Yesterday at work, a co-worker informed me that Mitt Romney had denied modern revelation to the press. I was skeptical, but later found that she was right.
I found it very ironic to hear the report of this incident the very day on which I was preparing my Gospel Doctrine lesson on Revelations 1-3. Revelations 1 talks about the Church being a candlestick for the Christ and the Gospel, and Revelations 2 includes a rebuke for a Church which has wandered from their “first love” (ie, Christ). The implication of the lesson is that we, the members, should stand tall in representing the Gospel, and not allow worldly pursuits to dissuade us from representing Christ and his Gospel at all times, in all places, and in all things. Yes, many outside of our faith question—even scorn—some of the fundamental doctrines of our faith. And one of those doctrines is the concept of modern revelation and priesthood authority. Romney could have honestly and plainly answered the root question by stating “As President, I would answer only to the Constitution and the public of the United States.” Instead, his flippant answer dodged the question entirely and turned his back on one of the crucial principles of our faith.
I have no problem with the idea that a presidential candidate does not believe in the restored priesthood and modern revelation. Such theological points have no part in the political debate (whether or not a candidate considers him/herself answerable to a particular ecclesiastical body in their role as public servant is relevant to the political discussion). What I do have a problem with is a person, such as Romney, who claims to have a firm conviction of my faith, but who chooses not to acknowledge the principles of that faith when it is not politically expedient to do so.
Some will rationalize this lack of political and religious courage. They might claim he was only making a joke, and that he technically left himself an “out” with his “perhaps some others” clause. Such weaseling is hardly a prime example of standing for something. By making a joke and refusing to give a straight, truthful answer to the question, Romney did not hold his light high, but chose to hide it under a bushel. He makes a mockery of the already questionable speech he gave only days ago.
Others might protest that Romney was only doing what he has to do to be a viable candidate for a nation in which Mormons are not, as Ken Jennings recently noted, as mainstreamed as we might have thought. Romney is toeing the line to placate the Evangelical right. How can this justify his public religious waffling? I do not deny that embracing the doctrines of the Gospel may well be a hindrance in the world to achieving certain worldly goals, such as the Presidency. If that is the price of being either hot or cold, that is the price the Lord expects us to pay.