What’s up with Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet? I thought Mormons weren’t allowed to gamble.

Dear AMG:

I’ve heard that LDS aren’t allowed to gamble or bet, which includes playing the lottery or even making a person-to-person bet (such as on a sports game).  However, I just heard Mitt Romney make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry.  What is going on, then?

Thanks,

Daniel

What’s going on, Daniel, is that people who don’t plan to vote for Mitt Romney are poking around for ways to make him even more miserable than he already is, bless his pointy head.

And what else is going on is that Mitt is having a hard time coming up with clever verbal maneuvers to put away a Republican field that he and most American voters find utterly ludicrous.

Mitt’s been running for president since 2006, at least.  It hasn’t worked yet.  And he’s getting prickly about it.  Is it fun to watch?  No.  But even less fun are attempts to make every Mitt blunder some kind of moral issue.

Yes, it is true:  Mormons aren’t big gamblers, and somewhere in the handbook it says gambling is a no-no.  But plenty of us put a few bucks in the office NCAA basketball pool, or play a few rounds of nickel slots when we pass through Vegas (which is, by the way, a historically Mormon town).  Even a friendly $20 bet with a neighbor is nowhere near as serious a transgression as drinking a cup of coffee in the Mormon moral universe.

But Mormons are definitely allowed to talk about gambling and even to make metaphors about it.

Just like Mormons are allowed to use an idiomatic phrase like “Put that in your pipe and smoke it” without breaking the LDS prohibition against tobacco use.  Or even “That guy makes me so mad, it makes me want to strangle him!” without breaking the Biblical edict against murder.

Am I voting for Mitt Romney?  No.  I’m a stone cold Mormon Democrat.  I’m such a Democrat that I’ve already gotten two—that’s right, two– Christmas cards from the Obama White House.

But I do think that even Mitt deserves to make all the mistimed, uncharismatic, stiff debate one-liners he wants without having someone make it about his religion.

And I bet you a million dollars my readers will have something more to say. Readers?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “What’s up with Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet? I thought Mormons weren’t allowed to gamble.

  1. Sadly, Daniel just lost a million dollars. If he agreed to bet. By the way,the phrase “a Republican field that he and most American voters find utterly ludicrous.” is the clearest breath of fresh air I’ve read in this holiday, er, election season.

    • Well said,
      Both Romney and Huntsman have a tough crowd to please in this Republican race, with the radical tea party ideals taking hold in the Republican party.

  2. Kristine

    Yup. It was a dumb rhetorical move, but that’s all it was. The better angle for journalists would have been not to call out the possible religious violation, but to say that at least this time he was offering to gamble with his own money, with some follow-up reporting on Bain Capital’s management practices..

  3. Tonya

    Interesting that your closing line is the rhetorical offer of a million dollar bet, suggesting that is where Romney was with his offer. It was clear to me that was not what was going on. Had he said a million dollars, that case might have been made. He didn’t.

    I watched the offer unfold in horrified fascination, and it was clear to me from his intensity in making it, and from his outstretched hand that he was serious.

    But frankly, I could not care less what Mormons think or don’t about gambling and whether Mitt Romney violated that. But I care very much about a candidate who is so out of touch and so rich that he’s willing to throw that out there. It was a huge mistake, and it reveals a lot about the man’s sense of normalcy.

    No thanks. I’ll look elsewhere to cast my presidential vote.

  4. Andrew Hill

    Joanna,

    Your comparison between the cup of coffee and gambling is dubious. I challenge you to find a recent (last twenty years) statement by a senior leader of the Church as unequivocal regarding the evils of coffee as this talk by President Hinckley is on the consequences of gambling.
    http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,49-1-520-21,00.html

    Best,
    Andrew

    • Kevin

      I think Joanna has the ranking about right with rank-and-file attending members on the ground. If they heard I had gambled 20 bucks while in vegas they would react much less than if they heard I went to Starbucks this morning for a tall latte. For ranking, methinks they would see it as a “conference talk” versus “DnC 89″.

    • BBKing77

      I’ve never heard of anyone not getting a recommend because they made a friendly wager with a coworker. I have heard of someone being denied over a cup of coffee. It’s pretty clear that she’s right on the money.

      • Conner

        If the person says “yes” to them keeping the word of Wisdom, they cannot be denied a recommend. What you heard is false, or the bishop isn’t doing the interviews right. It’s their own condemnation. I’d say a wager goes under “Are you fair and honest in all your dealings with your fellow man.”

    • Conner

      If we want to be completely honest with ourselves. Drinking a cup of Coffee and gambling will both keep you out if you’re not repentant. And honestly, I’d say gambling is a lot bigger deal than a cup of coffee. I never heard of anyone selling their house to buy their coffee, but my own friend sold the deed to his home to go gamble.

      • BBKing77

        If one drinks a cup of coffee, they wouldn’t be keeping the word of wisdom. It is, however, possible to still be honest in your dealings with your fellow man while participating in wagers, so long as you make good on any associated obligations. I’m not saying gambling isn’t potentially a dangerous practice, but using coffee is more likely to keep you out of the temple.

      • Dean M

        I’ve been giving temple recommend interviews for most of the past two and half decades. In all that time, every version of the interview questions — which are centrally provided to priesthood leaders verbatim — includes the Word of Wisdom. None has ever included any question on any form of gambling. (“Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men?” would address only reneging on your bets, not making them.) All versions have included the Word of Wisdom.

        Whether the priority is right is a separate question. Frankly, I’d rather see the Word of Wisdom question replaced with “Do you speak evil of others, regardless of whether you believe the story to be true?” As a priesthood leader, I have seen far more damage done by gossip than by coffee. As one wise stake president of mine said about gossip, “There is a stench worse than tobacco.”

      • “Do you speak evil of others, regardless of whether you believe the story to be true?” That is a good question, but consider also, “Do you speak the truth, regardless of whether it should be kept hidden to prevent evil?”

  5. Sara

    I appreciate how concise and efficient your answer is! Thank you for your time on this blog.

  6. If you paid attention to his reaction toward Perry when he said doesn’t “gamble” or something like that, Romney didn’t push the issue. You could tell by his face and quick response that he realized it was a dumb thing to do. He practically put palm to forehead.

  7. alice

    I don’t hear people offended by the morality or lack thereof of gambling or any real concern about the hypocrisy of a Mormon gambling in fact or rhetorically. What offense I do hear is people who are deeply hurting from an economy virtually dismantled by the kind of greenmail that Romney pioneered in the 80s at Bain Capital horrified at the casual way he put $10,000 up on something so capricious as a bet. The bet, meanwhile, was meant to distract from the prevarication that he did not advocate a health care mandate. He did. And now he wants to back away from it simply so he can take Obama to task for the exact same public policy that he pioneered. More hypocrisy and if not deliberate dishonesty certainly a failure to be honest in his dealings with his fellow man.

    Furthermore, I really have difficulty accepting that anyone else is so tone deaf that they’re missing the above when national media and political blogs are full of a very clear discussion of it. Without treating it as a moral failing. It almost sounds like another attempt to distract from how inadequate Romney is as a political figure all by his little lonesome without any question of his religious background.

  8. I agree with Alice. Furthermore Brother Romney should just say ‘show me’ the line from the book. How hard would it be to show a snapshot from the 1st edition proving Perry’s point. If Rick was empty handed, he would have to shut up about this meme. This is one of those things that is true or not in evidence you can hold in your hand. Show me! should have been his call no Bet me!

  9. ConverseConvert

    The way I see it Mitt put the bet to the other candidate because Mitt knew he go for it and used the opportunity to weaken the other candidates position in the debate

  10. Bryan

    Since an intersection of presidential politics and LDS teachings is being discussed, it might be of interest that Michele Bachmann quotes James 1:5 on page 31 of her book “Core of Conviction”.

  11. sandie

    i am not a mormon but it is sad that you choose to make fun of romney and you don’t endorse the positive values that he stands for which are based on the teachings of your church.

    • Jess

      Agree. It was a very ugly post actually.

      • sandie

        it bothers me that mormon girl has a venue which is promoted as representative of a mormon perspective but her discussions frequently are a guise for very liberal thinking and not well thought out theologically..

  12. L Elaine Hintze

    Surely you can do better at rebelling than just being a Democrat. Democrat give you the space to on you won fill in the blank (liberal) whenever and however it gives you credibility, but there has to be a bigger better, more perfect place for perfect people…

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