Trying to make voters more comfortable with his Mormonism, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney calls polygamy "bizarre" in an interview with The New York Times. Romney's religion (as opposed to his social conservatism) doesn't bother me, but this blithe dismissal of what used to be an important feature of his faith does. Like European Jews, mainstream Mormons renounced polygamy under pressure from gentiles. It was the price they paid for official tolerance and Utah statehood in the late 19th century. But until then they considered the practice not only divinely permitted (the Bible is pretty clear on that score) but divinely favored, a ticket to the highest level of heaven. It was the norm among church leaders, and many of today's Mormons are descended from polygamists (not to mention the non-LDS Mormons who continue to openly practice plural marriage and who claim that some LDS members do so discreetly). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have decided that the importance of obeying secular law outweighs the teachings of the church's founders, but to dismiss those teachings as "bizarre" seems either impious or disingenuous.
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