mitt romney close up

There’s been a lot of flap in the press over whether a Mormon would be an acceptable president of the United States. Some people believe that because Mormons aren’t Christians (according to their narrow interpretation of the word), a Mormon shouldn’t be in the White House.

If he were president, this is what you’d be in for.

Theological differences aside, it’s time to tell the non-Mormon world what they’re in for if they get a Mormon president. Here are some of the characteristics that are common to Mormons, and the effect they could have on a Mormon presidency:

  • Honesty. Mormons don’t have a corner on honesty. You can find honest people in every religion (and honest people who don’t profess a religion at all). And it would be a disservice to claim that every Mormon is honest. (After all, the notorious Western outlaw Butch Cassidy grew up in the LDS Church.)  But honesty is so highly valued in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that a question about honesty appears in the temple recommend interviews. Mormons can’t get into their temples unless they have affirmed to church leaders that they are honest in their business dealings, and if they’re ever convicted of a felony, they are excommunicated from the Church.  Also, the government intelligence agencies regularly recruit Mormons because of their honesty and language skills (learned while serving missions).
  • Fidelity. Mormons are human. It goes without saying that there have been Mormons who have been unfaithful to their spouses. But marital fidelity is also a question in the temple recommend interview. If the United States had had a Mormon president during the Clinton years, Monica Lewinsky would be minus a $12 million book deal (but her reputation would be intact), and the U.S. history books would be down one impeachment trial.
  • Healthy living. A Mormon president may find it a little awkward to toast a visiting dignitary because church members don’t drink alcohol, but his faculties are never going to be impaired by his being tipsy in a precarious diplomatic situation.  With alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs and even coffee off the table, a Mormon president would be less likely to have health issues while in office.
  • Work ethic. Mormons believe in the concept of work. In hard times, they are more likely to seek work than to look for a handout. Although Mormons have compassion for the disadvantaged – to the point that they fast one day a month and give their food money to feed the poor – a Mormon president would be more likely to pour money into “workfare” programs that engender self-reliance and self-respect than to funnel tax dollars into welfare programs where bureaucrats just write out checks.
  • Fiscal responsibility. Mormons are counseled over and over again to get out of debt and to stay out of debt. A Mormon president would naturally have this sense of fiscal responsibility in mind when making decisions affecting the financial welfare of the country.
  • Community service. Because Mormons are led by an unpaid ministry, Mormon men and women learn at an early age how to lead and how to follow. Mormons take turns performing the tasks that must be performed to keep a congregation running smoothly. A man who leads the congregation today may be working in the nursery tomorrow. This teaches Mormons to listen to the ideas of others and to follow them when necessary, as well as how to take charge and make an organization run when it is their turn to lead. Another advantage of taking turns leading and following is that Mormons learn to put the needs of the community ahead of satisfying their own egos.
  • Cooperation. Mormons are uniquely trained to get along with people from all walks of life.  It begins when they serve as missionaries.  During that two-year period, they must spend 24 hours a day with a companion that has been assigned to them.  Because Mormons are as human as everyone else, not all of these companions are pleasant.  After their missions, they will spend the rest of their lives worshiping in congregations that are strictly determined by geographical boundary.  These congregations comprise people from all socio-economic groups.  If church members don’t like the people they work with in their congregations, they don’t have the option of hopping to an adjacent one.  Instead, they are expected to work things out.  Most of the time, they do.
  • Knowledge of the world. Most active Mormon men and many Mormon women have served as unpaid missionaries for between 18 and 24 months, paying for their missionary work from family funds. Missionaries who serve overseas preach in the language of the country where they serve and are fluent in those languages when they return. This experience builds character, and it also teaches Mormon missionaries enough about the world that returned missionaries are actively recruited for government service.
  • Unique views on America. Mormons believe that the United States Constitution was divinely inspired. Any Mormon president would do his best to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America. Mormons also believe that God has promised that the United States will be preserved as long as its citizens continue to remember God. A Mormon president will do everything in his power to preserve the religious freedoms that were granted to its citizens through the Founding Fathers.
  • Independent Thinking. Just as some said the Kennedy presidency would be controlled by the Vatican, some are saying a Mormon presidency would be run from Salt Lake City.  Yet Mormons are taught the value of free will and independent study in the making and confirmation of decisions.  Just look at the number of LDS people serving in public office, and you will see that their views are all over the political spectrum.

Just to prove that most Mormons have no major skeletons in their closets, consider the latest presidential race.  The opposition is trying their hardest to dig up dirt on the Mormon candidate.  And what are they finding so far?  The fact that he put his dog on the roof of the car and may have made a few ill-advised remarks while in high school. Compared to some of the previous residents of the White House, this guy is squeaky clean.

As some have stated, it’s important to remember that we are electing a President, not a Pope. Many of the committed Mormons I know would have my trust in running a congregation, a corporation, or the greatest nation in the world.