Damon Linker, who spent a couple of years teaching at BYU in one of his past lives, tells us what he thinks we need to know about Mormonism and suggests some questions we should pose to Mitt Romney:
Does he believe, for example, that we are living through the "latter days" of human history, just prior to the second coming of Christ? And does he think that, when the Lord returns, he will rule over the world from the territory of the United States? Does Romney believe that the president of the Mormon Church is a genuine prophet of God? If so, how would he respond to a command from this prophet on matters of public policy? And, if his faith would require him to follow this hypothetical command, would it not be accurate to say that, under a President Romney, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would truly be in charge of the country--with its leadership having final say on matters of right and wrong?
Would he have us pose the same questions to, say, Harry Reid? I don’t know, but I do know that we should learn a good good deal about Mormonism in the next few months, beginning with the speech Romney promised to make after the holidays.
Update: For more, go here, here, and here. One way of stating Linkers issue is this: while Mormons take positions that are currently part of what might be called the mainstream, we cant on the basis of that record predict that theyll continue to do so. It all depends upon future revelations, which cant be extrapolated from their situation-specific predecessors. Faithful Mormons, in other words, are less predictable than others. Even if Romney sounds attractive today (and I doubt that Linker shares that view), who knows what tomorrow holds in store, if hes faithful?
As I said, I expect to learn a lot from this, and will likely turn to Russell Arben Fox, a Mormon political theorist who seems rather to like Linker, for some stimulation. If NLT readers have other interesting and authoritative resources to suggest, please either send me an email or put them in the comments.