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 people....to 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).