Flavin’s Corner July 2002

Ecumenical as Eels: a blatant broadside

Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.  Acts 1:18.

Mitt Romney, a Mormon, wishes to become the next governor of Massachusetts.  While the IRS recognizes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) as a “religion” for tax purposes, as it does the Scientology cult and Unitarianism (some members, of which, are witches and practice Wicca), Mormons are a queer folk, mysterious and arrogant, ecumenical as eels, and outwardly demonstrate none of the social traits that practitioners of standard religions do, such as public prayer or inviting outsiders to view their services.  Mormons are secretive, pejoratively protective of their privacy, and understandably so.  They’ve much to hide and Romney probably won’t tell Massachusetts voters anything relevant about being a Mormon.  And, perhaps, this is for the best, as Romney likely swore an oath never to discuss certain things or he’d submit to a penalty of disembowelment.  Acting Gov. Jane Swift gave birth to twins in office, which was odd enough, but having a governor disemboweled could be something the Bay State might never live down.

We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut assunder in the midst and all our bowels gush out.
(From: U.S. Senate Document 486; "Endowment Oaths and Ceremonies" in Salt Lake Tribune, February 8, 1906.)

The Sign of the Nail;a handshake inspired by Masonry.

I solemnly covenant before God, angels, and these witnesses, in the name of the Son that I will never reveal the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood or Sign of the Nail, with its accompanying name and sign.
From: The current LDS (Mormon) Temple Endowment Ceremony.  Click here for more.

While it’s often strongly suggested we never mix politics and religion, at times it’s almost unavoidable.  A recent Boston Herald article quoted a Boston College associate professor of political science as saying “It's suicide - I don't see which [Democratic candidate] can raise it without appearing to be a bigot.”  Fortunately, I’m not a Norman, a Visigoth, nor a candidate for governor. [Note: Our English word “bigot,” meaning an intolerant and narrow minded person, comes from the Old French bigot, a derogative term used to describe Normans in the 12th century poetry of Maître Wace, and from bigos, referring to tribes from southern Gaul in the Girard de Roussillon, a 12th century romance about the 9th century Count of Paris, Girart.  Some incorrectly believe the word's origin is from an apocryphal tale about Rollo of Normandy, and argue bigot is derived from “Ne se bi got (Not if by God),” allegedly spoken by Rollo when instructed to kiss the feet of King Charles III (the Simple) of France.  Adding to the confusion is a theory that bigot is a corruption of “Visigoth,” which is thought to be strengthened by the usage of bigos in the Girard de Roussillon.  Whatever its accepted etymology, the meaning of the word remains unflattering.]  Let's talk about the ramifications of the next governor of Massachusetts being a Mormon, shall we?

A Mormon governor at Christmas time would be creepy.  It’d be one thing if our next governor belonged to a non-Christian religion, say Judaism or Buddhism, and wished all Christian residents of Massachusetts a heartfelt  “Happy Holidays!”  But, Mormons celebrate Christmas by regarding Joseph as a cuckold, Mary as having actual intercourse with God, the Father (no ethereal “Holy Spirit” or whispering pigeon), and Baby Jesus as the bodily incarnation of an earlier Spirit Jesus, conceived by God, the Father, and God, the Mother.  This erotic supernatural fantasy could inspire an interesting creche, though nativities seem to be slowly on their way out in the Bay State, anyway.  Christians are often teased about the Virgin and the parthenogenesis conception (and usually allow for allegory “off-the-record”), however Mormons are the only ones to proclaim Mary was taken physically, like a pagan god would take a mortal plaything.  “Happy Holidays!” from a pseudo-Christian Mormon governor would make me laugh at first, then I’d probably get angry.  This would also hold for Mormon approaches to the other Christian holidays of St. Valentine's Day, Easter, and Halloween.

The celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month should be embarrassing for any Mormon governor, whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the United States.  Since its inception in 1830, the Mormon church has promoted a belief that skin color is determined by God, the Father, with white representing the pure and delightsome and with darker colors expressing punishment and reflecting sins or crimes.  This absurdist and racist fantasy kept non-whites from being able to attain the Mormon priesthood, a position achieved by the vast majority of the male Mormons and essential if male Mormons wish to become Gods after their deaths, have lots of wives, and rule their own planets.  Then, in 1978, when no one expected it (and very few believed it), God, the Father spoke to Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Mormons, and said:

“Now, therefore, rejoice in my blessing and receive my Word! For no more shall ye make any distinction among my Saints as to their race or as to the color of their skin; for I the Lord God am no respecter of persons, but all shall come unto me and all may be worthy to receive all the blessings of my Gospel without let or hindrance.”

Though much of the absurdist and racist views remain unchanged in Mormon scripture and doctrine, after 1978 any non-white, male Mormon was allowed to advance in the Mormon church, learn the secret passwords and handshakes to get past those who collect the celestial tolls, receive lots of wives and rule their own planet for all eternity.  The offer hasn’t been accepted by many Blacks, Hispanics, or American indigen peoples, though it seems disturbingly popular among Polynesians.  Perhaps Romney might share meaningful moments he’s spent with non-white Mormon priests on previous Martin Luther King, Jr. Days, or Human Rights Day, as it was known before 2000 in Utah, Romney’s resident state at the time.

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Massachusetts under a Mormon governor sounds nefarious and suggests a profane continuation of some rumored Masonic conspiracy too profound for me to comment upon any further.  The freedoms won with our American independence were individually and comprehensively debased by the early Mormon church.  The notorious misdemeanors of Mormon money-digging and treasure-divining opportunistically advanced to felonious counterfeiting and bank-fraud, and the land-claims, violent mobs, ordered destruction, and murders (and other actionable crimes too numerous to list here), are joined and sealed together, occupying a unique place in the history of America’s early legal system as one which clearly demonstrates the failure of in-state only arrest warrants–a failure which continued long past the Mormon church’s renunciation of legal polygamy and Utah’s statehood in 1896.  But, I digress.  The federal holiday, Independence Day, marks the birth of our nation, the beginning of American government, and we’re often asked to think about what it personally means to be an American.  A Mormon vision of some old guy in Utah revealing himself as King of Israel, Zion, and America (which entails the overthrowing of our government), is an anti-American fantasy and probably not the smartest of July 4th charades choices.  It begs the question if we should be afraid of Mormons.  Okay, back to the Stars and Stripes Forever!

Romney, as a Mormon governor, would undoubtedly wear his Mormon (read: Masonic) sacred undergarments on the Fourth of July.  The various branches of the American military struggled for years to explain to young recruits of the Mormon persuasion that their underwear had to be regulation and couldn’t have cool little Masonic embroidery on it.  Sure, it’s popular knowledge that retired San Francisco 49er quarterback, Steve Young, didn’t wear his holy shorts during football games, and that Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah-R) wouldn’t dream of showing up for work without his sacred undergarment.  Maybe inquiring as to what type of underwear a Massachusetts governor has on is now inappropriate, as no one has yet asked Acting Gov. Jane Swift anything of the sort, as opposed to the previous governors who responded with “boxers” and “none.”

Our nation brackets the spring and summer seasons with the civic-minded holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day.  As far as Memorial Day is concerned, I’ve little to add beyond the acknowledgment that Mormons have died in every war since the Spanish and American War in 1898, a mere two years into Utah’s statehood.  As far as “labor” is concerned, some hold that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is basically a shrewdly run investment company, and that the names of Bill Marriott and Mitt Romney are just two financial personalities who have surreptitiously caught the media’s attention, with many more successful Mormons not attracting publicity.  ...Just guesses from the gut.  Romney’s past relationships with labor are textbook examples of the soulless tactics of capital gain.  He’s vicious for the buck and could care less for the lives and careers behind cost-saving cuts.  Labor remembers Romney, even if he chooses not to. [Note: For further info on the finances of the Mormon church, see The Mormon Corporate Empire, by John Heinman and Anson Shupe, Boston: Beacon Press, 1985; and for a Mormon review click here.]

Perhaps a Mormon governor of Massachusetts on Thanksgiving would be saddest of all.  Holding against all reason to historical claims in The Book of Mormon (by Joseph Smith, Junior; Palmyra, NY: 1830), Mormons continue to believe that ancient Hebrews around 600 BCE sailed to America, splintered into two main groups, fought great wars with each other, and one group had its skin darkened and became the American indigen peoples for not believing Jesus was the son of God (Jesus, per Smith's account, showed up in America a few weeks after he was done in the Mideast, in 34 CE).  Of course, Sachem Massasoit and those of his people who joined with the Plymouth colonists to celebrate the first Thanksgiving weren't aware of an option that they were once fair-skinned Hebrews and if they accepted Jesus their skins would turn pure and delightsome.  I personally regard attaching a fictive history to American indigen peoples to facilitate the peddling of some books as exploitive and sensationist, but Smith was not the first to do this.  However, the absurd and racist fantasy about ancient Hebrews settling in America according to Smith, and those before him, was soon overtaken by the quasi-divine capitalist theory of “Manifest Destiny,” which likewise forced American indigen peoples to draw the short stick.  Science has improved little on the 1537 pronouncement by the Catholics that Native Americans are, indeed, human and not "dumb brutes," with matters of genetics and linguistics still hotly debated.  I was pleasantly surprised to read The Book of Mormon described simply, and without a pretentious nod to political correctness, as an “American forgery.” [Note: See “Roots of the Walam Olum: Constantine Samuel Rafinesque and the Intellectual Heritage of the Early Nineteenth Century,” by David M. Oestreicher, in New Perspectives on the Origins of Americanist Archaeology, edited by David L. Browman and Stephen Williams; Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2002; p. 84.]   Like other holidays, a Mormon spin on Thanksgiving would make me laugh at first, and then I'd probably get angry.

Perhaps Romney acquired certain calender secrets and arcane rituals when he did his draft-dodging missionary work in France which might benefit a Mormon governor of Massachusetts on April Fool’s Day.  But, that seems a lot to go through for something that’s no longer funny a day later.  Let’s return to the disemboweling, shall we?

The oath taken by Mormon men and women to accept disembowelment, if they were to reveal a secret handshake, was taken nearly word for word from the Third Degree, or Master Mason, ritual in Freemasonry.  After 1990, when the wording was changed, it doesn’t seem that big of a deal.  Toward establishing credibility and integrity, I would ask Romney to address his taking of an oath to submit to disemboweling if he ever revealed a secret handshake, if he feels he is still bound by that oath, and what was he thinking when he took the oath in the first place.  Inquiring voters want to know! [Note: The relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry is complex, but I’ll try and skinny what I can.  Though Smith was brought up in a magical environment, and some family members were Masons, the 1820s were largely anti-Masonic and some scholars have even detected anti-Masonic rhetoric in The Book of Mormon.  It wasn’t until the late 1830s and the lessening of early America’s anti-Masonic hysteria, that Smith was fully exposed to Masonic myth and ritual.  Between the building of the Kirtland Temple (Ohio) in 1836 and the Nauvoo Temple (Illinois) in 1844, the year of Smith’s assassination, Smith revealed (read: invented) various temple ceremonies which required the participants to wear Masonic-like aprons, clothes embroidered with Masonic-like symbols, and act out Masonic-like narrative rituals, taking Masonic-like oaths, and generally doing lots of Masonic-like things.  Smith admitted that his Mormonism shared much with Masonry, but that he improved where Masonry got it wrong.  Brigham Young continued embellishing the temple ceremonies, later Mormon leaders added to the rituals and oaths as they saw fit, and since the Utah statehood of 1896 the Mormon church has been busy rewriting its history and doctrine to deny its past and current absurd and racist theories and beliefs.  Masonry doesn’t say much in response, only that the rituals and oaths of Speculative Freemasonry date from not much earlier than 1717 and that the Mormon claim that their rituals and oaths go back to biblical times must be a mistake, perhaps like the accounting of Enron and WorldCom.  At issue, here, is how seriously Masons and Mormons take their oaths.  Romney, a Mormon and probably a Mason like his father, should inform the good folks of Massachusetts as to what he was thinking when he took the oath in the first place.  Toward establishing credibility and integrity, I would ask him not to cry when answering.]

Most religions welcome outsiders to their services, but not the Mormons.  Most religions engage in regular public prayer and ceremony, but not the Mormons, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is only a “religion” for tax-exempt status.  What are Mormon prayers for the dead like?  Can they be spoken on the Common or at the steps to the State House?  What are Mormon prayers for peace and good fortune like?  Can they be spoken for union as well as non-union workers?  Wait; that’s right!  Mormons get together in small groups at each other’s homes on Sundays, read a few lines from this, that, or the other, maybe sing some innocuous Methodist hymn from a hundred years ago, and hope that the neighbors or anybody else in the community that they are actively trying to recruit shows up and sees how casual, laid back, and non-threatening Mormons are.  Right; Dockers on Sundays and funky Masonic garb for the special temple ceremonies during the week that outsiders are not welcome to attend.  Okay, it’s back to the Mormon temple ceremonies.

Whenever a new Mormon temple is completed, the Mormons offer a public open-house period of a week or so, giving limited tours and handing out brochures describing what the various rooms of the temple will be used for, and then it’s locked down to outsiders.  If there’s a wedding, even non-Mormon parents are refused admittance.  All of the temple ceremonies are elaborate costumed events, often with today’s multi-media assistance, and regarded as sacred and secret.  I mentioned above that the Mormons have much to hide and an ugly example of that is their fetish regarding a baptism for the dead.  Any dead.  They’re just looking for names.  The Mormons aim to proxy baptize everyone in history (yes, that includes today and every name they can cull from a current phone-book).  They’ve proxy baptized Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and probably Paul Revere and Kennewick Man, as well.

We must defend the right of Willard Mitt Romney and other Mormons to meet in secret ceremonies, as long as their actions do not violate any state or federal laws.  We must diligently defend the right of anyone to believe in anything or nothing at all, as long as their actions do not violate any state or federal laws.  We must defend the rights of the foolish and the mean, but we do not have to elect them to public office.  And, of course, I’m still trying to work Gov. Ed King into the discussion.

I’m unsure if the rights of privacy are any different when applied to the new Mormon “Boston Temple” in Belmont, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in Boston, discreet nude dancing in someone’s backyard with close friends in Salem, or imagining that trashy science fiction is copyrighted enlightenment, as with the Church of Scientology of Boston

After a fashion, regarding Mormonism as “Pioneer Scientology” wouldn’t be that far off the mark.  Both systems are based on previously published fictive accounts: Joseph Smith’s The Book of Mormon was directly inspired by the unrelated Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews (2nd, edition; Poultney, VT: Smith and Shute, 1825), a preposterous account of imagined history subtitled “Tribes of Hebrews in America,” and L. Ron Hubbard’s “Dianetics – The Evolution of a Science,” which appeared in the May, 1950 pulp magazine, Astounding Science Fiction, an article believed by some to have been inspired by the many short stories and novels of excruciatingly bad science fiction he’d already written, as well an offhand remark by Hubbard a year previously during a lecture on science fiction: “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.”  Mormons hold that God, the Father, was once a human mortal like us and that only Mormon priests will soon become gods and rule their own planets.  Scientology works backwards to 75 million years ago and holds that aliens corrupted the early software of life on earth and only Scientology has the technology (copyrighted, of course) to get rid of the alien influence.  Yes, like jazz and hamburgers, Mormonism and Scientology are American originals.  They are “copyright cults,” a tag they share with Eddy’s Christian Science and Moon’s Unification Church, in that their “scriptures” are vigorously protected under copyright law.  Perhaps the ACLU should support an effort to copyright a beautiful sunrise or sunset on behalf of American indigen peoples.  Okay; I'm kidding. 

Extending the analogy in real-time, as opposed to that ever seductive American house blend of ignorance and arrogance, such countries as France and Germany (though Australia failed), are actively shutting down Scientology scams, yet America allows tax-exempt status because the IRS got blackmailed.  Sure, John Travolta is a talented actor, and it’s a real shame he can’t go to France again, as there’s a standing warrant for his arrest concerning an ongoing trial about financial affairs and Scientology, for which Travolta’s testimony is sought.  Tom Cruise?  He picked science fiction over Nic Kidman, and now he has braces on his teeth and has gone to court to prove he’s not gay.  Fine.  I suggest that voting for a Mormon is little different than voting for a Scientologist.  It should be legal, but discouraged. 

Romney has demonstrated himself to be a successful businessman.  However, he recently cried (read: choked up) when he thought that his family’s integrity was being questioned, a personal side I'm sure he seldom showed when he was eviscerating companies for a living.  I don't wish to raise tears in Romney’s eyes, but aside from smiling a lot and claiming he wants to "clean up the mess on Beacon Hill," he hasn’t yet spoken about himself and growing up in Michigan, or the Viet Nam War era, or cycling in France, or talked about his dad (born in Mexico, prominent Mason, American Motors executive, elected four times as governor of Michigan, 1968 presidential candidate, and Nixon’s secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1969 to 1973).  Sure, Willard Mitt Romney has called Massachusetts home since college, and his time spent in New York City, Utah, and Connecticut, was just business, and when he said he was going into politics in either Massachusetts or Utah, he meant Massachusetts, as Utah has enough Mormon politicians already, and he’s just another transplant for personal reasons like many others.  [Note: A comment by Romney from a couple of years ago that “If a Romney goes under, you should look for the body upstream” is telling, in that it seems to be a paraphrase of a saying applied to Bishop Edwin D. Woolley, a Mormon in Nauvoo, IL, who once wanted to give all of his possessions to that scoundrel, Joseph Smith.  I wonder if Romney is thinking about giving away his...  No; that never happens in real-life. ]

Whatever our personal beliefs, or a lack thereof, the first test is how we get along with those who are different from us.  It’s the giggle or creep response.  I suspect the lack of ecumenical efforts by the Mormons is due, in part, to these responses.  Many religious leaders giggle at the “American forgery,” while others, such as the Presbyterians in 1995, the Methodists two years ago and the Catholics last year, show their creep response by rejecting any spiritual worth to a Mormon baptism.

The secret handshake and disemboweling thing?  Giggle?  Creep?  Way creep... 

I don’t need a god in charge of Massachusetts, just a governor.


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