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  1. Pingback: Mormon Stories Podcast » Me on Good Morning America Today

  2. One thing I forgot to mention is that a “bad” President Romney would not just be a PR problem for the church, but might also cause tension within. Just imagine for a moment if Bush was Mormon: think of the conflict that might cause, say, Mormons in Venezuela. Or if Clinton was Mormon: how would Serbian Mormons feel? Unlike Bush’s Methodism, it will be very difficult for people to separate Mormonism from Romney, both inside and out of the church.

  3. Unfortunately, we don’t hear the actual question Stephanopoulos asked regarding the second coming, so that makes it difficult to evaluate the response. However, I don’t know that Romney’s response is necessarily in conflict with Mormon teachings.

    I’ve done some reading on the subject (even [literally] dusting off my copy of Mormon Doctrine) and I haven’t really found any indication that the second coming per se will be in Missouri. Malachi 3:1 and Doctrine and Covenants 36:8 state that the Lord will “suddenly come to his temple.” McConkie (pp. 694-4; 696) regards this to be at least partially fulfilled by Christ’s appearance in the Kirtland Temple, but also looks to a future fulfillment in the Temple in Jackson County. This appears to be a private appearance, and BRM specifically states that the appearance in the temple “does not have reference to his appearance at the great and dreadful day, for that coming will be when he sets his foot upon the Mount of Olives.”

    There are also references to Christ appearing at the Grand Council at Adam-Ondi-Ahman (McConkie 694; Teachings 157) and receiving the keys from Adam, but this also appears to be a private appearance occurring *prior* to the second coming.

    McConkie (pp. 696-7) quotes Zechariah 14:3-4 as a reference for the second coming on the Mount of Olives, and indicates that he will *subsequently* appear “upon the mighty ocean, even the great deep, and upon the islands of the sea and upon the land of Zion. And he shall utter his voice out of Zion and shall speak from Jerusalem, and his voice shall be heard among all people.” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:20-21)

    The tenth Article of Faith doesn’t refer to the second coming, but to the establishment of the New Jerusalem.

    What I get from all that is that the second coming as such will be on the Mount of Olives, but that there will be prior private appearances in Jackson County and elsewhere. After the second coming, he is expected to appear in various places throughout the world (including Missouri), and to reign during the millennium from both the Old and New Jerusalems.

    In short, I don’t think Romney is incorrect in locating the second coming strictly on the Mount of Olives, although clearly it is taught that there will be appearances both before and after the second coming in Missouri and elsewhere.

    Have I missed any references to the second coming being in Missouri?

  4. Here’s the actual exchange:

    Stephanopoulos: I just have one more question about this and it has to do with the Muslim world.

    In your faith, if I understand it correctly, it teaches that Jesus will return probably to the United States and reign on earth for 1,000 years.

    And I wonder how that would be viewed in the Muslim world. Have you thought about how the Muslim world will react to that and whether it would make it more difficult, if you were president, to build alliances with the Muslim world?

    Mitt Romney: Well, I’m not a spokesman for my church. I’m not running for pastor in chief. I’m running for commander in chief.

    So the best place to go for my church’s doctrines would be my church.

    Stephanopoulos: But I’m talking about how they will take it, how they will perceive it.

    Mitt Romney: I understand, but that doesn’t happen to be a doctrine of my church.

    Our belief is just as it says in the Bible, that the messiah will come to Jerusalem, stand on the Mount of Olives and that the Mount of Olives will be the place for the great gathering and so forth.

    So, to the statement given (“Jesus will return probably to the United States and reign on earth for 1,000 years”), Romney says: “that doesn’t happen to be a doctrine of my church.”

    Parse as you will…

  5. A lively go at it here.

    I appreciated Tom’s insight into Mitt Romney’s template for answering tough Mormons questions. I tend to agree with John’s initial reaction that Mormon politicians shouldn’t lie along with the observation later in the program that sometimes, even in the Church, it may actually be the right solution.

    I was intrigued by the concern that the quagmire in Iraq would be a foul albatross to hang around a Mormon president’s neck. My gut guess, however, is there may never be a time when we’ll have a quagmire-free world.

    Mosiah Hancock recorded Joseph Smith prophecying that America would spend her strength and means in foreign wars. We do seem to be following the path of the imperial European powers who one-by-one bankrupted themselves in the 15th and 16th centuries by endless foreign wars. I agree it would be a sad thing for a Mormon presiden to be sucked into the prolonged bitterness and grief that is Iraq.

    The rest of Joseph Smith’s propehcy usually gets the attention—that America will weaken to the point that foreign powers will feel embolded to invade us and the men of the Church will rise to save the Constitution. It seems significant to me that America’s adventures in armed agression in the name of freedom and democracy since WWII all seem to reveal a pattern heading towards that final desperate day of defence.

    The promise of Mormon Stories goes to Europe is a smashing one. So many of our ancestors came from there. Following the gospel back to that source seems like a great theme.

  6. Based on the transcript Ronan posted, it appears that Diane Sawyer did not accurately convey the nuances of Stephanopolous’ question. Furthermore, a bunch of discussion about Muslims intervened between Stephanoplous’ question and Romney’s response. By the time Romney got around to answering the question, he may himself have forgotten the nuances of the question he was answering.

  7. My best guess is that Romney answered the question that he thought he heard George S. ask. It is also the question many viewers thought he had asked, I would guess, because such a question posed in that situation will not be processed with much nuance. The question that the listener probably heard was “In your faith, if I understand it correctly, it teaches that Jesus will return probably to the United States [rather than the Mount of Olives as Christians believe] and reign on earth for 1,000 years.” The subtext is important here. The only reason Romney’s religion is of any interest is because he is a Latter-day Saint and creedal Christians do not consider Mormons Christian. Thus, this question only makes sense in contrast to creedal Christian beliefs of the Second Coming, even though this LDS belief of Christ’s role in America coincides with and does not contradict the creedal Christian view of the Second Coming.

    As Tom pointed out in his opinion on his blog and in the discussion, on its face when read in print, George S.’s question is just about Jesus in America during the Millenium and not about what Latter-day Saints believe about Jesus at the Second Coming on the Mount of Olives. But the question is not isolated; rather it comes packaged in the whole subtext that makes questions about the doctrines of his faith something of interest in the first place, and that is the contrast that is believed to exist between LDS doctrines and creedal Christian beliefs.

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  9. I have two points:

    1. I think there is definitely a huge potential for impact on the church in the US if Romney is preident. How many times have we heard recounted, or perhaps even first hand, stories to the effect that non-mormons who are inclined to be curious and open to the LDS church are watching closely the happiness/integrity/morality of mormons with which they associate? That is the basis of tons of conversion stories, and I personally have heard first hand opinions from those who are turned off when the examples of mormons isn’t do good. When I converted at age 17 my mother, who had been very against my association with Jehovah’s Witness friends from school, was actually happy for me. This attitude was a result of having had several positive experiences with LDS people in her life. I think the missionary program calls that “being prepared for the harvest”.

    What happens if “President Romney, the mormon” were involved in a scandal? Even allegedly? I think the impact on missionary response would be huge. The fact is we attract a lot of missionary prospects for what could be deemed superficial motives and excuse it because they are doing something eternally important. However, superficial motives can work in the exact opposite way when the superficial factor is that the mormon US President is perceived in a negative light. You can work on the idea that he is an individual and doesn’t represent the church, but you will fighting an uphill battle.

    2. On Romney’s answering of doctrinal questions at all, I was really surprised that he is attempting. Of course, what we weren’t privvy to was the transcript which included what I thought is the absolute perfect response, which he attempted:
    “Well, I’m not a spokesman for my church. I’m not running for pastor in chief. I’m running for commander in chief.

    So the best place to go for my church’s doctrines would be my church.”

    Apparently George S. wouldn’t accept that and Romney buckled. But I think *that* is his best response on all of it going forward. Perhaps you’ll be labeled evasive, but I think thats better than the alternative. There are three big dangers I see in continuing to talk religion. First, you can be honest and freak out the evangelicals. Second, you can “fudge” and offend your own people (maybe even lose the mormon vote?). The third danger relates to the major obstacle for a mormon candidate that is unique, and how he can be compared to Kennedy, that he’s a member of an organized hierarchical church with active revelation (i.e. a living prophet). The big worry about Romney that is common to evangelicals, secular Republicans, and even the rest of the country… can he really separate church and state and would he disobey the LDS prophet in order to act as a representative of what the country decides in majority? I think continuing to keep religion in the forefront of his campaign only makes that question louder and resonant. If he wants to prove you can separate the unique Mormon religion and the Presidency, he needs to start doing it now in his campaign and in interviews.

    I think its much better to be a question-dodger than any of those things.

  10. I’m going to take a different slant from the comments so far, which have been all intelligent and substantive and stuff. I just want to say that the podcast was excellent, fascinating, and fun, and that’s coming from someone who’s a print media person, and would far rather read than listen. Also it’s odd that all the while I’ve been reading Ronan’s bloggernacle posts and commentary, I never imagined he could possibly have such a dreamy accent. I think I’m going to find myself agreeing with him more in the future because of that awesome accent. That worries me O_O. Can that be right?

    Simplicity means that without diplomacy, one should be so straightforward that one can disclose the real truth even to an enemy. I confess I hope the first Mormon president will embody this quality, which I think would bring a powerful grace to politics and to the world. I hope he or she will be a shining beacon of integrity and honor. And I don’t think that’s too much to hope. A thing has to be imagined before it can come true.

  11. Just one point of info to consider: Diane Sawyer on the GMA piece seemed to characterize the Stephanopoulos statement as being about the location of the Second Coming: “I remember your asking him about the Second Coming being in America.”

    Considering her interpretation it can hardly be said to be unreasonable to assume that Romney understood the statement in approximately the same way as she did.

    I think Stephanopoulos clearly implied that it is LDS doctrine that Christ will return to earth in America and then rule the whole earth from America. Romney’s response was correct in that light.

  12. I loved listening to you guys discuss stuff. John Fowles, I was interested in your voice. I’ve heard John’s and Ronan’s already.

    You guys got my hopes up about Mitt Romney. I want him to be great and I enjoyed listening to your discussions about him.

    Harry Reid lies. Mormons in Nevada aren’t all that crazy about him because he’s a politician first and foremost.

    John D. I really don’t think you sounded as stupid as you think you did, just on
    what I heard. I would hate to hear myself anytime. I wonder if news people ever listen to themselves and think “I am so stupid.” I bet they do.

  13. Pingback: Mormon Mentality - Thoughts and Asides by Peculiar People » Romney Fights for His Faith

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