Dear America, Hear Us Pray

Get your DVRs and TiVOs ready. You're about to hear a Mormon prayer on national TV. Will you or the nation ever be the same again?!

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.)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

TN4th August 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Mmmm, yeah, pretty regular people who think that women are supposed to be subservient to men, and should restrict themselves to homemaking and breeding. Not a good qualification to be leader of a democracy that believes that all its citizens are equal.
Dora Moore August 30, 2012 at 04:02 AM
As a Mormon woman I am highly offended by your remarks. I have never been taught that, “I am to breed and I’m only good for homemaking”. I have been taught to go to school, to get a college education, to learn, to grow, to constantly improve and better myself. I have also been taught that becoming and being a mother is an amazing gift. That it is the most important job I will ever have. My husband has also been taught that there is no greater call then being a good father and husband. Yes, I love my family and want to do all that I can to help my family be strong and full of love. I think that most mothers feel as I do, the most rewarding work we could ever do is to raise wonderful, productive, self-sufficient people, weather we as women are Mormon or not.
Kira Gagarin August 30, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Good read, Aaron. I think most beliefs would echo your closing statement. All the best to your Dad. I am sure you are very proud.
MarkNS August 30, 2012 at 11:33 AM
I'm not comfortable with a leader who makes moral decisions based upon ridiculous, obviously false myths. While both candidates claim to do so, I suspect Obama doesn't actually believe the nonsense...at least he's not as devout as Romney.
PGJ12 August 30, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Aaron, Thanks for the good words. I've met your brother and sister, and quite possibly your Dad when I lived in MA. Good people, all of them. As for the detractor comment about women, if any one knows anything about our religion, they will know that no one is to be subservient. This religion has at its organizational core one of the oldest, largest women's organizations in the world that promotes education, strength, independence, provident living, love, charity, compassion and hope. If you have observed subservient behaviors, maybe it is your perspective, we teach that everyone has choice and should exercise that choice. There are controlling people/personalities out there, but, that type of person can be found inside and outside of all churches, society and culture - we refer to that as abuse and it is not acceptable. But, as you also know, not everyone knows how to remove themselves from abusive situations.
Kim August 30, 2012 at 04:31 PM
God Bless your Dad. Having lost my Mom to her battle with cancer a couple of years ago, I know the strength that he must have had to muster to take the trip. I will pray for him. Try to ignore the ignorant comments from people who most likely know nothing about you but want to judge you based on your beliefs. The people of Northborough appreciate your family's service to our community - you make us proud!
Joe Fitzsimmons August 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Listen to yourself, Dora Moore. You sound like a robot. You were "taught" that becoming a mother was the most important job you could ever have? Doesn't sound like you were "taught", it sounds like you were "told". Repeatedly. And what happens to churchmembers who don't do as they're "taught"? Isn't the pressure to conform and follow these rules incredible? And if you chose a career over motherhood, what happens? Let's take a poll...what's the percentage of adult women in the Mormon church whom are full-time, stay at home mothers? I bet it's statistically much higher than the U.S. average. I find your defense laughable. The Mormon church is probably harmless, and I agree with Mr. Hutchin's opinion that the media isn't interested in actually learning about the Mormon Church. But I don't believe everyday Mormons are much interested in learning about the Mormon Church either. They believe what they are "taught". They can't risk learning some of the historical and scienctific truths about their religion for fear of being shun, permanently, from the church.
Grandma Lizzy August 30, 2012 at 07:08 PM
And by the dictionary definition, Christianity is a cult....so does that mean that 'Mormons' are Christians after all.
FindBalance August 30, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Joe - Sounds like you are not believing what Dora said, and leaping from her "taught" to your "told" - again, big leap and big stretch to twist what Dora said and intended.
Jase Hopkin August 30, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I agree with FindBalance. It sounds like Joe is telling Dora what she believes. I believe that a higher percentage of Mormon women are full-time, stay at home mothers. What does that prove? In your poll, you may want to ask how many of them choose that life-style. Women outside of the church choose it, so why not women inside the church? It sounds like Dora chose that path all by herself. She doesn't sound like a sheep. I know that I would choose to stay at home if I could. Being a parent is much more fulfilling than being an employee. As for the the pressure to conform and the fear of being shunned, I think your imagination is getting the better of you. The church is there to help people who want to be helped. If you don't want that help, it's OK with the church. Think of it as a family.
David Allen August 30, 2012 at 10:42 PM
"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." A Heavenly Father who is a resurrected human being who has a much older God over him. A Heavenly Father with a physical body and who lives near the star/planet (the Mormons can't make up their minds on this one) Kolob with his multiple celestial wives who gave birth to all of us who are born here on earth. And a Jesus Christ who after his death and resurrection in the Middle East later, as a resurrected being, visited the American continents and taught the folks living here the Mormon version of what he taught the folks in the Middle East. That's a story much different to what most Christians believe.
Jim Rizoli August 30, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I'm not telling you what to believe about the Mormons, read up on them come to your own conclusions. Any religion that teaches it's founder jumped over fences carrying gold tablets is a little strange to me. Those tablets weren't exactly lite. Jim@ccfiile.com
Guy Harrington August 31, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I am not comfortable w/ people that believe God is a myth. Romney is on the right track and the other on the wrong track. Romneys' track is off a little. MarkNS, evolution is a myth.
Max Walker August 31, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Thanks for your article. Good read. I watched the convention events yesterday but did not know that the pastor who delivered the prayer, your father, was from our neighborhood. I long for the day when a politician can openly declare himself to be an atheist or an agnostic and get elected to a national office.
Proud Resident of Northborough August 31, 2012 at 07:52 PM
What religion our leaders believe in is largely irrelevant to me! What I do care about is what is in their heart. Are they good people? Are they the type of person that has shown compassion for their fellow man? Have they demonstrated that they care about people? And not just when everyone is looking, but more importantly, what do they do when “no one is watching”? A public persona is often much different than what truly exists in a person’s heart. The fact that Romney is a Mormon only means that he attends the Mormon church. It doesn’t tell us what is in his heart. What Romney does on a day in and day out basis tells us that. We have all heard the Democratic Party go out of their way to demonize Mitt Romney. This speaks much more to their character than it does to Romney’s. They have lied about his record, accused him of contributing to the death of a terminally ill woman, and tried to paint him as an uncaring jerk. I believe that is anything but the truth. There are way too many stories of his quiet compassion. Stories of him and his family helping others in time of need are many. I know personally of him and his family helping a family in our town. The fact that he is a Mormon alone doesn’t speak to Romney’s character. The fact that Romney has a history of helping those in need speaks volumes. It is also a testament to the Mormon church that Romney decided that they should be his source for moral guidance and spiritual leadership.
Will Oliveira September 04, 2012 at 03:54 PM
If President Obama was a Mormon and his wife road dancing horses, one can only imagine what Republicans would say, write or put on tv. All religions have cult-like tendencies, Mormonism is just more cult-like than most. Personally, being deeply religious and a strict adherent to Mormonism is worrisome because those attributes generally don't lend themselves to openness or compromise. In 1980, the Republican Party ushered in the religious right. Thirty two years later, the uncompromising nature and inflexibility these voters bring to the table has infected our politics and polarized the nation on social issues and now also fiscal issues. Republicans don't like compromise these days. The fact that Romney is a financially priveleged, severely conservative Mormon doesn't build confidence that he is the man to lead a secular government of all the people.
David Nolta September 05, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Have you seen the four-hour PBS special on Mormons? Fascinating. What I think is actually a very hopeful sign is that the two candidates for President this year are Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts who has been both for and against most things but who in any case instituted universal health care in the Commonwealth, and Barack Obama, a mixed-race phenomenon (vain to deny it) who identifies as black, who believes in justice, and health care, and opportunity for all. God I love this country! Sue me...
Postman September 05, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Romney's Mormon faith was such a big part of his Governorship in Mass right? Mixed race phenomenon huh David? Unbelieveable.
Dave Lenane September 05, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Anybody remember Barack flip flopping about whether he was affiliated with a radical Muslim cleric? Of course not....
David Nolta September 05, 2012 at 08:07 PM
You seem to be the only one, Dave! Could you give us some sort of reference to this "Muslim cleric" you speak of? Some reference other than yourself? This "radical Muslim cleric"? You say you're an honest man--please explain to us all about this "radical Muslim cleric" whom you say President Obama was "flip-flopping about". Honest is as honest does.
David Nolta September 05, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Postman--If you believe that any approving inquiry as to whether people have seen a public television program about Mormons is an incredible affront and a blow to Mr. Romney--well, you will be happy to hear that we strongly disagree. And yes, Barack Obama has parents of two different races, and he is a phenomenon in terms of his intelligence and his dedication. Unbelievable? And how! So Postman, have you seen that show?? It's FASCINATING!
Dave Lenane September 05, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Dave...Google it please. Where were u when this happened? When I get home from work I will put it up for you. And please don't question my honesty again.
Dave Lenane September 05, 2012 at 08:24 PM
His name was Jeremiah Wright
David Nolta September 05, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Dave!!! He was a CHRISTIAN minister--nothing MUSLIM about it!!! Where do you GET your information? It really isn't fair... Trinity Church of CHRIST, I believe. MUSLIM????? Not fair, Dave L.
Dave Lenane September 05, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Dave..admittedly the web sites I read were vague about ties to something called the Muslim Brotherhood? I would delete the comment if i was able. Can we agree that religion shouldnt really be an issue?
David Nolta September 05, 2012 at 11:48 PM


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