ANALYSIS: Romney Avoids Mormonism and Race

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  • Mitt Romney refuses to talk about his Mormon faith on the campaign trail and it’s probably a sound political strategy since his religion teaches that black people are cursed by God.

    Even though the overwhelming majority of African-American voters will support President Barack Obama in the general election over Romney, black Republicans have been particularly silent about how Mormons view black folks.

    For decades, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has taught that black people are “inferior” and “cursed” by God because of something sinister that blacks did before they were born.

    “And [God] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity,” according to a bizarre passage from the Book of Mormon. “For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.”

    Shades of the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials of 1692.

    So where are the tough questions for Romney from black Republicans? Did they fold up their tents and go into hiding, hoping this religious controversy blows over? They should hold Romney’s feet to the fire instead of giving him a free pass. Many blacks view the Mormon church as racist and the African-Americans who make up only one percent of the six million Mormans in the United States are hard-pressed to convince critics otherwise.

    “Right now is a great opportunity for the church to say, ‘Let’s clear the air once and for all,’” Darron Smith, co-editor of the book “Black and Mormon,” told USA Today. “But they won’t do it. And that’s going to put reasonable doubt in people’s minds about Romney and the Church.”

    Last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) insisted that Obama’s campaign team will use Romney’s Mormon faith against him during the presidential campaign.

    “You watch, they’re going to throw the Mormon church at him like you can’t believe,” Hatch, who also practices the Mormon religion, told a group of Republicans.

    Romney, the GOP frontrunner for president, has not spoken substantively about his religion and does not usually take questions about his Mormon faith. When he was recently asked by a GOP delegate about whether he agreed that black people were cursed by God, Romney, who seemed very agitated, answered “no” and quickly walked away.

    For Hatch, however, that was enough.

    “You can find some pretty outlandish statements by some of our early leaders that we’ve all had to live with from time to time, but he handles it very well and I think [Romney] is going to do a good job,” Hatch told GOP delegates in Salt Lake City.

    Doing a good job? Romney hasn’t talked in depth about the warped notion that black people are cursed and he’s declined to take a position on the longstanding ban of black men from the Mormon priesthood. Until 1978, priest positions were only available to white men. The church, which also barred black men and women from temple ceremonies, has never apologized for its discriminatory principles or explained its backward reasoning.

    Here’s another reason Romney refuses to speak publicly about his faith: He already has a huge problem attracting women to his campaign, and his religion –created in 1830 and encourages polygamy – will certainly not ingratiate him with women voters. Romney’s faith will clearly become an issue in the campaign and will probably cause him some political headaches before it’s over.

    The billionaire White House hopeful continues to play his cards close to the vest. Romney, a successful businessman is shrouded, to some extent, in secrecy. He refuses to divulge all of his investments, he hides his financial holdings, and he always keeps the press at a distance.

    For a seemingly devoted public servant, Romney sure insists on his privacy. And when it comes to his questionable Mormon doctrine, he remains loyal –even to a fault.

    “I’m very proud of my faith, and it’s the faith of my fathers,” Romney said in a 2007 television interview. “And I’m not going to distance myself from my faith in any way.”

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