Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Does Mormon Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Practice Human Sacrifice?

(Bloody human sacrifice in Ancient Mexico, that may, or may not, be just like the human sacrifices that the Mormons, may, or may not, perform; 16th-century illustration from a Codex).

"When this sign and portent was first seen, [they] were overcome with terror, weeping and shouting and crying out...These shouts and cries were accompanied by sacrifices of blood and of human beings, for this was their practice whenever they thought they were endangered by some calamity." — Not a quote from the Book of Mormon but from The Broken Spears, The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico edited by Miguel Leon-Portilla

"The messengers went to the [temple]...The two captives were then sacrificed before his eyes: their breasts were torn open and the messengers were sprinkled with their blood. This was done because the messengers had completed a difficult mission: they had seen the gods...they had even conversed with the gods!" — Not a quote from Mormon Elder Brigham Young, but another from The Broken Spears

It was almost fifteen years ago that I was initiated into the religion of Santeria; it was a life-changing event, and though I am no longer really active in the religion I am ever grateful for the blessings and changes it brought to my life. As most everybody knows, Santeria is notorious for including the widely misunderstood practice of animal sacrifice. In truth, animal sacrifice is a somewhat disguised component of most of today's religions including the big three Abrahamic faiths, but it's usually considered something prettier and less controversial, like Easter dinner or Passover. Without going into it at great length, the offering of animals in Santeria is most definitely not an exercise in macabre animal cruelty, it's a respectful ritual act that connects worshippers with the mysteries of the life force in a graphic experience of communion. In most cases, though not all, the animals are cooked and eaten, just like that lamb you eat for Easter. It's definitely a challenging part of the religion for those of us who grew up around store-packaged meat, but it ultimately teaches humanity and the sacredness of life. No cute kittens — or human babies — are harmed. It's not some antisocial or Satanic worship of death and gore (and please note Satanism is a subset of somebody else's religion, and that would be Christianity), and despite the occasional slanderous B-movie or tabloid exposé, Santeros most certainly do not sacrifice people.

Anyway my initiation ceremony was a beautiful and transformative thing, altering my consciousness and the way my spirituality is wired like nothing else I have experienced. Two of the priestesses there were elders in the religion, a lesbian couple who I'll call R & R. One was Puertorican, the other non-Hispanic of Jewish ancestry. They were knowledgeable and experienced priestesses, and also very generous and giving people. New initiates are especially encouraged to visit the homes of elders in the religion during their first year, when they're walking around clothed in a protective and identifying total white. R & R were wonderfully welcoming to me; especially considering my own status among the small minority of non-Hispanic white people drawn to what is fundamentally a religion of the African diaspora.

It was probably at one of their ocha birthdays that we were all sitting around their living room in Manhattan. R & R were discussing a recent vacation. They had been out west, I think to Vegas with a side trip to Salt Lake City, Utah. They were regaling us with their visit to the huge Mormon Temple there. I don't remember which of these two Santeria priestesses, expert at the handy dispatch of a chicken, was doing most of the talking: "And we saw the altar! You know beneath that altar is where they do the secret human sacrifices." A hush went over the room. "Really. They do them right there! Oh they don't admit it, but everybody knows they do it." The other priests and priestesses in the room shook their heads and clucked their tongues. "How horrible!" everybody agreed.

(Above is the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City where Mitt Romney may, or may not, conduct his human sacrifices, if he performs them, which he may not.)

Two of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates are Mormons, one the allegedly moderate Jon Huntsman competing for last place; the other tabula rasa trojan horse not-so-moderate Mitt Romney competing for first. And it turns out that more people than my Santeria priestess friends think the Mormons have a human sacrifice problem. If you go to google and start typing "Mormon human", right after the prompt for "Mormon humanitarian efforts" pops up the prompt "Mormon human sacrifice."

It turns out that Evangelical Christians, a base of today's extremist Republican party, do not consider Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, actual Christians. And very many of them think the Mormon Church is up to no good at all. Researching this post I found websites devoted to accusing the Mormons of being the Illuminati, Freemasons, Kabbalistic Jews, Satanic homosexual child abusers, Jehovah's Witnesses, and, of course, Satanic sacrificers of human children.

I would say that the Mormons, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and the Republican party saddled with candidates that its base doesn't trust, have a big, big problem. Would you want your child to be kissed by Mitt Romney if you were worried he would afterwards snatch it up and hurl it onto an altar of blood-letting? I mean, hey, Wikipedia might explain that the doctrine of blood atonement doesn't mean modern Mormons have anything to do with something as bizarre as human sacrifice, but sites like "Real Mormon History" shout "Holy Murder" begging to differ.

So what's the truth?

Well, you know there's an old saying: you made your bed now you lie in it.

I actually know some former Mormons who regret the church's repressive nature, but who remember their childhoods in the church, or their missionary year, with some fondness. Of course most of the gay former Mormons I know don't look back with anything less than a certain anger. There's a movie I heartily recommend called "Brigham City," that is a small-town crime story made by a Mormon director that is tremendously touching and humanizing. You come away watching this film getting something profound about the nature of community that seems to be of deep spiritual importance for Mormons. It's a beautiful film. It helped me to respect the many mysterious ways that spirit calls to people: some are called to religions that outsiders don't get. I don't challenge that at all; spirit is a beautiful and mysterious thing. I don't challenge anyone's right to follow a spiritual path of his or her own calling, including LDS Mormonism. I don't want my religious practices to be judged unfairly, and I can understand Mormons not wanting theirs to be judged unfairly either.

But here's what else I know: the Mormon Church has spent an untold fortune trying to deny the civil rights of lesbians and gays. They sunk an uncountable fortune into the at least temporarily successful effort (Prop 8) to repeal marriage equality in California. They are widely believed to be one of the main bankrollers of the anti-gay hate group NOM, "The National Organization for [sic] Marriage," that has quite successfully derailed marriage equality in a number of states. The Mormon church, as an organization, is hateful and bigoted: and like many Evangelical Christian churches and the Catholic church, doesn't understand or respect the difference between secular law and church law. The Mormon church and its allies are actively trying to deny equal rights to gay match religious principles that people outside that church don't share. That is simply unforgivable: the separation of church and state should be absolute and inviolable.

Mitt Romney may be an former east-coast governor and alleged social moderate, but he is 100% behind his church's efforts to deny civil rights to lesbians and gays. He's also a sworn enemy of a woman's right to choose, and of family planning. His politics on the subject of marriage equality are no different than right-wing freakshows Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann. His views on immigration are horrible: he supports walling off the U.S. from Mexico (of course in true hypocritical fashion he's also reputed to have hired cheap undocumented workers to mow his lawn). Mitt Romney may or may not actually engage in human sacrifice — I wouldn't know the man, um, from Adam — but he certainly wants to sacrifice the rights of some Americans on the altar of his religious beliefs, and that is deeply, deeply troubling.

Is voting for people who want to deprive some Americans of their rights any worse than voting for people who might, or might not, secretly kill babies?

The evidence suggests that the idea that Mitt Romney and other Mormons are actively committing blood sacrifice of children or adults in the secret inner sanctuaries of their temples is nothing more than a crazy and delusional paranoid conspiracy theory, based on the all-too human tendency to demonize that which one does not understand. But hey, what do I know? They want to deny me civil rights, so maybe they do have a taste for human blood or maybe they don't. Maybe if their church joined the civilized world of respect for civil rights people wouldn't question their secret motivations.

Hey Mitt Romney, kiss my baby! You'll give it back, right? Right? As long as it's not gay?

(Any longtime readers will recognize part of this post is a retelling of a tale I told four years ago, during the last presidential cycle).


  1. I don't know much about the Mormons, but the church has spent a great deal of money this past year advertising on TV trying to show that "they" are just like you and me. Ulterior motive???

    Many of Christians believe they are evil.

    I toured the Mormon Temple in St. Louis before it was dedicated and they had a Lalique table in the entryway. I heard they replaced the newly laid carpet after all of the 'unclean' had trod upon it.

    And they don't drink coffee.

  2. Those commercials are very heartwarming and effective. I'm sure they're running them because of Romney. I wish I could be happier about more diversity in politics this time.

    I heard that about coffee. What would a person do without it?? Not the religion for me. Somebody once told me something that was food for thought: that Native Americans do not do well with alcohol, a sacrament in Christianity, while European Americans do not do well with tobacco, a sacrament in Native American religions. Is there a religion that considers coffee a sacrament? I wonder.

  3. During the Middle Ages the Christians would accuse the Jews of sacrificing children. Now they accuse the Mormons of doing it. Some things never change.

  4. @Spanish, well-reminded. Thanks. Anytime you hear horrible things being said about any group of people, it's actually a pretty good trick to substitute in "the Jews" for the accus-ee of the moment and see how it sounds. Universally horrible. I wish more people would perform this exercise.

  5. History:

    "To whatever extent the preaching on blood atonement may have influenced action, it would have been in relation to Mormon disciplinary action among its own members. In point would be a verbally reported case of a Mr. Johnson in Cedar City who was found guilty of adultery with his stepdaughter by a bishop's court and sentenced to death for atonement of his sin. According to the report of reputable eyewitnesses, judgment was executed with consent of the offender who went to his unconsecrated grave in full confidence of salvation through the shedding of his blood. Such a case, however primitive, is understandable within the meaning of the doctrine and the emotional extremes of the [Mormon] Reformation." (Utah Historical Quarterly, January, 1958, page 62, note 39)

    This may be the same case spoken of by John D. Lee, who was sealed to Brigham Young and was a member of Young's secret Council of Fifty:

    "The most deadly sin among the people was adultery, and many men were killed in Utah for the crime.

    "Rasmos Anderson was a Danish man who came to Utah... He had married a widow lady somewhat older than himself... At one of the meetings during the reformation Anderson and his step-daughter confessed that they had committed adultery... they were rebaptized and received into full membership. They were then placed under covenant that if they again committed adultery, Anderson should suffer death. Soon after this a charge was laid against Anderson before the Council, accusing him of adultery with his step-daughter. This Council was composed of Klingensmith and his two counselors; it was the Bishop's Council. Without giving Anderson any chance to defend himself or make a statement, the Council voted that Anderson must die for violating his covenants. Klingensmith went to Anderson and notified him that the orders were that he must die by having his throat cut, so that the running of his blood would atone for his sins. Anderson, being a firm believer in the doctrines and teachings of the Mormon Church, made no objections... His wife was ordered to prepare a suit of clean clothing, in which to have her husband buried... she being directed to tell those who should inquire after her husband that he had gone to California.

    "Klingensmith, James Haslem, Daniel McFarland and John M. Higbee dug a grave in the field near Cedar City, and that night, about 12 o'clock, went to Anderson's house and ordered him to make ready to obey Council. Anderson got up... and without a word of remonstrance accompanied those that he believed were carrying out the will of the "Almighty God." They went to the place where the grave was prepared; Anderson knelt upon the side of the grave and prayed. Klingensmith and his company then cut Anderson's throat from ear to ear and held him so that his blood ran into the grave.