I have been beating this drum for a while. I know. Perhaps I should move on. But despite what the Obama campaign says, I continue to believe that Mitt Romney's Mormon faith will be savaged in the months ahead.
Wow, did I just agree with Orrin Hatch? Sort of. I do not believe the attacks will come directly from the President. Instead, they will be left to the likes of MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell.
These are comments O'Donnell made in a radio interview done the last time Romney ran for president. To read the entire interview, click here.
The High Hewett Show, Tuesday, December 11, 2007
If Catholic politicians are not made to answer for everything every Pope has said, then why must a Mormon answer for their prophets?
HH: Are you Catholic?
LO’D: I was born, I was baptized in Roman Catholicism in my first week of life.
HH: Is it wrong for the (Catholic) to exclude women from the priesthood?
HH: Then I assume you are condemning Biden and Leahy and Kennedy and Kerry for being part of a sexist organization which they haven’t condemned?
LO’D: No. They’ve got the same flexible relationship to it that I do. You know Kennedy. You know Teddy’s in favor of abortion rights, he’s for…
HH: Well, no, he hasn’t come out and condemned the Church. We should be demanding they condemn the Church.
LO’D: No, no, no. They all have to live, you know, they live with this very uncomfortable…the Catholic…Democratic liberal politicians who are Catholic, and you know there are many coming out of the Northeast, Italian Irish Catholics, they have an extremely uncomfortable relationship with the Church, and they’re kind of always ducking, because there’s always that possibility that a Cardinal somewhere will call them on the abortion issue, as one did during John Kerry’s run for the presidency, with John Kerry. And you know, there’s a bob and weave that all Catholic politicians who are pro-choice are doing all the time. But that…
HH: But shouldn’t they have to stand up and defend what they believe, and condemn, or at least leave the Church of which they are a part?
LO’D: No, Catholicism, as I told you, is extremely flexible, and the Church doesn’t say you have to leave. Rudy Giuliani doesn’t leave…Rudy Giuliani, there was a time, you know, in Catholicism, in the 50’s, for example, in the kind of pre-divorce explosion in the United States, where if a Catholic got divorced, it was considered automatic excommunication. Now all the guys we’ve mentioned, with the exception of Mario Cuomo, have been divorced. And they continue to consider themselves Catholic. The Catholic Church doesn’t say they’re not Catholic. It’s, you know, there’s a 21st Century version of Catholicism. There’s a late 20th Century version of American Catholicism that allows for all sorts of things that were not allowed, and not believed in the first half of this century, including, by the way, the notion, prior to 1950, that if you weren’t a Catholic, you would not go to Heaven. That was a universal…
HH: Well, is the Catholic Church today anti-gay?
LO’D: Yes and no. I have had, I have had priest and Catholic theologians take the position that the posture that the Catholic Church takes from Rome, in its tilt here and there on the issue of sexuality, all come from man made, you know, sort of man made rules and laws out of Rome. And I’ve had Catholic priests say to me, who were, by the way, not gay and not molesters, say to me that they don’t think that there is an actual Catholic teaching against homosexuality. So it’s a very, you know, it’s a very, it’s very similar to Judaism, where as we know in Judaism, there’s orthodox and there’s reform, and there’s a bunch of different grades of Judaism, and they kind of label themselves as such. Catholics have never formally done that. We just use this word Catholic. And…
HH: Well, shouldn’t all these Catholic politicians, though, Lawrence O’Donnell, shouldn’t they come out and challenge their Church on being anti-gay and anti-woman? I mean, why are we allowing, why are they allowed to be silent in the face of this discrimination?
LO’D: The Pope is ignored. Let’s just get this straight. The Pope is ignored on most things by most Catholics.
So you think the LDS Church is racist?
HH: ... if it wasn’t a ratings grab, what’s the principle behind your demanding that Romney is responsible for what his Church taught when he was 18-30, but John Kerry and Joe Biden and Patrick Leahy are not responsible for their Church’s today.
LO’D: Because Romney said he was.
HH: Are you saying that they’re not really Catholic, they’re hypocrites?
LO’D: No, I’m telling you that Catholic is a much harder thing to define than you want.
HH: No it’s not, Lawrence.
HH: I’m saying that George Romney marched in civil rights actions in 1962, ’63, ’64. His young son was with him on that, and that it’s silly to attribute to Romney a racist bone in his body on the basis of whatever the teachings of the Mormon Church were, and you know it’s silly, and that’s why you’re trying to give wiggle room to your Catholics who don’t want to buy into everything and not make them leave the Church.
Phone call from a Black Mormon
HH: Lawrence, I want to take a call before we go much longer, because this is Mark in Los Angeles, who tells me he’s a black Mormon official. Is that correct, Mark?
Mark: That is correct, Hugh. Thank you for having me on.
HH: What do you want to say to Mr. O’Donnell?
Mark: Well, I want to tell him that the 9th Commandment still applies. You’re not supposed to bear false witness against people. Since you’re a Catholic, I’m going to basically briefly review the priesthood in Scripture. In ancient Israel, the priesthood was severely restricted not only to Israelis, the ancient Israelites, but it was restricted to male Levites. And frankly, it was restricted to the direct descendants of Aaron. So it was severely restricted in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Christ specifically said that He did not come to preach to the Gentiles. Was He a racist? No. The Gospel was taken to the Gentiles after Peter’s vision in Acts, Chapter 10. And the first beneficiary of that revelation was Cornelius, the centurion.
HH: You’ve got to run it along here, Mark. Get to the point.
Mark: Okay, the point is that there is no record in the Scriptures of the priesthood being given to blacks in the Old or New Testaments. Blacks would not have been given the priesthood in the Old Testament. The revelation came in 1978. It was the happiest day of my life, because I was able to join the Church.
LO’D: (laughing) And you believe that?
Mark: And I think that for Larry to say that we’re racist…
LO’D: You believe that revelation happened in 1978?
Mark: …I’d like to know whether he thinks the ancient Israelites were racist, and whether New Testament Christians were racists.
LO’D: Yes, I do. Of course I do. Yeah, of course.
HH: Okay, but I…
LO’D: And Hugh doesn’t believe that revelation in 1978. He thinks that was done solely to preserve the tax status of the Mormon Church.
HH: Thank you, Mark. No, I don’t.
LO’D: Hugh doesn’t think there was a real revelation in 1978.
HH: No, I don’t. I think that Mormons have their own understanding of what revelation is.
LO’D: Hugh, you’re with me. You know there was no revelation. You know there’s never been...
HH: Lawrence, I do not, because I don’t get into religious tests, and I’m not going to tell people what they believe.
LO’D: …a Divine revelation. You know there has never been a Divine revelation to any Mormon ever ... There’s no one in your audience who isn’t a Mormon who believes that a single Divine revelation has ever occurred to any Mormon, least of all Joseph Smith, the criminal, adulterous, rapist founder of the religion.
Romney is pro-polygamy?
HH: I want to ask you, Lawrence. You mentioned on the McLaughlin Group that Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather’s polygamy was an issue. Can you explain to me why?
LO’D: No, well, he…remember the line in the speech, this is the faith of my fathers, not just the…
HH: do you believe by that he meant…
LO’D: …not just George. Did he mean his great-grandfather?
HH: Do you think he did? You asserted that he did.
LO’D: Yup, I do.
LO’D: I do think…if I said that, I’d mean my great-grandfather.
HH: You believe that Mitt Romney was endorsing polygamy in his speech?
LO’D: I wouldn’t cut it off with my great-grandfather. No, I don’t think he endorses polygamy. I believe he’s a member of a completely political religion that made a political decision in 1890…
HH: No, wait. But you specifically…you…
LO’D: …to get rid of polygamy, because the Hell they were getting from the rest of the country about it was too much, and they wanted to make Utah a state. They didn’t do it for Divine reasons.
HH: You specifically said…
LO’D: This religion is a joke when it comes to changing its direction.
HH: You specifically said…
LO’D: It changes its direction purely for politics.
HH: Lawrence, Lawrence, you said specifically that Romney’s great-grandfather’s polygamy was an issue. I just want to know why.
LO’D: No, I said, I said, he talked about the faith of his father. What about the faith of his great-grandfather who had five wives? I didn’t say it’s an issue.
HH: Well, yes you did. Lawrence, that’s disingenuous. If you bring up his great-grandfather’s polygamy…
LO’D: I think he’s lying about his great-grandfather.
HH: I just want to follow through. You laid down a principle, and I want to follow through. As recently as…
LO’D: I think Romney’s a liar about his great-grandfather. That’s what I think.
HH: Yeah, but if a Catholic stands up and says I’m proud of my Catholic faith, it’s the faith of my fathers, and I’m standing by it, does that mean they’re anti-Semitic?
LO’D: That depends on who their father is.
HH: Oh, come on, Lawrence. It’s stupid. You’re too smart for this. They don’t mean that.
LO’D: I didn’t put the words in his mouth. He defended every tenet of Mormonism in the speech. He didn’t have to.
HH: No he didn’t. He said this was the faith of my fathers, I’m proud of my faith.
Why attack Mormonism, but not Islam?
LO’D: ... I don’t think he believes everything in the Book of Mormon. I think he’s lying about that. It’s an insane document produced by a madman who was a criminal and a rapist ... He comes from a long line of extreme rapists of teenage children.
HH: ... Would you say the same things about Mohammed as you just said about Joseph Smith?
LO’D: Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the…that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.
HH: Well, that’s candid.
LO’D: Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’re not going to ever…
HH: So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel.
LO’D: They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.
HH: They’ll send you a strudel. The Mormons will bake you a cake and be nice to you.
LO’D: I agree.
HH: Lawrence O’Donnell, I appreciate your candor.
End of interview.
Was O'Donnell fired for such slander?
Heck, no! To the contrary, he now has his own show on MSNBC.