Romney says that jihadism is an “entirely different entity” from Islam

(Note: Be sure not to miss M. Mason’s explanation of Romney’s total whitewash of Islam.)

Asked by Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report if his repeated references to “jihad” in a speech at the Heritage Foundation this week characterized Islam in sinister terms, Mitt Romney surprised Gilgoff with this reply:

I didn’t refer to Islam at all, or to any other religion for that matter. I spoke about three major threats America faces on a long term basis. Jihadism is one of them, and that is not Islam. If you want my views on Islam, it’s quite straightforward. Islam is one of the world’s great religions and the great majority of people in Islam want peace for themselves and peace with their maker. They want to raise families and have a bright future.

There is, however, a movement in the world known as jihadism. They call themselves jihadists and I use the same term. And this jihadist movement is intent on causing the collapse of moderate Muslim states and the assassination of moderate Muslim leaders. It is also intent on causing collapse of other nations in the world. It’s by no means a branch of Islam. It is instead an entirely different entity. In no way do I suggest it is a part of Islam.

Gilgoff comments:

Romney sees no connection whatsoever between Islam and the jihadists? Experts often say that Islamic terrorists are promoting a distorted version of Islam, but they seldom claim that there’s no connection between the Islam, and the jihadists who claim to act in that tradition’s name.

The Heritage Foundation itself has issued papers and sponsored events on “radical Islam,” “revolutionary Islam,” and “militant Islam.” Would Romney argue that none of these phenomena are related to Islam but rather constitute an entirely distinct phenomenon called jihadism?

[end of Gilgoff article.]

I am deeply disappointed in Romney, stunned, actually. His previous statements about the Islam threat had shown more sense of reality than this. Now he’s gone to the irrational extreme of denying that jihad has anything to do with Islam. Even Bush and the neocons never went this far. They would call jihadism a perverted form of Islam. But Romney—to the disbelief of the liberal reporter Gilgoff, who initially was worried that Romney was painting Islam in sinister colors—states categorically that Islam and jihadism are two entirely different entities.

The command to wage holy war and subdue the infidel is central to Islam. And it’s not just something in books. Muslims have been carrying out the jihad campaign for the last 1,400 years. Their sacred texts tell them to wage jihad, and, century after century, devotedly and bloodthirstily quoting those same texts, they wage jihad. How someone can arrive at the conclusion that what is central to Islam is an entirely different entity from Islam is beyond me.

Though Romney was clearly a dubious figure in some ways, I supported him in the Republican primaries as by far the best available candidate. I always thought he was highly intelligent. This statement reveals how the Prime Directive of Liberal Society, “Thou shalt not discriminate,” turns even a highly intelligent man into a moron.

- end of initial entry -

Ed writes:

Romney’s statement has nothing to do with what Romney knows or believes. It is a statement by a man who is considering running for president. Telling the truth might possibly ruin his political career. He is a practical politician and wants to get elected and not crucified by the media.

LA replies:

Many conservatives have this fixed belief that the things politicians say, especially the liberal things that conservative politicians say, don’t mean anything but are part of some elaborate political positioning.

Don’t you remember how people kept saying, “Bush is really a conservative, he just has to pretend to go along with liberalism to advance the conservatives program, he’s a brilliant poker player.” Didn’t turn out to be true, did it? And now you’re doing the same with Romney.

When politicians say liberal things, that shows that they are embracing liberalism. Who cares what Romney thinks in the privacy of his head? Will he stand for opposing the Islam threat or not? If he does not oppose it now, if he does not seek to gain support for that position now, what makes you believe he will stand for it at some other time?

In fact, if Romney is so beaten by liberalism that he has to pretend to believe liberal things and in the process disappoint his conservatives supporters, then he has surrendered to liberalism and is for all practical purposes a liberal. I don’t think that there is a world where a person goes over the top in surrendering to liberalism but in “reality” is not a liberal, and, further, that after spending years kow-towing to liberalism, he will, when he becomes president, do something entirely different.

Finally, no conceivable political calculus required Romney to go so far in his statement. The reporter was dumbfounded by Romney’s answer. The statement was so clear cut and categorical that I believe it expressed exactly what he believes.

Mark P. writes:

So, according to Mitt Romney, if there were no Muslims living in America, then we would still be threatened by Jihadism?

LA replies:

Mark’s comment brings out the radically strange nature of Romney’s statement. It’s radically strange because of its categorical form. Lots of neocons, liberals, and leftists say that jihadism/terrorism/Islamism/Islamic fascism is bad, and Islam is fine. But they don’t make a principle out of it. Romney has made a principle out of it. Which raises the question, if you’re dealing with jihad, and some aspect of Islam comes up, how do you keep dealing with the jihad without implicating Islam? Your intellectually lazy neocons/liberals/leftists can handle the situation, because they’re used to inconsistency. Not so Romney, with his clear-cut, logical mind. Any intrusion of the reality of the good Islam into the bad jihad would break down his absolute, pristine position that they are entirely distinct things, mentally paralyzing him.

June 4

Ron L. writes:

Romney said what he said for three reasons:

1) He is a politician, who wants to advance to higher office. Politicians like Tancredo and Virgil Good who speak the truth are destroyed by the media.

2) Romney is Mormon. As a member of a religious minority, which was quite militant 150 years ago and which almost came to war with the Federal Government, Romney wants to keep religion out of this.

3) Willard is a liberal.

M. Mason writes:

Since the topic of Mr. Romney has come up again, I would offer the following as another reason for this truly bizarre statement coming from him. It isn’t just the man’s political liberalism that is paralyzing him as it pertains to assessing the danger of Islam (though I agree with you that it’s obviously a large factor). I’d say it’s also abundantly clear that the teaching of his own peculiar religious faith has also deceived him in this matter.

Rather than my going on at extreme length about that here, however, may I refer your readers to the Christian Research Institute , a well-known evangelical apologetics ministry. At their website there is a page that I think fairly and accurately describes both the basic similarities and differences between Islam and Mormonism. Though it’s somewhat brief, the article is systematically laid out and is a fascinating study that is relevant to the topic at hand. I direct your attention specifically to the section titled “The Human Condition and Salvation”, especially these statements:

“Traditionally, both Islam and Mormonism hold to the view that human beings are born in an innocent state, in contrast to the Christian idea that the fall of humankind had extreme consequences resulting in depravity that touches every aspect of one’s being… “

“As a result, since human beings are not fallen, there is no need for salvation (or a savior) in the radical Christian sense…”

“The issue of the human condition is relevant to greater worldview matters such as salvation and redemption. In Mormonism, for instance, human beings are viewed not only as being born innocent, but the very fact that they were born into this earthly life is a positive sign of progression. [i.e. this refers to the Mormon teaching of “eternal progression” to godhood—men eventually becoming their own Gods over other planets where they’ll procreate spirit-children with a celestial wife or wives.] This is because all souls who once lived in a preexistent state (the “first estate”) behaved admirably in order to be allowed to live on earth (the “second estate”). Moreover, while Mormons believe that the best outcome for a person is to convert to Mormonism in order to strive for exaltation to godhood in the celestial kingdom, practically all humanity will be saved in one of Mormonism’s three levels of heaven, including those who reject Latter-day Saint teachings in this life and even the next.” [my italicized emphasis].

There are many, many such pronouncements that have come down from LDS church authorities over the years about their central doctrine of “eternal progression”; this famous and oft-quoted one is from Mormon Apostle Orson F. Whitney in his Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, 1895:

“Mormonism be it true or false, holds out to men the greatest inducements that the human mind can grasp. It teaches men that they can become divine, that man is God in embryo, that God was once man in mortality, and that the only difference between Gods, angels and men is a difference in education and development.”.

So then, in light of this teaching we can see how Romney as a committed Mormon can well afford to be magnanimous toward the followers of Islam. He regards them as fellow human beings on the long path of eternal progression to godhood (as we all are); they just need further “education and development” to help bring them along, that’s all. As fantastic as it sounds, this is what the man actually believes. He must believe it, for that is bedrock foundational Latter-day Saints doctrine (which doctrine, I remind everyone, Romney specifically, adamantly and very publicly refused to disavow last year). That is the other part of the explanation for what you called “the radically strange nature” of Romney’s opinion about Islam. I suspect it’s also the reason why he stated it categorically. Romney “made a principle” of whitewashing Islam as he did because his own Mormonism makes a principle of it, positing as it does a religious system that comes close to universalism.

This was just one more reason why I could not support Romney as a presidential candidate (not that I needed another) regardless of the man’s other admirable qualities. I was convinced that the combination of his reflexive liberalism fortified by his abiding faith in Mormonism with its “progressive” god who was once a mortal man—and that all men have the same seed of “godhood” within them which can grow and develop—rendered him incapable of truly understanding or taking seriously both the political and spiritual threat that Islam poses to America.

LA replies:

I am indebted to Mr. Mason for this illuminating account.

But let me ask this: If Mormonism teaches a belief in human innocence and almost automatic human perfectibility, then Mormonism is a type of liberalism, as you indicate in your explanation of Mormon attitudes toward Islam. But if this is the case, how is it that Mormons tend to be conservative in morality and politics? How do you reconcile Mormons’ Rousseauian, liberal, cosmically progressive view of human nature (which says that men are destined to become the gods of their own solar systems), with their actual conservatism? Or is the answer simply that that’s just the way Mormonism is—believing both in patriarchy, which makes it conservative, and perfectibility, which makes it liberal?

LA continues:

Another point about Romney. My support for Romney for president notwithstanding his Mormonism was explained by my sense that his Mormonism really was a private faith for him. As shown by his conduct as a candidate, he clearly had no desire to bring his Mormonism forward or impose it on the public. I therefore concluded that, as strange as it would be to have a Mormon president, it wouldn’t make any noticeable or practical difference and therefore it would be ok.

But Mr. Mason’s account of Mormonism and how it may operate in Romney’s thinking suggests that Mormonism would affect Romney’s presidency in profound and disturbing ways. This line of thought leads me to a new appreciation of the evangelicals’ position regarding Romney, which I had previously completely rejected: that his Mormonism disqualifies him for the presidency, period.

June 4

Harry Black writes:

Not surprising that Mitt Romney holds the LDS assumption that Islam is of divine origin.

“Mohammed was an inspired man and the Lord raised him up to do the work he did.”
—LDS President (“prophet, seer, and revelator”), Joseph Fielding Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939], 396. [

“I have heard the Prophet [Joseph Smith Jr.] say that he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, ‘the Alcoran or the Sword.’ So should it be eventually with us, ‘Joseph Smith or the sword.’ “
—Thomas B. Marsh, (President of the LDS Twelve Apostles), Sworn Affidavit. (October 24, 1838)

Google: “a second Mohammed” +Marsh

LA replies:

I think it is highly prejudicial for the commenter to quote a statement from Mormonism’s early days, when it was at war with the surrounding Christian community, as though that represented what Mormonism stands for today or has stood for for the last hundred and more years.

As for the belief that Muhammad is a genuine prophet, we would have to find out if that is an accepted teaching of the Mormon church, or just a statement by one (albeit important) Mormon leader. However, let’s say it is an accepted Mormon teaching. How different would that be from the disastrous Catholic Church teaching, in the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, that Muslims are “fellow adorers of the One God”?

M. Mason replies:

Yes, as you’ve concluded, the explanation is that “that’s just the way Mormonism is”; its patriarchy makes it conservative, and its perfectibility makes it liberal.

As further insight as to how Mormonism operates in Romney’s thinking, take a look at one more statement from that apologetics webpage (the truth of which can easily be verified by consulting the writings of official LDS church authorities) because it highlights the significance of another important teaching influencing the minds of its followers:

“While not everyone will be saved in Mormonism, the vast majority of people will make it into one of three levels of heaven. “Outer darkness” is reserved for Satan and the demons as well as certain Mormon apostates.” [my emphasis.]

With this we get a fuller picture of the mental and spiritual prison that Romney’s aberrant religious faith has confined him in. As it relates to the larger, outer world, LDS beliefs have rendered him spiritually naive and complacent about Islam, unable properly to assess the danger of it and how to face it. [LA replies: Why single out Mormonism for dogmatic blindness to the reality of Islam? The same is true for liberals, Catholics, and others making up a majority of Western populations and the totality of the Western elite.] But on the personal level, even if Romney had second thoughts about Islam, in his own mind he still cannot renounce Mormonism, believing that he would be in very real danger of suffering the ultimate spiritual penalty of losing his own salvation if he did so. For despite the universalist leanings of LDS teaching, if there is one group of people who absolutely will never make it to one of the various heavenly realms in their convoluted cosmology it is unrepentant apostate Mormons. [LA replies: I think this is overstated. It is highly unlikely that merely having a different view of Islam would constitute apostasy from Mormonism.]

This also sheds further light on why during that press conference last year Romney would not repudiate his Mormonism, though it certainly cost him politically to take such a controversial stand. Indeed, I maintain that it is difficult for the average person to relate to the fear that this religion instills in its followers both on the conscious and sub-consciously level to keep them in the faith (no matter how well-adjusted they may appear outwardly). [LA replies: This is a very unfair and prejudicial statement. Why should the default expectation be that Romney would repudiate his religion, and that if he doesn’t repudiate it, that shows something suspicious at work? You apparently believe that Romney is required to agree with you that Mormonism is objectionable. Besides which, you can’t be serious in thinking that a presidential candidate would repudiate his religion, and right in the middle of the campaign no less.] I would add here too that I have a lot of admiration for the brave former Mormons who have had to face such tremendous inner struggles to finally break free of this destructive theology once and for all.

One last thing about the subject: all along my criticisms of Romney as a presidential candidate have focused on the political and religious level, not on lesser matters. In fact, it may surprise you to know that my immediate initial impression of Romney when I first heard him speak at some length was that I liked the man. Early on, I thought (as you did) that the dismissive criticisms of him as a manor-born Brahman with the Ivy League degrees, the old money blueblood with the movie star looks were superficial and largely irrelevant as far as his suitability to be president were concerned. All that never bothered me, and besides, he brought other considerable gifts to high political office.

But for all that, Romney has two big negatives in his life which disqualify him (in my mind) from being president. The first is the undeniable ideological implications of his Mormonism, the second is the doubtfulness about his commitment to conservative beliefs (and I would still say that his commitment appears only slight at best). As I mentioned here over a year ago, my own analysis is that a very deep and powerfully motivating force in the life of someone who displays his particular type of personality is not so much holding to ideological principle, per se, but rather social acceptance. I thought he needed to acknowledge that weakness to himself and somehow counteract it before he could ever hope to face the intense liberal pressure cooker of Washington politics and the world stage.

Mitt Romney might have become a surprisingly effective president had he dealt with those two major issues in his life. But he never did, and, as we can now begin to see, this is the sad result. [LA replies: I think the last part of your comment is right on.]

M. Mason replies:

To your objections (in bold):

“Why single out Mormonism for dogmatic blindness to the reality of Islam? The same is true for liberals, Catholics, and others making up a majority of Western populations and the totality of the Western elite.”

I agree with that. But I haven’t just singled out Mormons for this blindness, you know. The only reason that I’m focusing on it now concerning them in particular is that this is, after all, a thread about Mitt Romney. Who is a devout Mormon. And Mormons hold as a foundational belief their teaching of an “eternal progression” of man to godhood, which consequently (among other delusions that error generates) incapacitates them to understand the stark reality of Islam. You may recall that I have made the same criticisms here of certain religious types and liberal secularists who also believe in other false notions about the perfectibility of man (see here for example).

“I think this is overstated. It is highly unlikely that merely having a different view of Islam would constitute apostasy from Mormonism.”

It’s not that holding a radically different view of Islam by itself would constitute apostasy from the LDS, but rather what such a belief might ultimately lead to—the repudiation of its universalist leanings… and perhaps more. I’m sure there are Mormons whose opinions vary to some degree on the subject of Islam. But it’s the larger issue that I’m addressing here, which is the reality of the human condition and God’s remedy for it. Mormonism makes assertions about that which are false. It has an aversion to the actual reality about man, shuts its eyes about that and substitutes its own bizarre belief system based on alleged new revelations from God. Look again at those quotations I cited in my first post. If a Mormon seriously asked himself the hard questions about these core theological issues—beginning, say, with the matter of Islam—then radiating out from there and eventually coming to truly Christian convictions about them, the entire edifice of LDS teaching in his mind would begin to crumble, which then could eventually result in apostasy from Mormonism. [LA replies: Ok, but this is not the same argument you made, which I objected to. You said he had to make the extreme statement he made, out of fear of being an apostate. That observation was overblown.]

This is a very unfair and prejudicial statement. Why should the default expectation be that Romney would repudiate his religion, and that if he doesn’t repudiate it, that shows something suspicious at work? You apparently believe that Romney is required to agree with you that Mormonism is objectionable.

Well I certainly do require it; that is, if he wants my vote, because Mormonism’s aberrant theology is highly objectionable to many orthodox Christians like me. The reason many of us did not support Romney in the first place is because we put the gospel before our politics. I don’t think there was anything “suspicious” about his refusal to renounce his beliefs; I was simply stating the reality of how certain Mormon doctrines would have affected Romney’s thinking—including the teaching on apostasy, which makes leaving the church extraordinarily difficult in any case. But I don’t want to gloss over the deeper, underlying spiritual issue here which is this: from a Christian perspective, what was the right thing for Mitt Romney to have done? The answer is to have repudiated his blasphemous Mormon beliefs—yes, even at that late hour. Did I have the “expectation” that he would do that? No.

Besides which, you can’t be serious in thinking that a presidential candidate would repudiate his religion, and right in the middle of the campaign no less.

Again, the answer is no; on the eve of the primaries Romney certainly wasn’t going to publicly recant his Mormonism. Everyone knows that he’s a Mormon. As such, he was going to have to play the card he dealt himself. Politically, it was a losing hand, but he had to play it as though he believed he could win. [LA replies: Well, you really shouldn’t have brought up the subject of his having to renounce his religion in the middle of his presidential campaign; it upped the ante of the discussion and was a distraction from your main point.]

Romney should have dealt with his Mormonism albatross by throwing it off it years ago as other former LDS members have done. I repeat what I wrote about this when the subject came up here before: “With all the modern, independent historical research that has been done about Mormonism, the ludicrous claims of a shaman like Joseph Smith upon which LDS theology is based are not difficult to prove utterly false. That Romney after all these years has either been mentally and/or emotionally unable or unwilling to face that fact and disentangle himself from this bizarre belief system demonstrates, in my view, a very serious, fatal lack of intellectual honesty, judgment and character in someone seeking the highest political office in the land.”

I think the last part of your comment is right on.

Good. Despite your other minor objections raised here, it seems that we do now agree about the essentials of the “Romney problem.”

June 6

LA writes:

I’ve just looked through the article that Mr. Mason linked. I see nothing there that says that Mormons are required to have any particular beliefs about Islam. I think Mr. Mason is constructing a coherent and plausible speculation, based on the information in the article, as to why Romney cannot criticize Islam, but I think it remains a speculation. His idea is that since Mormons believe in innocence and progression, therefore they can’t believe that there is anything in existence that is fully wrong or anti-God, including Islam. Again, this is an interesting idea and may well be true. But we don’t know that it’s true. We don’t know this is the reason Romney categorically whitewashes Islam.

The question could be resolved as follows: Does Mormonism specifically teach that all religions are good? And does it require its followers to believe that all religions are good? If so, we have a definite answer as to why Romney whitewashes Islam.

June 9

M. Mason writes:

Part of the difficulty in getting a read on precisely what Mormonism teaches is that not every statement made by an LDS leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. And obviously individual Mormons themselves range along an ideological spectrum from far left to far right.

It is clear, however, that most Mormons believe their religion to be the only true one, all the rest aren’t. So they certainly see the Islamic world as an object of evangelism, just as they do orthodox Christianity.

To be fair to those in the LDS movement, those who slant more conservatively have been disappointed that in recent years there’s hardly been a peep from their leadership on the very relevant and pressing topic of Islam.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, it’s a very interesting point that author Richard Bushman (himself a practicing Mormon) brings out in his book titled Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism where he mentions that Smith’s grandfather was a leading Universalist of his community. Not surprisingly, there is also stream of thought in Mormonism today that more fully embraces progressivism and universalism.

Another thing that’s important to point out here is that when a liberal professing Christian decides to embrace a form of “Christian universalism,” he is forced to twist the plain teaching of the New Testament to yield a very different theory of the atonement of Christ than what orthodox Christians believe. It further commits him to making other significant, fundamental readjustments in his theological system as well. Not so in the teaching that Mormons derive from their canon of scripture, because its own inherent universalist slant really does “open the door” down that path in a way that traditional Christianity does not. For not only do they throw out the concept of original sin from the jump, the foundational LDS conceit that “man is God in embryo” added to the equation can make a progressive universalism seem even more compelling.

Given that emphasis and as it relates to Romney, the lifelong Mormon brought up under this teaching, at some point his own personal temperament and the degree of his liberal bent then kick in to determine how far he’s going to go in that direction. To the point of your question, while scanning some LDS blogs I learned that that many Latter-day Saints are urged in particular to refrain from criticism of other Christian faiths, which “do much good” and “bless mankind,” so it’s not surprising that they similarly avoid criticising those faiths outside the Christian tradition too—including Islam. Furthermore, it seems that in recent years Mormon leaders, including the church’s modern-day “Prophet” Gordon B. Hinckley, have sought to align the LDs’ public teachings and practices with those of politically correct, global ecumenicism (which does not surprise me).

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 03, 2009 06:41 PM | Send

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