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Romney's past as an LDS Bishop

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Invisible Fan, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    The Times ran a similar article during primary season.

    Mitt Romney Was A Mormon Bishop Before He Became A Politician

    By Peggy Fletcher Stack
    Salt Lake Tribune

    (RNS) The Mitt Romney whom many Americans see today is often depicted as wealthy, wooden and out of touch with the working class. To some, he seems gaffe prone, detached, even distant.

    But that's not the man Boston Mormons knew in the late 1980s and early '90s, when many saw him as an eloquent speaker, a compassionate counselor and a creative problem-solver, generous with his money and quick to help any in need.

    Are the two guys related?

    While Romney was building his career at Bain Capital, he was also a Mormon bishop (equivalent to a pastor) and a stake president (presiding over several area congregations) in suburban Belmont, Mass.

    Because the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no paid clergy, Mormon men take turns overseeing wards (congregations) and regional stakes while continuing their full-time careers.

    As a religious leader, Romney met weekly with students, teachers, immigrant converts and Utah transplants. He had to learn how to give sermons, advise squabbling couples, organize worship services, manage budgets and address the diverse spiritual needs of more than 1,000 Mormons in the region.

    By most accounts, Romney was a good listener, a measured thinker and an innovative manager who considered various positions before making decisions. He was occasionally willing to work around bureaucratic edicts from Salt Lake City, such as allowing divorced men to continue in their leadership positions.

    When LDS Family Services refused to place a baby with Brett and Janna Sorensen because Janna planned to return to work, Romney backed the couple. Eventually, the policy against adoptions for working moms changed.

    To most members, Bishop Romney was pragmatic and open.

    Given Romney's experience in the working world, friends say, he was attracted to competence. He chose men with keen expertise as his two counselors in the stake presidency.

    "I don't think Mitt cares whether people are male or female, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, old or young," said Helen Claire Sievers, director of the WorldTeach program housed at Harvard, "but he really cares about their competency."

    Romney was "comfortable in his skin," recalled Philip Barlow, an expert on Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, who was one of Bishop Romney's counselors. The future Republican front-runner even showed off his "moon-walking" skills one day, gliding backward in a smooth imitation of Michael Jackson.

    Like some Mormon leaders, insiders say, Romney could be insistent on the rightness of his position. He was used to dictating actions, then having the members raise their hands in support. That didn't work so well with feminists.

    Though sometimes progressive in his approach to women's issues, Romney nonetheless was a product of the church's male culture of the time. He didn't initially believe, for example, that there were cases of physical or sexual abuse of women in his stake, though plenty of evidence pointed to it.

    As a young bishop, Romney got word that Carroll Shelton, a woman in his ward, was considering an abortion. This was Shelton's sixth pregnancy. She was in her 40s, had four teenage children and had developed medical complications. Her stake president had already approved the procedure when Romney arrived at the hospital and forcefully counseled her against it.

    Peggie Hayes, a single woman with a child, was in Romney's ward when she became pregnant. She alleges that Romney threatened her with excommunication if she didn't put up the baby for adoption, Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman write in their book "The Real Romney."

    "Give up your son," was the message Hayes said she got from Romney, "or give up your God."

    Romney has denied the story, and Ronald Scott, author of the recent "Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics," doubts it happened that way.

    "Local members do not recall a single person who was excommunicated or disfellowshipped while Mitt served as president of a stake that probably has as many religiously rococo and fiercely independent academics, writers and thinkers as any in the church," Scott said.

    Besides, Scott noted, threatening excommunication like that would have been against the rules -- and Romney was a rule-follower.

    Mormon women in Boston still talk about an extraordinary 1993 meeting Romney called to address the women of the stake. One by one, the more than 250 women called out their issues while he stood at the front with three pads labeled: policies we can't change, practices we can change, and things we can consider.

    "I was really surprised," Sievers said. "He implemented every single suggestion that I would have."

    Not long after Grant Bennett fell off a ladder and broke his foot while trying to dislodge a hornet's nest outside his second-story bedroom, Romney came to offer sympathy and show Bennett a smarter way to deal with the festering insects -- from inside.

    Before Doug Anderson had even finished getting family out of his burning house, Romney showed up with a brigade of neighbors to salvage beloved belongings from the remains.

    Barlow, from Utah State, does not support Romney's politics but believes his former bishop has been unfairly caricatured in the press.

    Asking the candidate to "appear more informal is ironically asking him to become less authentic so that he can appear as more authentic," he said. "We ought to allow him to be who he is and make our judgment on that basis."

    Tony Kimball, who served as executive secretary during Romney's stint as stake president, saw Romney as "very warm and outgoing." Although some Mormon feminists back then nicknamed Romney "the plastic man," that wasn't Kimball's experience.

    Even so, "the hard-line profile he seems to be pushing is light-years away from where he was when he was stake president." In this current incarnation, Kimball said, "I have absolutely no clue who this guy is."
     
  2. gwayneco

    gwayneco Contributing Member

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    I look forward to the article discussing Barack Hussein Obama's time as a dog-eating Muslim.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. Major Malcontent

    Major Malcontent Contributing Member

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    Did you even read the article?

    This article actually generally paints your guy in a pretty favorable light....and if the GOP wasn't a big extended fundie wank-fest, Mitt could talk about stuff like this.

    As it is though, this depiction of him as thoughtful, hard-working and pragmatic has to be considered slanderous, cause the GOP doesn't want any mention of his faith, because they like their candidates to be making altar calls at hard-shell Baptist churches in the deep south.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. MoonDogg

    MoonDogg Member

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  5. napalm06

    napalm06 Huge Flopping Fan

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    I'm a fairly active LDS member, and not really a Romney fan. This whole story seems unnecessary. Lay people of any kind can become a bishop all over the world, based on need and willingness. This doesn't make Romney more special than thousands of other people of insanely different backgrounds. A bishop serves 2-5 years (in rare cases, more) and then is simply, formally thanked for his service and returned to the congregation, while someone else deemed fit agrees to take his place. Being a bishop is a massive burden; for no pay, and in addition to your job and family and life commitments, you basically have to reconcile and manage all spiritual, financial, and other needs the congregation members decide to seek help with, as well as appointing and managing the roles of members.

    Anything that is either too difficult or improper for a bishop to handle (there is an official handbook) is passed up the chain, sometimes even to the presidency in Salt Lake City (divorce of an LDS temple marriage, abortion, felonies, and plenty more). Because of all of this, to me, the story about the woman and her abortion reeks of someone wanting face time and attention. I feel for her horrible situation and I'm sure the LDS leaders were more than cautious with her, which was probably irritating in her time of need. Still, the LDS church relies on a strong hierarchy and clear organization. If the stake president had OK'd her operation, there is simply no way Romney could have excommunicated her as a lower rung on the chain of command.

    Just my 2 cents for whoever wants to know.
     
    #5 napalm06, Sep 7, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  6. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    I thought that was pretty interesting. One question it left me with was why he wanted to be bishop -- was it devout service to the church or a pragmatic career move?
     
  7. slcrocket

    slcrocket Contributing Member

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    Well, speaking as another active LDS person, it's not a position that one volunteers for (and, if you read napalm's accurate description, really not a job that any sane person would aspire to :)). One is asked by another individual in a higher leadership position (usually a stake president) if they are willing to take on the job. Individuals are usually selected from among a group of men who have a good understanding of church doctrines, have exhibited leadership skills, and are shown to be "worthy" based on a set of internal church criteria. I myself have worked in different committees with bishops and even served briefly during an LDS mission as a bishop, so I'm very well acquainted with the inherent difficulties involved. It is NOT an easy job, and the only compensation is intangible/spiritual (depending on what you believe).

    I'm sure that he believes that his experience as a bishop would be only a positive one with regard to his career in politics; indeed, I'm guessing it probably is (you have to make difficult decisions, work well with people, and have confidence in your own abilities). Don't get me wrong, I don't think this qualifies him for the Presidency - count me as another in the LDS camp who isn't voting for him - but it doesn't hurt.
     
  8. IzakDavid13

    IzakDavid13 Contributing Member

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    May I ask, do you consider yourself a Christian or a Mormon? Do Mormons consider themselves Christians or Mormons?

    I know you follow Christ as your saviour...but are Mormons 'Christians' or a separate religion that also follows Christ?

    Most of the Mormons that I've met don't call themselves Christians, but Mormons.

    The reason I ask...http://bbs.clutchfans.net/showthread.php?t=225816&page=2

    If you could add Your opinion to the topic, it would be helpful.
     
  9. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    I dont doubt Romney as a good guy. I just think he's the wrong guy.

    Problem with Romney is that he is too willing to compromise on what he believes for what he considers ambition. That's dangerous.

    He will capitulate on the wrong issues, and his ideas about gov't are just wrong.

    He should run a business, not the federal gov't.
     
  10. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

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    Mormons look like some clumsy-ass non-family-plannin' mutha-futhas.
     
  11. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure with the first one. Once that ambition is attained with the presidency, he'll march his own tune. Given his record of leadership, it seems like he'd be over-anxious about his legacy, the church's, and what he can operate "under the rules". This is a man who hates to fail, but I don't have much accounts on what he'd do in situations that are both lose-lose.

    Honestly, I don't know what Obama would do in most cases either. My guess for the President is the most efficient action that requires the least amount of pain, and not necesarily the solid course of action.
     
  12. thumbs

    thumbs Contributing Member

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    At least Romney lives his religion from active participation to giving generously to people down on their luck. I wish I were as committed. I also wish Obama had as much commitment to his religion and to actually helping people without an eye to see what he gain from it.
     
  13. Rashmon

    Rashmon Contributing Member

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    He should also make more of a pitch to Latino voters by speaking more about his Mexican heritage and the immigrant struggles of his great-grandfather and grandfather.

    It's a touching story.

    Read more about his heritage here.
     
  14. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

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    I do.

    His specialty was leveraged buyouts. Ugh. Mitt Gecko.

    I'm 1/16th Mexican, yo soy un de ustedes, vote for me so I can kick you out of the country or hire you to wash my car! (?)
     
  15. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    yep there's a ton of gains from being a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and constitutional law professor :rolleyes:
     
  16. MrRoboto

    MrRoboto Member

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    Serious question -

    What is the difference between being a Mormon and being in a cult?
     
  17. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Pretty sure one could ask this about any organized religion.
     
  18. MrRoboto

    MrRoboto Member

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    Indeed, I think the answer is the same.

    They all have their own brand of absurdity:

    Talking donkeys
    disappearing magic plates
    People being risen from the dead or flying up to the heavens
    Magic talking flaming bushes

    However, I think some benefit of the doubt is given to those older cults that have been around for a thousand years or more. A relatively new religion like Scientology or Mormonism seems utterly absurd; especially when taking into account the method of their creation.

    P.T. Barnum would be proud.
     
  19. napalm06

    napalm06 Huge Flopping Fan

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    EDIT: I just read your posts in that thread. Please don't take this personally, because I know you're a great father and a good person. But I feel like you're the type that has your mind made up and nothing I tell you will change it. Your entire premise is built on the error that a few people's beliefs define the whole. There's no good way to deal with that.

    I have very strong feelings that Mormons are Christians. I've been down this road a dozen times and in the end, the church is about Christ. If your definition of Christianity stems from something other than Christ, then we disagree. The Book Of Mormon says on the cover "another testament of Jesus Christ." Any argument against classifying Mormons as Christians stems from our disagreement with the 'revision by committee' that occurred at the Council of Nicaea.

    People are free to believe what they want to believe. If it helps you sleep to categorize me a certain way, good for you. For me, it's Christ first, details second. It's important to note that Mormons ABSOLUTELY DON'T believe that non-Mormon Christians will go to hell. The Mormon church expounds on New Testament scripture that insinuates that people are still free to hear and decide on the message of a heaven and hell after death. It's a deep philosophy and we would do it no justice to discuss it here. In LDS general conferences, members are encouraged to respect other denominations for they are all seeking truth in their way. It is not our place to judge others for their beliefs, simply to explain our own positions and invite others to join us. There are plenty of Mormons who take this this wrong way and zealously try to convert everyone - I apologize for that but there's not much I can do about it. However many take issue with the fact that Mormons claim to have the fullness of the truth, and make no apologies for that. But really, who doesn't? That idea doesn't have to inherently degrade anyone else. We're all just wading through life testing hypotheses and deciding on our own conclusions.

    And you seem fixated on the fact that we "elevate Joseph Smith to deity status." I thoroughly disagree but don't know how to dissuade you. He played a role as a restorer and martyr for the church. But he accepted Christ as his savior and everything he did was subservient. He is not anything near the Godhead.

    I was born and raised in Houston before moving to Utah and experiencing their brand of LDS culture. I then served a mission in Brazil and live in Phoenix. People like to assume all Mormons are the same, but I've seen enough of them to say otherwise. It's true, we have a very rigid belief system. But there's still room to be yourself. I think people on both sides would do well to remember that. Me, I'm a college grad, working professional, and in my spare time I watch sports and work with punk rock bands. I have more non-LDS than LDS friends, because I enjoy people who can handle differences of opinion.
     
    #19 napalm06, Sep 10, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
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  20. napalm06

    napalm06 Huge Flopping Fan

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    Let's start with the definition of a cult:
    1. A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
    2. A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.

    If you go with #1, what separates Mormons from Catholics in that regard?

    If you go with #2, the distinction of "cult" isn't within the organization's power to decide. It's simply pejorative.
     
    1 person likes this.

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