar patterns in the Romney campaign, with only vague details being offered for his tax plan, possible wars with Iran and foreign policy, immigration and the economy.  His business practices at Bain Capitol likely only enhanced Mitt's skill at soft selling, pandering to audiences, and flip flopping on the issues to garner support from unsuspecting buyers.  With the Romney approach being revised every few weeks, or every time something disturbing comes out of his mouth from behind closed doors, we can really never tell just what you are going to get if Mitt is elected, just as you don't fully understand what you are getting into when you invite the missionaries through your front door.

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Comment by Nicholas on October 20, 2012 at 1:18am

I have never thought of Mitt Romney's nearly pathological lies being tied to his Mormon upbringing. I think you make an interesting point. However, I think though his problem telling the truth is probably due more toward his lack of character more than Mormonism itself. Maybe I am still trying to defend the church, but I think Romney is a liar because that's who he is; just like there are slimeballs in any other religion. 

Comment by MikeUtah on October 20, 2012 at 10:02am

You may very well be right about that Nicholas.

Comment by Sherrill on October 20, 2012 at 8:06pm

An additional reason for some of Romney's lies could be cognitive dissonance. Mormon's sometimes experience cognitive dissonance and don't recognize their own true beliefs when trying to conform to church teachings. After all, the church teaches people what they should think on nearly every subject.  The church certainly influences Romney thinking.  He probably thinks he will be a good leader because he is superior.  In his mind, he was raised in America (a land favored by God) in a rich family that worked hard (rather than thinking of itself as a victim and not taking responsibility) and in the one and only true church which gives him a direct line to God.  I'm not saying all rich American mormon's have super-duper egos - but it is a recipe for thinking one is superior.  Also, Mormon's often mention the silver lining of war is that the gospel and democracy can then be spread to other countries.  Romney probably wants to force other countries to conform to God's will as he sees it - just like he penned down and cut his fellow's student's hair to make him conform.  Why can't those who believe in Jesus focus on his teaching of peace and turning the other cheek, etc?

Comment by Bert Johnson on October 24, 2012 at 4:31pm

Just think how much Romney being president would advance the Mormon cause. Now I understand why he would do or say anything to become president. 

Comment by pollypinks on October 29, 2012 at 5:50am

It scares the shit out of me having another George Bush in office, knowing Mitt is pandering to the evangelicals.  But then I stop and realize, that in Mass., he was a moderate who worked both sides of the isle.  My only hope is that if he is elected, he will do the only thing he's actually done, which is move to the middle.  But my political feelings won't let me go there and vote for him, even though out republican congress has succeeded in keeping all of Obama's ideas from coming to fruition.  Maybe they'd block a moderate as well, and continue with the economic and social stink that abides in our lives.  Need they a reminder that the greatest  American president of their party enacted a program that literally put millions of people back to work and saved the economy?  Their party, their president, and I think Mitt is keenly aware of all of this.  Mitt's judgementalism about the poor doesn't sit right with biblical scholars, and his lack of empathy for those falling in the cracks of the healthcare system makes me want to puke.  Sure must be nice to be rich and ignore social justice, say, in mosiah?

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