Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Benson, Ex-Mormon Cartoonist, Says Romney Not Telling Truth

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Benson, Ex-Mormon Cartoonist, Says Romney Not Telling Truth

Article excerpt

As an ex-Mormon, Arizona Republic editorial cartoonist Steve Benson has strong opinions about current Mormon Mitt Romney. He said the Republican candidate's recent speech on religion should not be trusted by media people and other Americans.

In his talk, Romney said "I believe in my Mormon faith" while also noting that the church's "teachings" would not influence his decisions if elected president.

"Yeah, right," responded Benson, adding that "Romney also believes in misrepresenting what his Mormon Church actually espouses."

Benson is the grandson of former Mormon leader Ezra Taft Benson.

He told E&P that, in his view, a Mormon believer is required by church doctrine (as dictated by the church's "living prophet") to "obey God's commands" over anything else. He said "Romney, like all 'temple Mormons,' made his secret vows using Masonic-derived handshakes, passwords, and symbolic death oaths that he promised in the temple never to reveal to the outside world" -- and that Romney also secretly vowed to devote his "time, talents" and more "to the building of the Mormon religion on earth."

So, said Benson, the only way Romney could be truly independent of the church as U.S. president would be to disavow Mormon doctrine. "He hasn't done that," said the Creators Syndicate-distributed cartoonist.

"When Mitt says he belongs to a church that doesn't tell him what to do, that's false; it's a 24/7, do-what-you're-told-to-do church," asserted Benson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1993.

That was the year Benson left what he calls the "Mormon cult." One reason for his decision was disgust with the way Mormon officials tried to fool church members and the general public into believing that Ezra Taft Benson -- Steve's then-94-year-old grandfather and church president -- was still capable of leading the church. "He was not mentally or physically in a place where he could make any meaningful decisions," recalled Benson. "I know it because I saw his condition with my own eyes."

Benson -- who was contacted by E&P for this story -- said journalists have basically given Romney a free pass on the "fundamental contradiction" between being an observant Mormon and a U.S. president. "Most journalists don't know about actual Mormon teachings and practices," noted the cartoonist, adding that they instead see the religion as perhaps "strange" but "rather benign."

Romney "needs to face an informed member of the media with 'cojones' who has a working and perhaps personal experience with Mormonism," said Benson. …

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