Mormon temple in Salt Lake City
WASHINGTON – Satan has reared his ugly head in the 2008 presidential campaign – literally.
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has prompted angry denunciations of religious bigotry by rival Mitt Romney as well as an official retort from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for speculating in a New York Times Magazine interview this weekend that Mormons believe Jesus and Satan were brothers.
Stirred by the debate, the Associated Press sought clarification from Kim Farah, a spokeswoman from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She said the question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith, but she evaded a direct answer to the question: “We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”
“On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some – especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations,” says the statement. “But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “who was in authority in the presence of God,” a “son of the morning.” (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)”
But Romney interprets the question from Huckabee – rhetorical or not – to be a display of religious bigotry.
“But I think attacking someone’s religion is really going too far,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show. “It’s just not the American way, and I think people will reject that.”
The exchange is setting up tonight’s GOP presidential debate, the final showdown before the Iowa caucuses, as a potentially fiery denouement in the first major contest of the 2008 primary campaign.
Will the Satan card be played?
Are theological questions fair game?
Huckabee, a Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor, has surged in public opinion polls and is now ahead of Romney in polls in Iowa, which holds its caucus Jan. 3.
He made the comment before Romney gave a major speech last week trying to dispel fears about his church, particularly among conservative Christians, an important voting bloc. Romney said he believes Jesus Christ is the son of God and savior of mankind, and that his White House would not be controlled by his church.