Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mitt Romney's underwear, and why it matters.

In everyday life, what someone wears under their trousers has little effect on anyone other than themselves, but in the case of Mitt Romney we should all take note. Romney is standing for election as leader of the world's most powerful country, and if anything should worry us its his underwear rather than his economic or foreign policies.

You see, Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and as such wears special temple clothing as underwear. Now, I have nothing against Mormons. I went to university with a former Mormon missionary who, at that time, was one of the leaders of the local "stake", and we got on really well, but some of his beliefs were untenable and potentially damaging if they are held by a world leader.

Amongs Mormonisms unusual and untenable beliefs are:
  • that there was an ancient north American civilisation whose story is recounted in the Book of Mormon, but which contradicts known archaeology, although the Mormon church believes that that the book is supported by modern science.
  • that the founder of the religion Joseph Smith translated some ancient Egyptian scrolls called the Book of Abraham which has since been proved beyond any reasonable doubt to be false.
  • that they can baptise a living person in place of a dead person even if that person was of a different religion. One bad taste example are the Jewish parents of Simon Weisenthal.
But of interest here are the temple garments which can be viewed in this Daily Mail article and on numerous other web sites.

One, apparently pro mormon, web site describes it like this:
If you look at a pair of garments, there is nothing physically special about them. They are made from a variety of light-weight fabrics, and most garments are white. (There are some special colored garments that can be worn by members of the armed services, but for the vast majority of Mormons, garments are always white.) The white color symbolizes purity and the length and cut of the garment helps assure modesty in dress and appearance. The garment bears several simple marks related to gospel principles of obedience, truth, and discipleship in Christ.
The marks however, are similar to masonic symbols, and the reinforcement across the nipples and crotch are designed to prevent or discourage visible sexual arousal.

Yet, Romney is getting considerable support from evangelical Christians in the US. As we found out during the last UK general election opposing abortion and homosexual rights are the trump card for gaining their support with the BNP even garnering some support from the evangelical right.

What concerns me is that if someone holds these sort of wild beliefs in spite of evidence how will we know that he will accept factual advice from advisors on issues like climate change, education, sexuality or religious freedom? The same, of course, could be said of a Christian fundamentalist candidate, but with Mormonism there is even less of an appeal to reason in their religious beliefs.

Mitt Romney has every right to hold and practice his religion, but he must represent the aspirations of all Americans, not just his own sect or supporters. I suspect that as president he will turn out to be slightly less religious than he is portraying in order to get elected. We will see. I certainly hope so.