Mitt Romney acts as the Republican crusader for individualism these days, with his attacks on Obama’s “you didn’t build that” hiccup and a more recent swipe at religious collectivism in the Jewish Kibbutz. Here’s what Mitt Romney said just days ago:
“It’s individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America,” Romney said. “What America is not a collective where we all work in a Kibbutz or we all in some little entity, instead it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises.” [sic]
But how does this square with Romney’s own Mormon faith? We know Mormons have practiced their own version of the Kibbutz, called the Law of Consecration, or the United Order. In early Mormon history, members were commanded by the prophet Joseph Smith to deed their properties to the church, and the church then deeded a “stewardship” back to the members. They were only allowed to keep a certain amount of their earnings, anything over what they needed was given to the collective whole.
Mormon leadership has taught the importance of this doctrine, and for reasons that might relate to Mitt Romney himself. Mormon Apostle President George Q. Cannon taught:
“The time must come when we must obey that which has been revealed to us as the Order of Enoch, when there shall be no rich and no poor among the Latter-day Saints; when wealth will not be a temptation; when every man will love his neighbor as he does himself; when every man and woman will labor for the good of all as much as for self. That day must come, and we may as well prepare our hearts for it, brethren, for as wealth increases I see more and more a necessity for the institution of such an order. As wealth increases, luxury and extravagance have more power over us. The necessity for such an order is very great, and God, undoubtedly, in his own time and way, will inspire his servant [the prophet] to introduce it among the people.” (In Journal of Discourses, 15:207.)
To further the point, Mormon scripture quoting the Lord himself says, “It is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin” ( D&C 49:20 ).
If anyone other than a Mormon Apostle had said something like this, Mitt Romney would be asking why they want to punish success.
All Mormons (including Mitt Romney and myself) who get their temple “endowment” make a promise to God to live this Law of Consecration. So Mitt Romney’s own faith prescribes a practice nearly identical to the Kibbutz. How does he square this with his individualism rhetoric, let alone his dismissive attitude of the Kibbutz?
Well, this is just what we’ve come to expect from a guy who championed a mandated health care system in Massachusetts, and is now a constant critic of the mirror national legislation “Obamacare.” Apart from that, perhaps Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it.
Self reliance is something to be admired and sought for. It’s Romney’s lack of willingness to help others that concerns me. It’s this same conservative mentality prevelant in many Mormons in this country that demonstrate a lack of committment to be willing to give from above that which they need. It’s unacceptable to live in such a wealthy nation as this one, and have 50 million people going without medical care. I’ve seen the resistance to Obamacare from so many conservative Mormons, and I just can’t seem to square it with how I percieve a faith that teaches love and compassion as a cornerstone.