Mitt Romney's Predicament With 'The Book of Mormon'

Most Americans, including many evangelical Christians, will not hold Mitt Romney's religion against him when they cast their vote for President next year. Americans as a whole want a competent individual in the White House whether that person believes in historic Christianity or not. For various reasons, Mitt Romney's religious views have taken a rather prominent stage recently in a similar way to what happened to Barack Obama four years ago.

A big difference between Romney and Obama is that Romney belongs to a religious organization with clearly defined doctrines and statements of faith. In contrast, Obama's faith was rather hard to nail down because of his loose connections with a church or denomination.

One of the bigger challenges for Mitt Romney in the area of religion has to do with "The Book of Mormon." No, I don't mean the musical by that name which premiered on Broadway earlier this year. I am talking about the book which was written some 180 years before the musical.

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It is very insightful to compare the Bible to "The Book of Mormon." The Bible was written over a period of some 1500 years by over 40 authors from all walks of life. Despite these differences in occupation and the length of time it took to write it, the Bible is incredibly unified and made up of 66 books which all fit together beautifully into the Old Testament and New Testament.

The "Book of Mormon," on the other hand, was published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Interestingly, this took place some 40 years before the Jehovah's Witnesses organization was started by Charles Taze Russell. Both the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses claimed to have new revelation that contradicted the major tenants of the Bible and the Christian faith. Both organizations developed their own sacred texts which they feel give accurate interpretations of the Bible. Mormon doctrine and Jehovah's Witness doctrine are as different from one another as they are from Christianity. This poses a real predicament for Mitt Romney.

Up until now, many Americans have been content to accept Mormonism as a religion made up of friendly people. Mormons as a whole are patriotic and are interested in having strong families and a wholesome society. Most Americans have not looked too deeply into "The Book of Mormon." It would be to Mitt Romney's advantage if he can keep people from comparing that book to the Bible.

Romney will want to portray anyone who questions Mormon doctrine as being intolerant. That will keep the issue on the level of emotion rather than doctrine. If the discussion gets serious in the area of doctrine, even the most basic review of "The Book of Mormon" will reveal just how different it is from the Bible and how different Mormonism is from Christianity. Political candidates can hide their views at times, but it is very hard for religious doctrine to hide from anyone. The minute a new religious group gets formed, people tend to begin laying out the basic tenets of their faith.

The Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses have reaped many benefits over the year by recruiting nominal church attenders who don't know the Bible very well. The friendliness of these groups is very appealing and many Americans are drawn in by emotion rather than doctrine. The doctrines in "The Book of Mormon" clearly contradict the Christian faith. Don't take my word for it. I encourage you to do the research yourself. There is plenty of it available today online and elsewhere.

Mitt Romney hopes that people won't become too interested in digging into the history of Joseph Smith or "The Book of Mormon." When that happens, it becomes painfully obvious that this book originated from a man who had no interest in subscribing to what Christians had believed for the previous 1800 years. Like Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Smith believed that his interpretations deserved to be the new way for people to understand God.

If Mitt Romney can detour people from investigating Joseph Smith and "The Book of Mormon," he can hope to slide by in the same way that Obama eventually made it past the religious hurdle in his own campaign. In Romney's case however, the documentation is very damning. That is why he won't want this book from 1830 to come under too much scrutiny. I highly doubt that he will ever make a public statement revealing his allegiance to "The Book of Mormon."

The cat of Mormon doctrine is slowly coming out of the bag. Can Mitt Romney carefully put it back inside and keep it under wraps as he works hard to offer economic solutions for America's financial challenges? That will continue to be his predicament all the way up to the presidential election of 2012.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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