Mormonism is a practical religion that produces strong families and responsible citizens. They are not polygamists anymore, and have no more tolerance for polygamist Mormon sects than the average American does. They promote hard work, practical help to others, and respect for social institutions. Mormon evangelism is the envy of many other churches, and could offer a lesson or three to the declining Protestant mainline.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been putting on a charm offensive lately to be accepted as just another Christian Church. The Book of Mormon has been republished with a new subtitle, "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Mitt Romney gave his big religion speech this week to show that his faith should be just as acceptable in a president as that of any previous president. He even proclaimed his belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God.
But when Mormons say that Jesus is the son of God, they mean something different than when Christians say it. Official Mormon theology teaches that God (and the shadowy Mrs. God) were once human beings who worked their way up to divinity. They believe Jesus was a man who did the same. And so can each of us, if we become Mormons. The Book of Mormon is "another testament of Jesus Christ" in the same way that the Koran is. Both books take the Jesus of the Christian New Testament and re-imagine him as a prophet with a specific exalted task. Exalted, but not divine.
The theological conflict between Mormonism and Christianity doesn't come up much in everyday life because most Mormons don't really know Mormon theology. When Mormon evangelists make a convert, they talk to people about living a new life, strengthening their families now and in the afterlife, and get them quickly to baptism. Then, in the years following, they get around to the theology -- if the convert wants to know.
Now, in fairness, most Christians couldn't get far in explaining Christian theology, either. But their clergy could. And if there were Mormon clergy in every town with a Mormon congregation, then the two kinds of ministers would have to have it out at the local level. However, Mormons don't have clergy. Most believing men are "priests," and can lead the local rituals, but the content of the services come directly from Salt Lake City. You don't have to know theology to be a Mormon priest any more than you have to know Christian theology to be a Baptist deacon. The important thing is not know the talk, but to walk the walk, to live the practical requirements of the religion.
I think Mitt Romney is right that his faith does not disqualify him from being president any more than the previous presidents' faith does. But I don't think it is Christian.