Christians, mormonism and the vote
By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
“So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding.”
The elephant in the room in this Presidential election is that neither political party wants to discuss Mitt Romney’s religion and whether or not a Christian can vote for someone who is a Mormon.
Before anyone can even begin such a discussion, it is necessary to understand what Mormonism is. The following does not pretend to be anything other than a cursory examination of the Mormon religion and it excludes the reported secret temple rituals but it will, at the least, give a foundation for an intelligent conversation about the listed topic.
The Mormon religion began in 1820 when Joseph Smith, Jr. experienced visions of two celestial beings that appeared to him. He said they told him that all existing churches were wrong, all the beliefs of these existing churches were an abomination, and all of the teachers of these churches were corrupt.
In 1823 the angel Moroni was said to have visited Smith and gave him the location of gold plates which contained “the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” These plates, condensed by the angel Moroni and his father Mormon, were written in “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics.” Along with the plates, Smith is supposed to have found a pair of magical eyeglasses he used to translate the writing from Egyptian into English. The result of his work was the new revelation called the Book of Mormon.
In terms of the church’s organization, it began when John the Baptist is supposed to have ordained Joseph Smith and a man by the name of Oliver Cowdery, who helped Smith with transcription of the Book of Mormon from the gold plates. Prior to the appearance of John the Baptist, Smith said the Apostles Peter, James and John conferred on him and Cowdery the priesthood of Melchizedek. That conferring, Smith said, gave them the authority to act on behalf of Jesus in this last dispensation. On April 6, 1830, the Mormon Church was officially birthed.
According to Smith, the word Mormon means, literally, “more good.” The “Mor” in the word is a contraction from the word more and the “mon” is supposed to be from what Smith believed was the Egyptian word for “good.”
The Mormon Church has three volumes of Scripture in addition to the Bible. The most important of the three is the Book of Mormon. It is reportedly “the record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas,” and contains the “fullness of the everlasting gospel.” Joseph Smith taught “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens,” and “as a man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.”
The second book is Doctrines and Covenants, which Mormons believe to be an assemblage of divine revelations given to their church. It was from this book that the doctrine of polygamy evolved. The third book of extra Biblical revelations is the Mormon canon or standard entitled the Pearl of Great Price.
The reasoning in the Pearl of Great Price gave the foundation for the Mormon belief that Black people had no souls and as a result could not be admitted into the Mormon priesthood. This ban was officially lifted in 1978. Although truth be told, Joseph Smith treated Black people far more humanely than Brigham Young did and there seems to have always been Blacks in the Mormon Church. That view on Black humanity changed under Brigham Young. It was Brigham Young who said “Negroes” “have flat nose and Black skin” because of a curse placed on them by God. Part 2 next week.
Sources: The Book of Mormon, Mormon Book of Doctrines and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price and Nobody Knows My History by Fawn M. Bridge. (A biography of Brigham Young).
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