A few right-wingers came out with predictable fake outrage last week, when Brian Schweitzer suggested that Mitt Romney might be squeamish about talking openly about his Mexican heritage due to the presence of polygamists in his line of ancestors.
The talking point fashioned by Montana Republicans is that Schweitzer was being bigoted. Schweitzer has said he was simply stating a political reality, which is that Romney will stay away from the topic.
The line goes “You can’t choose your ancestors.” This is true, which is why Romney should not shy away from talking openly about having polygamist ancestors, just as Obama has spoken, and written, extensively on his own ancestors including his polygamous father.
But Romney will probably shy away from it, and will thus prove Schweitzer’s point.
And alas, the Mormon church is not entirely clean on this subject of polygamy. For though the Church forbids polygamy on earth, polygamy is still permitted, and encouraged, in heaven.
The LDS church teaches that in heaven, a polygamous existence is awaiting all men who were married multiple times on earth. So let’s say a widower gets married upon the death of his first wife. When this man and his second wife are all dead, there is a threesome awaiting him in heaven. He will be married, in the afterlife, to both wives, forever.
Do women get the same “sweet” deal? Heavens no. Heavenly Mormon Polygamy is reserved only for men.
So, this is a small but crucial example of a Mormon tenet that is both sexist and supportive of polygamy. To be sure, all of the major religions, or portions of them, have sexism which needs to be rooted out. Catholic priests are a male-only club, and the Catholic church condemns women who want to decide for themselves when and whether to have children. Certain branches of Judaism likewise forbid women from becoming rabbis, and also force women to sit in the back of the synagogue in a walled-off room during services. And Islam treats women as inferior in many respects, including the practice of “honor killings” of female relatives who disgrace the family by having premarital sex. These practices aren’t relegated to some tiny tribal sects either: 90 perent of women in modern Egypt were victims of genital mutilation.
So it’s not like Mormonism is breaking any new ground in these matters. But, it is a small but pertinent fact: When it outlawed polygamy on earth, the LDS Church kept it legal in heaven.