MSNBC’s Martin Bashir is no stranger to invoking Mitt Romney’s faith when discussing and analyzing the 2012 presidential race. Last month, the television host issued an excoriating rant during which he used the Book of Mormon to warn Romney of “eternal damnation.”
On Thursday afternoon, while diving into a controversial Super PAC proposal, Bashir invoked alleged racial issues associated with Romney’s Mormon faith — an odd action, considering that Romney wasn’t involved in the noted proposal (earlier in the day, the candidate also renounced proposed tactics that would tie Obama to Wright).
This afternoon, The Blaze reported about a proposal by the conservative Super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund that has now been scrapped to invoke Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a 2012 television campaign. While lambasting the document, which was first reported on by The New York Times, Bashir unleashed his angst to his guest Joan Walsh.
“Joan, do Republicans really want to start talking about religious influence on candidates? Do they really want to start talking about Mitt Romney, who’s part of a religious group that has been one of the most racially-segregated in the history of this country?,” Bashir asked. “Until the late 1970s, African Americans, people of color, couldn’t be ordained. Does he really want us to start talking about his grandfather, who had five wives or his great, great grandfather who had 12 wives and was a Mormon. Is that what they want to do?”
To begin, Bashir’s initial comments are referring to restrictions that once existed within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As The Blaze has previously reported, in 1978, the church issued an official declaration following prayer and meditation that overturned the priesthood restrictions that once disallowed African American men from participating. A portion of the written description of the revelation read:
Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.
Relations between African Americans and the Mormon church have been evolving and improving since this statement was issued. In a June 2011 New York Times article, Harvard University religion student Max Perry Mueller (he’s writing a dissertation on African-Americans and the Mormon church) said that the church has “made a very sincere effort” to include blacks.
Earlier this year, two black members of the church released a four-part DVD series that explains misconceptions as well as the history behind these policies. Bashir, of course, made no mention of any of these elements.
As for the allegation that Mitt Romney’s grandfather had five wives, this is inaccurate. Back in 2007, The Associated press reported:
Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897. That was more than six years after Mormon leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice.
Romney’s great-grandmother, Hannah Hood Hill, was the daughter of polygamists. She wrote vividly in her autobiography about how she “used to walk the floor and shed tears of sorrow” over her own husband’s multiple marriages.
Romney’s great-great grandfather, Parley Pratt, an apostle in the church, had 12 wives. In an 1852 sermon, Parley Pratt’s brother and fellow apostle, Orson Pratt, became the first church official to publicly proclaim and defend polygamy as a direct revelation from God.
Nowhere here is Romney’s grandfather mentioned, as it seems Bashir confused “grandfather” with “great-grandfather.” In the end, as The Blaze has highlighted, both Barack Obama and Romney have a family history of polygamy, but neither candidate supports the institution (nor do they have contemporary family members who engage in it).
Walsh responded to Bashir’s intense rhetoric by dismissing the proposed Super PAC plan as “hate porn.” Later in the segment, the host defended Obama against charges that he has promoted Black Liberation Theology.
“John, what seems most ridiculous about this particular playbook is that we’ve seen the president up close for the best part of four years,” he proclaimed. “Have you ever heard him promote Black Liberation Theology?”
Watch the dialogue, below: