Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bill Clinton thought about becoming a Mormon

Is Bill Clinton trying to get the Mormon vote away from Mitt Romney? A story in the Salt Lake City Tribune reveals that, in his youth, the 42nd President "thought about" becoming a Mormon. Approached one day by two missionaries in Hot Springs, Arkansas (as most of us are at some point, even on this this side of the Atlantic) he was "impressed... with the young preachers’ effort as they explained Mormon teachings about heaven."

As Clinton recalled, they described the afterlife as "a pyramid with many levels that put Hitler and Stalin at the very bottom, faithful Mormons on top, and everyone else in between."

That had a certain appeal, he said, but for Clinton, a Baptist, "the sticking point" was any system that left his loved ones "out of the top level."

He couldn’t get with any program, he said, that would "leave all these other people behind."

That's not really what Mormons believe. As I understand it, no-one gets "left behind" (not even Hilter or Stalin, theoretically) because they can always be re-baptised after their death. Millions of people who never heard of the Latter Day Saints have been postumously Mormonised. What it shows, though, is how instinctively political Bill Clinton still is. He says some nice things about Mormons (praising their plausibility, a subject in which he could give lessons to Tony Blair, and possibly did). But he manages to get in a subtle dig at Mitt Romney's elitism - hence the pyramid reference - contrasting it with his own wish not to leave people behind.

In truth, there can't have been much in Mormonism that appealed to Bill Clinton. No beer, no premarital sex. It might have been a different story if the Latter Day Saints still practised polygamy, though. Bill would have liked that.