B4C is honored to present this guest post written by Jeffery Curtis Foli, the former mayor of Chillicothe, Missouri.
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How far should religious leaders be able to go before they cross the line and breach the legal separation between Church and State, and who will hold them accountable? Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Gordon B. Hinckley, Oral Roberts, and some Catholic leaders are just a few who have challenged these issues.
I hope it is not the case, but if my story is any indication, Mormon religious leaders will take Mitt Romney aside as needed and help him remember just where his ultimate loyalties lie. I, as well as Mitt Romney, have made sacred agreements to support the interests of God’s future kingdom, as we see it within the Mormon perspective. But are individual religious interests and National interest always necessarily the same? In the case of a President Mitt Romney, is what is good for the Mormon people, equally good for all the citizens of the USA, and will the leaders press him?
I don’t know if Mitt ever had this issue before him in the past while serving as Governor of Massachusetts, but this possibility was twice made clear to me while I was serving as Mayor/CEO of the City of Chillicothe, Missouri. During one incident, I was taken into church offices and verbally threatened, by President and Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley via Stake President, and attorney, Detlif Lehnardt in a private meeting, with excommunication if I did not rescind my recently proposed legislation. I believe Federal Law (Tax Code Title 26 section 501) states that a Church cannot engage in such activity.
In another incident, Mormon leaders confronted me and told me to support the Mormon party line on a specific issue instead of what I knew was legal, honest, and in the best interest of those in my City. Since my oath of office was to represent the citizens of my City, and not the interests of the Mormon Church, I pressed each issue as far as I could in an appropriate way. I believe we can serve in both capacities in an open, honest, and honorable way, if the leaders will just keep their noses out of places they don’t belong.
Charges and complaints have recently been filed with the Sheriff of Livingston County Missouri, the ACLU, and the IRS. At each and every turn, these charges have been stonewalled, with no one wanting to challenge the accountability. The Mormon Church is enormously popular as well as powerful.
Just to reiterate, I ask, will Mitt Romney be his own man if elected, or would he be controlled by Religious Leaders? The multi-million man re-migration of Mormons to Missouri could be triggered in a small way just by the election of Romney. These issues are not at all isolated to the Mormons, I am sure.
Jeffery Curtis Foli
City of Chillicothe, Missouri