The views expressed in this piece are solely those of its author and do not necessarily reflect the policy, position or agenda of any person, agent or employee of the Town of Northborough.
In light of recent events involving my family and the Republican National Convention taking place in Tampa, Florida, the editor of the Northborough Patch asked if I would consider putting together some thoughts. I do so happily, but with the repeated caveat that I do so, not as a Selectman, but as a private citizen.
As I sit to write this, my father, Kenneth Hutchins (former Northborough police chief), is at Logan Airport preparing to board his flight to Tampa. By now it is well known news that the Republican Presidential Nominee, Mitt Romney, has asked him to come to the convention for the express purpose of offering the invocation on Thursday night, just hours before Mitt accepts his party’s nomination and delivers his speech. It’s also well known that my father has been battling various forms of cancer for some time, and that when the initial invitation to pray came via Mitt’s eldest son, my father had not been doing well, having just endured another round of chemotherapy treatment.
I must confess that I was completely taken aback by the number of articles covering my father’s participation. I consider myself an above average citizen when it comes to things political, but my family’s involvement, albeit very minor, in this national event has exposed me to a new level of political activism. I didn’t even know conventions had prayers. And even if they do, are they newsworthy? My older brother forwarded me yet another press piece this morning via email. Apparently CNN’s Belief_Blog has my father as one of “5 Faithy Players to Watch at the RNC.” Faithy Player? What does that even mean? If only my father understood the world of text messaging, I would text his cell phone right now: “Pray on, playa.”
Look; here’s what I can tell you. Mitt Romney’s a Mormon and so is my father and the rest of our family. And like Mitt’s wife, Ann, my parents are both converts to the religion. Throughout Mitt’s campaign, the press has continually inquired into Mitt’s involvement in the Mormon Church (formally titled: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). For the most part, Mitt has been pretty tight lipped about it. Why? Because, as he’s stated several times, he’s not running for Pastor-in-Chief. Nevertheless, his membership, participation and belief in the Mormon Church has influenced and informed Mitt’s character, personality and thought process. So it’s understandable that the press and really the nation, wants to know more about our Church.
But do they really want to know more, or are they just trying to cause Mitt to trip? It’s no secret that those who identify themselves as Christian in the Republican Party hold the opinion that our Church is not Christian. (This, I will never comprehend.) And whether Christian or not, the majority of people, when asked about the Mormon Church usually respond with something related to polygamy (thanks HBO’s Big Love and TLC’s Sister Wives), secret temples or some other generally misunderstood, but potentially controversial topic. This, I’m guessing, is why Mitt generally avoids questions about the Church. No one is genuinely interested in knowing more about the Church. They just want headlines, talking points and controversy.
Well, guess what America? The man flying down to Tampa right now is not going to provide you with any of that. And that’s exactly why Mitt chose him. The convention is going to get a Mormon prayer, and at the end of it, I’m guessing the overwhelming response is going to be, “Oh.” As in, “That seemed pretty normal.” As a rule, Mormons don’t have prepared prayers. For certain of our sacraments and ordinances we do, but when a Mormon wants to pray, they just speak from the heart. And it’s nothing ornate, verbose or “Hallelujah!” inducing.
Even though Mitt trusts my father implicitly, his campaign staff has still asked my father to submit the text of his prayer. Absent that request, I think my father would have just shown up and said whatever came to mind. Given the request however, my father complied. I’ve seen the text of his prayer. I don’t know if it’s exactly what he’ll give Thursday night. I wouldn’t be surprised if he speaks from his heart and deviates a little. No matter. The format of his prayer will remain unchanged. He’ll address our Heavenly Father (God), he’ll express gratitude for a number of things, he’ll ask for certain things and then he’ll close in the name of Jesus Christ.
I don’t know what else to tell you. We’re pretty regular people, us Mormons. And I hope the rest of the nation gets that impression from my father’s prayer. We love God; we love families; we love our country; and we love all good things. (Especially chocolate.)