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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tragedy and Holy Books

Scripture says that "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And when you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones -- as I described to them, I come to them not so much as President as I do as a father and as a husband. And I think that the reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion -- what it would be like and how it would impact us.
The passage is from Revelation 21:4 (English Standard Version) 

Brad Knickerbocker writes at The Christian Science Monitor:
In his response to the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., Mitt Romney offered a rare glimpse into his Mormon religion – one of those public moments for the man who would be the nation’s political leader but who so far has been very private about his personal faith.
Today we feel not only a sense of grief, but perhaps also of helplessness,” Mr. Romney said. “But there is something we can do. We can offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or heavy-laden. And we can mourn with those who mourn in Colorado.”
Peggy Fletcher Stack, who writes on religion for theSalt Lake Tribune, notes that “the latter sentence seems straight out of Mosiah 18:8-9 in the Book of Mormon.” The full passage from Mosiah reads:
“As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.”
The phrase is not exclusively Mormon, however. The New International Version of the Bible translates Romans 12:15 this way: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."  Note that most other translations having different wording (e.g., "weep" instead of "mourn.")

Perhaps it is mere coincidence that Romney chose a phrase that appears both the the Book of Mormon and in the NIV -- the translation that evangelical Christians tend to prefer.  But if not, he was showing shrewd sensitivity to a group that sometimes has reservations about his faith.  As we point out in the textbook, another Massachusetts politician dealt with a similar predicament in a similar way.  When Catholic JFK quoted the Bible, he used the Protestant King James version.