“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men,” says the Thirteenth Article of Faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These words give Latter-day Saints a high standard to measure themselves by.
If I might apply this measure to someone else, Sen. Mitt Romney, I would give him an A grade. Romney’s eloquent speech explaining his decision to vote to convict the president on the first article of impeachment demonstrated Romney’s honesty, his virtue — which means moral goodness and righteousness — and his truth or loyalty to his conscience, to his oath of office, to the Constitution and to God.
“If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things,” concludes the Thirteenth Article of Faith.
Romney’s actions, in the face of certain vilification from his own party and punishment from the president, deserve the highest praise. Good will be reported of Romney in our national history as long as the nation stands.
Do we Latter-day Saints truly believe in our Thirteenth Article of Faith? Does it inform our political choices? The predominantly LDS state of Utah voted in 2016 and apparently plans to vote in 2020 for a president who is manifestly not honest, not true, not chaste, not benevolent, not virtuous. Why do more Latter-day Saints not seek after a better president, one who is of good report and praiseworthy?
Latter-day Saints are admonished in Doctrine and Covenants 98:9-10 that, “when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.”
The current president is not honest. Just today, we learn that he has been billing the U.S. taxpayers unprecedented, exorbitant rates for having Secret Service agents stay at his hotels and resorts — even, occasionally, when he is not there. I could multiply examples of his dishonesty all day.
The president is also not wise. One recent example is his declaration that he has now resolved all the issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he concocted his peace plan only with Israel. The Palestinians were not even a part of the process. How successful can his plan be when the ideas, desires and dreams of nearly 5 million Palestinians were ignored? Again, I could multiply examples of the president’s lack of wisdom.
I am in mourning because of what St. Paul called “spiritual wickedness in high places.” I fear deeply for the future of our country, especially since Utah Republican legislators are now exploring how to censure and get rid of the morally good Romney and not the morally corrupt president.
Trump’s opinion that Romney used his religion “as a crutch” shows the president doesn’t understand what religion is meant to do for people. Its teachings are supposed to form the core of their being, to constantly inform their choices, to give them the lenses through which to view the world.
The moral teachings of religion are not to be put aside for convenience, for popularity, for economic or political gain, or out of fear of reprisal. They must not be put aside as we do our duty to seek after honest and wise people to hold elective office.
May we elect many more leaders of Mitt Romney’s character and may we rid our government of the insidious poison of people like Trump and his cult of cowardly followers.
Kristine Hansen, Spring City, is a retired English professor who was employed at Brigham Young University for 35 years.