Mormonism is not Christianity
There has already been some discussion in the media about Mitt Romney’s Mormon problem. The Mormon religion is not branch of Christianity. They do not believe that God is a Trinity; instead, they believe in many gods. They believe that Jesus and Satan are spirit-brothers, who were each born in heaven of the union of God the Father with one of his many spirit wives. They believe that Mary is not a virgin, but is one of God’s many spirit wives, who came down from heaven. They believe that God the Father has a human body, and that he had physical relations with Mary to produce the body inhabited by the spirit of Jesus. They believe that God the Father used to be a human being, and that he ascended to become a god. They believe that God the Father is only the god of this planet, not the Creator of all things. They believe that there are many other inhabited planets and many other gods. Mormon theology even holds that any human being, including Mitt Romney, can eventually ascend to become a god, just like God the Father. If Mitt Romney believes what Mormonism teaches, then he hopes one day to be a god over his own planet, a god equal to, or greater than, God the Father. [See this article Is Mormonism a Christian Denomination? for further details and sources.]
From a Christian point of view — whether Catholic, or Orthodox, or Protestant — the Mormon set of beliefs is blasphemy and idolatry. It is literally blasphemy to say that God the Father was once a human being, that He is only one of many gods, that He did not create all that exists. It is literally idolatry to say that we mere weak and mortal sinners can ascend to become the equal of God the Father. These ideas are also blasphemy and idolatry from a Jewish perspective. In Old Testament times, a person would literally be stoned to death for making these types of claims. Mormonism is entirely incompatible with Christianity; it is not a form of the Christian religion established by Jesus Christ.
The alleged revelations to Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, cannot therefore have come from God. These claimed revelations were either invented by Smith as lies, or invented by him out of mental illness, or given to him as a false private revelation from fallen angels (devils). The claim that Jesus and Satan are brothers indicates that the revelations to Smith are probably from devils.
The Catholic Church teaches that Mormons do not have any valid Sacraments. Their Baptisms are not valid, because they do not believe in the Trinity, and so their formula for Baptism is not Trinitarian. Their marriages are not a valid Sacrament of Marriage, because the husband and wife are unbaptized. They have only a natural marriage, such as prevailed in the time before Christ. But if a man and a woman were each baptized into a Christian denomination, and then they converted to Mormonism and were subsequently ‘married’ in the Mormon religion, they would not have even a natural marriage, in the Catholic view, because they do not believe in the true Sacrament of Marriage; they do not intend to do what the Church does by marrying. Two baptized Christians cannot have a merely natural marriage; if they are ‘married’ but do not have the Sacrament of Marriage, then they have only fornication.
Mitt Romney is not only a Mormon, he was a Mormon ‘bishop’, meaning that he led a congregation; this role is like the Christian role of pastor. Romney was also a ‘Stake President’, meaning that he led a set of congregations; this role is like the Catholic role of Bishop of a small diocese. Many people identify with one religion or another, but don’t adhere to all of the beliefs or practices of that religion. But Romney had roles of leadership and teaching within Mormonism, so it is likely that he taught these Mormon beliefs to many persons. Mitt Romney is not merely a Mormon by family or cultural heritage. He is a former teacher of Mormonism and a former Mormon religious leader.
From a political point of view, some Christians, including myself, will not vote for a Mormon because their religion contains multiple fundamental beliefs that are blasphemous and idolatrous; it is a false religion. Then there is the possibility that a Mormon President would not act in accord with Judeo-Christian ethics, because Mormonism is a sharp departure from that religious tradition. The so-called “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is not Christian, is not a Church, does not truly worship God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and its members should not be called saints, since they are unbaptized. It is also particularly offensive to Catholics that Mormons reject the virgin conception of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, instead teaching that God the Father, with a physical human body, had marital relations with Mary to produce the body of Jesus.
The election of a Mormon U.S. President would help the Mormon religion spread further. So whoever votes for Mitt Romney must consider that this choice will help to spread a blasphemous and idolatrous religion, thereby harming the true religions of Judaism and Christianity.
But when we consider the possibility of a Mormon President, we should also realize that this situation could have a very negative effect on U.S. relations with Muslim nations.
There are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Many nations have a large Muslim population, including Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and various nations in the Middle East. The U.S. has friendly relations with some Muslim nations (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) and not-so-friendly relations with other Muslim nations (e.g. Iran, Syria). But even the friendly Muslim nations have a large segment of the population who distrust (or even hate) the United States. This is particularly true among fundamentalist Muslims.
What is the Muslim view of Mormonism? The two religions are entirely incompatible, even adversarial.
Islam believes in only one God, Allah. Mormonism believes in many gods, each over his own planet; they do not believe in one all-powerful eternal God. So from a Muslim point of view, Mormons are not only infidels (non-believers), they are blasphemers. Mormons claim that the god over this planet is not the one God of all Creation, is not eternal, is not all powerful, and that he used to be merely human. From a Muslim perspective, this claim is severe blasphemy. The penalty for blasphemy in many different Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, is death.
What do Muslims say about Jesus? “Peace be upon him.” Muslims have great respect for Jesus as a prophet, and they believe that Jesus will return in the end times. What do Muslims think of Satan? They have a traditional ritual, during the pilgrimage to Mecca, of figuratively stoning Satan. The Mormon claim that Jesus and Satan are brothers is very offensive to Muslims. It would most likely be considered a type of blasphemy.
The claim of Mormon theology that a Mormon believer can one day hope to become a god over his own planet, equal to God the Father who is god of this planet, is idolatry. It is the grave sin of idolatry because the Mormon believer considers himself to be a future god. The penalty for idolatry under strict Islamic code is also death.
Although both Christian theology and Jewish theology would strongly condemn these views of Mormonism, as truly the sins of blasphemy and idolatry, neither group would be calling for the execution of Mormons. A Catholic would respond to these Mormon theological errors by speaking about freedom of religion, the search for truth, and the possibility of redemption for sinners who err in good conscience. However, in the strict Islamic view, the sins of blasphemy and idolatry deserve the punishment of death.
Islam teaches that the Jewish and Christian religions are distortions of true religion. But the Muslim view of Mormonism would be much more condemnatory. Several different Mormon teachings each constitute grave sins against Islam, sins of blasphemy and idolatry. And the Mormon idea that Joseph Smith was a Prophet is offensive to Muslims because they believe that there have been no prophets since Mohammad.
Another problem is that Mormonism teaches that Native Americans are descendents of the Israelites. Those Muslims who have a strong bias, or even a hatred, against Israel might see this belief as confirming the same bias or hatred for America.
If a Mormon were U.S. President
I say ‘if’ because I am doubtful that Mitt Romney will succeed in being elected U.S. President. But given this hypothetical case, that Mitt Romney is elected President, what would the response of Muslims be?
Once the teachings of Mormonism became known in the Islamic nations, there would be grave problems for our relationship with those nations. A Mormon President is essentially, from the Muslim point of view, not only an infidel, but also someone guilty of blasphemy and idolatry. Fundamentalist Muslims would respond with outrage at his election, in a way that they do not respond when the President is a Christian. The Muslim nations have some Christian citizens. They are not allowed to worship publicly, but they are not put to death for being Christian. But under the strict Islamic laws of many nations, anyone with a belief system like that of a Mormon would be put to death for the grave sins of blasphemy and idolatry.
A U.S. President would not be permitted to set foot inside any of these Muslim nations. He would essentially be a criminal, someone who is breaking the laws of a number of Muslim nations, someone who would have to be arrested, imprisoned, tried, and if found guilty of blasphemy and idolatry, be put to death. Moreover, the attention that a Mormon U.S. President would bring to the Mormon religion would perhaps result in Muslim fundamentalists attacking Mormons, in nations that have a substantial number of Muslims and a minority of Mormons (e.g. India).
It is possible that a number of Muslim nations would break off relations with the United States altogether. Our ambassadors would be seen as the emissaries of a blasphemer and idolater. Even if the particular leaders of a Muslim nation wished to continue relations with the U.S., such a large percentage of the population would be so appalled at the Mormon belief system, that it would not be tenable for the leaders to do so. The leaders themselves might be accused of grave sin against religion, if they meet with, or continue political relations with, a Mormon President.
If the U.S. President were a Mormon, we might be unable to continue to keep troops in Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Our troops would be seen as the soldiers of a blasphemer and idolater. It would become impossible for us to cooperate with Muslim nations, in that region of the world, against terrorism and extremism.
Is This Response Likely?
Among Christians and Jews, there is not much controversy surrounding a Mormon running for U.S. President. So it is difficult for us, from our religious and cultural perspective to anticipate how conservative Muslims would respond if a Mormon such as Mitt Romney were elected. But the above considerations are not exaggerated. There are persons put to death for blasphemy and other sins against religion in these various Muslim nations.
Consider what the Muslim reaction would be like, if a Jew were elected U.S. President? There is a widespread hatred for Israel and for the Jews among Muslims, even beyond fundamentalist groups. A Jewish President would also be unable to visit Muslim nations, and those nations might have difficulty, because of objections from the general populace, continuing political relations with the U.S. Such a situation would also make it difficult for our troops to intervene, or even to simply be located in, a Muslim nation.
Then, too, consider what happened in the Muslim world, in response to the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammad. The cartoons were published in a small Danish newspaper. Islamic groups in Denmark publicized the controversy. Other news organizations around the world carried the story; some republished the offensive depictions. Many Muslims considered these cartoons to be blasphemy. Danish troops in Afghanistan were threatened, with reference to these cartoons. There was an attempt to bomb the Danish embassy in Islamabad. The controversy continued for several years, and over 100 persons are reported to have died in various outbursts of violence. [Wikipedia, ‘Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy%5D
Which is a greater event, the publication of some cartoons or the election of a U.S. President? The latter is more significant, and so it would result in a stronger reaction. If a Mormon were elected U.S. President, it is entirely possible that there would be violence against U.S. embassies, violence against Mormons in Islamic nations, violence against U.S. troops, and a refusal by Islamic nations to continue political cooperation with the U.S.
So perhaps now you can see that the election of a Mormon U.S. President would present grave difficulties in U.S. political relations with Islamic nations.