Ann: Mormon missions are just like military service!

Her sons didn't serve, but they did spend a two-year tour proselytizing. For Ann, that's pretty much the same thing

Topics: The Mormon Church, Ann Romney, AlterNet, Elections 2012, Mitt Romney, Religion, 2012 Elections, ,

Ann: Mormon missions are just like military service! (Credit: AP/Steven Senne)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet Thursday morning, Mitt ducked a scheduled performance on The View (more on that later), leaving his wife Ann Romney to represent the candidate’s views on those pesky “women’s issues” like abortion rights and military service.

Her answer on the latter question is turning some heads.

When pressed by Whoopi Goldberg on how Romney would explain why neither he nor any of his five sons served, Ann explained that the six men found “different ways of serving” by going on their Mormon religious missions.

“So, you know, we find different ways of serving,” she said. “And my husband and my five boys did serve missions, [but they] did not serve in the military.”

The substitution, she went on to explain, makes sense because the two share essential, character-building and altruistic values.

“I sent them away boys and they came back men. And what the difference was — and I think this where military service is so extraordinary too — is where you literally do something where you’re helping someone else. You’re going outside of yourself and you’re working and helping others. And that changes you,” she said.

The exchange began when Goldberg mistakenly asserted that Mitt Romney hadn’t served in Vietnam because it was against his religion. Goldberg’s statement was, to be fair, a clear misinterpretation of Mormonism (which is not at all a CST version of Quakerism), and Anne Romney quickly corrected her.

“That’s not correct,” she said pointedly. “He was serving his mission, and my five sons have also served missions.”

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To set the record straight, Mormon missions are voluntary, non-violent trips focused on proselytizing about the Church of Latter Day Saints. Men begin their mission — which lasts for two years — at 18 or 19 years old. This month, the Church decided to allow women to begin their mission — which lasts for 6 to 18 months — as early as 19, down from the previous age of 21. The missionary practice is credited as one of the main reasons that the LDS Church is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States and in Central and South America. If Mormonism shares anything with U.S. military, then, it may be that both facilitate the exportation of Western cultural values across the globe.

Some veterans, however, are not so happy to hear the prospective First Lady equate a voluntary religious mission aimed at growing your religion with the sacrifice of serving in the U.S. military in the name of protecting American national security.

“Between my husband and I, we have a collective 10 years in the army. My husband was in Iraq in 2004, and I went to the Pentagon after 9-11. I am deeply offended by Ann’s comments. How can she believe her son’s missions could even begin to compare to our service? Not to mention those we served with who came home in body bags …” wrote on commenter on a discussion forum for those who have left the Mormon Church.

Meanwhile, as Ann was on The View, Mitt Romney made a surprise appearance at the meeting of a Colorado Political Action Committee — also known as a campaign funding PAC.

The group, the American Conservative Union, boasts of being one of the oldest conservative organizations in the country. It champions a mission statement that asserts “collectivism and capitalism are incompatible” … “our inherent rights are endowed by the Creator … [which] can remain secure only if government is so limited that it cannot infringe upon those rights” … and “the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties.” (Either the statement of principles hasn’t been updated, or next week’s foreign policy debate is going to be considerably more exciting than anticipated.)

Romney’s appearance on The View had been widely anticipated since he admitted at a private fundraiser that he was nervous about sitting down with the “non-conservative” and “sharp-tongued” women. This comment, along with the now infamous 47 percent comment, was recorded in a secret video leaked by Mother Jones.

Too bad Romney ended up having “scheduling problems” Thursday morning.

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